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Champions & Europa League Tips: 1st-3rd May
by the Cheeky Punter
We had a profitable week last week with my Champions League and Europa League tips.
I got the correct result in three matches and pretty much called each game as it went, with the exception of the Bayern Munich v Real Madrid game and to be fair, Bayern had more than enough chances to win that game, but just fluffed their lines and then let in two amateurish goals to let Real grab the win.
Solid returns from the Liverpool v Roma and Arsenal v Atletico Madrid clash we once again made a profit and I am confident that we can do likewise with this week’s tips, I hope.
It’s the second legs of both the Champions League and Europa League semi-finals with the reverse fixtures of last week being played. Here are my tips for at three nights of action.
UEFA Champions League League Tips: Tue st & Wed 2nd May
May 1, 2018
May 1, 2018
The first leg saw Bayern miss a host of chances after taking the lead through Kimmich only for Marcelo to level before Asensio punished a Rafinha error to give Real the lead.
Bayern have injury concerns over three players after the first game with Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng likely out and Javi Martinez a doubt after a nasty head collision.
Real too have injury worries with Isco and Dani Carvajal forced off in the game on Wednesday but both could be fit for the second leg in Madrid.
Bayern do have hope – In the 2016-2017 Champions League, they lost 2-1 at home but beat Real Madrid 2-1 in the Bernebeu forcing extra time (where they eventually lost).
Bayern have only themselves to blame for their 2-1 defeat at home. They wasted several great chances against Real Madrid, despite Joshua Kimmich giving them a lead with a cross-cum-shot that made a fool of Real keeper Keylor Navas.
Once Real levelled with Marcelo, Bayern seemed to lose their composure a little and Rafinha’s awful mistake led to Asensio putting Real 2-1 in front, in a game that the Spanish side really should have been dead and buried in.
It’s testament to Real’s tenacity that they earned a win here, but they know they’ll need to improve their performance at home. Bayern beat them at the Bernebeu last season 2-1, and the same result here would force extra time. However, I think Zidane will learn from the drama of the game with Juventus in the last round and put this to bed.
Cristiano Ronaldo was unusually quiet in the first leg but I expect him to be far more involved in the second and that spells problems for Bayern as I am backing him to score the goals to lead to a Real Madrid win on Tuesday.
Liverpool went 5-0 up in the first leg before two late goals by Dzeko and Perotti gave Roma some life for the second leg at home.
Oxlade Chamberlain is out for Liverpool with a knee injury sustained in the first leg, adding to the Reds already busy treatment room.
Roma have injury concerns over Diego Perotti and Kevin Strootman for the second leg with both doubtful to play at the weekend and also against Liverpool.
Liverpool have not lost in Rome to AS Roma in their history, winning the European Cup on penalties in 1984, winning 2-0 in February 2001 and drawing 0-0 in December 2001.
Roma fans now have some belief after two late goals at Anfield salvaged a 5-2 thumping from a 5-0 humliation, but they will also be aware that Liverpool could easily have scored at least two or three more goals had they been more clinical with their finishing.
Roma started well at Anfield but once Liverpool figured out a way to counter their possession, they had no answer to Liverpool’s attacking incisiveness and in truth, Roma were lucky to come away with just a three goal deficit to claw back.
Roma will know they can puncture the Red back line and Karius again didn’t cover himself with glory in the Liverpool goal, but the question is whether their defence can stop the Reds attack. FC Porto and Man City couldn’t in their away legs, so it is hard seeing Roma being able to do so.
I can see Roma scoring a goal or two here, but the problem I have is that I also see Liverpool matching every goal Roma score and once the Reds get the first goal, I am certain Roma head will drop, hence I am going to say this one will end in a draw.
Atletico’s Vrsaljko will be suspended for the 2nd leg following his early sending off for two yellow cards inside 10 minutes in the first leg.
However, Atletico will hope to have Diego Costa back for the second leg after the striker sat out the first leg as he recovers from injury.
Arsenal could recall Petr Cech for the second leg and will likely name a similar team to the one that played in London, a game that they dominated for long periods.
Atletico have conceded just four goals at home in La Liga this season (Barcelona, Villarreal, Real Sociedad and Girona each scoring one goal). They last conceded at home on 21st Jan.
A quick look through Atletico Madrid’s defensive record at their new Wanda Metropolitano stadium will make dismal reading for Arsenal fans. Not only are they unbeaten at home, they have conceded just four goals their in La Liga all season, the last against Girona back in January.
However, Arsenal fans will take comfort in knowing Chelsea managed to score twice there in the Champions League earlier this season and if the Gunners can create as many chances as they did in London, then they’ll stand a chance of breaking through that Madrid back line.
Personally though, I can’t see it. Atletico performed superbly to hold Arsenal to just a 1-0 lead with 10-men for 80 minutes and Antoine Griezmann’s stolen equaliser, due to some woeful Arsenal defending was just an extra bonus for the Spaniards and I think this swings the tie massively in their favour.
Arsenal have been dismal away from home in the league but better in Europe, but Atletico is a different prospect to Ostersund, Milan or CSKA Moscow and I can see Atletico grabbing a couple of goals and I can’t see Arsenal being able to breach that superb Godin-marshalled back line.
Marseille, inspired by Dmitri Payet, secured a fine 2-0 win in the first leg thanks to goals in each half from Florian Thauvin and Clinton Njie.
The teams met in the league stage of this comp in the autumn. Salzburg won 1-0 at home, while the teams played out a 0-0 draw in Marseille.
Salzburg do have hope, they clawed back a 2-goal deficit in the last round against Lazio, winning 4-1 at home after losing the first leg 4-2 in Rome.
Bouna Sarr may continue to deputise for Hiroki Sakai for Marseille with the Japanese international in a race to be fit for the second leg.
After two very tight games in the League stage of the tournament, Marseille will be thrilled to have a two-goal lead and perhaps of equal importance, not to have conceded an away goal from the first leg which puts them in a very strong position heading to Austria on Thursday.
Salzburg complained that Marseille’s opening goal was scored by Thauvin’s hand, a complaint that does have some legitimacy, but they’ll need to channel that displeasure into producing a similar performance that they did against Lazio in the last round.
However, my worry is that that win came on the back of 10 minutes of madness from the Italian team who were cruising up until that point. Marseille have been consistent on the road of late and I don’t expect them to make the same mistakes Lazio made.
I can see Salzburg winning this and maybe grabbing a couple of goals, but in return, I do see Marseille getting at least one in reply and I think that away goal may be crucial in deciding who is the winner in this tie.
Salzburg To Win & Both Teams To Score - £10 returns £38.50
The Cheeky Punter is an ex professional online sports bettor and trader with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He has worked for a number of top bookmakers including Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral. He's also written for a number of leading news outlets including the Guardian, i (newspaper) and Soccer Lens. More about him here.