Champions League Tips: 10th & 11th March
Well, over the years of doing these tips I have had to factor into my reasoning a number of things…
Sometimes it is the referee’s foibles, sometimes it is whether managers will select a strong first team or whether they will rotate and play fringe and reserve players, however this week I am also having to factor in the effect of the Coronavirus, which is a new one on me.
With the prospect of a number of these ties being played behind closed doors, it could prove to be a unique set of circumstances in European competition over the next few weeks.
So I have to try and factor in what the effect of playing a game behind closed doors will be, and even if a game will be played with no crowd present or not.
Regardless of the odd circumstances here’s my tips for the Champions League this coming week.
Champions League Tips: Tuesday 10th March
It has to be said that the first leg of this tie was very much Leipzig’s. The German side bossed the game and in truth, could have been a couple of goals up inside the opening five minutes and although Spurs improved a little after a shaky start, it was no real surprise that the German side, currently second in the Bundesliga, earned a deserved victory.
That does put Spurs at a huge disadvantage in the second leg but it is not an unfamiliar one to them, having been in a similar situation after their semifinal with Ajax last season. However, this Spurs team will have to overturn this deficit without Kane and Son, their two most dangerous attackers and I feel that is far more hurtful to their chances than the actual 1-0 deficit.
That said, Leipzig only won one of their three Group Stage home games (against Zenit by a 2-1 scoreline) and they were beaten 2-0 at home by Lyon in the group phase, as well as held 2-2 by Benfica, which should give Tottenham the feeling that if they can score a goal, they could stand a chance.
I can see Tottenham scoring a goal but the form Leipzig are in compared to Tottenham is vastly superior and given how they dominated the game in the first leg, I can see Leipzig running out winners 2-1 or 3-1 on the night and moving into the quarterfinals relatively comfortably.
The big unknown factor for this game is whether Valencia’s home advantage is going to be diluted due to no fans being present at what is a far less intimidating empty Mestalla stadium than when it is full. If so, then I think the odds in this tie swing even more in the favour of the resurgent Atalanta.
After three group games, you would have got long odds on Atalanta being in with such a great chance of a quarterfinal spot. The Italian side only found their form in their final group games to squeak through but they were clinical in front of goal in the first leg to score four times, while their more experienced Spanish opponents lacked that same efficiency in front of goal.
With a packed Mestalla behind them, I’d have fancied Valencia to maybe cause a surprise here, but with the stadium potentially likely to be empty, I think that this massively helps the Italians and if they can score a goal on the counter, as I feel they will, then for me that will effectively put the tie to bed.
I can see Valencia winning, but they don’t score too many goals and as such, I think Valencia win this 2-1 but Atalanta will be the team that progresses.
Football Tips: Wednesday 11th March
Liverpool fans will be well aware that big nights at Anfield bring out the best in their team but they will also know that the Reds have hit a very sticky patch of form, losing three of their last four games before their Premier League clash with Bournemouth at Anfield on Saturday.
Defeat here would leave the Reds just the Premier League to wrap up but would put a taint on what up until the past couple of weeks had been an outstanding season. Given they are also the holders of this trophy, the Reds fans will be desperate to put in a performance to earn them progress here.
That will be tough against an Atletico side who defended superbly in the first leg but who will have to do the same again here. Diego Costa may be back to spearhead their attack which will be good news for them, plus they have defeated Liverpool in this situation in the past, in the Europa League semifinals a few years ago where a 1-0 win at the Mestalla was followed by a 2-1 loss at Anfield, allowing Atletico to go through on away goals.
Liverpool’s defensive problems have been obvious in recent weeks and I can see Atletico scoring. I do feel Liverpool will win but I am not sure that they will be getting the three goals they would need to progress. As such, this one is very much in the balance.
Erlign Haland’s double strike earned Dortmund a fine win in the first leg of this game but the German side will need to be even better in the second leg in Paris, where the home side have been generally dominant this season.
However, with Neymar picking up his annual injury at this time of the year, which just so happens to be his sister’s birthday, the Brazilian may not be fit for this game if you believe reports, which I personally don’t and I would expect him to play.
I can’t see this game being Coronavirus affected but you never know how things will go in the days before the game and if it is, that would I believe play into Dortmund’s hands as the Parc des Princes is a fearsome stadium to play in.
I think PSG win this, but I can see Dortmund scoring and as such, I feel extra time and maybe even penalties may be needed to decide the winner.
*Tips are exactly that tips (predictions) and do not guarantee success.