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UEFA Champions League Tips: 19th & 20th February
by David Lenton
It’s fair to say that I was really disappointed with my performance last week across the European competitions.
Still, it’s always different when a competition like the Champions League or Europa League restarts with teams at different points of the season and players injured, suspended or otherwise not playing.
I am hopeful that I can get back to better form this week with this selection of Champions League first leg games across Tuesday and Wednesday.
Here’s my tips for the four games this week.
Footie Tips: Tuesday 19th Feb
February 19, 2019
February 19, 2019
Liverpool, finalists in this tournament this season, lie second in the Premier League on the same points as Manchester City, but with a game in hand.
Bayern are second in the Bundesliga, five points behind Dortmund. They are unbeaten in 13 games in all competitions, winning all of their last eight.
Both sides have injury worries ahead of the game with Dejan Lovren a doubt for Liverpool and Manuel Neuer also going to be a close call for Bayern with the latter more likely to play.
The teams have met seven times previously, Bayern winning just one game, Liverpool two and four matches have finished in draws.
Tuesday’s game at Anfield is one of the juiciest fixtures of the Round of 16 and it is a tie that neither side would have wanted when the draw was made. The Reds are still going strong in the Premier League but will have to up their Champions League form in the knockout phase, especially on the road, if they are to progress against Bayern.
Nico Kovac has had a tough start as Bayern boss but his team has improved of late and has won all of their last eight games and they of course, have a superb pedigree in this competition. They will be fully confident that they can come to Anfield and get the result they need.
History shows that these games have tended to finish as draws, but I think with the atmosphere likely to be white-hot at Anfield on Tuesday night, I can see the Reds being inspired and I am backing them to keep Bayern out defensively at home, while nicking one goal going the other way to take a slim lead with them into the second leg in Germany in three weeks time.
Lyon moved up to third in the French League and are the only team to have beaten Paris St Germain in that competition this season, a 2-1 win a few weeks ago.
Barcelona remain top of La Liga six points clear of Real Madrid in second. The Catalan side have lost just two games this season, scoring 60 goals in the process.
Lionel Messi should be fully fit for this game. The Barcelona legend has netted three goals in four games against Lyon over the years.
The teams have met six times previously, Lyon are yet to win a game, Barcelona winning four games and the other two ending in draws.
If you like entertainment in the Champions League this season, then arguably these two teams have been the teams to watch. Lyon seem to score and concede goals in equal measure in this tournament and they were the first team in any competition to beat Manchester City this season. A fact that will not be lost on their opponents.
Barcelona have come through, by their standards, a sticky little spell and with Lionel Messi working his way back to full fitness, they should be at full strength for this tie which does sound ominous for a Lyon defence that has struggled for clean sheets in this competition this season.
In truth, I think it is a certainty both sides will score in this game, it is just a question of how many goals and how they are divided up, but how can you back against a Barcelona side that have been so superb in front of goal this season?
As such, I think this could be a fabulous game to watch with plenty of goals and I’m backing Barcelona to take the win by the odd goal in five.
Barcelona to win & both teams to score - £10 returns £29.00
Football Tips & Predictions: Wednesday 20th February
February 20, 2019
February 20, 2019
Atletico Madrid dropped down to third in La Liga when Real defeated them at home a couple of weeks ago in the derby. They have lost just 3 games in the league this season.
Juventus are still well clear at the top of Serie A, they have not lost and drawn three games out of 23 this season, dropping just six points in total and conceding just 15 goals.
An interesting fact is that in their last nine games against Italian clubs, Atletico Madrid have won seven of those games and drawn two.
The teams have met twice previously in the group stages of the 2014/15 Champions League, Atletico winning one game and the other concluding in a draw.
There is no doubting that Juventus have a stellar record in Serie A this season, dropping just six points in their 23 games is a stunning achievement even for the current Champions and they look odds on certainties to win this year’s Serie A Championship once again.
However, they face a team in Atletico Madrid who have won seven and drawn two of their last nine games against Italian sides and who could arguably boast a defence every bit as good as the Juventus back line, if not better.
I see both these teams as almost mirror images of each other, superb defensively and littered with some outstanding attacking talent alongside hard-working, skilled and influential midfielders at the heart of the team and as such, while the stats may suggest Juventus go through, I am not so sure.
Atletico have a habit of producing the goods when it matters and I feel this is a game that will go down to the wire even in the second leg. I think it will be tight and possibly even goalless and as such, I am going to back the draw here in the first leg.
Schalke 04 lie in 14th place in the Bundesliga with just six wins from their 21 games this season and having collected 22 points so far.
Man City in contrast are top of the Premier League on goal difference, having taken 65 points from 27 games scoring 74 goals in the process.
Schalke will be without Spanish midfielder Omar Mascarell who is suspended for this game. City have no players suspended.
The teams have met three times previously, City winning two and one game finishing in a draw however there last meeting was 10 years ago in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup.
It is fair to say that Schalke 04, their Champions League adventure apart, have endured a pretty miserable season so far. They lie well down the table in the Bundesliga and embroiled in a battle to avoid relegation to the Bundesliga II, rather than being at the top of the table battling it out for European football next season.
It’s therefore going to be a huge ask for the team, who have inconsistency as their hallmark this season, to take on a team like Manchester City who are still going strong in all four competitions they are competing in and who look like potential European Champions, if they can rediscover that kind of form in this competition.
Pep Guardiola certainly has his team flying and even away from home, City won’t be fazed about facing a team like Schalke. Indeed, when the draw was made, every seeded team would have opted to face Schalke than any other second place team as they are comfortably the worst team left in the competition.
As such, I can’t see anything but a City win here but I do feel they are susceptible to conceding more goals in Europe, so I can see Schalke scoring a goal, but I still feel City will take a comfortable two goal lead, if not more, back to England for the second leg.
Man City to win & both teams to score - £10 returns £28.80
David 'the Cheeky Punter' Lenton is an ex professional online sports bettor and trader with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He has also worked for a number of top bookmakers including Bet365, Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral. With such a long time spent dedicated to the gambling industry no one is better placed when it comes to advising punters. Follow on Twitter @thecheekypunter