The second week of Champions League knock out matches starts with two more intriguing ties.
Last week saw the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Roma and holders Real Madrid kick off this high pressure stage of the competition and we are now graced with matches involving Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Lyon and Barcelona.
Once again we have two matches on Tuesday and two on the Wednesday to complete the first leg ties – and give us more of an idea who is likely to progress to the quarter finals.
Tuesday’s games feature some clubs who are enjoying incredibly successful seasons domestically – but the Champions League is where greatness is measured these days and they will all want to be lifting the trophy in Madrid in June.
I’m going to be looking at both Tuesday’s ties from a betting perspective to see where the value is in the prices and markets – as well as previewing the games and making some all-important picks.
Liverpool vs Bayern Munich
Here are the latest odds, courtesy of Betway.
Liverpool to Win
Bayern Munich to Win
I get the feeling that if this was any other season the odds would look very different for this fixture. Liverpool are finally looking like real Premier League title contenders – while Bayern are doing there best to end their seven year run of Bundesliga titles with some very poor performances.
With the famous Anfield crowd sure to play their part, Liverpool are rightfully considered favorites for this first leg match but my initial reaction is that a price of 2.00 is not adventurous enough for a wager.
The draw looks the most interesting to me – although Bayern will have to be on top of their game to get a result. A price of 3.60 is just not long enough for an away win and that probably sums up how disappointing this campaign has been for the German champions.
But first, let me take a more detailed look at both sides before revealing my pick for the Liverpool vs Bayern Munich match.
Jurgen Klopp’s men have played without fear this season and managed to get all the way to the new year before losing a single game in the English Premier League – and that was against Manchester City.
Their experience of Europe has been slightly different however. Liverpool has looked incredibly strong at home – winning all three of the group stage matches against PSG, Red Star Belgrade and Napoli – but has struggled on the road.
More concerning for Klopp will be their ever growing injury list that leaves the Liverpool coach without his first choice defensive line for the visit of Bayern. Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren are both out – with talismanic Virgil van Dijk suspended. Fabinho may well be asked to cover at center back once again.
But it is Liverpool’s attacking power that can take control of this game – and if Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino can team up, like they have done all season, then Bayern’s defense will enough problems of its own.
Things are changing in Germany. The seemingly perennial Bayern Bundesliga title celebrations look like they will at least be put on hold this year as Borussia Dortmund look in commanding form.
In the Champions League the German champions has fared better, topping their group and going unbeaten in the six group stage games. Only fellow qualifiers Ajax were able to take any points off of the Munich club.
Thomas Muller will miss the tie through suspension but apart from that Bayern look to be at full strength. Head coach Niko Kovac has been utilizing young wide men Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry in recent weeks – instead of the older Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery – and they have been able to keep Robert Lewandowski’s impressive scoring form going.
The Poland international is the top scorer in the Champions League this season with eight goals in just six games – and I think that Bayern will be relying on him to give them a chance in the second leg.
My Pick and Prediction
I just can’t see Liverpool ending their impressive Champions League home run but the price of 2.00 is not high enough for me. I think that Liverpool will win but Bayern may make a good game of it and definitely have the firepower to get on the score sheet themselves.
The pace of Coman and Gnabry could cause a makeshift Liverpool defense all kinds of problems if they are given the chance – and Lewandowski’s record speaks for itself.
That’s why I’m going to go for Liverpool to win and both teams to score at 3.40. I don’t think Bayern are playing well enough this season to take a win – or even a draw – back to the Allianz Arena but an away goal will make the second leg intriguingly enticing.
Pick: Liverpool to Win and Both Teams to Score 3.40
Lyon v Barcelona
The other game on Tuesday sees Lyon host Barcelona – here are the latest odds for that one from Betway.
Lyon to Win
Barcelona to Win
The first thing that stands out from those odds is the 4.75 for a home win. Admittedly, it is because the visitors are Barcelona – with Lionel Messi due to come back after being rested in La Liga – but still tempting all the same.
There is no value in the Barcelona win with that price, but the draw is an intriguing prospect with Lyon masters at that result so far this season.
Barcelona is the overwhelming favorite for this game – and to go through to the quarter final stage – but this first leg tie could be closer than many think.
Lyon managed to qualify for the knock out rounds of this year’s Champions League while only winning one match in its group. That victory was a shock result against Manchester City and the French club then proceeded to draw the remaining five games to go through as runners up.
The group contained a few tricky away trips – Manchester City notwithstanding – and although they were able to navigate their way past both Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon’s defense did concede 11 goals in the six games. That would be a particular worry coming up against Barcelona next.
But they were able to score 12 of their own and Nabil Fekir and Maxwel Cornet looked especially dangerous when given the chance. Memphis Depay also proved he can cause some problems for opposition defenses.
I feel it is unlikely that Lyon will get the better of Barcelona over two games but they did beat PSG recently and proved that they could upset the odds by beating Manchester City. A draw might not be such a ridiculous prediction.
It always seems like a bad idea to bet against Barcelona and with the Catalan giants looking to win their first Champions League since 2015 – and, perhaps even more importantly, end Real Madrid’s current reign – this could be the year that they go all the way.
Ernesto Valverde’s side are currently looking very good at the top of La Liga and qualified for the Champions League knock out rounds with two games to spare. They even had the chance to concede a late goal at home to Spurs to see Inter knocked out of this year’s competition.
But Barcelona knows that it doesn’t need to win this game to go through. It is very unlikely that Lyon will get a result in the Camp Nou and that may dictate how the Catalan side prepare for this first leg tie.
They won two out of three away games in the group and will be most people’s favorites against Lyon – but do play late on Saturday night before making the trip to France so could be happy with a draw to take back home.
My Pick and Prediction
Realistically I feel that this tie is a mere formality for Barcelona as they look forward to the quarter finals, but as an individual game there is much more to take into consideration.
Unfortunately, given Barca’s incredible success over the past decade, there is not much value to be found in any wager involving an away win. So that is why I am going for Lyon to make things really interesting and gain a very creditable draw on Tuesday night. To give the price even more value I expect both teams to be able to find the net as well.
Pick: The Draw and Both Teams to Score 4.50
This promises to be another great night of Champions League soccer. There will be some potential finalists on display as we start to see which teams can really be considered as eventual champions.
As always, let me know what you think about my picks and predictions – and enjoy the games!