Mark O’Haire’s Champions League Tips – TuesdayStats
Real Madrid are just 1/80 to secure their place in the Champions League quarter-finals after taking a 2-0 first leg lead in Rome three weeks ago but it wasn’t all plain sailing for Zinedine Zidane’s men.
Real Madrid v Roma, Tuesday 8 March 19.45, BT Sport Europe
The Italians silenced Real in the first-half of that Stadio Olimpico bout as the Spaniards failed to land a shot-on-target in the first 45 minutes of a game for the first time in five years. However, Cristiano Ronaldo broke the deadlock just before the hour mark before Jese landed a killer blow just five minutes off full-time.
Madrid have W2-D1-L1 since the first leg opener and their 7-1 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday wasn’t quite as one-sided as the score suggests. Once again, Los Blancos produced a laboured first-half display but after the interval they cut loose as Ronaldo papered over the cracks with a clinical performance.
The Portuguese superstar is now La Liga’s top scorer and became the first player in history in Spain to put away 25 league goals in seven consecutive seasons. He’s hit 39 goals this season including eight in his most recent six and 14 in his last 10 appearances. In Champions League football, CR7 has notched 89 goals in 122 games –remarkable figures.
With Madrid out of the Spanish title race and kicked out of the Copa del Rey, the Champions League is keeping the 10-times European champions season alive. And Zidane’s troops should be boosted by the return of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Marcelo and Gareth Bale to bolster their midfield and attacking ranks here.
Real remain unbeaten in the 2015/16 competition and when hosting European foes, Los Blancos have managed W28-D3-L2 at the Bernabeu.
No side has scored more often than Madrid’s 21 this term and no visitor to their Spanish capital home has yet to manage a goal.
The hosts have actually kept their sheets clean in 13 of their last 17 outings in Europe’s premier club competition.
However, for all Real’s attacking verve and offensive swagger, they remain vulnerable defensively. Since Zidane took charge, the home side have shutout just two of their last 10 opponents and just five of their previous 22. Even in Rome, Madrid were a touch fortunate to keep a clean sheet.
With that in mind, you’d fancy Roma to ruffle a few feathers on Tuesday night. The Giallorossi have won each of their three Serie A fixtures since the two teams’ first meeting, hitting 12 goals, including four in Friday night’s resounding victory over Fiorentina.
It’s now seven successive triumphs in Serie A under Luciano Spalletti, netting at least twice on each occasion as the veteran boss has added order, versatility and confidence back into the group. Mo Salah, Diego Perotti and Stephan El Shaarawy are all capable of hurting Real’s backline should the Giallorossi look to release the shackles and break at pace.
However, it’s hard to ignore Roma’s rotten Champions League record, especially on the road. The visitors have returned W0-D4-L4 in their last eight Champions League away days with their last taste of success on their travels in this competition dating back to 2010.
Spaletti’s side have bagged just three wins on the European scene in 22, have kept their sheets clean just once in 21 in the Champions League and shipped two or more goals in seven of their most recent 10 as guests. Nevertheless, they have found the back of the net themselves in seven of those last 10.
So the ideal solution is to find a pro-Real Madrid angle alongside a goal-heavy game. Roma’s matches have already produced 29 goals across seven matches and their three away days have featured a jaw-dropping 20 goals – chuck in the fact that nine of Real’s previous 10 at the Bernabeu have broken the Over 3.5 Goals mark and I think we’re on the right lines.
With Real Madrid to win and Over 3.5 Goals trading at 17/10, I’ll make that my best bet in the Spanish capital, representing slightly better value than the Real to win and Both Teams To Score angle at 13/8.
Real Madrid to win and Over 3.5 Goals @ 17/10
Wolfsburg v Gent, Tuesday 8 March 19.45, BT Sport 2
Wolfsburg and Gent go head-to-head, with both teams bidding to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time.
The tie looked all but over in Belgium after an hour as Wolfsburg raced into a three-goal lead, scoring with three of their four shots-on-target. However, Dieter Hecking’s men took their foot off the throttle and somehow conspired to leak two late goals in a calamitous final 10 minutes.
The Germans are still heavy favourites to progress (1/25) but the first leg outcome has at least given this contest a bit more gloss than we’d originally expected. It would still take a brave punter to oppose the Wolves here mind, with the hosts’ form settling down after a difficult run in December and January.
Wolfsburg have W4-D1-L1 in their last six with runaway domestic leaders Bayern Munich the only side to see off the hosts in that spell. But Hecking’s charges gave Bayern a stern test with Manuel Neuer forced into eight saves – the most saves he’s made across any Bundesliga game since signing from Schalke.
The hosts picked up maximum points at their Volkswagen Arena home in all three fixtures during the Champions League group-phase and in domestic action only Bayern and Dortmund have left the Wolves’ den with maximum points this term. The Germans have managed to score in 16 of their last 17 on home soil.
One man who’s really taken to Wolfsburg life is £25.5m man Julian Draxler. Scorer of two first leg goals in a Man of the Match performance, including one stunner, Draxler has now notched six goals in 2016 from eight appearances. The German international has netted in back-to-back games and should again lead the attack for the hosts who are without the injured Bas Dost. More on Draxler shortly…
Gent’s prospects in turning the tie on its head look limited.
The Belgian outfit have suffered defeats in four of their last five road trips, failing to score in three.
The Buffalos have fallen to four losses in seven overall and recorded a solitary clean sheet in that spell too.
Head coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck is still unable to call on the injured trio of Hannes Van Der Bruggen, Peter Olayinka and Gustav Wikheim so Gent are likely to line up in the same XI that loss the first leg. But I’m not willing to rule out the visitors from scoring here.
Vanhaezebrouck’s troops have struck in all seven of their Champions League games this season, six of which have seen winning Both Teams To Score bets. Indeed, five of Gent’s last six have produced winning Over 2.5 Goals selections and so finding a way to support goals looks the obvious solution.
Since the start of last season, Wolfsburg have W24-D7-L2 as hosts in Bundesliga and Champions League action – 20/33 (61%) featured successful BTTS bets – so with Gent’s penchant for grabbing a goal, I like the idea of taking Wolfsburg to win and Both Teams To Score at 2/1 quotes.
I’m also going to have a wee poke on the 28/1 scorecast for Draxler to net first in a 2-1 Wolfsburg win. All three of Gent’s group games on their travels ended in 2-1 scorelines, it fits the bill with our main selection and also incorporates an in-form Draxler playing in a much more advanced position.
Wolfsburg to win & Both Teams To Score @ 2/1
Julian Draxler to score first & Wolfsburg to win 2-1 @ 28/1
*Prices correct at time of publication.