Mark O’Haire’s Champions League Tips – Tuesday
Manchester City may have conceded defeat in the Premier League title race following their meek 0-0 draw at Norwich on Saturday but a first taste of quarter-final Champions League action looks all but inevitable after a commanding performance in Ukraine three weeks ago.
Manchester City v Dynamo Kiev, Tuesday 15 March 2016 (19.45), BT Sport Europe
Outgoing manager Manuel Pellegrini appears to have prioritised continental success over domestic duels and the Citizens boss will have been thrilled with his team’s performance during their 3-1 first leg win.
In truth, the margin of victory in Ukraine could and should have been greater but it followed a familiar theme in 2015/16. City have saved their best away days for Europe and the Kiev clash matched their outstanding shows in Sevilla and Gladbach earlier in the campaign.
Now us punters must decide whether Pellegrini will look to finish the job in style at the Etihad or go soft ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby. My initial hunch is to believe the Chilean boss will be looking for the former after their lacklustre weekend efforts.
It’s quite astounding to learn that City have failed to record back-to-back victories in the Premier League since early October but at 4/7, the Citizens do represent a decent, if prohibitively short to back, price on Tuesday night.
City have taken top honours in five of their seven Champions League games this season, scoring at least twice in five of their most recent six. The hosts have come out on top in 13 of their 17 Etihad outings since October and only failed to notch once in front of their home supporters all season.
But if Pellegrini’s troops are going to seal their last-eight place with a strong performance, keeping a clean sheet looks unlikely. It’s nearly five years since City shut out Champions League opposition on home soil (one clean sheet in 17) with the home side stopping their opposition scoring twice in 31 continental clashes.
All five of Man City’s European wins this season have arrived alongside a winning Both Teams To Score bet, as have 10 of their last 11 triumphs in this competition dating back to 2013. Include all competitions and 11 of City’s last 13 home victories have come despite conceding whilst 18 of their recent 19 Etihad outings have featured three or more goals.
Of course, it’s quite possible that this encounter could fizzle out with Dynamo possibly preferring to focus on securing a successful defence of their Ukrainian title but even so, it’s hard to imagine the capital club grabbing an unexpected second leg win.
Dynamo have W4-D7-L23 in their last 34 away Champions League ties, have W0-D2-L11 in England – never scoring more than once – and must score at least three goals to stand any chance of progression.
Sergiy Rebrov is sweating on the fitness of Andriy Yarmolenko, Oleksandr Rybka and Sergiy Sydorchuk with Mykyta Burda, Mykola Morozyuk, Serhiy Myakushko, Radosav Petrovic, Serhiy Rybalka and Junior Moraes all ruled out, so the visitors’ team news isn’t ideal, either.
However, Kiev have not failed to net on the road since August, as well as in each of their last 11 Champions League away trips and should be capable of enhancing that record if they take an offensive approach in Manchester.
City to win and Both Teams To Score has been chalked up at an attractive 9/4…
…but it might also be worth backing the 2-1 and 3-1 correct scores for a bit of interest at fancy odds of 7/1 and 11/1 respectively.
Manchester City to win and Both Teams To Score (9/4)
Manchester City to win 2-1 (7/1)
Manchester City to win 3-1 (11/1)
Atletico Madrid v PSV Eindhoven, Tuesday 15 March 2016 (19.45), BT Sport 2
Atletico Madrid’s second leg with PSV Eindhoven appears finely balanced on paper following a forgetful 0-0 draw in the Netherlands three weeks ago. I backed the Spaniards to succeed that night and once again I’m willing to wager Diego Simeone’s side can get the result they require this time around.
Since that goalless game in the Philips Stadion, Atletico have won the Madrid derby in the Bernabeu, the first of four successive victories ‘to nil’ in which Antoine Griezmann has scored. Los Rojiblancos have scored at least three goals in each of their last fixtures – their best scoring streak for over a year.
On Saturday, Deportivo were brushed aside 3-0 as the Mattress Makers collected their 19th La Liga clean sheet of the season and no side across Europe’s major leagues have shipped fewer league goals than the capital club’s tally of 12 this term.
Goalkeeper Jan Oblak had just one save to make in the first leg duel and with the 2014 finalists having recorded clean sheets in 12 of their last 16 Champions League matches as well as 11 of their most recent 13 at the Vicente Calderon, counting on the hosts to repeat the feat appears the most obvious angle to take.
Since Simeone arrived in Madrid, Atleti have W11-D2-L1 of their 14 home Champions League ties, leaking in just three. This season, the hosts have suffered a solitary defeat at the Calderon and shipped just six goals – defensive stats that are just unparalleled across the continent.
Sure, PSV head to Spain having W17-D5-L0 in their last 22 with Phillip Cocu’s charges keeping their own sheets clean in six of their past seven games. And it’s worth noting too that the Dutch Eredivisie leaders have only leaked one goal in their last four Champions League games, a penalty against CSKA Moscow.
With star striker Luuk de Jong returning from suspension to give Eindhoven more of an aerial presence the Dutch raiders may fancy their chances of causing an upset.
However, PSV have W1-D2-L9 on their travels in this competition and stopper Jeroen Zoet has made more saves than any other goalkeeper among the teams left in this season’s Champions League.
I’ve been a massive admirer of Atletico over the past three campaigns and would always want Simeone’s men onside.
With the trends in our favour, the 9/5 on Atletico to win and Under 2.5 Goals is a value selection that’s well worth a nibble.
Atletico Madrid to win and Under 2.5 Goals (9/5)
*Prices correct at time of publication.