THERE are four Champions League last 16 ties to wrap up before we get to the adjusted one-game knockouts from the quarter-finals onwards featuring three champions of Europe's top five leagues in action. Barcelona and Napoli have let the side down on that front, but then Lionel Messi versus Kalidou Koulibaly, Dries Mertens vs Gerard Pique and all the other surrounding narratives will more than probably make up for it. Here are your Champions League last 16 betting tips.
Sergio Aguero will miss out but in Gabriel Jesus, Man City have a striker with 12 goals in 14 Champions League starts including three in his last four in the knockout stages and of course the equaliser in March's 2-1 win at the Bernabeu. City have progressed in all seven European knockout ties after winning the first leg away, while Real Madrid have never overturned a first leg defeat after losing at home.
Real managed just nine shots in the first leg – the second fewest they've attempted in any Champions League game under Zinedine Zidane, but since then, Karim Benzema has hit top form and Eden Hazard has returned from injury. Real have won their last four Champions League matches in the knockout stages, but they are staring down the barrel of a second straight last 16 elimination after last year's 5-3 aggregate defeat to Ajax.
Real's two previous Champions League trips to the Etihad both resulted in draws – 1-1 in 2012/13 and 0-0 in 2015/16 – while City's five home knockouts matches under Pep Guardiola have produced 28 goals (18 for, 10 against). Combining the two, I like the score draw here.
The decision to curtail the 2019/20 Ligue 1 season due to the pandemic should have a bearing on this match. While Lyon competed well with Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de la Ligue final, losing only on penalties, that is the French side's only competitive fixture since March 8. Juventus meanwhile have ticked over nicely, cruising to a ninth straight Serie A title, and even having the luxury of resting their best players.
Paulo Dybala could miss out here, but Cristiano Ronaldo will return to the starting lineup after sitting out Saturday's 3-1 defeat to Roma. Juve's talisman has 18 goals in his last 12 Champions League knockout matches at home. Lyon managed a comfortable 1-0 win in the first leg but they do not travel well in Europe. In their last 10 matches away from home, Les Gones have drawn two, lost eight, and failed to score in six.
Lyon have lost the second leg of nine of their last 10 Champions League knockout ties – they average 0.5 goals per game in that run, and 2.5 goals against. Juventus have overturned an impressive five of their last 11 Champions League ties after losing the first leg. Although Maurizio Sarri's side are averaging two goals conceded per game in their last nine outings, they have more than enough to get the job done.
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The last thing you want after your defensive shortcomings were brutally exposed in the FA Cup Final is a clash with arguably the most clinical team in Europe in 2019/20. And that's before you get to the fact Chelsea must overturn a 3-0 first leg home loss – something that has never been achieved in Champions League history. The Blues are also without a knockout win away from home in the Champions League since 2012.
In their 22 matches since the Bundesliga returned from its winter break in January, Bayern have won 21 and drawn one. Hansi Flick inherited a dejected side that languished in seventh position but has rapidly transformed them into treble chasers following their an easily obtained eighth straight title, and a DFB Pokal victory against Bayer Leverkusen. However, the Bavarians have played just one friendly in the last month.
Bayern can become only the second team ever to win their first eight Champions League matches of a campaign. In the previous seven wins, Munich average 3.9 goals per game, and 0.7 goals against. With Serge Gnabry scoring all six of his Champions League goals this season against London sides (4 vs Tottenham, 2 vs Chelsea), and unofficial Ballon d'Or winner Robert Lewandowski averaging a goal or assist every 41 minutes in the Champions League this season, it could get very messy very quickly for Chelsea.
Barcelona were poor at the San Paolo in the first leg, but they'll be confident back at home where they are unbeaten in 35 Champions League matches (31 wins, four draws) – the second best run in the competition after Bayern's 45-game run between 1969 and 1991. It is however under-fire manager Quique Setien's first Champions League match at the Camp Nou.
Napoli have won just one of their last 10 Champions League away games (D4, L5), and both their previous knockout games away from home ended in defeat (1-4 vs Chelsea in 2012, and 1-4 vs Real Madrid in 2017). The Partenopei are however unbeaten in their three away games in this season's competition (W1, D2) and Gennaro Gattuso's side are in good shape after a strong end to the season in which they lost just three of 15 post-lockdown games, and overcame Inter and Juventus to win the Coppa Italia.
But after letting the La Liga title slip through their fingers, Barca have to be up for this game and they do of course possess the advantage after a 1-1 first leg draw. Luis Suarez missed that game through injury, but now he's back scoring goals alongside Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann, Barcelona will surely have too much for a Napoli defence which conceded 50 goals in 38 Serie A games this season.