Guardiola sets sight on Europe as Manchester City take on Monaco
We witnessed a St. Valentine’s day massacre, a Munich mauling, a Zlatrick and some other stunning spectacles in the UEFA Champions league and UEFA Europa league matches played last week and we will be expecting more exciting scenarios when both competitions resume today through Thursday. Four first leg matches will be played in the UCL first knockout round, while sixteen return leg matches will be played in the Europa league’s round of thirty-two and as usual I will be previewing the UCL games with betting tips and giving you my betting tips for all sixteen Europa League fixtures to guide you as you place your bets on www.nairabet.com
MANCHESTER CITY vs. MONACO
Pep Guardiola and his Manchester City side will host French league leaders, Monaco at the Etihad tonight and the Catalan would have watched how a French team dismantled his former club in Paris last week. Guardiola will be desperate to see his side bounce back from the goalless draw with Championship side Huddersfield in the FA Cup and advance in Europe, but Monaco will present a very tough challenge as they are four points ahead of Barcelona’s conquerors Paris St-Germain in Ligue 1. The Citizens have only failed to hit the back of the net twice in their previous fourteen home games in the Champions League, while Monaco struggle to keep clean sheets away from home in the competition and they have conceded in each of their previous nine away Champions League games.
However, the French side have scored in eight of their last ten away games in the Champions League and will believe they can get something from tonight’s game. City’s new sensation, Gabriel Jesus will not make his UCL debut tonight because of a metatarsal injury and that will mean that the club’s record goal scorer in Europe, Sergio Aguero, should start alongside Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and David Silva. Radamel Falcao has rediscovered his scoring touch this season after two barren years in England, scoring sixteen goals in twenty league matches and two more in the UCL. The Monaco skipper will be a real threat to the Manchester City defense and they will need to keep an eye on the Colombian if they want to keep a clean sheet tonight. I think the Mancunians will edge this one and I will go for a Manchester City win tonight and over 1.5 goals.
BAYER LEVERKUSEN vs. ATLETICO MADRID
In Germany, Bayer Leverkusen will host last year’s finalists, Atletico Madrid tonight in the first leg of their round of sixteen tie and the last time these two teams met in this competition, it was in this stage two seasons ago and it was a very very close encounter as both teams had to be separated by penalties after two hundred and ten minutes of football and one goal apiece. It has not been the best of seasons for the German team domestically as they are in eighth place in the Bundesliga, however they have won their last two matches in the league and would want to continue on that streak when they host the team from Madrid tonight.
Atletico Madrid were very impressive in the group stages of the competition, winning five of their six games and conceding just two goals to win the group ahead of German giants Bayern Munich. Their defensive solidity has been the bedrock of their rise to prominence in this competition alongside their killer instincts upfront. Diego Simeone has instilled his personality into this team and they are one tough cookie to crack. This game will be difficult to call but I will go ahead and advise on a double chance bet on Atletico Madrid and under 2.5 goals on www.nairabet.com
PORTO vs. JUVENTUS
FC Porto will host Juventus tomorrow night in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 battle with the aim of recording their first ever victory over ‘The Old Lady’ of Italian football. Porto have not beaten Juventus in three previous attempts and with first leg at their magnificent Estádio Do Dragão in Porto, they will want to make the most of their home advantage in this match. Both teams played their domestic league games on Friday night, enjoying victories and getting some rest ahead of this fixture. Porto will go into this match on the back of six successive wins in the Portuguese league, in fact, they haven’t lost in the league since August and have won fifteen of their last twenty league matches.
As impressive as that record is however, it doesn’t match up to that of their opponents, who have collected sixty three points from a possible seventy- five in the league this season, winning twenty one of their twenty five league games played. The Italian team is unbeaten in the competition this season winning four and drawing two of their six group matches and Porto will have to produce a herculean effort to hand the Italians their first defeat in the competition. Twenty-one year old Andre Silva has been banging in the goals for Porto in the league this season and he will need to be at his goal scoring best tomorrow night to give the Potuguese side an advantage going into the second leg next month. Porto have a very solid defense and they will be seriously tested by Juventus, especially by their in form Argentine striker, Gonzalo Higuain, who has scored nineteen goals in twenty-five league games. I will advise on a double chance bet on Juventus and under 2.5 goals.
SEVILLA vs. LEICESTER CITY
Perenial Europa league winners, Sevilla will host Leicester City tomorrow night in the UCL and with the current form of both teams; one would be forgiven to think this would be an easy tie for the Spanish side. Sevilla are currently third in La Liga, just two points below Barcelona and three behind leaders Real Madrid. They finished second in their group winning three matches, drawing two and losing just once, while Leicester City were very impressive in their own group winning four matches to top the group ahead of Porto. It hasn’t been going as planned domestically for Leicester as they are just a point above the relegation places in the league and were knocked out by Milwall in the FA Cup this past weekend.
It is widely believed that Claudio Ranieri would have been shown the door if he hadn’t accomplished what he had last season. They have been a shadow of the team that dominated England next season, however, they have been a different kind of animal in the UCL and they will hope that their domestic form doesn’t catch up with them when they take on the Spaniards tomorrow night. The loss of N’golo Kante has been a major factor in their slump this season and with the January capture of Wilfred Ndidi, they are hopeful that their fortunes will begin to turn around very soon. A double chance bet on Porto and over 1.5 goals are my tips for this game.
Zlatan Ibrahimvic and Edin Dzeko both scored hatricks for Manchester United and Roma respectively in their first leg ties against their opponents in the Europa League, while Lyon, Rostov and Schalke all had convincing first legs wins and just need to not get complacent in the return legs to book their places in the round of sixteen. Some of the remaining ties are still delicately poised and on Thursday night, we will find out the teams that will be advancing to the round of sixteen. There are a dozen Nigerian players left in the competition and we hope that the number will not reduce significantly when the next round commences. Below are the second leg fixtures of the Europa league round of thirty-two with my betting tip for each game to use on www.nairabet.com
Fenerbahçe vs. Krasnodar (Double chance for Fenerbahce)
Osmanlıspor vs. Olympiakos Piraeus (Double chance for Olympiakos)
Genk vs. Astra (Double chance for Genk)
København vs. Ludogorets (København win)
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Celta de Vigo (Over 1.5 goals)
Tottenham vs. Gent (Tottenham win)
Sparta Praha vs. Rostov (Over 1.5 goals)
Fiorentina vs. Borussia M’gladbach (Over 1.5 goals)
Olympique Lyonnais vs. AZ (Over 1.5 goals)
Saint-Etienne vs. Manchester United (Double chance for Manchester United)
Schalke 04 vs. PAOK (Schalke win)
APOEL vs. Athletic Club (Athletic win)
Ajax vs. Legia Warszawa (Double chance for Legia)
Roma vs. Villareal (Over 1.5 goals)
Zenit vs. Anderlecht (Zenith win)
Beşiktas vs. Hapoel Be’er Sheva (Double chance for Hapoel)