Football,

The second coming of a Champion

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We now find ourselves at the business end of the season. With the Premier League done and dusted (we have already paid that out), our football trader Alex Mitchell focuses on the Champions League knock-out stages. As we saw last week, this is when it starts to get exciting. So far, the English teams have not hit the ground running, with both Liverpool and Spurs losing their first legs. This week we hope for a bit more from both City and Chelsea. However, in the Champions League, nothing is guaranteed.

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Chelsea vs Bayern Munich (20:00 Tuesday)
Mitch’s play: Bayern -1 handicap @ 2/1

In a repeat of the 2012 final, Chelsea host Bayern Munich tonight. There is slim chance, however, that the Blues will enjoy the same fond emotions as they did eight years ago. Bayern were the only team to boast a 100% record in the group stages, including a resounding 7-2 demolition of Tottenham Hotspur in their previous visit to the capital. They also average the most shots per game and managed to score 24 goals, six more than any other side could manage.

The German champions have won 10 of their last 11 games in all competitions and, in Robert Lewandowski, have the joint leading scorer in the Champions League. He will be keen to wrestle back the outright lead in the race for the golden boot after Erling Haaland’s headline-grabbing brace saw him draw level with the Polish marksman.

Chelsea’s victory over Spurs at the weekend will give them the hope of earning something to take to Bavaria in three weeks’ time. Although the Blues were impressive against a Spurs side missing key players, they have only managed to keep five clean sheets in the league this season and conceded six goals at home in the group stage.

Marcos Alonso provided a potent attacking threat on Saturday but has often been criticised for his defensive output, which could be exploited tonight should Lampard opt to play the Spanish left-back. This, coupled with Bayern’s attacking prowess, means that the Blues defence could be in for a long night, likely to end in conceding too many away goals to come back from. If you have more faith in the Blues backline than me, I have boosted under 1.5 Bayern Total Team Goals from 21/20, NOW 6/5.

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Napoli vs Barcelona (20:00 Tuesday)
Mitch’s play: Under 2.5 goals at 19/20

In the night’s other game, Napoli host Barcelona in what is sure to be a typically intimidating atmosphere at the San Paolo Stadium. Barcelona are without Suarez, Dembele and both fullbacks, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto. They do, however, go to Naples off the back of a much-needed confidence-boosting 5-0 win against Eibar on the weekend, with main man Lionel Messi notching four goals. He had just gone four games without a goal, his longest drought in six years.

Barcelona manager Quique Setien takes charge of his first Champions League game for which he has had to call upon five players from Barcelona B to make up the travelling party. Napoli have struggled this season but have seemingly turned a corner of late, beating Juventus and winning four of their five league games, as well as a fantastic first-leg victory against Inter Milan in their Copa Italia semi-final first leg.

The Italians have proved tough to break down at home in the Champions league conceding just one goal in three games, including a clean sheet victory at home to holders Liverpool. With Barcelona missing two of their key attacking threats, it might be worth siding with under 2.5 goals at 19/20.

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