Football,

Champions League Preview

RB Leipzig v Tottenham Hotspur (1-0)
Spurs travel Leipzig looking to defy their shocking recent form and pull off a famous victory to progress to the quarter-finals. Mourinho’s men have had no luck with injuries and labored to a 1-1 draw at Burnley, following their midweek exit from the FA cup at the hands of the Premier League’s bottom side Norwich. Meanwhile Leipzig are unbeaten in their previous six games in all competitions and sit third in the Bundesliga. The German side had the best of the first leg and could have easily been further ahead in the tie had they taken a few of the guilt edge chances they created in North London.

Without Kane and Son, Spurs look set to struggle again and will need to draw on inspiration taken from their miracle turnaround in Ajax in the semi-final stage last year. However with confidence seemingly at an all-time low and after a bizarre midweek incident involving Erik Dier and a fan, a similar reversal looks a long way off. Julian Nagelsmann’s side are rightly fancied (4/7) going into the game and it would be a big surprise if they were to fail to justify their favorites tag. Apologies to Spurs fans but I foresee a very tough night for them in Leipzig and fancy the hosts on the handicap at -1. (13/10 with Fitzdares).

Valencia v Atalanta (1-4)
In the night’s other game Valencia host Atalanta at the Mestalla, clinging on to slim hopes of overturning the three goal deficit from their trip to Italy. Unfortunately for the Spanish side, the outbreak of the Coronavirus means the second-leg will take place behind closed doors. Without the vociferous support of the Valencia faithful, there is a worry that the second leg could fizzle out into a bit of a damp squib.

The first leg was a very open encounter with chances galore created at either end. Atalanta have been free scoring to say the least this season, netting 70 goals in 25 games, making them comfortably the top scorers in Serie A. They will be confident of scoring an away goal in Valencia which should allow them to see the game out and ensure progression to the next round.

Valencia created their fair share of chances in the first game but without their home crowd, they could struggle to get the early momentum that they need in order to climb the mountain in front of them. The fact that Over 2.5 goals is a staggeringly short 4/9 tells you that goals are expected, however it could be worth taking the generous 8/11 about under 3.5 goals and hoping the tie is done and dusted by half-time.

Liverpool v Atletico Madrid (0-1)
Liverpool will be hoping for yet another famous European night at Anfield, but will need to be at their very best to hold on to hopes of retaining their title they won in Madrid last year. Atletico put in a vintage gritty performance three weeks ago to bring a narrow 1-0 lead into the second-leg. The home side have hit their first rough patch of the season which began with defeat at the Wanda Metropolitano, saw them lose their unbeaten Premier League record at Watford and get dumped out of the FA cup at Chelsea. They did bounce back to winning ways with a 2-1 home win over Bournemouth, but it was far from the convincing form that we had become accustomed to earlier in the season from the Reds.

Captain and talisman Jordan Henderson is set to return having missed out since the first-leg, however goalkeeper Alison is a confirmed absentee from the side. Stand in keeper Adrian made a bad mistake leading to the opener at Stamford Bridge and with an away goal so crucial in this game, another error might prove costly for Liverpool. As seen in the first leg, Atletico’s strength at set pieces can be crucial as they try and frustrate their opposition and Adrian will have to be strong to keep them at bay.

It would however be foolish to write Liverpool off, especially under the lights at Anfield. They have shown time and time again that they have the quality to blow teams away but should Atletico weather an early storm or two, I fancy them to nick a goal and ultimately progress at 4/5.

PSG v Broussia Dortmund (1-2)
Unfortunately, this is the second of the week’s fixtures that will take place behind closed doors, as it was announced earlier that no spectators will be allowed into the Parc des Princes to get behind PSG. However more concerning than the lack of support, will be the doubt over key man Kylian Mbappe, who took no part in training before the second-leg showdown. He is expected to feature but it is hardly the ideal preparation and neither was having their weekend game at Strasbourg postponed.

Dortmund have won all three of their games since the first-leg victory, climbing up to second place in the Bundesliga as a result. The competition’s top scorer Erling Braut Haland is the headline danger man, having notched 10 goals already. The away goal that PSG notched in Dortmund could prove to be vital and with their array of attacking stars, I can see the Parisians having enough firepower to progress to the quarter-final and avoid another disappointing exit before the business end of the competition.
PSG to qualify at 19/20.

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