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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 2:33 PM (73 days ago)               #1
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Champions League: Lyon Make Last Stand in Leipzig

Lyon vs RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig will be under relatively little pressure in their final Champions League group game. The German side has already ensured qualification to the round of 16 and only need to avoid defeat to secure top spot in Group G.

Their opponents, Lyon, still have everything to play for, though. The French outfit can still make it to the knockout phase if they can get a better result against the Red Bulls than Zenit against Benfica.

The Champions League 2019 betting odds have Lyon priced as slight favourites to win at home, but beating an in-form RB Leipzig side will still be easier said than done.

 

Talking Points

Lyon still looking wobbly

Lyon just can't seem to string some decent results together. They've alternated wins and losses in their last seven matches in all competitions.

They picked up one of their biggest wins of the season over the weekend as they thumped Nimes, 4-0. But even then, they needed the bottom club in Ligue 1 to go down to nine men before they finally put the game away.

 


 

 

On the bright side, though, Memphis Depay has continued his outstanding form this season. The Dutch forward bagged a brace and an assist against Nimes and has now scored eight goals in his last eight appearances for his club.

Depay has also been producing a host of Champions League 2019 highlights. He's scored four goals in five matches in this year's competition. One of those goals was the opener in Lyon's shock 2-0 win over Leipzig in Germany.

Lyon will be without defenders Leo Dubois and Youssouf Kone, while Rafael is a doubt. Meanwhile, speedster Maxwel Cornet is also a question mark.

Even without Cornet, Lyon still has a wealth of attacking weapons with Depay, Moussa Dembele, Bertrand Traore, and Houssem Aouar. But those absent defenders will most likely make Lyon a bit vulnerable at the back.

RB Leipzig's impressive unbeaten run

RB Leipzig have been in imperious form of late. Since suffering that shock home loss to Lyon, they've lost just one of their last 12 matches (eight wins, three draws). Moreover, they've gone unbeaten in their last eight matches, winning seven of them.

Leipzig almost lost that unbeaten streak when they fell two goals behind at home to Benfica in their last Champions League outing. But they were able to salvage a dramatic draw thanks to a late Emil Forsberg brace.

They are coming off another impressive 3-1 win at home against Hoffenheim over the weekend, which has seen them stay in second, just one point behind surprise leaders Borussia Monchengladbach.

Timo Werner continued his remarkable goalscoring run by bagging another brace. The German has gone up to another level under manager Julian Nagelsmann. He already has 15 goals and five assists in 14 Bundesliga appearances and has added two goals and an assist in the Champions League.

Fellow forward Marcel Sabitzer has also been unleashed as a goal machine. The Austrian has already scored eight goals this season, surpassing last year's tally of five for all of last year.

Emil Forsberg in top form ahead of their Champions League clash against Lyon
RB Leipzig's Emil Forsberg celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates

However, the downside has been that their defence under Nagelsmann has not been that secure. They've kept just three cleans sheet in the league and have one in five Champions League matches.

The absence of starting central defenders Ibrahima Konate and Willi Orban for their trip to Lyon won't help matters. Forward Yussuf Poulsen is also a doubt to feature.

But with Werner and Sabitzer, Leipzig still have the ability to do significant damage against a Lyon defence which could be exposed as they go in search of the win.

 

History

This will be the two sides' second meeting all-time after Lyon surprised Red Bull at Leipzig.

Lyon have not had a particularly great home record against German clubs in recent years, winning one of their last four meetings. However, they've won seven of 13 such matches overall, with two draws and four defeats.

As for Leipzig, they've had two trips to France in their history. They won 4-1 at Monaco but were smashed 5-2 against Marseille in their 2018 Europa League quarter-final second leg, which they lost 5-3 on aggregate.

 

Betting Tip

??

Lyon vs RB Leipzig Draw 1X2 @ 3.55
December 11, 04:00 (GMT+8)

The SBOBET odds for this match are quite tight. Lyon are slight favourites at 2.46 to pick up the home win, while Leipzig aren't far behind at 2.62. A draw is priced at 3.55.

You could really see the match going either way, but I'm sticking my neck out and will go with a draw. And with both sides missing some key defenders, it could be quite an entertaining draw as well.

Lyon will most likely be on the offensive at home, and that should play right into Leipzig's hands with Werner and Sabitzer capable of hitting them on lightning-quick counterattacks.

Despite the French side's best efforts, Leipzig should still come away with the draw they need to top the group.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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This message was edited by SBOBET on 17-Dec-2019 at 2:33 PM


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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 3:41 PM (73 days ago)            #2
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Champions League: Liverpool Pass the Red Bull Test

Red Bull Salzburg 0-2 Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool booked their place in the knockout phase of the Champions League tonight with an impressive victory over a dangerous Red Bull Salzburg.

The Reds just needed a draw to qualify for the round of 16, and after an end-to-end first 45 minutes, even that looked in doubt. But two goals in two minutes early in the second half settled any Liverpool nerves.

Red Bull head coach Jesse Marsch can be proud of the way his young team has performed in a difficult group, but tonight, their usually free-scoring forwards came up against a world-class defence and a keeper on form.

In other Group E Champions League 2019 news, Napoli needed to see off Genk, and did so in style, with a thumping 4-0 win, and so the Serie A side joins Liverpool in the next stage.

 

Highlights of the game

Salzburg showed both sides of their game in the opening minutes: suspect defence and explosive attack.

The Austrians allowed Mo Salah in on goal and his shot was destined for the bottom corner until keeper Cican Stankovic stuck out a boot to save. Then, Red Bull broke when Takumi Minamino’s clever backheel released Hee-Chang Hwang, but his effort was saved by Alisson.

After a fast start from the hosts, Liverpool seemed to be getting a foothold in the game. Sadio Mane had a good chance on 20 minutes, which Stankovic blocked. Naby Keita followed up and his shot was charged down before Trent Alexander-Arnold skied his effort.

At the other end, Hwang almost got Erling Braut Haaland in, but Alisson was quick to stop the danger. Then, the Reds keeper made a good save from Haaland when the big Norwegian hit a fierce shot on goal.

Red Bull fail to defend their home turf against the reigning Champions League winners
Erling Braut Haaland attempts a goal with two Liverpool defenders trying to block

On the half-hour, Liverpool had a huge chance to break the deadlock. Keita played in Salah, and as we all expected the net to bulge, the Egyptian screwed his shot wide of the near post.

The Reds had a scare at the start of the second half when Haaland’s shot appeared to hit Dejan Lovren on the arm. The home players and fans appealed for a penalty, but the ref waved play on. And then, on 49 minutes Salah had another great chance when Mane put him through, but this time he blazed his shot over the bar.

Stankovic dove at Salah’s feet to make a brave save as the Egyptian looked set to break his duck and then, at the other end, Haaland blasted one into the side netting.

But in the blink of an eye, Liverpool were 0-2 up.

First, Naby Keita broke Red Bull’s resistance on 57 minutes, when Mane got in behind the defence before chipping over for the Guinean midfielder to head home. And 100 seconds later, after squandering two golden opportunities, Salah finally got his goal, and what a goal it was!

The Liverpool striker latched on to a long ball and took it round the keeper, but even though his touch took him wide, he still scored from the tightest of angles to seal the deal.

And that was that. Salah and Mane both had chances to make it 3-0, but two was more than enough for the celebrating band of travelling fans.

 

Key statistics

This game was still on a knife-edge at half-time, and while Liverpool had enjoyed more possession and shots, 57 per cent and eight to seven, the hosts had given Alisson a busy 45 minutes with six shots on target to Liverpool’s three.

Here at SBOBET, we expected goals in the first half, but we didn’t have to wait long after the break when Klopp’s team booked their place in the round of 16 with two explosive minutes early in the second period.

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The Champions League 2019 betting odds had Liverpool as third favourites to lift the trophy before kick-off, and at half-time that looked seriously under threat. But the Reds took control in the second 45, eventually winning the shot count by 21 to 11 with both teams having seven on target.

Salah’s goal took a while coming, but it’s his 19th for Liverpool in the Champions League.

 

What’s next?

Now it’s back to the Premier League for Liverpool where they hold an eight-point lead over Leicester City at the top of the table. And they are highly likely to maintain that when they entertain bottom club Watford at Anfield.

The Hornets have raised eyebrows this week, appointing their third manager of the season, this time plumping for Nigel Pearson, the ex-Leicester head coach.

Salzburg are unbeaten in 17 games in the Austrian Bundesliga and have an away game to Hartberg on Saturday; the sixth-place side have won three and lost two of their last five.

 

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This message was edited by SBOBET on 17-Dec-2019 at 3:41 PM


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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 3:45 PM (73 days ago)            #3
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Champions League: The Teen Who Broke Inter’s Hearts

Inter Milan 1-2 Barcelona

As Champions League groups go, this was as tough as they get.

In fact, for the second successive season, the fates had not fallen kindly when it came to Inter Milan and group stage pairings.

Last year, they narrowly missed out on a place in the last 16 of a group that also included Barcelona, Spurs, and PSV Eindhoven.

This time it was largely Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund who stood in their way.

A night of drama in the San Siro, where the sides drew 13 months ago -- when an 87th-minute Mauro Icardi goal earned Inter a 1-1 four minutes after Malcom had put Barça in front -- was always likely.

 

Highlights of the game

Antonio Conte failed to guide Inter Milan to the Champions League last 16
Antonio Conte was sad to see Inter Milan miss the Champions League last 16

The SBOBET Champions League betting odds favoured Internazionale and so did many of the omens.

That was because there was a genuine feeling the Catalan giants may take their foot off the gas.

With top spot in Group F long assured, it seemed likely coach Ernesto Valverde would shuffle his pack. It meant that the likes of Arturo Vidal, Carles Perez and Samuel Umtiti would start and they all did.

Moreover, it meant rests for a number of star men including Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto. In fact, by my calculations only five of the starting XI would usually be included.

Inter were up against a Barcelona side who had not lost a group stage fixture for more than three years.

They also knew they almost certainly had to win with Dortmund clear favourites to see off Slavia Prague at home.

Yes the Nerazzurri were unbeaten in their last nine matches with La Liga opposition on home soil, but they had recorded just three wins during that run so it was far from clear cut.

With a passionate crowd behind them, Inter were determined to build on their impressive start to the 2019-20 Serie A campaign. Their draw at Roma, coupled with champions Juventus losing at Roma, has left them two points clear at the top of the table.

Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez have formed an impressive partnership and they needed to be on form, even against a weakened Barca.

Martinez gave an indication of his intentions inside the opening minute with a shot that was blocked and team-mate Cristiano Biraghi also threatened early on but this was far from one-sided and Perez and Moussa Wague had dangerous efforts before the former opened the scoring with a left-footed shot.

The offside trap failed as the ball ultimately came off Diego Godin who knocked it into Perez’s path.

Inter needed to react before the break and Martinez forced a tricky save on the half-volley from debutant Neto before Danilo D’Ambrosio’s header skimmed the woodwork from a Lukaku cross.

The pressure finally paid off a minute before the break as Martinez held up the ball on the edge of the box and found Lukaku who drilled home from just outside the penalty area, with the aid of a deflection.

Into the second half and the game remained end-to-end with Ivan Rakitic and Antoine Griezmann firing in efforts for Barcelona and the home strike duo a constant threat for Inter.

As news came through that Dortmund were leading 2-1, Inter’s coach Antonio Conte threw on Matteo Politano and Sebastiano Esposito for the final push.

Yet as the pressure built, Barcelona remained dangerous on the counter and duly scored the goal which broke Inter hearts.

Teenager Ansu Fati had only been on the pitch a minute when he rifled the ball from the edge of the box and it bounced in off the inside of the far post.

A 17-year-old to watch for Barca and the inquest for big-spending Conte will begin.

A tough group but criticism will now rightly come the Nerazzurri’s way.

 



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Key statistics

Fati has become the youngest player to score in the history of the tournament (17 years and 40 days), beating Peter Oforiquaye’s previous record with Olympiacos against Rosenborg in October 1997 (17 years and 194 days).

This was Barcelona’s 150th UEFA Champions League win. Only Real Madrid have reached that landmark in the competition so far.

Barca have not failed to qualify for the knockout round of the Champions League since the 2000-01 season, while they have reached the last-16 stage or better in each of their last 16 campaigns.

The last seven Inter goals among Champions League and Serie A have been netted from strike duo Lukaku (3) and Martinez (4).

Barca have a mixed record away to Serie A opposition, winning seven, drawing 11, and losing seven of their 25 matches.

 

What’s next?

Inter Milan now have two Serie A fixtures before the domestic winter break. They travel to Fiorentina on Sunday (December 15) and then host Genoa on December 21.

Barcelona are at Real Sociedad this weekend before the ‘big one’ domestically. The first ‘El Clasico’ of the season takes place at the Nou Camp a week tonight (December 18).

 

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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 3:48 PM (73 days ago)            #4
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Champions League: Memphis Fires Lyon into Last 16

Lyon 2-2 RB Leipzig

Lyon entered their final Champions League group match against RB Leipzig knowing they still had a decent chance to move on to the round of 16. They only needed to pick up a better result than Zenit St. Petersburg, who were away at Benfica.

Their Champions League 2019 odds of going through were looking bleak after going down two goals at home in the first half. But a spirited second-half comeback, capped off by a late Memphis Depay strike, coupled with a Zenit defeat saw them through to the knockout phase.

As predicted in SBOBET's preview of this match, there were bound to be goals in this match given some absentees in defence for both teams. And despite Lyon winning the reverse fixture in Germany, Leipzig were in great form heading into the match and would be tough to beat.

But in the end, all Lyon needed was a point to secure passage to the next round, and they have their star man to thank.

 

Highlights of the game

It took Leipzig just nine minutes to take the lead over Lyon. Leipzig captain Diego Demme delivered a dangerous through ball for Yussuf Poulsen, who was brought down in the penalty area by on-rushing Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes.

Referee Anthony Taylor initially signalled for a throw-in, but after a VAR review, Leipzig were rightly awarded a penalty. Emil Forsberg stepped up to take the spot-kick, and the Swede coolly slotted the ball into the corner to put the visitors in front.

On 27 minutes, Leipzig star Timo Werner found himself one-on-one with Lopes, but the in-form striker failed to take his chance. However, the goal wouldn't have counted anyway as he was just offside.

RB Leipzig top the Champions League Group G table with 11 points while Lyon finish at second with 8 points
RB Leipzig squad celebrate after Timo Werner scores their second goal during Group G Champions League match against Lyon at the Lyon Olympic Stadium

But the German would get himself on the scoresheet just a few minutes later as Leipzig were awarded another penalty for Lucas Tousart's crunching challenge on Christopher Nkunku. Werner made no mistake from the spot as he doubled Leipzig's advantage.

Lyon were looking dead and buried down two goals at home at the half, but they handed themselves a lifeline five minutes after the break.

Houssem Aouar showed why he's one of the most highly rated young talents in all of Europe with a brilliant curling effort which is undoubtedly one of the top Champions League 2019 highlights of the round.

Leipzig almost restored their two-goal advantage on 65 minutes after an impressive move saw Demme get a shot on goal from close range. However, the Leipzig captain was denied by a crucial block from Lyon defender Rafael.

At the other end, Memphis had a couple of attempts from distance that did not trouble Leipzig keeper Peter Gulacsi. But Depay wouldn't be denied as he eventually got Lyon's equaliser.

The Dutch striker displayed some impressive strength to outmuscle a Leipzig defender to get to the ball inside the six-yard box. And he showed great instinct to find the target on the turn.

That goal would prove crucial as it would see Les Gones through to the knockout phase for the second season running.



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Key statistics

The final statistics for this match were quite even. Leipzig edged out possession, 53 per cent to 47, although the total shots were even at 13. Lyon had two more shots on target, 6-4.

Memphis was responsible for four of those six shots on target as the Dutchman had five shots overall. He finished the Champions League group stage with a very impressive tally of five goals in five games.

Meanwhile, his Leipzig counterpart Werner had a relatively quiet game. The German didn't get a shot off apart from his penalty. But he still got his goal, giving him 18 for the season and four in his last three games.

 

What's next?

With progress in the Champions League secured, Lyon can now focus on improving their league positioning for the time being. Their next assignment will see them face a high-flying Rennes side that's currently fourth after winning three on the bounce and five of their last six.

As for Leipzig, they will look to continue their outstanding league form, where they've won five matches in a row. Their next match will see them go away to struggling Fortuna Dusseldorf, who currently find themselves third from bottom in the Bundesliga.

And after that, Leipzig go to Signal Iduna Park for their big showdown against third-placed Borussia Dortmund, which should be a terrific match.

 

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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 3:50 PM (73 days ago)            #5
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Champions League: Arkadiusz Milik’s Hat-Trick Locks Napoli’s Last-16 Berth

Napoli 4-0 Genk

Napoli have clinched their spot to the next round of the Champions League by thrashing Genk in a masterpiece. It was a much-needed win for the Italian side, as Carlo Ancelotti’s men couldn’t buy a victory prior to this match.

Arkadiusz Milik led the charge with his treble by setting the tone early in the first half while Dries Mertens added one more in the latter stages of the match via a penalty kick.

With Genk not favoured in our Champions League 2019 odds as they are already consigned to finish at the bottom of Group E, there was some pressure for the Italians to finish on a high note in front of their fans at Stadio San Paolo.

Napoli and Liverpool are set to move on to the next round by placing in the top two of Group E, leaving Red Bull getting the Europa League spot and Genk having to go home early.

Hours after the victory, Napoli delivered some shocking Champions League 2019 news when they relieved team manager Carlo Ancelotti from his duties. It remains to be seen on where he’ll end up next, but perhaps a return back home in AC Milan might be a good place to go given their recent struggles.

SBOBET offers to you the highlights of this superb game by the Partenopei.

 

Highlights of the game

Teenage goalkeeper Maarten Vandevoordt made his Champions League debut for Genk, and it was a night to forget for him. He was the youngest to make his maiden appearance at 17 years and 287 days.

Vandevoordt conceded an early goal in just less than two minutes as Arkadiusz Milik smashed home an easy one when the teenage goalkeeper panicked and failed to clear the ball.

He was tested once more when Kalidou Koulibaly had a header of an attempt, but his shot hit the post and bounced in. It looked like a goal upon first look, but the VAR didn’t count it upon further review.

Napoli controlled pretty much of the first half as Genk were in the defensive all night long. Dries Mertens and Arkadiusz Milik continued to dictate the tempo for the Partenopei.

Paul Onuachu had a rare chance to answer back for Genk in the 16th minute after a lovely pass by his teammate. However, his shot went too narrow to the left.

Arkadiusz Milik would score his second goal of the night 10 minutes later via a beautiful cross by Giovanni di Lorenzo, as Maarten Vandevoordt was left on an island.

Alex Meret showed his wares defensively when he prevented a forming attack by Genk in the 33rd minute. He intercepted a pass from Junya Ito for a possible attempt by Mbwana Samatta.

Arkadiusz Milik was instrumental for Napoli to secure the Champions League win over Genk
Arkadiusz Milik celebrates his hat-trick for Napoli as they take the win

A few minutes later, Genk were called for a yellow card when Vandevoordt made a brave challenge to a hard-charging Jose Callejon. Arkadiusz Milik, who had the hot hand, scored off of a calm penalty kick to secure his first Napoli hat-trick.

Allan almost joined in the scoring party in the second half when he found himself open inside the box. However, his shot went too far wide to the left.

Vandevoordt was doing much better in the second half as he would make better decisions, including a save after a weak strike by Fabian Ruiz and a long clearance at the 68th minute when his defender passed him the ball while Koulibaly was trailing from the play.

It was Napoli’s turn to showcase their improved backline as they would prevent Genk from having shots on target. The Belgian team’s long ball attempts didn’t work as defenders like Kostas Manolas and Kalidou Koulibaly showed their aerial prowess to head those away.

Jose Callejon drew another penalty violation for Genk when his strike hit the backhand of Casper de Norre. Dries Mertens let out a cool finish to cap off their strong performance.

 

Key statistics

By demolishing Genk, Napoli have registered their biggest winning margin ever in the Champions League.

Arkadiusz Milik’s goal under three minutes was the second-fastest time for a Napoli player to score in the Champions League. The fastest one was Piotr Zielinski back in 2018 against Feyenoord when he netted one in the first 1:35.

Genk finished at the bottom once more in the group stages for the third consecutive time. They also didn’t fare well back in the 2003 and 2012 editions of the tournament.

 

What’s next?

Napoli are going to host the visiting Parma for their Serie A match while Genk will go back home to clash against Waasland-Beveren in the Belgian Pro League.

 

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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 3:52 PM (73 days ago)            #6
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Champions League: It’s Bye Bye Bayer as Cristiano Strikes

Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Juventus

A 75th-minute goal from Cristiano Ronaldo finished off Juventus’ Champions League Group D campaign with a win while Bayer Leverkusen say goodbye to the competition.

Bayer’s knockout stage hopes were hanging by a thread before kick-off, and they fought for all they were worth in a first half they dominated from start to finish.

But Peter Bosz’s side seemed to have worn themselves out in the second half and submitted to Ronaldo’s late strike. Gonzalo Higuain added a second in injury time to seal Bayer’s fate.

So I Bianconeri finish top of the group by a clear six points and are joined by Atletico Madrid in the round of 16.

 

Highlights of the game

Gigi Buffon praised Ronaldo and Higuain for leading by example in Juventus' win over Leverkusen in the Champions League
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon makes a save during their Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen at the BayArena

With all to play for, die Werkself started like a house on fire, and when skipper Lars Bender crossed for Moussa Diaby his left-footed shot flew past the right-hand post.

The BayArena crowd was up for this game, and they roared their team on as Kerem Demirbay took a pot shot from outside the penalty area which whistled narrowly wide.

Then, on 11 minutes, Diaby took a pass from Lucas Alario and his shot cannoned off the left-hand post and away to safety.

Most pre-match Bayer Leverkusen vs Juventus betting tips were favourable to the hosts who were favourites to win at odds of 2.11, and they were certainly playing like the side with a mission. Alario had two headed efforts, one directed just wide and the second blocked by a resolute Juventus defence.

Ronaldo was on target when I Bianconeri beat Bayer 3-0 earlier in the competition, and he had the visitors’ first effort halfway through the first 45, but his effort flew across the face of goal and wide.

A minute later, Juan Cuadrado, who had been sent off during Juve’s loss to Lazio at the weekend, had a fine effort which went narrowly wide.

The best attempt of the half came when Karim Bellarabi found enough space in the penalty area to fire a shot towards the bottom left corner. But Juve’s veteran keeper Gigi Buffon was equal to it, getting down quickly to save.

I Bianconeri came out for the second half with more purpose, maybe with some words from Maurizio Sarri stinging their ears, but Ronaldo was just offside when Federico Bernardeschi put him through on goal.

Much of the wind seemed to have disappeared from die Werkself’s sails and Paulo Dybala came close to putting the visitors ahead midway through the second period. And with 15 minutes remaining, Dybala was the provider, putting a cross on a plate for Ronaldo to fire home.

That was that for Leverkusen and they offered little in the way of an attempted comeback, and even less in the way of resistance when Higuain took a pass from Dybala and fired the ball low into the corner.



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Key statistics

With 13 points already in the bag, Juventus were already through to the knockout stages as group winners, and when the Champions League 2019 updates filtered through, the news that Atleti were ahead at half-time was a serious blow to the German side.

Leverkusen totally dominated the first half with 58 per cent possession and 13 shots to three, but they only tested Gigi Buffon the once. But in the second half, they offered very little and nothing to trouble Buffon, while Juventus had two shots on target, both hitting the net.

This loss ended Leverkusen’s unbeaten run of six games in all competitions. They also continued to struggle at the BayArena in European games; they have won just two of their last nine Champions League games at home.

I Bianconeri have finished the group by winning their last five Champions League fixtures, but this was only the second win in six on their travels.

 

What’s next?

It’s back to domestic football at the weekend so keep it here for all the latest news, updates and SBOBET predictions.

Having lost last week to Lazio, the Old Lady is thanking her lucky stars that Inter missed the chance to pull clear, settling for a draw at home to Roma. Next up, Juventus are at home to Udinese, down in 16th place and with just one win in six.

Leverkusen have an away game to bottom club Cologne, followed by a home game against Hertha Berlin, another struggling team, down in 15th and with just one draw to show for the last six games. Peter Bosz’s team should recover from this setback and improve on its current position of sixth place over the next couple of weeks.

 

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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 3:57 PM (73 days ago)            #7
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Champions League: Bayern Join Exclusive Club but Spurs’ Best Is yet to Come

Bayern Munich 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur

A night when the Champions League pressure was off – and it showed, to an extent.

After successive domestic defeats, Bayern Munich probably needed this result more than Spurs and the hosts deserved their success against last year’s finalists.

Yet with both sides already qualified for the knockout stages and unable to trade positions in Group B, it would be foolish to read too much into this result.

All I would say is study the SBOBET Champions League 2019 betting odds carefully after the draw is made next Monday and take a punt on one or both of these clubs to progress further.

I have a sneaking suspicion both will do well.

 

Highlights of the game

Both teams rested key men here, including star strikers Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski, who is just one goal short of Karim Benzema for fourth place in the competition’s all-time scoring chart.

There was still plenty of firepower on show, though, and Benjamin Pavard saw a fine volley blocked just. Serge Gnabry then played a ball across the face of goal and Kingsley Coman steered in the opener.

That was in the 14th minute, but Spurs did not want for motivation after last time out against Bayern – the first time they had conceded seven goals at home in their 137-year history – and were level within six minutes.

Giovani Lo Celso picked out Ryan Sessegnon, who thrashed a shot beyond Manuel Neuer at the near post.

Injury forced Coman off but Bayern pressed on and regained the lead on the stroke of half-time. Thomas Müller, who replaced Coman, stabbed home from close range after Alphonso Davies’ shot hit a post and ricocheted kindly.

They think a lot of Davies in these parts.

They also think a lot of on-loan Philippe Coutinho, and he settled the contest just before the midway point in the second period. The Brazilian stepped inside a challenge on the edge of the area and bent a peerless shot beyond the grasp of Paulo Gazzaniga for one of the group stage Champions League 2019 highlights.

The goal confirmed Bayern as only the seventh team to win all six games in a Champions League group stage.

While the result was not in doubt, Spurs boss Jose Mourinho – who saw his side gain their first clean sheet under his stewardship just days before travelling to Germany – will likely not be too disappointed and will have gained an insight into which of his fringe and young squad players may be destined for better things.

Although few made the most of a rare outing, Spurs were never going to collapse defensively as they had in October. They should be a much tougher proposition when the competition resumes in February.

There again, beware Bayern too!

 

Key statistics

Muller scored his 28th Champions League goal at the Allianz Arena – only four players have ever scored more at a single venue in the competition (Lionel Messi at the Nou Camp and Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul and Benzema at the Bernabeu).

Sessegnon is the third-youngest player to score a Champions League goal under Mourinho, after Carlos Alberto (19 years, 167 days) and Mario Balotelli (18 years, 84 days).

Tottenham youngster Ryan Sessegnon hits an equaliser during their Champions League clash against Bayern Munich
Tottenham Hotspur's Ryan Sessegnon in action against Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng in the Champions League

He has also become the 13th different English teenager to score a Champions League goal, two more than any other nation net in the competition (France, 11).

Bayern became just the second club to win all six of their group games in a single Champions League campaign (in the competition's current format, since 2003-04) after Real Madrid, who have done so twice (in 2011-12 and 2014-15).

By collecting maximum points (18) and a goal difference of +19, Bayern became the best group winner in the history of the competition.

This was Bayern’s 23rd Champions League group campaign, fewer only than Barcelona and Real Madrid (both 24). They have now won their section 16 times.

Bayern have won 17 of their last 18 home group-stage matches (drawn one) and are unbeaten in Munich since a 3-2 home loss against Manchester City on Matchday 6 in December 2013.

Tottenham’s record in Germany is won five, drawn two, lost seven; they have lost only twice in their last seven visits (won three, drawn twice).

Mourinho has never beaten Bayern in Munich, while the Reds have not lost a Champions League group game on home turf in six years, winning 26 of 33 fixtures at the Allianz Arena in the competition since then.



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What’s next?

Bayern now try and rekindle their Bundesliga title defence with three important games in a week.

They host Werder Bremen on Saturday (December 14), travel to Freiburg four days later and then host Wolfsburg before the league closes down for a near-month winter break.

Spurs have big ones themselves before Christmas.

They are at Wolves on Sunday (December 15) before Mourinho welcomes former club Chelsea to north London on December 22.

 

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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 4:00 PM (73 days ago)            #8
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Champions League: Real’s Samba Boys Shine in Win at Brugge

Club Brugge 1-3 Real Madrid

Real Madrid had nothing left to play for in their final Champions League Group A match. They had already secured passage through to the Round of 16 as the group's second-placed team behind Paris Saint-Germain.

As a result, Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane made several changes to his side and gave some players in his squad a run-out against Club Brugge. That included the young Brazilian duo of Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr., who both got the start upfront.

But despite fielding a somewhat weakened squad, the Champions League 2019 betting odds still had Madrid heavily favoured to beat Brugge. And they did just that thanks to their two Samba boys, who helped make sure there was no repeat of Madrid's slip-up at the Bernabeu against the Belgians.

 

Highlights of the game

The first real chance of the match fell to Madrid. Luka Modric's corner found Eder Militao, who rose high for a header. But the Brazilian centre-back was unable to get it on target.

Just a couple of minutes later, Brugge very nearly took the lead. Percy Tau directed a deflected cross toward goal, but Real keeper Alphonse Areola produced a fine reaction save to deny the Belgians. Meanwhile, the follow-up effort from Eder Balanta went wide.

Brugge keeper Simon Mignolet was then called into action on 14 minutes. Luka Jovic had a glorious opportunity to open his Champions League account, but the young Serb was thwarted by a good save by the former Liverpool keeper.

Real had another great chance to take the lead on 33 minutes through Isco. The Spanish midfielder did well to create space at the edge of the box, but his shot went agonisingly wide.

The match remained scoreless heading into half-time. But the visitors finally broke the deadlock seven minutes after the break. Right-back Alvaro Odriozola's cross found Rodrygo, who uncorked a sensational volley with the outside of his left foot.

The 18-year-old Brazilian made headlines with his memorable hat-trick against Galatasaray and his outstanding strike is another worthy addition to his growing collection of Champions League 2019 highlights.

However, Brugge hit back immediately. Some sloppy play at the back from Madrid gave the home side the opening they needed. Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis, who scored a brace in Brugge's surprise 2-2 draw against Madrid at the Bernabeu, was the provider for their equaliser.

Club Brugge bow out of the Champions League after falling to Real Madrid
Hans Vanaken scores the lone goal against Real Madrid

He shrugged off a challenge from Rodrygo and laid the ball off to Hans Vanaken, who produced a brilliant curling effort which gave Areola no chance.

But Brugge would be pegged back once again just after the hour mark, this time courtesy of Madrid's other prized Brazilian teen, Vinicius Jr. The pacey winger was quick to react to a loose ball in the six-yard box as he poked it past Mignolet.

Brugge had one last chance to snatch a late equaliser, which fell to Bonaventure. The Nigerian cut inside from the left-wing and curled in a shot on his right foot, but it whistled just wide of Areola's goal.

And just a few moments later, Luka Modric showed Bonaventure and Brugge how it's done as he fired home Madrid's third goal in stoppage time to seal the win.

 

Key statistics

As expected, Real Madrid dominated possession, 57 per cent to 43. They also edged out the home side in terms of shots (11-8) and shots on target (5-2).

Rodrygo and Vinicius both ended up with two goals apiece. Bonaventure was the busiest attacker for Brugge with three shots, although none ended up on target.

Meanwhile, Modric's goal was the 307th of this year's Champions League group stage, which set an all-time record.

 

What's next?

Real still need to wait Monday to find out their round of 16 opponents. As group runners-up, their five possible opponents -- Bayern Munich, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, or RB Leipzig -- are all quite daunting.

But before all that, Real will first need to turn their attention to La Liga, where they are level on points with Barcelona at the top of the table. After paying a visit to the Mestalla to face Valencia, they will head to the Camp Nou to play Barca in the first Clasico of the season. Don't forget to check out the SBOBET odds for that much-anticipated match once they're up!

As for Club Brugge, they will find themselves in the Europa League next year after finishing third in Group A.

 

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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 5:11 PM (73 days ago)            #9
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Champions League Excitement Awaits Us All Next Spring!

As Champion League draws go, there was always going to be great excitement given the calibre of the sides to have reached the knockout stages.

But the 2019/2020 last 16 draw has thrown up a positive treat for football fans as the top clubs in Europe size each other up and aim to produce spring Champions League highlights.

Among a number of stand-out ties is the meeting between 13-time European champions Real Madrid and English champions Manchester City.

This past week has produced the best and most vulnerable of City.

They were magnificent against albeit a limited Arsenal yesterday, showcasing why, on their day, they remain the best team in the country.

Eight days earlier, their fragilities were exposed by a rampant Manchester United team which banished, however briefly, its inconsistency.

If the likes of Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane and, most importantly of all, Aymeric Laporte have returned from injury by then, City will start the tie as favourites.

The SBOBET Champions League betting odds back that up too.

There is the ghost of 2016 to contend with though. That remains the closest City have ever come to reaching a Champions League Final – something which has long been an aim of Sheikh Mansour since the billionaire’s takeover of the club in 2008.

That year, Real edged them out in the semi-finals and City will surely relish taking on a side without the genius of Cristiano Ronaldo and with former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola no doubt keen to put one over his old adversaries.

The first leg will take place at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in what will be the third time Guardiola has met Los Merengues at Europe’s top table.

As Barca coach, he was victorious in the 2011 semi-final, which was memorable for a lot of the wrong reasons due to the unedifying behaviour of players on both sides, yet in his second knockout tie against Madrid with Bayern Munich, he was on the receiving end of a 5-0 hammering.

A lot can change, of course, between now and February when the first leg takes place and Madrid are slowly proving a few of their doubters wrong and currently joint top of La Liga.

While that is the stand-out tie, a number of others are close behind.

Chelsea v Bayern Munich is a repeat of the 2012 final when the west Londoners won their sole Champions League crown on Munich soil.

Chelsea may not have the calibre of senior players they had seven years ago but they will certainly test a Munich side which has not had its own way this term to date, including the sacking of manager Niko Kovac.

They are currently six points off the pace in the Bundesliga, yet I still expect them to retain their domestic title and they are my dark horses for the Champions League crown too.

The big screen shows the Champions League round of 16 draw Final results
General view of the big screen showing the results of the draw

Munich romped to the knockout stages by winning all six group matches and it will be interesting to see if interim coach Hansi Flick is still in charge come next spring.

Their German counterparts Borussia Dortmund’s reward for coming through a tough group that included Barcelona and Inter Milan is a meeting with French champions Paris St Germain - whose head coach Thomas Tuchel was in charge of Dortmund from 2015-2017.

RB Leipzig also topped their group and their first ever Champions League knockout clash will be against last year’s defeated finalists Tottenham Hotspur, given new impetus under the management of Jose Mourinho, twice a winner of the competition.

Another intriguing tie involving an English club will see holders Liverpool meet Atletico Madrid, beaten finalists in 2014 and 2016.

The Merseysiders start as favourites against a team weakened by key departures this summer including Antoine Griezmann, Diego Godin, Lucas Hernandez and Rodri.

Yet any side managed by Diego Simeone will be no pushovers.

Elsewhere, a Carlo Ancelotti-less Napoli meet Barcelona. The veteran coach was last week dismissed for issues not entirely related to his team's performances on the pitch and they have regularly punched above their weight with him at the helm.

For Ernesto Valverde, whilst on paper the draw is kind, there is an acute awareness that Barcelona suffered a disastrous result when they faced AS Roma in the knockout phase in 2018 and the Spanish coach can’t afford a repeat in Naples.

Two of the success stories against the odds meet each other with Atalanta hosting Valencia, while Ronaldo and Juventus will head to Lyon aiming to go further than last season when they were beaten at this stage.

The ‘old lady’ have played Lyon four times in the Champions League and are unbeaten against the Ligue 1 club, winning three and drawing once.

Roll on next spring!

 

 

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16-Jan 2020 Thursday 4:29 PM (43 days ago)            #10
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Champions League: Valverde, Domestic Battles and Liverpool’s Edge

After a short winter break, the Champions League excitement is beginning to rise once again as the high-intensity Round of 16 is just a month away.

Europe’s finest teams and some of the world’s best players will come face to face as we approach the business end of the competition, and one club has already made a bold, or some might say even a shock, move.

 

Barca sack Valverde

I’m not sure how many fans and pundits saw this one coming but Ernesto Valverde has been sacked by Barcelona upon returning from the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia. The timing seems odd with the Blaugrana top of La Liga, and his replacement Quique Setien isn’t exactly a big name in Europe’s highest echelons.

It’s the first time in 17 years the Catalans have sacked a head coach mid-season, and Valverde must be wondering what he’s done wrong after winning La Liga in both his full seasons in charge.

There have been lingering doubts over his ability to succeed in European competition, but to replace him with former Real Betis boss Setien has had Barca supporters scratching their heads.

The 61-year-old was linked with Premier League strugglers Watford, while Barca had been courting Xavi. In fact, Setien has been rumoured to have been Barcelona’s fourth choice.



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But he will be in charge for the Blaugrana’s Round of 1 tie against Napoli. The Italians are no pushovers and those fans who booed Valverde during Barca’s Supercopa defeat to Atletico Madrid will hope they haven’t persuaded the board to drop a clanger!

While the sacking of Valverde has dominated the week’s Champions League 2020 news the runners and riders have been battling for dominance in their domestic leagues.

 

Liverpool’s advantage

The Premier League stands out in European football as the one competition which can pretty much pick its winner now. Okay, PSG are looking good to win Ligue 1 with a five-point advantage over Marseille, but that’s nothing compared to Liverpool’s 14-point lead over Manchester City (with a game in hand).

Serie A is a fierce two-horse race between Juventus and Inter Milan, though Lazio are coming up on the rails, and La Liga is a fight between Barca and Real Madrid.

The Bundesliga is more competitive than it’s been for years. RB Leipzig, who have a winnable Champions League tie against Spurs, are top and four points ahead of third-placed FC Bayern, and six ahead of Borussia Dortmund.

All this means that reigning European champions Liverpool might just have an advantage. The league is in their grasp after a record-breaking start, no team in any of Europe’s major leagues has ever bettered the Reds’ 20 wins and a draw. That incredible form and momentum could carry the Reds through Europe.

Jurgen Klopp’s team left it a little late to confirm qualification but the Reds held their nerves to win a tricky tie in Salzburg, beating Red Bull 0-2.

And for the first time during this campaign, the Champions League 2020 betting odds have installed Liverpool as the clear favourites at odds of 4.70, but it’s a tight market. The SBOBET Champions League team, we writers and the statisticians, are divided on the outcome of course!

Both Barcelona and Manchester City are at odds of 5.00, with Juventus at 7.00, Paris Saint Germain at 7.80 and FC Bayern at 8.50.

 

Tie of the Round

You can make a case for any of those six (I fancy Manchester City), as well as Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid, available at 18.00. But they need to get past Pep Guardiola’s Sky Blues first.

Manchester City are gearing up for the Round of 16 of the Champions League
Riyad Mahrez celebrates scoring Manchester City's second goal against Aston Villa

When the draw for the knockout phase came out of the hat, Real Madrid against Manchester City was the one which caught the eye. The Manchester club are at 1.48 to beat Los Blancos over two legs with Zinedine Zidane’s Spaniards at 2.72.

The Sky Blues are in devastating form at the moment, destroying Aston Villa 1-6 at the weekend and, before that, blowing Manchester United away in the first half of the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.

With the Premier League all but lost, the Champions League has become Guardiola’s main priority.

But ZZ’s team is in confident mood, having just won the Spanish Super Cup and keeping pace with Barcelona at the top of La Liga.

 

Round of 16 Draw in full

Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool

Borussia Dortmund vs Paris Saint Germain

Tottenham Hotspur vs RB Leipzig

Atalanta vs Valencia

Chelsea vs FC Bayern

Napoli vs Barcelona

Real Madrid vs Manchester City

Lyon vs Juventus

 

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05-Feb 2020 Wednesday 1:17 PM (23 days ago)            #11
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Champions League: Dangerous Dortmund, Cavani Drama, Barca’s Striker Search

The Champions League knockout round still won't begin for another few weeks, but recent developments around the top European sides are making those round-of-16 ties all the more intriguing.

For one, Borussia Dortmund are looking a lot more dangerous after Erling Braut Haaland's brilliant display on his Bundesliga debut.

Meanwhile, their opponents Paris Saint-Germain are in the middle of a big transfer saga, with Edinson Cavani wanting out and possibly landing on another Champions League contender.

And if that isn't enough striker news, Barcelona are reportedly planning to add another attacking option with Luis Suarez set to miss their round-of-16 matchup against Napoli.

So with less than a month to go before the start of the knockout round, let's take a closer look at three big news stories concerning the Champions League and how they figure to affect the different ties.

 

Haaland addition makes Dortmund more dangerous

It certainly didn't take long for Erling Braut Haaland to make his mark at Borussia Dortmund. The 19-year-old burst onto the scene by scoring a hat-trick in Dortmund's come-from-behind win over Augsburg.

SBOBET odds currently have Dortmund priced at 55.00 to win the Champions League, but Haaland's addition has made them a much more appealing dark horse contender.

With Haaland, Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus, and Thorgan Hazard, Dortmund suddenly have one of the more dangerous attacking units in the tournament.

Haaland has already proven this season what he is capable of in the competition. He also scored a hat-trick on his Champions League debut against Genk and netted eight times in six group-stage appearances as Red Bull Salzburg just barely missed out on the last 16.

The teenager is clearly not fazed by the big stage and will relish the chance to lead the line against PSG. Paris manager -- and former Dortmund boss -- Thomas Tuchel will certainly have his hands full trying to keep Haaland from producing some Champions League 2020 highlights at his team's expense.

 

Cavani wants PSG exit, linked with Atletico, England clubs

Speaking of PSG, they have some transfer drama to take care of at the moment. That's because Edinson Cavani, the club's all-time top goalscorer, has made it clear he wants out of Paris.

Cavani has lost his regular place in the side as Tuchel has gone in favour of playing the "Fantastic Four" -- Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Mauro Icardi, and Angel Di Maria -- in attack.

It will be hard for PSG in the Champions League if they sell their main striker, Edinson Cavani
Edinson Cavani reacts after their Ligue one clash against Toulouse

There is no shortage of suitors for Cavani's services. Atletico Madrid have been strongly linked, while a number of English clubs -- Chelsea, Tottenham, and Manchester United -- have also been mentioned as potential destinations.

But when asked about Cavani's future in France, Tuchel said he is all for the Uruguayan staying.

“I always said I like this squad. We do not want to lose any player during the transfer window. Today, Edinson is my player. I am glad it is the case. If that changes, we will adapt.”

Cavani has scored just five goals in 14 appearances this season amid some injury problems. Nonetheless, the 33-year-old still has something left to offer and has the ability to make an impact if he does arrive at Atletico, Chelsea, or Tottenham, especially with Harry Kane out injured.

 

Striker-needy Barcelona linked with Rodrigo, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Barcelona also have a striker injury to deal with as Luis Suarez will miss four months due to knee surgery. That means the Uruguayan will miss both legs against Napoli, leaving new Barca manager Quique Setien -- who took over for the sacked Ernesto Valverde -- short of options.

As a result, Barca plan to bring in another striker during the transfer window. Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Valencia's Rodrigo Moreno are two names that have been linked with the Catalans.

Aubameyang has had a fine season at Arsenal, scoring 16 goals in 26 appearances. Meanwhile, Rodrigo has just two goals in 17 La Liga appearances, with two more in the Champions League. Although, one of those goals sent Valencia to the round of 16.

But despite Rodrigo's lack of goal production, Valencia are unlikely to let him go, especially since they have a legitimate shot to defeat Atalanta and progress to the quarter-finals.

Landing another top striker like Aubameyang would certainly help improve Barcelona's Champions League 2020 odds. But even if they don't get an Aubameyang or Rodrigo, Barcelona should still be a strong bet to get past a struggling Napoli side. Messi can play in a false nine role if needed, while Antoine Griezmann is obviously capable of leading the line.

 

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05-Feb 2020 Wednesday 1:21 PM (23 days ago)            #12
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Champions League Means Success To City

The 2020 Champions League Round of 16 is upon us with two mouth-watering ties to get us underway on 18th February.

Borussia Dortmund host Paris Saint Germain, and reigning champions Liverpool visit Atletico Madrid, how’s that for starters? But the last match of the first round is the real blockbuster. When the draw was made, the big Champions League 2020 news was Real Madrid’s clash with Manchester City, two titans of the European game.

But there’s one big difference, and it’s a difference Manchester United fans will quite like. Los Blancos have won the most Champions Leagues of anyone, 13, and six ahead of Milan. Meanwhile, Manchester City are yet to trouble the scorers and the expensively assembled squad is under pressure to deliver this season.

Unbelievably it seems that head coach Pep Guardiola, for once, doesn’t have all the answers. He has won five major trophies since arriving at the Etihad in 2016, but his team is yet to succeed in Europe. Indeed, the Sky Blues have failed to make the semi-finals of the Champions League under Guardiola, having been dumped out of the competition by Liverpool, Monaco and Spurs.

 


 

 

And, after defeat to Spurs at the weekend, during the after-match post mortem, his players allegedly asked him to stop tinkering. Guardiola has not fielded the same starting eleven for back-to-back matches since the start of the campaign, and since Mikel Arteta left for Arsenal, he seems unsettled on a formation.

The former Barca and Bayern boss is a genius, and his experimenting is clearly designed to hand him the perfect formula against Los Blancos, and the latest SBOBET odds have Manchester City at 1.50 to qualify for the quarter-finals with Real Madrid at 2.66.

Los Blancos are at 19.00 to win the tournament, but they have a tough defence to break down, conceding just 13 in La Liga this season, and a striker in form in Karim Benzema. They lead the Spanish league at the moment and, if they beat City, I suspect their odds will drop to around 6.00.

 

Champions have a big advantage

When Liverpool rock up in Madrid they will do so with huge confidence, though no complacency. The Reds have a tangible edge over their European rivals in that they have their domestic league wrapped up, already 22 points clear of Manchester City, and now Jurgen Klopp’s side are clear favourites at odds of 3.50 to retain their European title.

They have been relentless in the league, dropping just two points, which is the best record of any European top-flight club at this stage of the season. Their opponents, Atletico, are not faring so well, down in sixth place in La Liga and 13 points behind Real. Los Rojiblancos lost their main goal threat in Antoine Griezmann and replacement Joao Felix is yet to fill his shooting boots.

Champions League: Cristiano Ronaldo already scored 9 consecutive goals in Serie A
Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring against Fiorentina

Big Guns ready to fire

Take a look at the latest Champions League 2020 betting odds and you have to say this year’s competition is wide open. The giants of Germany, Italy and France are serious contenders with FC Bayern at 7.90, Juventus at 8.00 and PSG at 8.60 to lift the title.

The Bundesliga has been contested by up to six teams so far, which is now down to four, and Bayern have risen to the top in preparation for the run-in. Similarly, Juventus are beginning to click through the gears at the top of Serie A, though a recent defeat to Napoli has kept the Old Lady on her toes. Cristiano Ronaldo has been in scintillating form, in Italy and in Europe, his goals propelling I Bianconeri to the top of qualifying Group D by a clear six points. And his two goals in last weekend’s 3-0 win over Fiorentina stretched his scoring run to nine league games, equalling David Trezeguet’s record.

Champions League: Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho is playing great at Borussia Dortmund with Erling Braut Haaland
Jadon Sancho scores his 25th goal for Borussia Dortmund during their match vs Union Berlin

Dangerous Dortmund

PSG probably have one of the most difficult tests in the Round of 16 when they take on Borussia Dortmund. Much like Manchester City the French billionaires are yet to break through the European glass ceiling. And their opponents have a combination of youth and experience which is oozing with class.

BVB’s teenage duo of Jadon Sancho and Erling Braut Haaland are making history in the German league. Sancho’s goal in the 5-0 destruction of Union Berlin made the England star the first teenager to score 25 Bundesliga goals. Meanwhile, new recruit Haaland is the first player to score seven goals in his opening three Bundesliga games.

The Norway international is a beast of a player, and one which will give the PSG defence a night they won’t forget.

Add to those two the experience of the excellent Marco Reus and you have an impressive attacking threat.

 

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13-Feb 2020 Thursday 2:16 PM (15 days ago)            #13
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Champions League: Liverpool’s Repeat Bid, Guardiola Unfazed, Mbappe Aiming High

The Champions League is about to start in less than a week, and the final 16 teams are gearing up for the much-awaited European showcase.

Liverpool’s repeat bid will be easier said than done since the playing field looks to be tougher according to our Champions League 2020 odds as pointed out by my fellow writer in his previous post.

Other teams such as Dortmund, PSG, and Barcelona were very active in the transfer market in an attempt to reinforce their respective teams, while underrated teams such as RB Leipzig, Valencia, PSG, and Atalanta will look to make some noise.

Without further ado, SBOBET gives you a quick preview of what’s ahead.

 

Liverpool securing their big guns

The defending titlists in the Champions League are on the verge of making history in the Premier League as they’ve been undefeated for quite some time now.

Of course, their success story is due to the fact that Jurgen Klopp’s wards are stepping up to the challenge while playing under a great system.

With so many teams trying to break up the Reds, Liverpool will be prioritising maintaining their key cogs in order to prolong their team success.

Star defender Virgil Van Dijk has been reportedly offered a five-year extension to secure his future with Liverpool. The Netherlands international has been the fulcrum for the Reds on defence and at the attack and he was a lead candidate for last year’s Ballon d’Or award.

Another integral piece that needs to be kept is their midfielder in Roberto Firmino. Firmino was reportedly linked to Bayern Munich, which doesn’t appear to be a suitable destination for him since they already have the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry to spearhead their attack.

With Gini Wijnaldum’s contract talks with the Reds having reached an impasse, another name that has been floating around is their former player in Philippe Coutinho, but there aren’t any imminent developments yet as of this moment.

Liverpool will be one of the heavy favourites to make a deep run in the Champions League, and only a handful of teams are uniquely qualified to stop them.

 

Pep Guardiola takes things into perspective

Despite having won five major trophies since arriving at the Etihad in 2016, Pep Guardiola has yet to find success in Europe.

Manchester City had some bad luck over these past few Champions League campaigns as they failed to make it past the quarterfinals, having been dumped out by Liverpool, Monaco, and Tottenham.

This time around, his Sky Blues will get to face the resurgent Los Blancos in the first knockout phase, but the former Barca boss isn’t fazed whatsoever at the possibilities if ever they get eliminated early.

“I accept the challenge. I want to win the Champions League. I dream and will enjoy the games against Real Madrid to see what I can do,” said Guardiola in a recent interview.

“If we don’t beat them, then (people) will come and say ‘It’s not good enough, we want the Champions League. I’m going to sack you.’ Then I’ll say, ‘Ok thank you, it was a pleasure.’” he added.

Manchester City’s recent form has been lacklustre to say the least. They are fresh off losses from Tottenham and Manchester United both in the Premier League and in the Football League Cup while they struggled against Sheffield United and Crystal Palace.

Like City, Real Madrid also have some issues at the backline. And if the likes of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, and Riyad Mahrez can take advantage of that, they are giving themselves a great chance to move on to the next round.

 

Kylian Mbappe has high hopes for PSG

Kylian Mbappe is set to spearhead PSG in the upcoming 2019/20 Champions League Round of 16
PSG's Kylian Mbappe in action during their League One match against Lyon

Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain have been in numerous transfer rumours lately, but their focus remains on trying to win their first-ever Champions League title.

“I would be proud to be able to obtain a first big European trophy for Paris, the Champions League, and to continue to win with our country – that’s my dream,” said Kylian Mbappe.

“They say dreams are inaccessible and at the moment, but I will try to accomplish this dream,” he emphasized.

Their chances of making a deep run in the Champions League seem to be slim, especially with Neymar out due to injuries. Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi are expected to carry the load.



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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

PSG will face a dangerous Borussia Dortmund squad who has been hitting their stride as of late. Since acquiring Erling Haaland last January, BVB have scored at least three goals in all of their games in the Bundesliga and in the DFB Pokal. The 19-year-old wunderkind is expected to do more of the same for Dortmund by producing some of the best Champions League 2020 highlights.

The Parisians won the UEFA Winners’ Cup in 1996 but they have yet to win in the Champions League or in the European Cup in their 49-year history. They failed to advance in the quarterfinals last year when they were booted out by Manchester United.

 

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Tuesday 7:31 PM (3 days ago)            #14
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Champions League: PSG Know Now Is the Time

Borussia Dortmund vs Paris Saint-Germain

At a time when one story is dominating the football agenda – that of financial fair play and possible sanctions from European competition – the return of the Champions League is timely.

This tie, more than most of the last 16 fixtures, perfectly highlights the difference between the haves and the have-nots, yet also illustrates just how much pressure can be imposed upon those with major backers.

Here is one side which continues to punch above their weight domestically and in Europe; the other is underachieving on the wider stage and has also been widely linked with breaching fair play regulations themselves.

Based on their respective resources then, this should be an away banker. But as Champions League 2020 highlights from last season show, there are no givens in this competition – even when the odds are stacked in your favour.

 

Talking Points

Domestically, it’s a scenario known as deja vu for both these clubs.

Dortmund are faring well in the Bundesliga and even moved up to second for a time over the weekend after a convincing home win in which new signing Erling Braut Haaland scored again.

Yet are they going to end Bayern Munich’s domination of the title race this season?

Of course, they are not, according to this SBOBET observer. (RB Leipzig are in contention too).

On the other side of the coin, the Ligue 1 race is all but over for another season.

A huge lead in the table and one which highlights their newfound wealth – the amount of money which allowed them to sign Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in one summer and do so in a manner which overcame regulations.

 


 

 

Although he has not lived up to that mantra, at 25 Neymar was the presumptive next-best player in the world to his then-teammate Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

That PSG also then went out and signed Mbappe for the second-highest transfer fee ever, $203m, was mouth-watering.

At the time, Mbappe was just 19 and could claim the same number of Ligue 1 starts as years spent on this earth. If the move for Neymar was a massive exclamation point written in the sky for everyone to see, the Mbappe transfer was a bolt of lightning shot out of that same cloud.

Since the Qataris took over the club back in 2011, PSG have really only had one goal. Starting in 2012, they've won every Ligue 1 title except for that in the year before Neymar and Mbappe arrived. Domestic trophies have become a fait accompli.

As club chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi told The New York Times in 2016, "Our aim is to make the club an institution respected around the world. If we are going to make that happen, we have to win the Champions League."

That they have failed to do so is as big an underachievement as Manchester City’s failure to land Europe’s top prize since they were bought by mega-rich owners in 2008.

One suspects this year, they are more determined than ever after back-to-back last 16 exits to an understrength Manchester United and to Real Madrid which hurt Parisians like hell in what was the French side’s eighth successive Champions League campaign.

As if to emphasise the point, both star men were rested in PSG’s kamikaze draw with Amiens in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

Champions League: Paris Saint-Germain will face a tough match against Borussia Dortmund
Paris Saint-Germain players celebrate after scoring against Pau in the French Cup

This tie also represents a reunion with former employers for PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, who spent two years with Dortmund from 2015 to 2017, winning the German Cup in his second season.

PSG have the best defensive record in this season’s competition having conceded only twice, both goals against Madrid in the group stages.

They will face a Dortmund side who did well to emerge from a group which comprised Barcelona and Serie A leaders Inter Milan.

This is their 14th Champions League campaign; they were winners in 1997, and runners-up in 2013 – a record PSG have never got close to.

Yet, despite winning two of their three home games at the Signal Iduna Park in the group stages, Dortmund have won only five of their last 13 European home matches (drawn three, lost five).

The onus will be very much on their front men to take a lead to the French capital ahead of the second leg on March 11.

Die Schwarzgelben will be without the injured Marco Reus, but in Jadon Sancho - the only player in double figures for both goals and assists in one of Europe’s top five leagues per UEFA coefficient this season - and the hugely impressive Haaland, who netted his eighth goal in just five appearances in Friday’s 4-0 defeat of Eintracht Frankfurt, the Bundesliga title-chasers have their own potent weapons.

They will need them against the side I consider the favourites to win this year’s competition.

 

History

The only meetings between these two clubs came in this competition in the 2010/11 group stages. Both ended all square.

An 87th-minute goal from PSG substitute Clément Chantôme cancelled out Nuri Şahin’s penalty opener for Dortmund five minutes into the second half on Matchday 3. The game at the Parc des Princes two weeks later finished goalless.

Dortmund’s record in two-legged knockout ties against French clubs is won three, lost two. They won the first three and then lost the last two - most recently against Monaco in the 2017 Champions League quarter-finals (2-3 home, 1-3 away).

 

Betting Tip

??

Borussia Dortmund vs Paris Saint-Germain Total Goals 4-6 @ 2.20
February 19, 04:00 (GMT+8)

With such talent on show, I am following the array of Champions League 2020 betting odds and going for goals.

My tip is for Dortmund and PSG to combine for a total of 4-6 goals in their first-leg matchup.

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?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Tuesday 7:36 PM (3 days ago)            #15
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Champions League: Red’s Title Defence Continues In Madrid

Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool

Liverpool continue their Champions League title campaign on Tuesday with a trip to the Wanda Metropolitano to take on Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid.

The two sides come into the match in contrasting form; the Liverpool juggernaut surges onwards, while Los Rojiblancos have rather stuttered recently. But Atleti fought hard to get to the Round of 16, and home advantage should even things up, so we’re set for a cracker in Madrid on Tuesday night.

Jurgen Klopp’s team is at 1.33 with SBOBET to make it through to the last eight, with Los Rojiblancos at 3.32. A Liverpool win or a score draw will widen the gap, but if the hosts can get a positive result then we’ll have all to play for at Anfield.

 

Talking points

Liverpool’s trophy charge

The Reds have pretty much got the Premier League done and dusted. When they beat Manchester United the Liverpool fans celebrated like they had won their first domestic league title in three decades. They’ve bagged another handful of league wins since then and so the pressure has almost disappeared; the Liverpool players just want to get the job finished.

 


 

 

But they can already concentrate on cup matters with full focus and little or no conflict. With that in mind the latest Champions League 2020 betting odds have the Reds as low as 3.80 to win back-to-back European titles.

Klopp has a selection problem, but a nice one to have. His tried and tested front three of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have now been joined by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain since the England man returned from long term injury. And the Ox has played plenty of Champions League football, scoring three goals, with only Salah beating him at four.

Mane scored his 100th goal in English football in Liverpool’s 0-1 win over Norwich City at the weekend. With Manchester City set to play West Ham on Wednesday it was a win which took Klopp’s side 25 points clear at the top of the table. The Senegalese star started on the bench in the blustery conditions of Carrow Road and he will be pushing for a start, while Firmino just seems to be getting better and better (if that’s possible).

The Brazilian has three assists in the competition and he showed some outrageous skills in the wind and rain in Norwich.

Los Rojiblancos searching for form

Simeone has no such luxury, with striker Joao Felix sidelined with injury; his well organised side is struggling for wins.

Atleti have underperformed in La Liga this season but have showed serious character in the Champions League. Los Rojiblancos fought back to take a crucial point against Juventus at the group stage which helped them join I Bianconeri in the knockout phase.

Atletico Madrid is Steven Savic to lead them to victory as they host Liverpool in Champions League
Steven Savic in action during Atletico Madrid's match against Leganes

Los Rojiblancos won a hard earned point away to Valencia on Friday night, a result which kept them in fourth place, but they were ahead twice through Marcos Llorente and Thomas Partey and failed to hold on to their lead. That’s unusual for a team which has a hard earned reputation of one of Europe’s meanest defences. But the Madrid side has been missing wing back Kieran Trippier after the former Spurs man underwent groin surgery.

The key men at Atleti’s rearguard will be the former Fiorentina centre back Stefan Savic and keeper Jan Oblak, while creative forwards Vitolo and Saul Niguez will try to stretch the Reds’ backline.

 

History

The Madrid side have had the better of the head to heads having won three, drawn two and lost one of their last six meetings with Liverpool.

But recent form is a worry. Atleti come into the game with one win in six, while Liverpool have five wins and a draw. And it was Klopp’s kids who played out a 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury in the FA Cup, before dispatching the League One side back at Anfield.

Meanwhile Simeone’s side suffered the embarrassment of going out of the Copa del Rey to lower league Leonesa.

 

Betting Tip

??

Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool Atletico Madrid + 0.25 @ 1.96
February 19, 04:00 (GMT+8)

It will be major Champions League 2020 news if Atleti can somehow knock the champions out of this year’s competition and, to do that, they need a positive result at the Wanda Metropolitano.

The hosts are at 3.25 to win the first leg, with the draw at 3.20 and Liverpool are at odds of 2.24 to take a lead back to Anfield. The Reds are unbeaten in 14, but while Atleti are searching for winning form they are unbeaten in five games at home.

Norwich pushed Liverpool all the way on Saturday and, with all respect to the Canaries, they are no Atletico Madrid.

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Tuesday 7:45 PM (3 days ago)            #16
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Champions League: Last Eight is the Prize for Spurs and Red Bulls

Tottenham Hotspur vs RB Leipzig

When you look at the other ties in the round of 16, the Champions League match between the Spurs and RB Leipzig may have gone under the radar for some. But while champions Liverpool take on Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night, let’s not forget that Spurs were beaten finalists in last season’s competition.

And RB Leipzig is one of the most ambitious clubs on the planet, so this has all the makings of a really entertaining battle.

At the moment neither of these two teams is talked about as a potential winner outside North London and Leipzig. Of the two, Spurs may have the better chance, the eighth favourite at odds of 21.00 to lift the European crown, while Leipzig are the tenth favourite at 36.00.

But then the latest Spurs vs RB Leipzig betting odds make the Bundesliga outfit slightly odds on to make it to the quarter-finals, at 1.87 to see off Jose Mourinho’s team, with Spurs at 2.07 to navigate this tie.

Head coach Julien Nagelsmann has guided RB Leipzig to second in the Bundesliga table, and they are genuine contenders, having earned a point away to FC Bayern recently.

 

Talking Points

Spurs on the march

Not every Spurs fan has been happy with their lot this season. Even since changing head coaches in November all has not been rosy in the garden. Jose started with a flurry of wins and then stuttered a little, but he seems to have steadied the ship once again.

Heung-Min Son’s last gasp winner against Aston Villa on Sunday took the Whites up to fifth in the Premier League, and within a point of Chelsea, before the Blues match with Manchester United on Monday night. And the win was their third in a row, while Spurs are seven unbeaten and have won their last four home matches.

Champions League: Can Son Heung-min add more goals to his tally?
Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min celebrates after scoring his side's third goal against Aston Villa

And they have done all that without top scorer and Captain Harry Kane. The England skipper bagged six goals at the Champions League group stage, while Son has scored five in this competition.

Spurs will also be without Moussa Sissoko, but reinforcements are stepping up. Giovanni Lo Celso made the difference for the Whites when he came on as a sub against Aston Villa, while new signing Steven Bergwijn scored in Spurs 2-0 victory over Manchester City.

The Red Bulls are flying too

If Spurs are on the march then they could meet a formidable match on Wednesday when Die Roten Bullen come to town. Nagelsmann’s side beat Werder Bremen 3-0 at the weekend and are now just a point off the top of their league.

Emil Forsberg and Timo Werner have three goals each in this competition, but Werner’s Bundesliga form has been prolific, he’s scored 20 league goals already and only Robert Lewandowski has more.

Forsberg is likely to start on the bench with Patrik Schick, on loan from Roma, in line for a start. And Spurs will need to look out for flying wingback Lukas Klostermann, who was on target against Bremen and will be a constant threat.

RB Leipzig will be without club captain Willi Orban and Ibrahima Konate, both with long term injuries.

 

History

Losing the Champions League final so feebly to Liverpool last season remained former boss Mauricio Pochettino’s biggest regret when he left the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in November.

RB Leipzig haven’t come so close to European glory and these two teams haven’t previously met, which is little surprise as the German club was only founded in 2009. Die Roten Bullen finished runners up in their first season in the top flight in 2017 and gained entry to the Champions League. No other side has risen through the ranks to reach Europe’s premier competition so quickly.

Recent form slightly favours the hosts. Spurs come into the game with four wins and two draws from the last six games, in all competitions, while RB Leipzig have won two, drawn two and lost two.

 

Betting Tip

??

Tottenham Hotspur vs RB Leipzig Tottenham Hotspur Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.09
February 20, 04:00 (GMT+8)

This first leg could go either way with the Spurs at 2.49 to take a lead to Germany, while RB Leipzig are at 2.77 and the draw is available at odds of 3.25.

The German side has a real threat going forward and Mourinho will set up to keep things tight at the back, but even without Kane, his own forwards have been in great form. They have the momentum and I think Spurs will have the edge.

And, of course, we’ll be back with all the latest Spurs vs RB Leipzig updates as they happen on Wednesday.

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Tuesday 7:49 PM (3 days ago)            #17
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Champions League: Atalanta in the Spotlight at San Siro

Atalanta vs Valencia

It was hard to envision either Atalanta or Valencia making it to the Champions League knockout round given how they started the competition.

The Italians had just one point in their first four group matches, while the Spaniards found themselves behind last year's semi-finalists Ajax as well as Chelsea in the group. But both clubs were able to rally in time and picked up some big wins to make it through to the last 16.

Atalanta will come into the match at the San Siro in fine form having won three of their last four in Serie A. Meanwhile, Valencia have gone winless in their last three and find themselves way down in seventh in the La Liga table.

 

Talking Points

The Atalanta scoring machine

After a rough start to their debut campaign, Atalanta's prolific attack finally woke up in their last two games to produce some Champions League 2020 highlights. They handled Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 at home and won 3-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk to secure qualification as the second-place team behind Manchester City.

Atalanta have been scoring goals for fun in Serie A all season. They have 63 goals in 24 games, by far the most in the league (Lazio are second at 55). They recorded back-to-back 5-0 wins at home against AC Milan and Parma and also thrashed Torino 7-0 away last month. That was their second seven-goal game this year after a 7-1 win over Udinese.

After a surprise 2-2 draw at home against Genoa, they've bounced back with consecutive 2-1 wins at Fiorentina and against Roma.

It speaks to Atalanta's sheer depth of attacking quality that their last six goals have been scored by six different players. Josip Ilicic is having a sensational season and is leading the way with 14 goals. Luis Muriel is second with 13, while last season's top scorer Duvan Zapata has chipped in with 9.

But it doesn't stop with those three, as Robin Gosens, Papu Gomez, and Mario Pasalic have also provided 8, 7, and 7 goals, respectively.

Champions League: Duvan Zapata is aiming to challenge Valencia as they clash at San Siro
Duvan Zapata celebrates with Atalanta after scoring against Napoli

Atalanta have won five of their last seven games at home, but they don't have a great home record overall. They've already lost five times at home this season, with the latest one coming against second-from-bottom SPAL last month.

Valencia's away woes

Not only did Valencia qualify from the so-called "Group of Death" in this year's Champions League, they also won it. They topped the group after a stunning 1-0 win at Ajax in their final game. They also defied the Champions League 2020 betting odds by beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, although they were significantly outplayed in that match.

Curiously, Valencia's away form this season in La Liga has been nowhere near as good. In fact, they  were recently on the receiving end of a couple of three-goal defeats against relegation-threatened Mallorca (4-1) and surprise package Getafe (3-0). They were also knocked out of the Copa del Rey after a 2-1 defeat away to Granada.

A major factor in Valencia's struggles this season has been the decline of their defence. Once one of the top defences in Spain, they are now at the bottom half of the table, conceding 34 goals already in 24 games. More worryingly, 23 of those goals have come away from home.

At home, Valencia have shown they are still capable of competing with the big sides. They came from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Atletico Madrid over the weekend. They also drew 1-1 with Real Madrid back in December and beat Barcelona 2-0 last month, handing Quique Setien his first defeat as Barca boss.

But it remains to be seen whether Albert Celades' side can continue to produce those types of results away from the Mestalla.

Centre-back Gabriel Paulista, who scored against Atleti, also picked up a serious-looking ankle injury, although he was already suspended for the first leg. And with their other regular centre-back Ezequiel Garay out for the season with a knee injury, Mouctar Diakhaby will likely partner Eliaquim Mangala in the centre of defence.

 

History

This will be the very first time Atalanta and Valencia will meet in a UEFA competition match.

Valencia are in the Champions League round of 16 for the first time since the 2012/13 season. They are 2-4 in two-legged ties against Italian opposition.

Valencia lost the 2001 Champions League final at the San Siro, the venue for the first leg. The Spaniards have yet to win at the famous stadium against Italian opposition (three draws, one loss)

 

Betting Tip

??

Atalanta vs Valencia Atalanta 1X2 @ 1.77
February 20, 04:00 (GMT+8)

SBOBET odds have Atalanta priced as 1.79 favourites despite the fact that they won't be technically be at home at the San Siro. Valencia are 3.90 to score a first-round upset, while a draw is 3.95.

There's just a lot to like about Atalanta. They just have too much firepower in attack, and Valencia's makeshift backline doesn't appear equipped to handle it.

The Spaniards will do their best to limit the damage, but I fully expect Atalanta to win and take a lead back to the Mestalla for the second leg.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
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This message was edited by SBOBET on 25-Feb-2020 at 7:49 PM


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Tuesday 7:52 PM (3 days ago)            #18
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Champions League: Man City Slapped With Ban, Chelsea, PSG Welcome Key Additions


Over these past few days, the teams who will be playing the Final 16 of the  Champions League have been involved in various developments – whether for good or for worse. Manchester City quickly come into mind as they were on the wrong end of the Champions League 2020 news when they were meted atwo-year ban by the UEFA Committee few days ago. Elsewhere, Liverpool turn their attention in the European showcase since a Premier League title is already in the bag. The defending titlists will lock horns against Atletico Madrid tomorrow, who are yet to find their peak form. Borussia Dortmund and PSG will also kick off the festivities tomorrow and football fans can check out the preview of the said matchhere for some useful betting tips. For now, allow SBOBET to provide you some more updates with our news roundup.



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Manchester City undergoing a huge crisis The run of bad luck continues at the Etihad when Manchester City were slapped a two-year competition ban in the Champions League by the UEFA Committee due to FFP violations. City were found guilty of overstating their club sponsorship revenues after a thorough investigation on their books, which was sparked by Der Spiegel’s 2018 report regarding “leaked” emails and documents involving the team owners. The said “leaked” emails and documents indicated that team owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan was declared to have shelled out £67.5-M in annual sponsorship for City’s shirt, stadium, and academy via the Etihad. However, the emails suggested that only £8-M of that sponsorship in 2016 was funded by Etihad and the rest came from the Abu Dhabi United Group. While City have already filed an appeal regarding this announcement, there has been much speculation of the future of Pep Guardiola and his key players, with a number of rival teams looking to poach them all. However, Guardiola reiterated his commitment with the team saying that they should stick together amidst this crisis. “Whatever league we are in, I will still be here. Even if they put us in League Two, I will still be here. This is a time for sticking together,” said Guardiola. Manchester City are slated to face Real Madrid in their knockout matchup on Thursday in what is expected to be a high-scoring showdown. Neymar expected to be back PSG are about to get a huge boost in their Champions League 2020 odds as they welcome Neymar back into their lineup after having missed their past four matches due to a rib injury. Of course, this is great news for head coach Thomas Tuchel ashis squad is aiming high after enduring a three-year winless run in the tournament’s last 16 knockout phase. “When you go out in the last 16 three times and then you’re back there again, it’s clear that it’s not a simple situation. But every year writes its own story. You need defeat in order to grow and develop yourself,” shared Tuchel in a recent press conference. “If we have Neymar on the field, we have the self-confidence,” he added. Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi have been carrying the load for the most part during Neymar’s absence. They are two of the club’s leading scorers with 20 and 16 goals respectively. But adding a healthy Neymar would be a boon for the squad since he’s contributed 14 goals and eight assists already this season, and that should make them one of the dark horses in this tournament.

Paris Saint-Germain welcome ace Neymar into their Champions League line-up after rib injury

Neymar celebrates after scoring Paris Saint-Germain’s second goal during French League One match against Lille at Lille Metropole stadium

They will, however, face a dangerous Dortmund club who has been hitting their stride as of late. BVB recently notched a dominating 4-0 victory against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga. Erling Haaland will make his Champions League debut for the Yellows tomorrow to spearhead their offence. The 19-year-old sensation has already scored nine goals in six games in all competitions for Dortmund. Chelsea boost their midfield depth Chelsea have bolstered their midfield depth bysigning Hakim Ziyech from Ajax effective this summer. The Moroccan international has been coveted by team manager Frank Lampard as he is an adept playmaker and a set-piece specialist. He has been a prolific scorer throughout his pro career, as he scored 100 goals for his club and his country. It can be remembered that Ziyech contributed three goals for Ajax in their 4-4 draw against Chelsea during their Champions League game last November, which included a wonderful corner kick that breezed past Chelsea goal keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. He is expected to play a huge role for the Blues moving forward as a creative spark given that Ziyech has provided 421 attacking opportunities for Ajax since joining them in 2016. Since 2018, he has also recorded more assists than Lionel Messi in the Champions League. Only Riyad Mahrez and Kylian Mbappe are ahead of him in that regard.

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Tuesday 7:55 PM (3 days ago)            #19
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Champions League: Liverpool Lose in Madrid

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Liverpool

Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid put in one of their characteristically gritty displays tonight to stop the Liverpool juggernaut and take a 1-0 first-leg lead to Anfield.

It was the Reds' first appearance at the Wanda Metropolitano since that famous night last June when they lifted the Champions League trophy. But, after Saul Niguez had given Los Rojiblancs an early lead, they rarely threatened to break down the hosts, failing to get a crucial away goal.

Manchester United’s Premier League win over Chelsea last night means that Liverpool have already qualified for next season’s Champions League. But Jurgen Klopp said the Reds’ league form would be irrelevant in terms of their European campaign, and specifically this tie against Atletico Madrid.

And he was right!

 

Highlights of the game

Saul Niguez leads Atletico Madrid past Liverpool 1-0 in Champions League Round of 16 first leg
Saul celebrates after scoring Atletico Madrid's first goal during Champions League Round of 16 first leg match against Liverpool

After a slow start to their group campaign, Atleti worked hard to reach the round of 16 and they had the perfect opening tonight. They attacked from the off and won a corner on four minutes. The cross bounced off Fabinho and fell to Saul Niguez, who stabbed it home from close range.

VAR took a look, but Virgil van Dijk had played Saul onside and the Wanda Metropolitano crowd celebrated again. What a start!

Midway through the half, Alvaro Morata had a chance from a tight angle. He brought it back onto his right foot and fired, but Alisson made a great save.

Liverpool had the ball in the net a minute later when the Atleti keeper Jan Oblak fluffed a clearance straight to Mo Salah who passed to Roberto Firmino. But the Brazilian was offside when he rolled the ball back for Salah to slot home, and the flag went straight up.

Despite dominating possession for most of the first half, the Reds had failed to register a single shot on target.

Liverpool had a good chance early in the second half when Joe Gomez swung a superb cross into the danger area. Salah met it at the near post, but his header flashed wide when we expected the net to bulge.

And Atleti should have doubled their lead midway through the second half. Renan Lodi pulled a great ball back to Alvaro Morata, but just as he was about to fire the ball home he slipped and lost the chance.

Then, with 15 minutes remaining Liverpool came closest when Divock Origi crossed to Jordan Henderson, but he volleyed inches wide of Oblak’s post.



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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

 

Key statistics

Before the tie started the Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool betting odds had the Reds at 1.33 to make it to the quarter-finals, with Simeone’s team at 3.32. Take a look tomorrow and that will have evened up a little.

Liverpool had over 75 per cent of the ball in the first half but didn't test Oblak once, while Los Rojiblancos had two shots on target. And as Atleti stifled the Reds in the second half, neither side tested the keepers.

Simeone won’t mind that one bit. This was a huge performance and one which ended Liverpool’s 14-match unbeaten run while extending Atleti’s unbeaten home record to six.

Saul is the man for Atleti. The Madrid side has never lost a match in which he has scored, winning 33 and drawing four…incredible!

 

What’s next?

The action keeps on coming for SBOBET Champions League fans, with 2019 losing finalists Spurs kicking off their round of 16 tie against RB Leipzig tomorrow night.

The big Champions League 2020 news of the last five days was the announcement that the UEFA have banned Manchester City for two years. Whether that will stand up in court is another question, but I bet UEFA bosses will hope Real Madrid can oust the Sky Blues in the tie of the round!

Back to domestic matters, Los Rojiblancos need a strong finish to their league season to guarantee Champions League football again next year. They currently hold that fourth spot, but only ahead of Sevilla on goal difference while Real Sociedad are only three points further back.

On Sunday, they are at home to sixth-placed Villarreal; it’s a game they need to win to remain on track.

And what of Liverpool? Well, Klopp’s men are at home to struggling West Ham, who are due to be softened up by Manchester City tomorrow night. These are worrying times for the Hammers and their stress is unlikely to ease at Anfield.

 

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Tuesday 7:57 PM (3 days ago)            #20
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Champions League: The Boy Haaland Is Something Special!

Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Paris Saint-Germain

This Champions League tie between Borussia Dortmund and Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain always had the potential to be a thriller.

A simple look at the team sheets offered a glimpse of that.

And goals too. After all, PSG’s previous five games had contained 29 goals, while Dortmund’s matches had witnessed 27.

So, we were ready for a night of Champions League 2020 highlights with confidence seemingly high in both camps.

Despite selling many of their best players over the past decade, the official Bundesliga website was confident its own team could upset the free-spending Parisians.

But then again, that is exactly what its official Ligue 1 counterpart predicted also in the Signal Iduna Park.

Highlights of the game

What we ultimately got was a game which showed that, despite splashing the cash in a way few others can, PSG (and many other big hitters) missed a trick when Erling Braut Haaland went up for sale last month.



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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

Of course, this tie is far from over and no doubt the SBOBET Champions League 2020 betting odds still make the Parisians favourite to progress.

But it’s certain that this young Norwegian is a special talent who, with an injury-free spell, is destined for special things.

Since his arrival, he has scored 11 goals in seven games and Dortmund have scored 23 goals in their five Bundesliga games in 2020, hitting the net at least four times on four occasions.

None, though, have potentially been as important as the two he scored here. When the contest did see goals, they all arrived in a 10-minute spell.

First, the dangerous Achraf Hakimi produced some fine work down the right and his cross reached the Norwegian, who thrashed the ball home from close range.

Then, after Kylian Mbappe – who had been twice denied by another impressive showing from Roman Burki - produced his own moment of quality and squared for Neymar to tap home, Haaland decided to take centre stage again.

Within two minutes, in fact.

Substitute Gio Reyna ran into space and fed his fellow teenager, who unleashed a stunner which flew into the top corner.

An incredible strike worthy of winning any game and one which gave the Black and Yellows a slender lead ahead of their trip to Paris in three weeks' time.

For PSG, knocked out at this stage for the past three seasons, most famously of all last season despite holding a 2-0 first leg lead, this was a blow. Although, it wasn't necessarily a fatal one as they are desperate to finally make a big splash in Europe.

This was also their first defeat in the tournament this season. Thomas Tuchel, facing his former club here, won all but one of their six games in the group stage, drawing the other 2-2 at Real Madrid.

However, this was Haaland’s and  Dortmund’s night as they protected an unbeaten home run that stretches back to April last year.

Will it be enough to reach the last eight?

Key statistics

Haaland has scored eight Champions League goals in seven appearances this season (six for former club Red Bull Salzburg).

The Norwegian teenager has hit 39 goals in 29 competitive appearances in total in 2019/20, including 11 in seven since joining Dortmund in January.

Dortmund are the only Bundesliga team yet to lose at home in any competition this season.

Borussia Dortmund supporters cheered loud and proud for their squad in the Champions League
Borussia Dortmund fans forming the BVB logo on the stands

This was a Champions League debut for US youth international Reyna. At 17 years and 97 days, he is the youngest player to assist a goal in the Champions League since November 2007, when Bojan did for Barcelona, (aged 17 years, 91 days versus Lyon).

Hakimi registered his 10th assist of the season but his first in European competition.

Paris Saint-Germain have only won two of their past nine away games in the Champions League knockout stages, yet have won nine of their last 13 Champions League matches (drawn one, lost three) and have now scored in 31 consecutive games in the competition.

The only previous encounter between Borussia Dortmund and PSG was in the 2010/11 Europa League group stages - both games ended in a draw (1-1 in Dortmund, 0-0 in Paris).

Dortmund have made it past the Champions League round of 16 only once in the last five seasons. It was in 2016-17 under current PSG manager Tuchel.

Tuchel has won none of his six away games against Dortmund (drawn two, lost four), all five before tonight taking place when he was in charge of Mainz (2009-2014).

Dortmund’s last 24 goals in the Champions League have all come from open play, the longest current run among the remaining sides in the competition.

PSG forward Mbappe has scored/assisted 31 goals in 31 Champions League games (19 goals, 12 assists).

What’s next?

Dortmund now revert to domestic duties with three Bundesliga fixtures before the second let in Paris. They are at Werder Bremen on Saturday (Feb 22) in the Bundesliga.

It’s the same for PSG who also have a French Cup match to contend with in the same period. They are next in action at home to Bordeaux in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

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Tuesday 7:59 PM (3 days ago)            #21
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Champions League: Red Bull Flying Over London!

Spurs 0-1 RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig took a priceless one-goal lead from their Champions League tie against Spurs tonight, thanks to a second half penalty from Timo Werner.

Head coach Julian Nagelsmann will be delighted by his team’s performance as they dominated for all but the last 15 minutes. Once dubbed the Mini-Mourinho, the 32-year-old tried to distance himself from such comparisons before the game.

But he outwitted the original Mourinho tonight!

With top scorers Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son injured long term, Jose Mourinho needs to call on his squad players and new recruits. But only when he brought Erik Lamela on late in the second half did his team look likely to score.

The Spurs vs Red Bull Leipzig betting odds marginally favoured the Bundesliga club making it to the quarter finals, and the odds will be shorter now.

 

Highlights of the game

Tottenham Hotspur dig Champions League hole with round of 16 first leg loss
Tottenham Hotspur keeper Hugo Lloris in action as RB Leipzig's Timo Werner shoots at goal

Under Mourinho, the Spurs rearguard has a more settled look about it with Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld both in good form. Tonigh, it was Davinson Sanchez alongside Alderweireld at the heart of Spurs defence, and he had plenty of work to do as Red Bull started like a house on fire!

Patrik Schick, on loan from Roma, came close in the very first minute but his shot flew narrowly wide, and a minute later the visitors came even closer.

Sanchez put a brave block in to deny Timo Werner and Angelino’s follow up from a tight angle was deflected onto the post and away.

Harry Winks blocked another Werner effort, and then Sanchez cleared away a Schick header as the Red Bulls continued to dominate.

Hugo Lloris made a save from Angelino, and then an even better one from a fierce Werner drive when the Red Bull striker was clean through. Sanchez continued to play his part, intercepting a cross aimed for Schick to see Spurs through to half time with their goal intact.

Spurs had an early second half chance when Serge Aurier put Lucas Moura in with a superb ball. But as his shot headed towards goal, Peter Gulacsi got down well to save.

But on the hour, Red Bull got the away goal they deserved as Werner chipped the ball into the penalty area. And when Ben Davies clattered into Konrad Laimer, the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Werner stepped up and fired the ball past Lloris and into the corner of the net for his fourth goal of the competition.

Spurs tried to respond and Giovani Lo Celso fired a low shot at Gulacsi, but Leipzig were a constant threat at the other end and Lloris saved well when the lively Schick tried his luck.

Mourinho brought on Erik Lamela in place of the ineffective Dele Alli and Spurs did start to look more lively, and on 73 minutes they came so close when Gulacsi tipped a Lo Celso effort onto the post.

When Lucas Moura headed over on 89 minutes that was that, and now Spurs have an uphill task to turn this tie around in Leipzig.

 

Key statistics

We cautiously backed Spurs to take a lead to Leipzig in our pre-match SBOBET tips but they were totally outplayed in the opening 45 minutes as Red Bull rained 13 shots down on Lloris goal while the hosts only registered three.

Only a late flurry from Spurs evened things up as they ended up with 12 shots to Leipzig’s 16.

Nagelsmann is the youngest coach to take charge of a Champions League knockout match and his team is now unbeaten in the last five away games in the competiton.

In other Champions League 2020 news, Atalanta took control of their tie with a thumping 4-1 win over Valencia.



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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

 

What’s next?

Spurs have a huge game in the Premier League on Saturday when they visit Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. They are just a single point behind the fourth placed Blues who will be furious after they lost at home to Manchester United on Monday night.

Frank Lampard’s side bossed the game, but had two goals controversially chalked off by VAR, while United goal-scorer Harry Maguire was lucky to avoid an early red card.

If Spurs can navigate that game they will be right in the hunt for a top four place, and then they host another team hopeful of European football when Wolves are their visitors a week later.

The Red Bulls have emerged as serious contenders for the Bundesliga title and they sit a single point behind leaders FC Bayern with two thirds of the season complete.

They have two tough tests coming though. First, Nagelsmann takes his team to Schalke, who are currently sixth in the league, before fifth placed Bayer Leverkusen visits Leipzig.

 

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Tuesday 8:01 PM (3 days ago)            #22
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Champions League: Atalanta Crushes Valencia in Statement Win

Atalanta 4-1 Valencia

Atalanta made their resounding debut in the Champions League Final 16 round by dominating Valencia last night at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia.

The Orobici were simply ruthless from the jump as they pushed the pace and took advantage of Valencia’s listless defence time and time again.

Hans Hateboer scored a brace for the home team, while Josip Ilicic and Remo Freuler fired in one each to significantly increase Atalanta’s Champions League 2020 odds of making it into the next round.

Before this game, a lot were wondering how Atalanta would fare in the Final 16 since it’s their first time there. But they quickly erased any doubts as their prolific attack carried over when it mattered most.



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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

With the team looking healthier, the Orobici finally found their stride under the guidance of Gian Piero Gasperini, and that should put the rest of the playing field on notice moving forward.

Another solid outing on March 11 should seal the deal for Atalanta barring any unforeseen circumstances, and that should make their loyal fans ecstatic considering that making it this far was deemed a miracle at the first place.

Today, SBOBET give you the recap of last night’s fixture.

 

Highlights of the game

Mario Pasalic opened our Champions League 2020 highlights when he received a lovely pass from Josip Ilicic with a counter-attack at the eighth minute. While he was unable to score the goal because of Jaume Domenech’s save, it was a sign of things to come for the Orobici.

Soon at the 16th minute, Alejandro Gomez patiently probed near the penalty area and he threaded a needle past multiple Valencia defenders to find an open Hans Hateboer for a sublime finish. Jose Gaya fell asleep for a split second which gave the Dutch wing-back his first score of the evening.

Valencia had their first real chance during the 30th minute when they executed a misdirection play that found a cutting Ferran Torres for a possible goal, but Jose Palomino got the better of him at the time through a brilliant challenge.

They had another one a few minutes later when Jose Gaya flicked an excellent volley to Goncalo Guedes on the left flank. However, his shot went too wide to the right and Eliaquim Mangala couldn’t guide the ball to the back of the net.

Three minutes before the first half break, Atalanta’s top scorer in Josip Ilicic doubled their advantage with a fine strike, and that sent the crowd into pandemonium.

Remo Freuler opened the second half by scoring one of his own at the 57th minute. Geoffrey Kondogbia wasn’t able to clear the ball out and that paved the way for the Orobici to counter and score their third goal of the evening.

Atalanta committed one rare mistake last evening when Pierluigi Gollini cleared the ball to the wrong person, but he was able to make amends when he saved a short-range shot by Ferran Torres.

They were able to make a quick turnaround through their exquisite passing. Hans Hateboer received a backheel pass which led to him racing at front all alone for a cool finish to score his brace at the 62nd minute.

For consolation, Denis Cheryshev scored Valencia’s only goal of the match when Jose Palomino failed to clear the ball and made a wrong pass.

Cheryshev would have one more crack at it when Ferran Torres volleyed a pass to the penalty area. However, Pierluigi Gollini showed great reflexes by slapping the ball away for one more save.

Valencia will have a lot of ground to make up when they host Atalanta for the second leg of their Champions League clash
Maxi Gomez and the rest of his Valencia teammates react after Hans Hateboer scored his second goal

Valencia couldn’t get any more chances from there and it was such a disappointing night for Albert Celades’ men.

 

Key statistics

Surprisingly, Valencia had more shots (18) and lesser fouls (9) compared to Atalanta, but the latter made more passes (487) and controlled 52-per cent of the possession.

Valencia have lost their third consecutive game against an Italian side in European competition for the first since 2000. They have also been lacklustre on the road in the Champions League too (D4, L6).

Atalanta, on the other hand, have won their third straight match in European competition for the first time in their history.

Alejandro Gomez enjoyed his first taste of Champions League action at the age of 32. He may have not scored any goals last night, but he was a vital cog to their attack.

 

What’s next?

Atalanta will host Sassuolo this Sunday for their next Serie A match as they try to sneak into the top three of the standings.

On the other hand, Valencia will continue their La Liga journey as they’ll clash with Real Sociedad on the road on Sunday.

These two sides will meet again on March 11 for the second leg of the Champions League Final 16 knockouts.

 

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Champions League: Barca’s Campaign Begins in Naples

Napoli vs Barcelona

The Stadio San Paulo welcomes Leo Messi and Barcelona to Italy on Tuesday, as Napoli faces up to one of the favourites to win this season’s big European competition.

Champions League: Napoli vs Barcelona is a clash between two in-form sides, both arriving on the back of three consecutive victories, and this is not a match the Catalans will be taking lightly. But in Messi they have that magical ingredient which gives them an advantage in every game, and after strolling through the group stages, this is where Barca gets down to business.

This tie has gone under the radar somewhat, with all eyes on the Real Madrid vs Manchester City clash but, rest assured, the San Paulo will be bouncing for one of those famous European nights under the floodlights.

 

Talking Points

Messi in devastating form

Barcelona warmed up for the Round of 16 clash by hammering Eibar 5-0 in La Liga, and Messi sent out yet another notice of his pure genius, scoring the first four goals before Arthur added a fifth.

We’ve run out of superlatives to describe the Argentine phenomenon, suffice to say he is one of the greatest players of all time. He makes goals for his team-mates as readily as he scores them and must be a delight to play alongside. Luis Suarez is out injured so Messi is likely to be joined by Antoine Griezmann upfront and that’s a terrifying prospect for any defence.

Barca are fourth favourites to lift the Champions League in May, with odds of 7.00 at SBOBET, but little separates the top six sides in a wide-open competition. The Blaugrana are five-time winners of Europe’s premier competition and they’ll have their eyes on a sixth.

Napoli starting to click

Gli Azzurri have had a torrid season by their standards but, in recent weeks, they have looked back to their old selves and are in contention for a place in Europe next season.

They started to climb the table when a Dries Mertens goal gave them a 0-1 win away to Cagliari last week, and they followed that up with a 1-2 win away to Brescia on Friday night.

Can Napoli beat five-time Champions League winners Barcelona?
Dries Mertens celebrates after Napoli's win against Inter Milan in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-finals

But with a rather different level of threat coming up, big centre back Khalid Koulibaly will be a key player if he’s declared fit to play alongside Kostas Manolas.

At sixth in the Serie A table, and nine points adrift of Atalanta in fourth, it looks like Europa League football for Gli Azzurri next season, unless they can win this competition.

Beat Barcelona and that will not be out of the question, but Gennaro Gattuso is under no illusions regarding the size of the task, saying: “We’re up against a great team of great players. We know it’s going to be difficult but…we shouldn’t have any fear: we have to respect them and play our own game.

 

History

The Blaugrana have had the better of the Napoli vs Barcelona results over the past decade, winning three to Napoli’s one. The meetings have all been friendly games, the last in August when Barca won 0-4 as Suarez scored twice and Griezmann was also on target.

Gli Azzurri were impressive at the Champions League group stage, finishing second in Group E and just a single point behind Liverpool, having beaten Jurgen Klopp’s Champions 2-0 in the opening fixture.

Meanwhile, Barca finished on 14 points to win Group F ahead of Borussia Dortmund. They won two and drew one away from home, finishing with a 1-2 win away to Inter Milan to register their 150th Champions League victory.

The Blaugrana have lost only two of their last 29 Champions League games, winning 18 and drawing nine.

Meanwhile, Napoli have won six, drawn three and lost three of their last 12 home Champions League games.

Both teams come into this clash with five wins in six in all competitions.

 

Betting Tip

??

Napoli vs Barcelona Barcelona 1X2 @ 2.19
February 26, 04:00 (GMT+8)

The Catalans are at 1.25 to advance to the quarter-finals with Napoli at 3.85, but the Napoli vs Barcelona betting odds are more evenly matched for the first leg when the Italians have home advantage.

Barcelona are slightly odds against to win the game, with the draw at 3.40 and Napoli at 3.15.

Gli Azzurri have been looking more like their old selves recently, but Messi in his current form will take some stopping, so I’m backing the Blaugrana to take a lead back to the Camp Nou.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Champions League: Youth Welcomes Experience To Stamford Bridge

Chelsea vs Bayern Munich

As Champions League matches go, this is very much a story of the new super-rich now established top club against the traditional powerhouse of German football.

Both have been crowned European champions over the past decade and both crave it again.

And there is certainly an element of pressure on both ahead of this two-legged last 16 tie.

Chelsea’s last three UEFA Champions League campaigns have all ended in the last 16, while Bayern were knocked out by English opposition at this stage 12 months ago, going down to eventual winners Liverpool – their earliest exit from the competition since 2011.

 

Talking Points

As their respective classes of 2020 go, the west Londoners are a work in progress – arguably a side in transition, although one holding onto fourth spot in the Premier League under a fairly rookie manager in fans’ favourite Frank Lampard.

In Hans Flick, Bayern Munich also have a coach who is taking his first steps in management after a long spell as Joachim Low’s number two for the German national side.

 


 

 

The difference is, he has inherited a side littered with seasoned internationals and experience that Chelsea only have in a handful of areas.

Their cause, nor the spotlight on Lampard, will not be helped by the absence of the likes of N’Golo Kante for this one – one of their true experienced world class talents who lifted the World Cup 18 months ago alongside Bayern’s Benjamin Pavard, Lucas Hernandez and Corentin Tolisso.

Meanwhile, former Borussia Dortmund winger Christian Pulisic is a doubt with an injury of his own.

In contrast, Bayern’s Champions League news is more centred on who Flick should leave out.

The Bundesliga leaders and five-time European champions have an all-star cast featuring Robert Lewandowski – the Poland captain has 38 goals in his 32 competitive club appearances this season, finding the back of the net on average every 75 minutes - Philippe Coutinho, Thomas Müller, Ivan Perisicand Serge Gnabry, unrecognisable from his time at Arsenal.

What’s more, on their last two Champions League trips to London, Bayern have claimed big wins over Arsenal (5-1 in March 2017) and Tottenham (7-2 in October 2019).

To get here, Tottenham Hotspur (7-2 and 3-1), Red Star Belgrade (3-0 and 6-0) and Olympiacos (3-2 and 2-0) were all dispatched with aplomb as the 29-time German champions recorded the best group stage in Champions League history with six wins from six and a goal difference of +19.

Bayern will start as favourites in what is, of course, a repeat of the 2012 final, won in dramatic fashion by the English club on Munich soil.

Yet for the superstitious amongst you, a quick stat: the Blues have never lost at home to German visitors, winning six of the nine fixtures.

 

History

Bayern Munich will come from three recent win as they visit Stamford Bridge
Robert Lewandowski celebrates with Bayern Munich teammates after their match vs SC Paderborn

They didn’t have a history of clashes until 16 years ago but they have made up for lost time with their subsequent meetings unmissable.

To refresh your memory, in the 2012 final Thomas Müller’s 83rd-minute header had seemingly given Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern victory at their Munich home.

However, five minutes later Didier Drogba headed an equaliser for a Chelsea team managed by Roberto Di Matteo.

Former Blues winger Arjen Robben had an extra-time penalty saved by Petr Čech and there was more spot-kick misery for Bayern in the shoot-out when Čech saved from Ivica Olić and Bastian Schweinsteiger as Chelsea triumphed 4-3 on penalties to be crowned champions of Europe.

Bayern were victorious in the 2013 UEFA Super Cup between the teams at the Eden Arena in Prague.

After claiming the crown 12 months later, they met Chelsea who had won the Europa League.

They twice came from behind with Franck Ribéry and, dramatically in the final seconds of extra time, Javi Martínez cancelling out goals from Fernando Torres and Eden Hazard to force another penalty shoot-out.

This time Bayern ran out 5-4 winners on spot kicks.

Lampard played in both those matches, as indeed he did in the 2005 quarter-finals of the competition – their first ever meeting.

Then Jose Mourinho’s Blues prevailed 6-5 on aggregate against Felix Magath’s Bayern.

Chelsea won the first leg 4-2 at home with Lampard scoring twice. Lampard and Drogba struck again in the second leg as Bayern won 3-2 on the night but went out on aggregate.

 

Betting Tip

??

Chelsea vs Bayern Munich Bayern Munich Asian Handicap -1.00 @ 2.44
February 26, 04:00 (GMT+8)

The SBOBET Champions League betting odds back Bayern 1X2 @ 1.82 with Chelsea out @ 3.95 and the draw also deemed unlikely @ 3.75.

With Asian Handicap betting, Chelsea are available +0.50 @ 2.12. Experience will surely win the day.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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This message was edited by SBOBET on 25-Feb-2020 at 8:06 PM


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Champions League: City Look to Capitalise on Wobbling Real

Real Madrid vs Manchester City

Real Madrid will not be in the best of form heading into their big Champions League round of 16 first leg match against Manchester City. The Spanish giants have stumbled in recent weeks, which has seen them lose their lead atop La Liga.

Meanwhile, City have gotten back to winning ways after back-to-back defeats to Manchester United in the Carabao Cup and Tottenham in the league. And given their current predicament with the upcoming UEFA ban, City will certainly be fired up to make this year's campaign count.

The Champions League 2020 betting odds have Real as slight underdogs at home, but the 13-time European champions should never be counted out.

 

Talking Points

Real Madrid's downward trend

The New Year started out so well for Real. After drawing their final three matches before the winter break, they won their first eight matches of 2020, although one of which was an extra-time win over Atletico in the Spanish Super Cup.

That terrific run extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to an impressive 21 matches (16 wins, five draws).

Champions League: Real Madrid are expecting Karim Benzema to lead in winning victory against Manchester City
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema looking dissappointed during their match vs Levante

However, that run finally came to an end after their 3-4 Copa del Rey defeat to Real Sociedad. And after a 1-4 win at Osasuna, they had more setbacks, with a 2-2 home draw against Celta Vigo and a shock 1-0 defeat to Levante this past weekend.

Real's attack has not been all that fierce all season -- they've scored just 46 goals in 25 La Liga games -- but it has slowed down even more with Karim Benzema's recent dry spell. The Frenchman has scored just two goals in his last 11 appearances and none in his last four.

Real have received close to nothing this season from big-money signing Eden Hazard, who has been injured for most of the campaign. And after making his return against Celta, Hazard once again suffered a broken ankle so he will be out for the Man City match as well as the Clasico on the weekend.

It will be up to the likes of Isco and Vinicius Junior, Lucas Vazquez, or Rodrygo to provide support up front for Benzema against City.

The defence has by far been Real's big strength this season. However, they have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last four games, which is somewhat concerning. That backline will need to be at the top of its game to prevent City from stealing a crucial away goal.

City's big chance

The Premier League is long gone for City. They remain a massive 19 points back of runaway leaders Liverpool, who still have a game in hand.

The Champions League is very clearly the main focus for Pep Guardiola's side from this point forward, especially with their uncertain future in the competition due to their recent UEFA ban.

City have not been quite the same attacking force in 2020. They've scored over two goals just once in their seven league games this year, although that one occasion was in a 1-6 thumping of Aston Villa.

 


 

 

Sergio Aguero had a hat-trick in that Villa win as he scored in his first four matches of 2020. But the Argentine has cooled off in recent weeks. He's failed to score in each of his last four appearances, his longest goal drought of the season.

Aguero had a chance to end that dry spell in their 0-1 win at Leicester over the weekend, but he failed to convert a penalty, which has been City's Achilles heel this season. They've missed their last four attempts from the spot.

Still, City have so many weapons besides Aguero who can produce some Champions League 2020 highlights. Raheem Sterling, who missed the Leicester match due to injury, should be fit to make the trip to Madrid. Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, and Gabriel Jesus are also capable of being match-winners.

And on the other end, City's defence has started to improve since the return of Aymeric Laporte. They have kept a clean sheet in all three matches he has played. With Real's attack not as prolific these days, City will like their chances of limiting the damage at the Bernabeu.

 

History

Real Madrid and Manchester City have squared off four times previously. City have yet to win, with Real winning twice and drawing twice.

The two sides last met in the semi-finals of the 2015/16 Champions League. Real just barely got through over two legs after a Fernando own-goal in the second leg. Madrid went on to the final, where they beat Atletico Madrid on penalties.

They also met in the 2012/13 group stage. Real came from behind twice to win 3-2 at home and drew 1-1 in Manchester. Benzema had given Real the lead before Sergio Aguero equalised from the penalty spot.

 

Betting Tip

??

Real Madrid vs Manchester City Under 3.00 Goals @ 1.88
February 27, 04:00 (GMT+8)

The SBOBET odds for this match have Real priced at 2.77 at home, with Manchester City the favourites at 2.44 to win the first leg in Madrid. Meanwhile, a draw is priced at 3.35.

A draw feels like it's the most likely result in this match. Madrid will be desperate not to lose and could set up in a more defensive formation to prevent City from grabbing an away goal.

For all of Guardiola's managerial success, he has straight-up struggled away from home in Europe. His sides have won just six of the last 26 away knockout matches, with 10 draws and 10 losses.

Having said all of that, though, I'm a bit more confident in this being a low-scoring contest that will go under three goals. Real could play a lot more cautiously in the first leg, while City should be able to contain a limited Real attack.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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This message was edited by SBOBET on 25-Feb-2020 at 8:08 PM


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Champions League: Next Stop France as ‘Old Lady’ Seeks Holy Grail

Lyon vs Juventus

It is something they have strived to win for decades.

Not since the mid-90s, 1996 to be precise, has the ‘old lady’ of Turin been able to call themselves Champions of Europe: the Champions League they so covet.

Recent domestic dominance does not detract from what a very good side they are, of course, but nor does it hide the fact Juventus have fallen short when it comes to glory on the European stage for fast approaching a quarter of a century.

 

Talking Points

That was the main reason why Cristiano Ronaldo was purchased 19 months ago for a big-money fee, even for a player well into his 30s, and he has been brilliant for them, as he was for Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Yet should he bring this holy grail back to the football-mad Bianconeri, should he sign off as a winner on the European stage once more, it would all but cap the argument for those who say he is the greatest player in the world.

Not only that but he would become only the second player to win the Champions League at three different clubs after Clarence Seedorf.

Ronaldo certainly marked his 1,000th senior appearance at the weekend in the manner to which we have become accustomed and he will lead the line again in France against a Lyon side which overcame the Sbobet Champions League betting odds in its final group game to reach the last 16.

While Juve manager Maurizio Sarri has yet to fully convince since taking over from Max Allegri last summer, Juventus remain top of Serie A, are in the Coppa Italia semi-finals and are favourites against a Lyon team which, while a good side, lack the sparkle perhaps it once had and remain a club which traditionally has had to sell its best players.

With Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele in the attack, the hosts will always carry a threat, yet history suggests this may be where the Olympique Lyonnais run ends for another year.

Champions League: Can Memphis Depay pose a threat upfront against Juventus?
Memphis Depay in action for Lyon during the Champions League group stage against RB Leipzig

This is the 11th time they have reached the last 16 and, having won their first three ties, they have lost six of the last seven, their most recent win at this stage coming against Madrid a decade ago.

Lyon have also only won one of their last eight home European matches (drawn six, lost one), while Juventus are unbeaten in eight matches against French sides, home and away, since a 2-0 loss at Bordeaux in the 2009/10 group stage.

That, naturally, will count for little when the first leg kicks off in the OL Stadium on Wednesday night.

But it would be a big surprise if Lyon, seventh in Lique 1, can topple the Italian giants.

 

History

This is the fifth clash between the sides, all in the past six years.

Juve won three of the first four fixtures, including a pair of 1-0 victories in France.

They first met in the 2014 Europa League quarter-finals when Leonardo Bonucci scored the only goal of the first leg at Lyon’s former home, the Stade de Gerland, five minutes from time.

 


 

Andrea Pirlo increased Juve’s aggregate advantage four minutes into the Turin return and, although Jimmy Briand's 18th-minute strike gave OL hope, a Samuel Umtiti own goal midway through the second half sealed Juventus’s place in the semi-finals.

In the 2016/17 Champions League group stage, Juventus again secured a narrow victory in France, Juan Cuadrado netting the only goal with 14 minutes left at the OL Stadium on Matchday 3.

The Bianconeri looked set for another narrow victory at the Juventus Stadium thanks to Gonzalo Higuaín's 13th-minute penalty, but Corentin Tolisso earned Lyon a point with five minutes left.

Juve went on to finish first in Group H and reach the tournament final, while third-placed Lyon moved into the Europa League, where they reached the semi-finals.

 

Betting Tip

??

Lyon vs Juventus Over 2.75 Goals @ 2.42
February 27, 04:00 (GMT+8)

I do think this last 16 tie has the potential to produce plenty of Champions League highlights and a fair few goals too.

Juventus are clear favourites, backed with 1X2 odds @ 1.92 and Asian Handicap odds –0.75 @ 2.21. Lyon, in comparison, are 1X2 @ 3.90 and Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 2.29. The draw is on offer @ 3.40.

A repeat of their most recent meeting – correct score 1-1 – will payout @ 6.20, while total goals 2-3 and total goals 4-6 are available @ 1.83 and 3.65 respectively.

My three-star tip, though, is for over 2.75 goals @ 2.42.

I think Juventus will win over the two legs but they won’t necessarily have it all their own way in France.

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This message was edited by SBOBET on 25-Feb-2020 at 8:15 PM


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Champions League: Brilliant and Buoyant Bayern Boss the Bridge!

Chelsea 0-3 Bayern Munich

It was always going to be a big Champions League ask for a Chelsea side missing key experience and lacking the savviness of their more recent predecessors when up against opponents jam packed with those attributes.

And so it proved as youth welcomed experience to Stamford Bridge.

The last times these sides had met was famously on Bayern turf when the English side were second best for 120 minutes only to end up being crowned champions of Europe.

While then they had the likes of current manager Frank Lampard, Dider Drogba and Petr Cech on the pitch, they now largely possess far less wily campaigners, even though they are full of potential.

That was evident here as Bayern created two of their own Champions League highlights in four minutes to all but render the tie over with the second leg still to come.

 

Highlights of the game

Chelsea had gone into this game on the back of a much-needed victory at home to Spurs on Saturday, while Bayern had struggled to overcome basement battlers Paderborn.

But any suggestions that the home side were capable of another win were quickly dispelled.

First Serge Gnabry hammered in a Robert Lewandowski cut-back, and no sooner had the Bavarian celebrations died down. He finished a slick move following a 1-2 with the Pole for two goals in four minutes.

The ruthless Gnabry must have made fans of his former club Arsenal question why he was sold.

Robert Lewandowski helps Bayern Munich in sealing a dominating 0-3 win against Chelsea in Champions League
Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring a goal during Chelsea-Bayern Munich match in the Champions League

Lewandowski, who else, completed the home embarrassment by taping the ball home after teenage Canadian Alphonso Davies surged forward and left the home defence catching their breath.

It will be interesting to see what his dad, a big Chelsea fan, has to say his son when they next speak!

The home side’s misery was deepened when Marcos Alonso saw red for an elbow on the Bayern number nine.

Men against boys.

Bayern are all but in the quarter-finals.

 

Key statistics

Only four players have scored more goals in London this season in the Premier League and Champions League combined than Gnabry (6).

The top four all play in London - Harry Kane (13), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Son Heung-min (both 10) and Tammy Abraham (7).

This was the first time Lewandowski had assisted two goals in a Champions League game.

Lewandowski is the top scorer in this season’s competition with 11 goals and the Polish frontman now has scored 43 goals in 39 games so far this term.

Bayern are the only team to score 10 away goals this season in the Champions League. They have 19.

Only Liverpool (2017-18) and Real Madrid (2013-14) - 20 each - have managed more in a campaign.

Munich are the third team in Champions League history to win their first seven games. The previous two - Barcelona in 2002-03 and Real Madrid in 2014-15 - did not reach the final.

Bayern are unbeaten in their last 13 European away games (W10, D3), scoring at least two goals in all but a goalless draw at Liverpool in last season’s round of 16 at this stage.

Alonso is the first Chelsea player to be sent off in a Champions League match since John Terry against Barcelona in the 2012 semi-finals.

This was only Chelsea’s second European reverse at Stamford Bridge in 15 matches (W8, D5).

This was the first time the Blues had lost at home to German visitors, winning six of the 10 fixtures.

Chelsea have lost eight matches at Stamford Bridge in all competitions this season, their most at home in a single campaign since 1985-86 (also 8).

This was their heaviest ever margin of defeat in a home game in European competition.

Bayern Munich have now scored at least three goals away from home at four separate English clubs in the Champions League - Arsenal twice, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea – all since 2013.

This is Bayern’s 23rd Champions League campaign, fewer only than Barcelona and Real Madrid (both 24). They have now won their section 16 times.

Their record in two-legged ties against English clubs is won 11, lost six. They had won five in a row before last season.



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What’s next?

The SBOBET Champions League betting odds strongly favour Bayern to progress but there is plenty of football for both sides before the second leg on March 18.

Chelsea go to Bournemouth next in the Premier League before hosting Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth round a week after tonight (March 3).

Bayern are back in Bundesliga action at Hoffenheim on Saturday before travelling to Schalke in the German Cup quarter-finals, also a week after tonight.

 

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This message was edited by SBOBET on 26-Feb-2020 at 2:04 PM


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Champions League Napoli vs Barcelona: All Square at San Paolo

Napoli 1-1 Barcelona

Almost 60,000 fans packed into the Stadio San Paolo for Champions League Napoli vs Barcelona, and they witnessed a big performance from the hosts to earn a deserved draw against the La Liga leaders.

Dries Mertens opened the scoring for Napoli on the half-hour with a fine finish, but after he left the field injured, Antoine Griezmann equalised. Barca then went down to 10 men when Arturo Vidal saw red.

The pre-match Napoli vs Barcelona betting odds had the Catalans at 1.25 to advance to the quarter-finals, with Napoli at 3.85, and while those won’t change a great deal, Gli Azzurri are certainly still in it.

 

Highlights of the game

The first half couldn’t have gone much better for Napoli head coach Gennaro Gattuso.

Gli Azzurri have struggled to find consistency in defence during the long absence of centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly and he wasn’t ready for this big clash. But they did a more than decent job of keeping Barca quiet in the opening half.

Leo Messi scored four in Barcelona’s 5-0 destruction of Eibar at the weekend, but he struggled to create anything in the opening period, save for a shot over the bar after a smart one-two with Frenkie de Jong.

The hosts gave Barca a warning on 17 minutes when Jose Callejon’s cross took a touch off Junior Firpo, forcing Marc-Andre ter Stegen into a smart save low to his left.

But the Barca stopper was grasping at thin air when Mertens opened the scoring on 30 minutes, rounding off a fast break with a rasping shot into the top left corner.

The San Paolo crowd rose at half-time to salute a solid defensive show and a great goal, but they couldn't have expected such a smooth ride in the second half.

Barca had no shots on target in the first half, but they made their mark early in the second, though it was with a tackle which left Napoli manager Gennaro Gattuso fuming.

Sergio Busquets caught Mertens with a nasty challenge, and the resulting yellow card means he’ll be out of the second leg. But Mertens was out of the first as he limped off and was replaced by Arkadiusz Milik.

And Gattuso’s mood became even darker soon after when Busquets launched the attack which produced an equaliser. He found the overlapping Nelson Semedo, whose low cross was blasted into the roof of the net by Griezmann.

Napoli fought back and ter Stegen had to be quick off the mark to block Callejon who was clean through. Soon after, Callejon was brought down in the area by Firpo, but the flag was already up for offside.

Finally, Messi came alive and started to threaten the Napoli rearguard, and Nikola Maksimovic had to make a crucial block. But neither side could grab the winner and Barca finished with 10 men as Arturo Vidal saw red.

Arturo Vidal did not get to finish the Champions League Napoli vs Barcelona match due to a red card
Arturo Vidal being showed a red card by the referee during Barcelona's Champions League match against Napoli

He’ll be out of the second leg too after picking up two yellow cards, one for fouling Mario Rui, and a second for threatening the same player.

Odd behaviour!

 

Key statistics

Napoli did well in the group stage, beating Liverpool on the way to qualification, and they put up a good fight here against one of the tournament favourites.

But Gli Azzurri have never reached the quarter-finals of this competition, while Barcelona have reached that stage in the last 12 seasons, a record run.

The Blaugrana have had the better of the Napoli vs Barcelona results over the past decade, winning three to Napoli’s one.

But Napoli have failed to score in only one of the last 21 Champions League games at the San Paolo, while Barca have won only one of their last nine away games in the knockout stage of the Champions League.

Dries Mertens has been directly involved in over 50 per cent of Napoli’s Champions League goals since 2017, scoring 16 and assisting 6 (22 from 43). And his first-half strike took him level with Marek Hamsik as Napoli’s all-time top goal-scorer on 121.



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What’s next?

There are few bigger games than El Clasico, and that’s the big game on Sunday. What a clash we have in store as Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid host Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Blaugrana are back at the top of the La Liga table after four consecutive wins and are two points ahead of Real Madrid. Los Blancos have dropped four points from the last two games.

There will be a white-hot atmosphere at the Bernabeu, as they know a win will take them back to the top. And of course, we’ll be previewing the big match here at SBOBET and will be back again with all the best action after the game.

It’s a huge week for ZZ’s men as they have the small task of facing Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Champions League tomorrow night. That’s another game not to miss.

Meanwhile, Gli Azzurri have a chance to push on in Serie A. They are currently sixth and have a winnable home match against Torino on Sunday. Their visitors have slid down the table to 14th having suffered five defeats in the last six games.

Napoli then have another big game, hosting Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-final second leg, with a one-goal lead to protect.

 

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This message was edited by SBOBET on 26-Feb-2020 at 2:06 PM


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