Champions League - Spread Betting Preview - 12-13 Feb
Champions League Round of 16: First Leg Preview (12-13 Feb)
The Champions League returns after a two-month break with four English teams having progressed to the last 16 of the competition. Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool will all be hoping to progress further in the competition. The first batch of first-leg ties in this year's round of 16 are sure to serve up plenty of easy on the eye football, drama and talking points.
Man Utd v PSG: Unbeaten Ole Set For Champions League Debut As United Manager
Aside from a clash in the International Champions Cup back in 2015, this is the first meeting of these sides in a competitive context this century. With United winning just three of their six group stage matches prior to this clash, it stands to reason that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men are underdogs.
That underdog status is reflected in current football spread betting markets relating to this match. While shock events, like United's group stage win at Juventus, imply that the Red Devils do not inherently fear anybody, United will know how much damage PSG could do in the return leg.
As such, a degree of self-preservation is inevitable from United, particularly in the latter stages of the first leg. Few pundits expect to see a high scoring affair at Old Trafford and those expectations are further justified by the fact that all of United's last four group stage matches were settled by a one goal margin.
However, the United side that featured in the Champions League before Christmas is somewhat different to the one being steered by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. With the popular Norwegian transforming United into a confident, free flowing attacking team that has yet to taste defeat under his stewardship.
PSG on the other hand are already just a handful of wins away from defending the Ligue 1 title for another year. And so, if only taking into account PSG's away form in the Champions League, United's players and fans have reason to feel optimistic.
The French champions' 4-1 matchday six win at Crvena Zvezda arrested a four-match winless away run in the Champions League. Winning by such a healthy scoreline was to be expected from the top seeds of the group against the lowest seeds.
Sadly for them, Thomas Tuchel's men have struggled against better opposition away from home, and PSG's defeat to Real Madrid in last year's round of 16 has ensured that the questions surrounding PSG's big-game mentality in Europe remain unanswered.
Roma v Porto: Fragile Roma Defence Look To Keep Out Free-Scoring Porto
Given how erratic the Roma defence is at present, it is difficult to foresee the Italians taking a clean sheet to Porto in the second leg. Tellingly, the Serie A side has recorded just one clean sheet at the Stadio Olimpico in eight attempts, with that shut out coming in a formality of a Coppa Italia tie - via a 4-0 win over minnows Virtus Entella.
However, when it comes to Europe there is every indication that the Roma side of current times still knows how to grind out a clean sheet. In a sequence spanning back to the opening Champions League matchday of 2017/18, Roma have taken seven clean sheets from their last nine European matches on home turf.
Within that sequence, 3-0 wins over Chelsea and Barcelona stand as prominent examples as to why Roma should never be underestimated.
Thus, unbeaten in five Champions League matches away from home, Porto will know and respect their enemy. Even so, they may be tempted to sit back knowing that they have home advantage in the second leg.
With the Portuguese champions scoring in all but one of their last seven away ties in the Champions League, an away goal is likely forthcoming. Furthermore, Roma¿s defence will also need to be extra-careful not to concede a penalty, with Porto forward Moussa Marega netting from the spot in his last two Champions League road trips.
Ajax v Real Madrid: Galacticos With Golden Opportunity To Progress
Despite coming at such an early stage in the knockout round of 2017/18, Real's progression at PSG's expense was perhaps the biggest test of the reigning holders' collective resolve.
Regardless of their domestic underachievement, the Galacticos will certainly fancy their chances of progressing in this tie.
While Real have delivered much more consistently on the European stage this season, a brace of group stage defeats to unfancied CSKA Moscow (4-0 on aggregate) served to underline the erraticism that continues to dog the club.
Aside from a shock defeat at CSKA Moscow back in October, Real Madrid's away form in the Champions League has been impeccable since losing to Spurs back in November 2017.
Ultimately, it looks like mere damage limitation for Ajax in this tie, but the Dutchmen are unbeaten in their last nine home Champions League matches.
The last match in this run was arguably the greatest display of what Ajax are capable of on home turf, twice coming from behind to steal a point against Bayern Munich on group matchday six.
Dusan Tadic was the beating heart of that performance, getting two goals in superb fashion, and with the Serbian making a sizeable impact since arriving at Ajax, stopping him will be Real Madrid's primary key to victory.
Tottenham v Dortmund: Old Foes Meet Once More On European Tour
These two sides are no strangers to one another, having clashed in the group stage of last year's campaign. It was a very one-sided affair that saw Tottenham win by a 5-2 aggregate scoreline against the current Bundesliga leaders. Tottenham's 3-1 home win over Borussia Dortmund showed the full strength in unity possessed by Mauricio Pochettino's men.
This time, of course, they are shorn of their main spearhead - Harry Kane. With his injury seeing a significant drop of Tottenham's position on our Champions League Outright Index spread, the potential detriment this could have on Tottenham's chances of glory is not lost on anyone.
Subsequently, Tottenham's main threat will once again be Son-Heung Min, whose international duties at the Asian Cup have not stalled his stellar form. Thriving as a pseudo-striker, the Korean scored ten times for the Lilywhites between 19 December and 10 February, and his significant experience of Bundesliga football - gained through spells with Leverkusen and Hamburg - can only aid Tottenham's cause.
Tottenham's defence remains as solid as ever, but with no Kane to fear, Dortmund will still feel compelled to play further forward than most visitors to Wembley. While Marco Reus' recent injury struggles have blunted Dortmund's own attack, the `Schwarzgelben' looked as potent as ever in their last Bundesliga match, before surrendering a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 with Hoffenheim.
On the basis of that rare display of defensive ineptitude, a score draw at Wembley would be akin to a moral victory for Dortmund, especially given the one-sided nature of last season's corresponding fixture.
While none of Dortmund's group games saw both teams score, five of Tottenham's six group stage matches did. Additionally, the first four produced three goals or more, and across all group matches, no fewer than eight goals arrived in the final fifteen minutes of play.
Can Manchester United and Tottenham keep their Champions League hopes alive? Take a look at all the latest Champions League markets currently available on Sporting Index!