Champions League Quarter-Final Preview

We’re down to last eight of this season’s Champions League contenders, as Europe’s biggest club competition swings back into action after the international break.

BARCELONA AIMING TO PUT EL CLASICO DEFEAT BEHIND THEM

Barcelona has an early opportunity to bury the ghost of last weekend’s shock 1-2 home defeat to Real Madrid, which brought to an end their record breaking 39 match unbeaten run, as they host the Spanish capital’s other club Atletico, in the first-leg at the Camp Nou on Tuesday. The two have met recently in this competition, at the same stage in the 2013-14 competition, with Atletico eliminating the Catalan giants en route to the final in Lisbon. This will be Barcelona’s ninth consecutive appearance in the quarter-final and they are looking for their 11th consecutive home win in the competition; the last team to avoid defeat at the Camp Nou in this competition was you’ve guessed it, Atletico Madrid.

LIONEL MESSI IS THE MAIN MAN AGAINST ATLETICO

Lionel Messi loves playing against Tuesday evening’s visitors; In 28 games against the men from the capital, he has rifled in 25 goals including three hat-tricks. The best football betting websites will give you odds of *12.00 for the little magician to grab another triple on Tuesday, against a side that has yet to taste defeat away from home in the Champions League this season.

 

CAMP NOU TEAM NEWS

Gerard Pique returns for Barcelona after serving his one-match suspension against Arsenal in the last round. Atletico Madrid midfielder Thiago is missing and there are also concerns surrounding the fitness of Gimenez. An impressive display from Fernando Torres last weekend will probably earn him a starting berth at the Camp Nou.

PROBABLE STARTING XI’S

Barcelona (4-3-3) ter Stegen; Alba, Pique, Mascherano, Alves; Iniesta,Busquets, Rakitic; Neymar, Suarez, Messi

Atletico Madrid (4-4-2) Oblak; Luis, Godin, Gimenez, Juanfran; Niguez, Fernandez, Gabi, Koke; Torres, Griezmann

PREDICTION AND MATCH BETTING

The outcome of tonight’s fixture could hinge on how Barcelona bounce back after Saturday’s setback. With Atletico Madrid breathing down their necks in the league once again, Diego Simeone’s team will fancy their chances to at least grab an away goal at the Camp Nou. With so much firepower on display, there should be goals at both ends with the hosts sneaking it 2-1.

*MATCH BETTING

Barcelona 1.50 Draw 4.33 Atletico Madrid 8.00

BAYERN MUNICH LOOKING TO CLIP THE WINGS OF THE EAGLES FROM BENFICA

Bayern Munich start as huge favourites in Tuesday evenings other game which sees them host one of Europe’s most in-form teams Benfica, at the Allianz Arena.  The Portuguese side has won 19 of their last 20 games in all competitions and Bayern coach Pep Guardiola is all too aware of the dangerous threat they provide.

 

The German giants went out of the last season’s competition at the same stage, also to opposition from Portugal in the shape of Porto and Guardiola has even declared that the visitors will start the tie as favourites. One thing is certain; Bayern will have to try to tame Benfica striker Jonas, who is currently joint top goalscorer in Europe with 30 goals; his latest coming in Saturday’s 5-1 destruction of Braga in the capital. The betting exchanges are currently quoting odds of *4.00 for him to be an anytime scorer on Tuesday.

*MATCH BETTING

Bayern Munich 1.20 Draw 7.50 Benfica 17.00

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC LOOKING FOR MORE RECORDS ON WEDNESDAY

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will try to break the goalscoring record at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday night, as his PSG team welcome Manchester City to the French capital. He currently shares the record of 78 and will be confident he can add to this tally against the Premier League side. Having won their last four Champions League matches, including consecutive 2-1 wins against Chelsea in the round of 16, Laurent Blanc’s side are a dangerous proposition in this year’s competition. Their form at home in Europe is also very intimidating, having only lost one of their last 38 in the capital (a 3-1 defeat by Barcelona at the same stage last season).

 

MANCHESTER CITY MAKE THEIR QUARTER-FINAL DEBUT

Manchester City step into the unknown on Wednesday evening, playing in their first ever Champions League quarter-final. The Premier League side has a good away record in this season’s competition having won three out of four on the road. Their coach Manuel Pellegrini has experience at this stage of proceedings however, having taken Villarreal and Malaga into the last eight during the past 10 years.

PARC DES PRINCES TEAM NEWS

PSG have worries in the midfield with both Marco Verratti and Javier Pastore both missing. Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani may also miss out on a starting berth with Lucas Moura being preferred in attack. Manchester City have several key names absent also with Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Raheem Sterling, Yaya Toure and Fabian Delph all sidelined. On the plus side, Belgian international Kevin De Bruyne is back after a two-month lay-off and should start.

PROBABLE STARTING XI’S

PSG (4-3-3) Trapp; Maxwell, Luiz, Silva, Marquinhos; Matuidi, Motta, Rabiot; Moura, Ibrahimovic, Maria

Manchester City (4-2-3-1) Caballero; Clichy, Mangala, Otamendi, Zabaleta; Fernandinho, Fernando; Bruyne, Silva, Navas; Aguero

PREDICTION AND MATCH BETTING

The absence of key players for Manchester City will make PSG strong favourites for this one. It will be imperative for the visitors to take something back to Manchester for the second-leg, but Wednesday could be a tough night for Pellegrini and company. A 3-1 home win for the Parisians.

*MATCH BETTING

PSG 1.72 Draw 4.00 Manchester City 5.00

REAL MADRID HEAD TO GERMANY TO ENTER THE WOLFS DEN

Real Madrid’s sensational win at the Camp Nou last weekend has set them up perfectly for their sixth consecutive Champions League quarter-final. Zinedine Zidane’s side, along with their bitter rivals Barcelona, are still unbeaten in this season’s competition. They would be foolish however, to underestimate Wednesday night’s opponents Wolfsburg, despite the German club only playing in their second Champions League campaign. History is also against the Bundesliga side, having only won one of their previous four against Spanish opposition. Real Madrid have won their last four encounters against German ides in this competition. Dieter Hecking’s side must take full advantage of Wednesday’s home leg (where they have a 100% record in this year’s competition) to have any chance of progression.

*MATCH BETTING

Wolfsburg 5.25 Draw 4.20 Real Madrid 1.66

*odds courtesy of Bet365

Steve Mitchell

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