It’s a cracking week of football action ahead and it all kicks off tonight at Anfield and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with two huge Champions League ties. There’s two more in the same competition on Wednesday night before we have all four of the Europa League quarterfinal first leg ties taking place on Thursday evening.
First leg games in the latter stages of the big European competitions can be cautious affairs but occasionally you will get a cracker that turns into a classic and with the line up of games this week, it looks possible that at least a couple of these games could turn into goal-fests, especially the clash between Manchester United and Barcelona at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
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In this article, we are going to take a look at each of the four games in the main tournaments this week and give you our take on how we see the game going and also how we think things will stand heading into the second leg of the tie, which takes place next week. We’ll of course bring you tips on those games then but for now, let’s begin with the action starting tonight in the Champions League.
Champions League Quarterfinals 1st Leg
Tuesday 9th April
Liverpool v FC Porto
FC Porto have never beaten Liverpool in six attempts and when the teams met last season in the Round of 16, Liverpool emerged as 5-0 winners on aggregate. Both sides are in good form heading into this game, winning all of their last five, but I think it is fair to say that Porto have not yet met a team in this competition that are of the quality of last season’s beaten finalists.
Liverpool look much stronger defensively this year and while their attack isn’t on fire at the moment, they should still have more than enough to get the job done against their Portuguese opponents, especially at Anfield which will be rocking for another great night of Champions League action.
Correct Score – Liverpool 3-0 FC Porto – 13/2 at bet365
Tottenham v Manchester City
Having already beaten Spurs this season 1-0 in the Premier League at Wembley, Manchester City will be hoping the first of their three games with Spurs over the next few weeks sees them land the right result. Pep Guardiola’s men are certainly in good form at the moment and that contrasts sharply with Spurs form which has been well below par of late.
However, Spurs do have a new home now and that will give the home fans and players a boost and it will also be a new experience for City. As such, with Spurs having nothing else to play for, I can see them putting in a dogged and determined display here and holding City to a draw, which means it will be all to play for in the second leg.
Correct Score – Tottenham 1-1 Manchester City – 6/1 at bet365
Wednesday 10th April
Ajax Amsterdam v Juventus
Ajax were superb in the second leg against Real Madrid, securing a 4-1 win to overturn a 2-1 home loss to the former holders. They now face a Juventus side who also came from losing the first leg 2-0 to Atletico Madrid, to secure a 3-0 win at home to progress into the quarterfinals.
This is a real clash of footballing cultures with the youthful attacking energy of Ajax contrasted against the experienced, defensive outlook of Juventus and I think as a result, we will see a tight game. If that is the case then I think the likes of Ronaldo could be vital. The ex-Real Madrid man has a fine record against Ajax and I’d back him to score the only goal in this game to hand Juventus a narrow lead.
Correct Score – Ajax Amsterdam 0-1 Juventus – 13/2 at bet365
Manchester United v Barcelona
This for me could be the most exciting game of the quarterfinals and the one I am expecting the most goals to be scored in. Barcelona always score goals and against a United defence that looks shaky, especially at home, I fancy the Spanish team will be confident of scoring a goal or two here and that puts United in a tough position.
However, United are best when they attack teams and Barcelona’s defence, like United’s is not the most solid and as such, I can see United being able to create chances against this Barcelona side and if they do, then I fancy their strikers to take a couple. As such, this game could be a cracker with plenty of goals but I think a 2-2 draw is about the most likely result here.
Correct Score – Man Utd 2-2 Barcelona – 12/1 at bet365
Europa League Quarterfinals 1st Leg
Thursday 11th April
Arsenal v Napoli
The Gunners come into this game not in great form having lost poorly at Everton at the weekend and they are going to need a much better performance to get the better of a very strong Napoli side. The Italians have been going strong in Serie A and will likely finish second but this is also a big test for them too.
The sides have met twice previously, Arsenal winning 2-0 at home and Napoli doing likewise in Italy, so this looks a very evenly matched contest. I can see Arsenal just shading the win but I think Napoli will score an away goal which could well mean both sides head into the second leg feeling confident.
Correct Score – Arsenal 2-1 Napoli – 8/1 with bet365
Benfica v Eintracht Frankfurt
This should be a very close tie between two well-matched teams. Benfica have some very talented players and they are also very dangerous at home. They are also tough to beat as they have proven at every stage of the competition thus far this season. However they are not an elite team and Frankfurt will feel, having beaten Inter in the last round, that they have a great chance here.
Luka Jovic returns to his parent club and could be the thorn in Benfica’s side. I am backing him to score on his return but for Benfica to also find the net and the game will likely end with things all square and all to play for next week.
Correct Score – Benfica 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt -11/2 with bet365
Slavia Prague v Chelsea
Chelsea are the very short priced favourites to win this game but I will be honest and think that the odds on them are too low. Slavia Prague are a much better side than the bookies are giving them credit for and if there is one game this week that has a potential shock result going for it, in my opinion, it is very much this game.
That said, with Eden Hazard on fire, I do feel Chelsea will do enough to get something from the game but I do not think that will be the easy win that the bookmakers seem to expect. As such, I am backing this game to be an entertaining one with goals and a 2-2 scoreline sounds about right.
Correct Score – Slavia Prague 2-2 Chelsea – 16/1 with bet365
Villarreal v Valencia
These two Spanish sides have met already this season, drawing 0-0 in Villarreal and then Valencia winning 3-0 on home soil. At the moment, Valencia are the team in form and they have proven very hard to beat, losing just four La Liga games this season and I think that makes this a tough one for their local rivals.
Villarreal do have good experience in Europe though and I can see them making it tough for Valencia but the visitors defensive record is so good that I can see them holding Villarreal to a nil while perhaps stealing a goal on the counter attack to put them in a strong position heading into next week’s second leg ties.
Correct Score – Villarreal 0-1 Valencia – 7/1 with bet365