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Mission impossible as Arsenal, Barcelona battle for Champions League survival

By Chinasia Ibonye
07 March 2017   |   3:12 pm
The UEFA Champions League resumes today with some intriguing games for this match-week.

The UEFA Champions League resumes today with some intriguing games for this match week. Four games will be played between today and tomorrow and I will be previewing each of them with betting tips. Arsenal and Barcelona will be looking to achieve miraculous comebacks in their ties against Bayern Munich and PSG respectively after heavy defeats in the first leg games, while Real Madrid will try to protect their first-leg lead when they head to the San Paolo against Napoli and Borussia Dortmund will be desperate to overturn their 0-1 deficit from the first leg when they host Benfica at the Signal Iduna Park.

The Europa League will also make a return this week with its round of sixteen first leg fixtures and I will be giving you betting tips for all of the games to use in placing your bets on

The Gunners will go into this game against the Bavarians with the plan of getting early goals and shutting out the Germans like I just said, that would be the plan, but the question here is; will they be able to execute it? It is often said that anything can happen in this beautiful game called football, however, If Arsenal were to overcome their first-leg deficit, defeat Bayern and qualify for the quarter-finals, that feat will rank as one of the unlikeliest and greatest ever comebacks in the history of the sport.

In reality, though, this one looks like an insurmountable task for the English side as they haven’t been at their best in recent games, while the Germans have been firing on all cylinders since that massacre of Arsenal at the Allianz Arena. The Gunners seem to be going through some sort of internal crisis as there have been talks of players revolt, uncertainty over Arsene Wenger’s future and general disenchantment at the club. The Gunners, who are facing elimination from this stage for the seventh consecutive year, will go into this second leg having lost four of their last six outings in all competitions, while their home record in the Champions League is not exactly formidable with seven defeats and nine wins in their last 18 in the competition proper.  They have only progressed from two of the eleven European ties in which they have lost the away the first leg, against Hajduk Split in the 1978-79 UEFA Cup and Porto at this stage of the 2009-10 Champions League campaign, both after 2-1 defeats.  A four-goal first-leg deficit has only ever been recovered three times in European football history, and never in the Champions League, so Arsenal will need to break new ground if they are to pull off an unforgettable comeback at the Emirates. Bayern will be happy with the four-goal cushion they have going into this game as they have a poor record away from home in the competition recently, with only three wins in their last thirteen European matches on the road, losing seven of those, and failing to win any of their last eight away knockout games. However, Bayern comes into the match unbeaten in sixteen games in all competitions stretching back to November – a run which includes fourteen wins – while they have scored an incredible twenty goals in their last five outings. They have also progressed from 84% of games in which they have won the first leg at home, including each of the last ten. We will be watching this one keenly and i will advise on a double chance bet on Arsenal and over 2.5 goals.

Napoli will have a huge task on their hands tonight when they host Los Blancos at the San Paolo as they hope to overturn a 1-3 deficit from the Bernabeu. The Italians got an early goal in Madrid and will want a repeat of that tonight as it would definitely give them added impetus to go ahead and try for more, while it might also put some sort of early pressure on Real. Managing to keep a clean sheet will give them their best chance of making it through to the quarter-finals, as a 2-0 win would see them advance on away goals, but that will be a huge ask against a free-scoring Madrid side. They have been inconsistent since that defeat at Real Madrid, winning two and losing two, though they prepared for this game with an impressive 2-1 win at Roma last weekend. Dries Mertens is a fitness doubt with a calf problem for Napoli and the only possible absentee for coach Maurizio Sarri’s strongest XI. Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane made a number of changes for his side’s 4-1 victory over Eibar in the league at the weekend in order to keep some key players fresh for this clash. Dani Carvajal, Marcelo, Toni Kroos and Isco were all on the bench, Cristiano Ronaldo was omitted from the squad and Gareth Bale was suspended. The majority of those absentees should return to the starting lineup on tonight. All Real need to do to make life difficult for Napoli tonight is score a goal and the Italians will need to score three simply to take the tie into extra-time. Los Blancos have scored in their last forty-five games and the smart money will be on them continuing that streak tonight. My betting tips are on both teams to score, over 2.5 goals and a double chance bet on Napoli on  

The Blaugrana find themselves in a very unfamiliar position as they try to overturn a 0-4 first leg deficit when they host PSG tomorrow night at the Nou Camp, but if there’s any team capable of performing such an almost impossible task, it should be Barcelona. Fortunately for the Spanish side, their prolific forwards have been hitting their strides recently as Lionel Messi and Neymar accounted for three of their five goals against Celta Vigo in the La Liga at the weekend. Their manager recently announced that he will be leaving his post at the end of this season and that might just give the team extra motivation to try and rescue this game and make it a memorable final season for Luis Enrique at the Catalan Club in this competition. Barcelona will need to become only the fourth side to overturn a 4-0 deficit in UEFA competition history and the first side to accomplish the feat since 1984/85. They have scored eleven goals in their last two league games and will be confident of getting goals in this fixture, but the big question will be if they will be able to keep a clean sheet against a team with a potent attack and vibrant midfield like PSG. Luis Enrique has a 100% winning record at home in the UCL and he will want to maintain that record even if he doesn’t progress. The French club has all their players fit for this tie and it will difficult to see them let a four-goal advantage slip past them. Having Adrien Rabiot and Thiago Motta available is a major plus for them as both players can be vital in winning the midfield battle. Rabiot in particular, was outstanding during the first leg and the 21-year-old must once again break up play to help propel PSG on the break as the visitors will likely rely on the counter against a Barca team sure to throw caution to the wind at four goals down. My betting tips for this game will be a Barca win, both teams to score and over 3.5 goals.

Dortmund must still be wondering how they are behind in this tie after outplaying the Portuguese club away from home and still contrive to lose that first leg tie by a lone goal, in a game they should have gotten at least a draw from and a couple of away goals. The Germans are facing a very tough scenario here against Benfica because they have a problem with keeping clean sheets in this competition, they have only been able to keep one clean sheet in their last six home games in the UCL. They know they have their work cut out for them as they have a prolific attack and would need to outscore their opponents by two goals. They beat Leverkusen by six goals to two at the weekend and a repeat of that attacking display will be enough to see them through. Benfica, on the other hand, has shown a great ability to score goals away from home in the Champions League this season. They scored three goals in Besiktas and two goals at both Dynamo Kiev and Napoli, which suggests they could get an away goal in this match. In fact, they have scored in seven of their last eight away Champions League games. My betting tips for this game are a win for Dortmund, both teams to score and over 2.5 goals.

There will be eight games played in the Europa League on Thursday, which will see the likes of Manchester United, Roma and Ajax all in action. The games will feature an all German and all Belgian tie. However, the stand out match will be the one between Roma and Juventus. Below are all the fixtures with betting tips for you to use on

APOEL vs. ANDERLECHT (Double chance for Anderlecht and over 1.5 goals)
ROSTOV vs. MANCHESTER UNITED (Double chance for Man Utd and over 1.5 goals)
COPENHAGEN vs. AJAX (Double chance for Ajax and under 2.5 goals)
CELTA VIGO vs. KRASNODAR (Celta win and over 1.5 goals)
OLYMPIAKOS vs. BESIKTAS (Double chance for Olympiakos and over 1.5 goals)
GENT vs. GENK (Double chance for Gent and under 2.5 goals)
SCHALKE 04 vs. BORUSSIA M’GLADBACH (Double chance for Schalke and over 1.5 goals)
LYON vs. ROMA (Double chance for Lyon and over 2.5 goals)