Football | Champions League | Preview and Betting Tips

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Football | Champions League | Preview and Betting Tips

A busy night's football as the Champions League  returns. Two cracking games await, as Benfica host Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona travel to the French capital to face PSG. Join our man as he runs through the elite of European football, leaving defenders and pundits alike dizzy with his prematch previews and betting tips.

 We're offering Money Back as cash up to £100 on losing First Goalscorer bets if your selection scores the second goal instead in any Champions League match this week.

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

(Match kick-offs 7.45pm, unless stated)

Benfica v Dortmund

A great match to get the resumption of the Champions League underway as two highly-entertaining teams go head-to-head in what could be a thrilling game. The Estadio da Luz is a vibrant and raucous ground when the Champions League theme rings out and a partisan crowd will be willing their team to take the game to the Germans, a team who, despite all their attacking prowess, have shown they can be vulnerable at the back. 

Benfica won through second in their group, behind Napoli but ahead of Besiktas and Dynamo Kiev. Tricky enough in itself but the Portuguese, who top the Primiera Liga, are flying at the moment. They have only conceded six goals at home, scoring 31 in the process and their solitary defeat was in the last Champions League group match, against Napoli. If they can build any sort of momentum in the home tie then they may just have enough quality to shut up shop in the return fixture.    

The Portuguese side does come into the game with injuries and notable absentees: Left back Alejandro Grimaldo and centre back Lisandro Lopez are missing, along with wingers Toto Salvio and Andrija Zivkovic, both of whom usually operate on the right. This could be something Tuchel will look to exploit and it will be interesting to see how Rui Vitória, the Benfica coach, handles the issue. One thing for sure is that he will not look to sit back, knowing that perhaps his best method to progress is to put Dortmund on the back foot. "We're up against a strong team, a tricky side that can count on that characteristic of impressive attacking power. We are going to be ambitious and believe in ourselves. Dortmund must also be careful against a team like ours."

So, just what Dortmund will arrive? The Germans are a really difficult team to judge right now. They sit in fourth in the Bundesliga, fifteen points behind leaders Bayern Munich and eight behind second placed RB Leipzig. However, they qualified for the knockout stages for the fourth time in a row by topping their group, ahead of Real Madrid and they remain unbeaten in Champion League terms. It's safe to say, given their league form, they lost 2-1 to Darmstadt at the weekend, a defeat which ended a twelve match unbeaten run, that they may have to rely on Champions League victory to qualify next season.

Dortmund are not travelling well, either. They have won just three of their last nine away games, with two defeats and four draws and haven't kept a clean sheet away from home since thrashing Legia Warsaw 6-0 in the opening match of their Champions League campaign. They arrive without the services of Mario Götze, Sven Bender, Nuri Sahin and Sebastian Rode, who are all out injured, whilst Marcel Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek are not fully fit. 

Possible Starting Teams:

Benfica XI: Moraes; Almeida, Lindelof, Luisao, Nelsinho; Cervi, Pizzi, Fejsa, Salvio; Jonas, Mitroglou

Dortmund XI: Burki; Ginter, Sokratis, Bartra, Guerreiro; Weigl; Pulisic, Dembele, Castro, Reus; Aubameyang

So, what are we saying?

This game really could be a thriller, with both teams full of attacking intent. BTTS is almost a given at 8/11 and shouldn't be overlooked.* 

Benfica welcome back star striker Jonas, who missed the group stages through injury. He's scored four in his last five home games and looks nicely-priced at 5/1 to score first. If we add that into a correct-score score prediction, then Benfica to win 2-1 or 3-1, with Jonas the first goalscorer, pays 45/1 and 125/1 respectively.*    

You might have other ideas, so check out all prices here.


PSG v Barcelona

PSG enter the match in fine form, with just one draw in their last five games. That the French champions host Barcelona at the Parc des Princes in one of the more mouth-watering matches of the round is evident in our Twitter poll.   

Domestically, PSG are being pushed hard by free-scoring Monaco and Nice, though they do arrive with 11 wins in 13 games and remain unbeaten since the middle of December. The competition in Ligue 1 is sharpening their appetite, however, and leaves them in good stead for this game. They qualified second in their group after a 2-2 draw at home to Ludogrets allowed Arsenal to snatch top spot and left them facing Barca in the knockout stages. However, before you do write them off it's worth remembering that they have only lost one game at home in the last 42 in European competition... some record!

Midfield duo Grzegorz Krychowiak and Javier Pastore have niggles and are expected to sit this one out. 

If PSG are battling on three fronts, then so are Barcelona, who are not having it all their own way domestically either. They trail their arch-rivals by a point at the top of La Liga, but the Madistra have two games in hand. That they are capable of beating any team on the planet is without question! In Messi, Neymar and Suarez, the feared MSN, they have a line-up that simply doesn't compute for most defences! Indeed, they dismantled Alves 6-0 away at the weekend and the famed trio all scored. That win saw them notch up their eighth victory and a third draw since their last defeat (a 3-1 away reversal to Manchester City in the Champions League.) They still managed to top their group with a 15 point total from the six games, however!

If Barca are vulnerable, then it could be away from home, as the defeat to City showed. They can be hit on the counter and the Catalan giants have won five, drawn four and lost one of their last ten trips away. They have managed to score in every game this season, home and away, but have only kept eight clean sheets in 21 away games... something to ponder!    

Barca arrive with few injury concerns of their own, but Javier Mascherano and midfielders Arda Turan and Rafinha are looking increasingly likely to miss this one due to niggles. Defender Alex Vidal has also been ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Possible Starting Teams: 

PSG XI: Trapp; Kurzawa, Silva, Marquinhos, Aurier; Matuidi, Rabiot, Verratti; Di Maria, Cavani, Moura

Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Umtiti, Pique, Alba; Rakitic, Bisquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar

 

So, what are we saying?

Both teams have goals in them and this could be a high-scoring game. PSG have never kept a clean sheet against Barca, so to start with we'll take BTTS, OVER 2.5 goals >> 11/10  

Given our shout above, we'll take the 2-2 scoreline, which is a tasty >> 11/1

It's ya birthday, get your groove on!  Valentine's Day and we're showing Edison Cavani some love. The hitman has six in six games, so we'll nibble at both the 4/1 for 1st GS and 11/10 for him to score at anytime. (He's also 20/1 to grab a hat-trick!  

In fact, if you fancy the scorecast, then Cavani to score first and PSG 2-1 and 2-2 pays 38/1 and 55/1 respectively. Could keep one's paramour in chocolates!     

 


 

 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE OFFERS

  

 We're offering Money Back as cash up to £100 on losing First Goalscorer bets if your selection scores the second goal instead in any Champions League match this week.

 T&Cs

 


 *All prices subject to fluctuation. Make sure to check StanJames.com for up to date prices.

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