The final round of UEFA Champions League fixtures are tonight and a lot of entertainment is expected as we should see some feisty encounters coming into this one.
UEFA Champions League
Olympiakos v Arsenal – Both to Score @ 1.67 (10Bet) – 3 points
Olympiakos v Arsenal – Over 5.5 Cards @ 1.73 (Bet365) – 2 points
Arsenal travel to Greece with a critical tie in the hand, knowing that they need to win by a minimum 2 goal margin in order to secure their entry into the next round of the Champions League. Arsenal made the mess for themselves, when they lost their opening 2 encounters against Dinamo Zagreb and also to Olympiakos at the Emirates by a score of 3-2. The Gunners have struggled in November, winning just 1 game against Zagreb in all competitions, and a common feature in that game was that they conceded goals in all of the other 4 games in November along with the 1st one to start December. Arsenal have been poor particularly away from home having conceded in 6 out of their last 8 away games in all competitions. Arsenal’s firepower should be good enough to score a goal, but going for the goals might lee them vulnerable at the back and should definitely concede tonight.
Olympiakos know that they need to protect the back and either draw or concede no more than 1 goal, which will be a difficult ask for them. While Olympiakos will be excited to make the next round of the Champions League; they will count on home support to push them through. They have just come off a game where they won 4-3. Their defence has generally been good, but when facing better teams, they always tend to ship. They held out for 50 minutes against Bayern the first time around at home, and then leaked 3 goals in the second half. They are a threat at home, scoring in every game except that one against Bayern; so one would expect goals to be flowing through in this game.
Taking charge of this Chelsea v Porto game tonight is the infamous Cuneyt Cakir who is known to be generous with tossing out cards especially in high profile encounters. Cakir has averaged 5 cards a game so far this campaign and it should be no surprise for him to be throwing out cards early on. In UEFA Champions Leagues taken charged by Cakir so far, he has refereed Barcelona v Roma (4 yellows), Arsenal v Bayern (1 yellow), Malmo v Real Madrid (6 yellows, 1 red) and Sporting v CSKA (7 yellows).
This is an important fixture for both teams, as the draw is the favoured result for both teams to qualify, while neither team can afford to lose it, if Dynamo wins their game. Chelsea are currently going through very turbulent times, and anything less than victory will definitely cause a lot of discomfort to Mourinho after all that is said this season regarding him. In the last few games, the team have picked up a minimum of 2 yellows in each of their last 4 games. This has been in games where the pressure is not as great as Chelsea not qualifying to the Champions League. There are certain viable characters to yellows in this team including Ivanovic, Terry, Fabregas, Matic and Costa; who could land up with cards given at anytime for any mis-timed tackles.
Porto also tend to grab around 2 yellow cards per game, and it will be interesting to see how much help will be given to home teams as Cakir conveniently does on occasions, which could be the down side for Porto. Porto know its a draw or win game, if they fall behind, you could see some expansive play, which could result in a few Chelsea counter-attack and Porto needing to foul on occasions to stop play and pick up some silly bookings.
The previous meeting between the 2 sides was a heated one with 7 yellow cards being picked up in a 2-1 Porto victory. One can expect a similar type of game, and with Cakir in charge I expect similar cards being thrown around tonight.