The knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League fixtures are tonight and a lot of entertainment is expected as we should see some feisty encounters coming into this one.
Juventus welcome Bayern Munich to Turin in what is clearly the tie of the round with the champions of Italy taking on the champions of Germany and anything can go in this fiesta encounter. Both teams have been super steady at the back line keeping it extremely tight for their opponents conceding less than 15 goals a piece in their domestic leagues.
Juventus know that since they are playing the opening leg at home, goals will be needed in order for them to try and take that home advantage into this tight affair against Bayern Munich. They weren’t able to find the back of the net in their Friday night encounter with Bologna but they rotated their squad a bit. The front 3 of Manduzkic, Dybala and Cuardado have been good especially on the counter attack, which will give a good run out against Bayern. They have a solid midfield of Khedira, Marchisio and Pogba to sit at the back and create from midfield. Juventus have to score a goal no matter what at home, and will look to take advantage of the makeshift Bayern team.
Bayern Munich have a make shift defensive lineup with Badstduber, Martinez and Boating. This will leave Alaba, Lahm, Kimmich and Bernat at the back to try and protect the back line that conceded even at home against Darmstadt on the weekend. The front 4 of Bayern Munich are among the best in the business of Muller, Lewandowski, Ribery and Robben and will have plenty of chances against Juventus especially since Evra and Lichesteiner love to bomb on forward leaving Barzagli and Bonucci vulnerable at the back. Bayern know that they are able to get one goal in this encounter, the tie will be in their favour, as they are expected to have some of their injured players back in time for the reverse leg.
This game should be good and entertaining, it will be tight at the beginning, but once one goal comes in, I expect the goals to start flowing. I am back both teams to score in this encounter, as I expect goals to come from 2 good offensive teams in this encounter.
UEFA Champions League
Barcelona/Over 2.5 Match Goals v Arsenal @ 2.37 (Bet365) – 2.5 points
Luis Suarez Anytime Scorer @ 2.20 (888Sport) – 2 points
Coquelin to be Booked @ 2.00 (888Sport) – 2 points
Barcelona will come to this game full of confidence know that goal scoring is something that they have had a lot of fun scoring goals over the recent games. Barcelona have scored 2 goals in 13 out of their last 14 games, and will be looking forward to taking on Arsenal who have generally been shaky against good forwards in the league as has been same in Arsenal’s league games that they faced against Leicester, Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea among the few teams they faced recently.
Barcelona have been playing some superb football led by the MSN (Messi, Suarez and Neymar) and in particular by Luis Suarez who have been in breathtaking form. Suarez has now scored in 7 straight games in a row including scoring 15 goals in their last 10 days. He has been supported particularly by the creativity by Messi and has shown extremely high work rate in pushing forward. Barcelona have look a bid dodgy defensively, especially when Ter Stegen is in goal with Barcelona conceded in 4 straight games in a row heading into this encounter.
Arsenal have been going through some mixed results winning only 3 out of their last 8 games, and even showed poor substance against a Hull City side who are in in a division below them. Arsenal’s biggest problem has been the lack of a consistent goal scorer in every game. Giroud, Welbeck, Sanchez, Walcott, Campbell have been among the few deployed forward for Arsenal but only Giroud has scored 12 goals this entire campaign in double digits. With the injuries to Cazorla, Wilshere, Rosicky and Arteta, there is a less of a backup midfielders behind them considering a lot of the battle will be played in the middle and I expect Coquelin to get booked.
Arsenal’s defence has been circumspect as from the recent results where they have concede goals in their recent games. Results against Barcelona over the past have been mentioned by Wenger as poor as they have failed to deliver consistent performances, and every game played between the 2 sides over the last 10 years have seen a lot of goals in this encounter because Wenger’s sides have never been solid defensively. Results in the Champions League group stage has seen them concede 10 goals against Olympiakos, Bayern Munich and Zagreb; which will be on the back of the mind of the players.
This game will be exciting with the Messi, Suarez and Neymar against Sanchez, Ozil and Giroud which will make for an interesting game, but I expect Barcelona to win this game with a lot of goals in this encounter.