After a week off, the Champions League resumes on Tuesday night as the round of 16 second leg matches commence.
In Spain, Italian side Roma are the visitors as Real Madrid look to ease their way into the quarter-finals while Belgian side Gent head to Germany looking to cause a second leg upset against Wolfsburg. The reverse clashes certainly provided plenty of drama, and these important return fixtures should do just the same.
Prepare yourselves for another great night of European action.
Real Madrid v AS Roma
Tuesday 8th March. 7:45PM. BT Sport Europe
A professional performance in Italy sees Zinedine Zidane’s Blancos return to Madrid firmly in the driving seat of this encounter with Roma, and the hosts will be fully expected to seal their place in the last eight. However, they will need to stay on their toes against a very capable away side.
Madrid were brilliant in their 2-0 win at the Stadio Olimpico as Cristiano Ronaldo took another step towards surpassing his own record of 17 goals in a single campaign. If the Portuguese star performs as he did during the 7-1 demolition of Celta Vigo on Saturday, the Liga giants will have no trouble progressing.
Questions have been raised about Madrid’s consistency this term, though, and an off day could open the door for Luciano Spaletti’s men to claim one of the biggest turnarounds the competition has ever seen. It’s unlikely, by the Serie A side have won seven of their last eight. In a strange way, knowing that they need to attack could work in their favour; although it could equally open them up to an onslaught.
Whatever happens, this is a match between two of Europe’s elite. It should be a cracker.
Real Madrid v AS Roma Betting
Unsurprisingly, Real Madrid enter this clash as the heavy favourites at odds of 4/11 with Bet365 while Roma are 7/1 outsiders. The draw can be backed at 15/4.
It’s never easy to predict how a return match will unravel when the first leg score was 2-0. However, we don’t think either side will be willing to sit back, and that could lead to a game of goals. Both teams were involved in high-scoring weekend wins too, which is another pleasing statistic.
Real Madrid should win, but we wouldn’t be surprised if they concede. Meanwhile, Roma’s need for away goals could open the door for Ronaldo and co to pounce. We’re backing goals, and a home win.
Wolfsburg v Gent.
Tuesday 8th March. 7:45PM. BT Sport 2
Three weeks ago, Wolfsburg edged a fantastic five-goal thriller against Belgian outfit Gent and Dieter Hecking’s men will be eager to follow that up in style by progressing to the last eight. However, the Bundesliga club might not have things all their own way at the VW Arena.
After all, the plucky visitors have already shown immense character to reach this stage of the competition. Hein Vanhaezebrouck’s men have enjoyed a fairytale 18 months and reaching the last eight of the Champions League would be the cherry on the cake. If they can keep things tight at the back, the likes of Laurent Depoitre possess more than enough quality to pose a threat in the the attacking third.
Having said that, the three away goals do put Wolfsburg in a very strong position. If the likes of Max Kruse and Julian Draxler can carve the visitors apart to score just once, then it would be very difficult for Gent to have any serious chance.
The advantage is certainly with the hosts, but we wouldn’t expect the underdogs to go down without a fight. If we get an early goal, it could be another thriller.
Wolfsburg v Gent Betting
With home advantage on their side, the Bundesliga outfit are odds-on to seal their quarter-final place with a second leg win at ½ with Bet365. A draw would be enough for them to progress, though, and may tempt some punters at 3/1. Meanwhile, Gent are 6/1 to claim a win in Germany.
In Belgium, Kruse was overshadowed by the brace of Draxler. On this occasion, though, it’s the central striker that should claim the spotlight.
Gent need at least two goals, which means they have to attack. Sadly, that could leave gaps at the back and the experienced Germans will be ready to capitalise. Kruse is likely to be the main beneficiary. We’re backing him to kill the tie with the game’s opening goal.