Wednesday’s European action brings the culmination of this year’s Champions League round of 16, and it could be argued that the best has been saved till last.
Both of last year’s finalists are involved, as are Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich. Arsene Wenger’s are also there to make up the numbers and provide an English interest. All in all, it should make for an incredible night of action in Spain and Germany.
Bring it on.
Barcelona v Arsenal
Wednesday 16th March. 7:45PM. BT Sport Europe
Luis Enrique’s men had to be patient at the Emirates three weeks ago, but a late masterclass from star man Lionel Messi has put the champions on the brink of another quarter-final place. If they don’t confirm their place in the last eight here, it would be one of the biggest shocks in Champions League history. Nevertheless, Arsenal will be hopeful of at least clawing back some pride as they head to the Camp Nou.
It has been a difficult few weeks for Wenger’s men, particularly after they crashed out of the FA Cup to Watford on Sunday. Meanwhile, injuries to Petr Cech, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey certainly won’t make things easy for the Gunners. In fact, many away fans will consider it a success as long as they aren’t hammered.
That’s because Barcelona are playing some of the best football we’ve ever seen. The Catalonians have hit 15 goals in their past three goals alone, including six without Luis Suarez last weekend. If he, Messi and Neymar have their way on Wednesday night, it could be another painful viewing for Wenger and Arsenal fans.
Arsenal are the Diet Coke of Barcelona and it will almost certainly show here. Nevertheless, it should be an intriguing battle. And if the Gunners do score first then maybe, just maybe, a miracle could be on the cards.
Barcelona v Arsenal Betting
Unsurprisingly, Barcelona are firm favourites to seal their place in the quarter-final in emphatic style with Bet365 and are priced ¼ to extend their aggregate margin. Meanwhile, the odds are stacked against Arsenal at 11/1 while the draw is 6/1.
Arsenal performed quite well at the Emirates but still lost out by two goals. In truth, it’s hard to see them keeping the scoring down at the Camp Nou, particularly as they need to attack.
Even if the visitors opt to try and keep things respectable rather than chase the win, the trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar are likely to find it easy pickings. We fully expect the hosts to win by at least two, and wouldn’t be surprised if they win by three or more.
Bayern Munich v Juventus
Wednesday 16th March. 7:45PM. BT Sport 2
Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve were incredible as they pulled back a two goal deficit to register a draw in this fascinating tie and the Italians will now head to Munich with high hopes. However, the truth of the matter is that those efforts three weeks ago are likely to count for nothing against a rampant Bayern.
Guardiola’s men are on track for yet another Bundesliga crown and warmed up for this clash with a 5-0 demolition of Werder Bremen. While the quality of Manuel Neuer, David Alaba and Philipp Lahm will make it difficult for Juventus to get the away goals that they’ll need, the firepower of Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski should give the Bavarians a great chance of breaking throuhg the tough Juve backline.
The Italians have been near faultless at the back, with Bayern’s two goals being the only ones they’ve conceded in 14 competitive matches. Nonetheless, it’s hard to see them keeping out the Germans, which would mean that they need two goals to have any hopes of qualifying.
Whatever happens, it should be an thrilling battle. The first goal could be crucial.
Bayern Munich v Juventus Betting
With home advantage on their side, Bayern are strong favourites to progress out of this contest and are priced 4/9 to win on the night with Bet365. The draw can be backed at 15/4 while a Juventus win is available at 7/1.
The visitors do boast plenty of quality and are capable of causing an upset. But Bayern certainly have the better cards here, and Lewandowski is the ace in their deck. The Poland international has stepped up in big Champions League games before, and we think he’ll do here.
At odds of 9/2 first goalscorer, we can hardly resits.