If last week’s Champions League round of 16 matches were entertaining, then this week’s schedule is absolutely mind-blowing. The action starts with a pair of mouth-watering ties on Tuesday night.
English eyes will be cast to the Emirates as Arsenal welcome the defending champions to London. Meanwhile, Juventus host Bayern Munich in what should be another enthralling encounter.
Prepare yourselves for a night of incredible drama.
Arsenal V Barcelona
Tuesday 23rd February. 7:45PM. BT Sport Europe
After recovering from an awful start to somehow squeeze their way into the knockout phase, the last thing Arsenal would’ve wanted was to draw the reigning kings of Europe. But that’s exactly what’s happened and the Gunners now face an uphill battle if they’re going to end their round of 16 voodoo.
Arsene Wenger’s men have fallen at this stage in each of the past five seasons, and will now have to contend against the formidable trio of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. With the Blaugrana also boasting the likes of Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic, the Gunners will need to be at their very best here.
The hosts can take confidence from their home performance against Bayern in the group phase. Moreover, Wenger’s men have shown their quality when welcoming Barcelona to London in recent seasons. The Gunners are almost back to full strength too with Danny Welbeck and Francis Coquelin returning in recent weeks.
This is a mouth-watering clash between two of the continent’s best free-flowing sides. Expect fireworks from the off.
Arsenal V Barcelona Betting
Despite boasting home advantage in this important first leg, Arsenal are the clear underdogs for this contest and can be backed at 4/1 with Bet365. Meanwhile, the defending champions are 4/6 and the draw is available at 3/1.
Barcelona are serious contenders to become the first team to successfully defend the Champions League trophy, and their attacking trio could be the key to capturing that piece of history.
Right now, it’s Suarez who is leading Luis Enrique’s men to even greater heights than ever before. Following the previous situation regarding the £40,000,001 bid during the Uruguayan’s time at Liverpool, it would certainly be ironic if he scores. Given his recent form, it would be very predictable too.
Luis Suarez to score anytime @ Evens with Bet365
Juventus V Bayern Munich
Tuesday 23rd February. 7:45PM. BT Sport 2
The night’s other game comes from the Juventus Stadium as the champions of Italy and Germany collide in what is arguably the most intriguing battle of the entire round.
Pep Guardiola will be desperate to end his Bayern tenure with the delivery of a Champions League trophy, and the quality of a star studded squad that boasts Manuel Neuer, Robert Lewandowski, Philipp Lahm and co should be confident about seeing off last year’s losing finalists. However, the trip to Turin won’t be easy. In truth, the Bavarians would probably settle for a score draw.
Juventus lost a number of players last summer, including Arturo Vidal to Tuesday night’s opponents, and are unlikely to repeat that feat in 2015/16. Those shortcomings were highlighted as they struggled through the group phase as runners-up to Manchester City, and the Italians are certainly up against it over two legs. But they could give themselves a huge boost by establishing a lead ahead of the return leg.
If Massimiliano Allegri’s men can keep a 10th clean sheet on the spin, then they might just cause an upset by dumping out the Germans. Whatever happens, it should be an intriguing battle.
Juventus V Bayern Munich Betting
Whilst Juventus remain one of Europe’s top sides, the Bavarians are slight favourites on ahead of this trip and are priced 8/5 with Bet365. The Italians are available at 15/8 while the draw is 21/10.
Those odds suggest that the game could go either way, particularly on Italian soil, and the first goal could be absolutely vital. Whilst winning isn’t essential for Bayern, Guardiola knows how diffciult it is to overturn a deficit against Italian opponents, and will be eager to start strongly here.
The first goal is always important, but it could be vital in this one. If Bayern do score it, then they’ll have every chance of coasting to the quarter-finals. We’re backing them to settle the nerves with an early strike before easing to victory.
HT/FT: Bayern Munich/Bayern Munich @ 7/2 with Betfred