Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
Tuesday night brings the return of Champions League football as four teams do battle to enter the quarter-final draw.
In the Spanish capital, defending champions Real Madrid take a two-goal lead into their second clash with Schalke. Meanwhile, it’s a much tighter affair in Portugal as Porto and Basel are level at 1-1 following their intriguing first-leg draw in Switzerland.
It should be another great night of Champions League action.
Real Madrid V Schalke. 7:45PM. ITV 1
Carlo Ancelotti’s Blancos have suffered a dip in form since returning after the winter break, which was underlined by the weekend loss to Athletic Bilbao. However, the Champions League holders established a comfortable first-leg lead in Germany two weeks ago and should ease through to the quarter-final.
Schalke showed more resistance than this time last year, but it’s still very much a case of the Bundesliga side lagging behind the formidable Spanish giants and we cannot see them causing any sort of upset in Madrid – especially as Ronaldo and co will be eager to put things right after their weekend shambles.
In spite of their bad domestic run, the holders remain one of the frontrunners for this trophy and could be a great shout to become the first side to retain it during the Champions League era. Real Madrid and the European Cup are a match made in heaven and Schalke are unlikely to disrupt their progress.
It could be tighter than some predict as Schalke do have some notably decent talent such as former Madrid man Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, but the home side should prevail.
Real Madrid V Schalke Betting
Despite their recent poor form, Real Madrid are odds-on favourites for this one and are as tight as 1/5 with Bet365. Meanwhile, the draw is 11/2 and Schalke are 12/1.
In terms of a result, it’s quite hard to predict. Real Madrid should win and will be determined to bounce back from their weekend disappointment but, on the other hand, the job is essentially already done and they may have one eye on Sunday’s visit of Levante.
However, one player that cannot afford not to perform is Gareth Bale. The Welshman has come under huge scrutiny during this goal drought and we’re backing him to put an end to it in the tournament that treated him so kindly last May.
Gareth Bale to score anytime @ 5/4 with Coral
Porto V FC Basel. 7:45PM. Sky Sports 1
A late Danilo penalty a fortnight ago saved Porto’s bacon in Basel and now the Portuguese side will be fully expected to progress to the quarter-final. However, at 1-1, the Swiss visitors still have plenty to play for and could well cause another European shock in Portugal.
Julen Lopetegui’s men will be extremely confident on home soil, though, especially after winning seven straight matches at the Estadio do Dragao, including a notable 3-0 win over Sporting Lisbon just 10 days ago. That combined with the goals of Jackson Martinez should give Porto the impetus to attack.
Basel have verified their European pedigree in recent years but Paulo Sousa’s men know they face an immensely tough task here and the visitors could be set for a premature exit here. They failed to win any of their away games in the group phase and we cannot see that changing in this knockout encounter.
The first goal will be vital to this contest and Porto will be out to grab it early on. If they do, there should be no heading back for the 2004 champions.
Porto V FC Basel Betting
Porto are overwhelming favourites to qualify and are priced 4/9 with Bet365 to get the job done in 90 minutes. The visitors are available at 13/2 whilst the draw can be backed at 16/5.
Scoring first would really settle the nerves for Porto and we’re pretty sure the hosts will want to kill off any threat from Basel by establishing the early lead.
Porto have scored goals for fun at home in recent weeks, netting 16 in their past five fixtures here alone. We’re backing them to race into an early lead en route to a relatively routine win.
HT/FT: Porto/Porto @ 6/5 with BetVictor