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Wednesday Champions League Preview – Who Will Win Crucial First-Leg Encounters?

The Champions League is back and Wednesday’s offering serves up two more fascinating round of 16 ties, involving the likes of both Real Madrid and Porto.

Whilst holders Madrid head to Schalke, Portuguese giants Porto travel to Switzerland for a difficult clash against Basel. Both matches should provide plenty of entertainment ahead of the second-round matches in two weeks time.

Game on!

Schalke V Real Madrid. 7:45PM. Sky Sports 5

For the second consecutive season, Schalke meet Real Madrid in the last 16 stage of the competition and the Germans will be praying for a much better showing this time.

Last year, the Blancos fired six past the hapless Bundesliga club in Gelsenkirchen to cement their place in the last eight before the return leg in Spain had even kicked off. However, the side seems to be playing quite well under new boss Roberto Di Matteo and will be confident after three straight shutouts at the Veltins-Arena.

Likewise, Real Madrid have hit a bit of rough patch in recent weeks, which will afford a boost in morale for the Germans. On the other hand, Carlo Ancelotti’s men have thrived in this competition recently and are focused on following up last year’s La Decima by becoming the first club to ever retain the trophy in its current guise.

This game is all about Real Madrid. If the likes of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo – who each scored twice in last year’s demolition – are firing on all cylinders, it could be another horrible night for the hosts.

Schalke V Real Madrid Betting

Unsurprisingly, the Champions League holders head into this clash as overwhelming favourites at 4/9 with Bet365. Meanwhile, the draw is available at 4/1 whilst Schalke can be backed at 13/2.

Whilst we don’t think Los Blancos will enjoy quite the same level of ease as last year, there is no reason that Ancelotti’s men can’t plant one foot firmly in the quarter-finals.

Schalke are likely to put up a much stronger defensive barrier but we don’t think they can resist the Madrid onslaught for a full 90 minutes. Additionally, the second-leg in Spain means that the Germans have to be positive and that could leave gaps for the Blancos to exploit.

Real Madrid -1 handicap @ 6/5 with SkyBet

FC Basel V Porto. 7:45PM. Sky Sports 1

The night’s other contest comes from St Jakob-Park as FC Basel host Porto.

Paulo Sousa‘s men might not always get the credit they deserve, but the conquerors of Liverpool are no pushovers. They’ve previously shown their ability against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham in recent years and should be written off against Porto at your peril.

Nevertheless, the visitors are a great side also and will be in buoyant mood after winning their past four competitive fixtures. The Portuguese giants are really well equipped to perform well in this competition thanks to a solid spine that is supported to perfection by the goals of striker Jackson Martinez.

Over two legs, Porto will be fancied. This first clash, though, is a fascinating proposition and could go either way. This is the first time these side’s have met competitively and we’re expecting an explosive affair.

FC Basel V Porto Betting

Despite conceding home advantage, Porto are the slight favourites on Wednesday night. However, at odds of 11/8 (Bet365) this clearly isn’t a certainty and either a draw or Basel – both priced 23/10 – are genuine possibilities.

Porto are the better side and should progress over two legs, but there is no doubt that a draw would be considered acceptable as Lopetegui’s men will be confident of completing the job back at the Estadio Do Dragao.

One thing the visitors will want, though, is an away goal. There is one man in particularly that they’ll be looking to for that.

Jackson Martinez to score anytime is 9/5 with BetVictor

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