The final four teams to progress to the quarter finals stage of the competition will be decided this week, as the UEFA Champions League begins to come around the bend and prepares to head into its closing stretch. Eight teams will battle it out to determine who will join Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and PSG, who booked their place in the next phase of the competition last week. The highlight of this week’s round of games will come from Spain, when Milan travel to Barcelona to try and defend their deserved 2-0 first leg advantage from their win a couple of weeks ago. Elsewhere, Bayern look certain favourites to progress to the next round, whereas tight encounters are expected from Galatasaray’s trip to Schalke and when Malaga host Porto.
We take a look at this week’s fixtures below. The best place to have a bet on the UEFA Champions League is with Bet365.com, where you will find the best odds and markets. The odds mentioned below are the early offerings from Bet365.com.
All games are 20:45 CET/ 10:45 EST
Barcelona vs Milan (12 March 2013)
Giampaolo Pazzini will miss the trip to Spain after picking up and injury over the weekend in Milan’s (8/1 for the game and 4/6 to progress to next round) 2-0 win over Genoa, meaning that one of Niang, Robinho or Bojan will take his place. For Barcelona (1/3 and 5/4), Xavi should be available following a slight injury concern, which saw him rested for the game at the weekend, along with the majority of the first side. Milan have been in great form in 2013, going unbeaten in both the Serie A and the Champions League, and will be encouraged by the fact that no team has ever been eliminated after having won the first leg by two goals without having conceded a goal. Barcelona, on the other hand will take confidence from the fact that Milan are one of only four sides to have been eliminated after having had a two goal lead following the first leg, as well as Milan’s exploits in the same stage of the competition last season, where they received a major scare from Arsenal, losing the second leg 3-0 after having comfortably won the opening leg 4-0. Any chance of the complacency that may have been present that night being repeated in Spain are slim, however, as Milan know that it will take another great effort to progress to the next round.
With Barcelona needing goals to get back into the tie, they will be expected to throw everything into attack, which could possibly leave gaps at the back that the Milan counter attack can exploit. Over 2.5 goals pays out at 2/5, with the Under paying out at an interesting 15/8, given the fact that Milan will be expected to hold out in defence for much of the game, and were successful with that tactic in the first leg. Barcelona’s 2-0 over Deportivo on Saturday marked their first clean sheet in 14 games.
Schalke 04 vs Galatasaray (12 March 2013)
Schalke (4/6 and 2/5 to progress) paid for their win over Borussia Dortmund over the weekend with the injury of joint league top scorer, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who should be replaced by Teemu Pukki for this game. This tie is finely poised, following the Germans’ 1-1 draw in Turkey, and coach Jens Keller will have to rely on his other joint top scorer in the league, 19 year-old Julian Draxler, to spark his side into the next round. The youngster has been in good form of late and will be looking to add to his one goal in the competition of Tuesday night. For Galatasaray (9/2 and 2/1), Didier Drogba (15/2 anytime goal scorer) returns to the starting line-up, alongside the tournament’s second top scorer, Burak Yilmaz (11/4).
Schalke are one of only three sides that remain that are unbeaten in the competition, and have won their last three games in the Bundesliga. Galatasaray go into the game on the back of a shock defeat at the weekend, but will look to record their third successive away victory in the competition come Tuesday, and reach the quarter final stage of the competition for the first time since 2001.
Bayern Munich vs Arsenal (13 March 2013)
Bayern Munich (4/11 and 1/100) virtually secured their place in the quarters with their 3-1 victory in London, and a solid performance at home against a struggling Arsenal side (8/1 and 25/1) should see them comfortably through. However, the Gunners are never to be counted out, and with Arsene Wenger under as much pressure as he has ever been throughout his long tenure at the club, a brave performance such as the one the put in in the aforementioned tie with Milan last season will be expected. But with home and scoreboard advantage, and, frankly, a better side, Bayern should see off any challenge that Arsenal can put up quite comfortably.
Only on two occasions have sides gone on to progress to the next round after having lost at home in the first leg, and on both those occasions they were 0-1 defeats. While Arsenal are facing a fight to preserve their Champions League status for next season in the league, Bayern are now an extraordinary 20 points ahead in the Bundesliga, leaving them fully focussed on the Champions League, and will be one of the favourites to make up for the disappointment of the missing out in the final last season.
Over 2.5 goals pays out at an approachable 8/15.
Malaga vs Porto (13 March 2013)
Malaga (9/5 and 31/10) were perhaps fortunate to escape from Portugal with only a one goal deficit, having suffered for much of the game and clearly being the second best on the night, so will take their chances in front of their home fans. In any event, this has been a memorable first run in the competition for the Spanish side, and coach Manuel Pellegrini will make sure that his troops are up for this one. They come into the game with indifferent form, having won just one of their last five games, during which time they have only scored twice.
Porto (7/4 and 1/4), on the other hand, are on a solid run, winning four of their last five. Their only defeat in the competition this season came at the hands of PSG, after beating them at home. Top scorer Jackson Martinez (11/8 anytime) will be confident of securing a crucial away goal for his side, whereas Malaga will need their top striker Isco (21/10) to be at his best if they are to progress. Over 2.5 goals is being given at 43/40 and Under at 8/11. Not too many goals are to be expected from this one.
How To Bet
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