The Champions League returns on Friday behind closed doors due to COVID-19. Real Madrid trails Manchester City 2-1 after the first leg. Juventus has home advantage in their quest to overturn a 1-0 loss in the first leg at Lyon. Chelsea lost their first leg 3-0 at home to Bayern Munich, while it’s all to play for between Barcelona and Napoli, who start their second leg level after a 1-1 draw in Italy.
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Juventus vs. Lyon: Both teams to score (-103)
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus has a 1-0 deficit to overturn from their first leg with Lyon if they are to reach next week’s quarterfinals, and their form is not great, with three defeats in their last four Serie A games. Lucas Tousart’s 18th minute goal for Lyon in the first meeting made it seven consecutive Champions League games with at least one total goal scored in the first half. Juventus has to score otherwise they are out, and their defeat in Lyon ended their run of scoring in every Champions League game this season. Lyon forward Memphis Depay has scored five times in this season’s campaign and with the competition’s all-time leading scorer Ronaldo on the pitch, there is a very good chance both teams will score. Lyon goes into this tie as the underdog for the third time in this season’s competition and they have won one and drawn the other. Juventus’ record is four wins and one loss from the five games they have started as favorites.
Manchester City vs. Real Madrid: Manchester City HT/FT double (+150)
Real Madrid has to come from behind in this tie to ensure they reach the quarterfinals for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons. However, they have a massive task ahead of them against Manchester City, who has come from behind to win three Champions League games this season already. Both teams to score has landed in City’s last five matches in the competition and in Real Madrid’s last three so this tie could see goals for both sides. Another market worth looking at is total goals. Over 2.5 goals has paid out in all but one of Madrid’s seven matches and in City’s last two. Both teams ended their domestic campaigns with a run of games with three or more total goals scored. City’s last five EPL games saw a minimum of three goals netted while Madrid’s last three La Liga games saw over 2.5 goals pay out.
Barcelona vs. Napoli: Draw at halftime (+138)
Barcelona could end the season without a trophy for the first time since the 2007-08 season if they fail to beat Napoli. The tie is delicately poised after a 1-1 draw in Naples in February. Don’t be surprised if this is another draw after 90 minutes as both teams are used to stalemates in this season’s tournament. The first leg draw was Napoli’s fourth and Barcelona’s third in Europe this season. Both teams have twice been involved in goalless first halves so that is something to consider ahead of this tie. Having missed out on the Spanish title, the pressure will be on Barcelona to be crowned champions of Europe for a sixth time in their illustrious history, but Napoli, with Dries Mertens looking to add to his six goals, won’t make it easy. In this season’s competition, Barcelona has yet to lose while being favorites and Napoli has yet to lose as underdogs. One of those run will come to an end following the conclusion of this tie which could go to extra-time and perhaps penalties.
Bayern Munich vs. Chelsea: Bayern Munich -2.5 (+235)
Spare a thought for Chelsea ahead of this tie. They led Arsenal in Saturday’s FA Cup final before losing 2-1, and to add injury to insult, Pedro, Cesar Azpilicueta and American hotshot Christian Pulisic joined an ever-growing injury list. Now they face a Bayern side that won all 11 league and cup matches after lockdown and with a 3-0 lead from the first leg, the Bavarians are expected to advance to the quarterfinals with the minimum of fuss. I expect Bayern to be patient as Chelsea comes looking for an early goal to keep the tie alive, which will allow the German champions to hit the Blues on the counter attack. Bayern’s seven games in Europe this season average 4.57 goals per game, and if they are in the mood, they could easily reach that tally themselves against a depleted opponent. Robert Lewandowski has scored 11 goals in this season’s competition alone, which is the same number of goals Chelsea has scored as a team. Over 2.5 total goals has landed in six of Bayern’s last seven ties, while Chelsea’s last four Champions League matches have seen a minimum of three goals scored, so over 2.5 goals could well land. Bayern, who has won their previous seven ties when starting as favorites, are heavy favorites once again and will look to wrap this game up early so manager Hansi Flick can rotate his players with the quarterfinals getting under way next week.
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