Champions League betting tips: A high-scoring win for Barcelona in Manchester and two in-form sides to cancel each other out in Amsterdam.
Man Utd vs Barcelona
Manchester United may be somewhat stuttering in the Premier League, but history gives them cause for optimism ahead of tonight’s quarter-final first leg.
United are unbeaten in their last four home matches against Barcelona (W2, D2), with the most recent fixture coming in 2008, when Paul Scholes’ famous stunner was enough to send Sir Alex Ferguson’s men through to the Champions League final.
Barcelona have broken United hearts twice since then, beating them in the 2009 and 2011 finals, but both were of course on neutral grounds.
Another reason for the La Liga side to be wary is their recent failings in Champions League quarter-finals. Indeed, they have won just one of their last five and last season, they famously blew a 4-1 first-leg lead against AS Roma, which will give United fans hope, even if they lose Wednesday’s first leg.
What will not give the Red Devils confidence is Lionel Messi’s record against English sides. The Argentine has scored 22 Champions League goals in 30 appearances against Premier League teams, although his Champions League quarter-final record is not so special, failing to score in any of his last 11 Champions League last-eight matches.
However, Messi continues to defy belief and if anything seems to have further elevated his performances this season, having already scored 43 goals in all competitions, including eight in the Champions League. It’s not just Barcelona’s No.10 who has been on fire in front of goal though, with the Catalan giants scoring 17 goals in their last five matches in all competitions. That’s a stark contrast to United’s meagre seven.
Many deem this to be one of the weakest Manchester United sides in recent years, particularly defensively, and although they advanced from the tie, they failed to keep a clean sheet in either leg against PSG in the last round. Barcelona are 81/100 with Novibet to score over 1.5 goals tonight.
Ernesto Valverde’s side have had the better of English sides in recent years, winning seven of their last eight two-legged ties and it is hard to see how this Man United side will overcome them at Old Trafford. With both sides more capable in attack than defence, Barcelona to win and over 2.5 match goals looks a great bet at 27/20.
Ajax vs Juventus
Ajax have been a breath of fresh air in this season’s Champions League, with their young stars, guided by an experienced Dusan Tadic, going toe-to-toe with the world’s best.
The Dutch giants have had a sensational European campaign so far and it’s easy to forget they had to play six games in the competition before even reaching the group stages. After knocking out Sturm Graz, Standard Liege and Dynamo Kyiv, they were rewarded with the brutally tough group of Bayern Munich, Benfica and AEK. Although they are European veterans themselves, it was expected that a Europa League place would be the destination come the end of December. However, Erik ten Hag’s men finished second, just two points shy of Bayern and on top of that, managed to go the entire group stage unbeaten.
Ajax’s home form has been crucial to their success and they won five consecutive home games in the competition this season, keeping a clean sheet in four of them before drawing with Bayern. However, it is not imperative that they win tonight as any Ajax fan will be keen to remind you, they overturned a 2-1 first-leg deficit against Real Madrid with a stunning 4-1 win at the Bernabeu.
Juventus, on the other hand, will be buoyed by the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has missed the last three through injury. Ignoring the obvious fact that having Ronaldo in your XI gives you a better chance of winning, Juve fans will be particularly happy to know that the former Manchester United and Real Madrid man has netting seven times against Ajax in his career. Those seven goals came in four successive meetings.
Something has to give, as Ajax have scored 18 goals in their last six matches in all competitions whilst Juventus have kept three clean sheets in their last five matches. BTTS on the night is 37/50 with Novibet.
Juventus have lost just 2 of their last 12 meetings with Ajax (W6, D4) and are unbeaten in their last 10, but Ajax’s superb home record in this season’s competition makes a draw look good value at 23/10.