After a winter break Champions League soccer returns with Leg 1 matches of the round of 16 knockout stages over the next two weeks. In part 1 we’ll preview the first 4 matches as Juventus take on Tottenham, Porto face Liverpool, Manchester City travel to face Basel and last year’s Champions Real Madrid take on the new look favorites PSG. Last year we went an impressive 17-6 with knockout stage releases at Wagertalk and will look for another solid playoff season in 2018.
Tottenham at Juventus – Feb 13th
EPL teams own 5 of the 16 knockout stage spots and two are in action Tuesday as Tottenham travel to Italy to take on Juventus. Both sides are in solid form at the moment making this tie all the better. This will be the first meeting between these two in a European competition and the Spurs come in unbeaten their past 10 (6 wins 4 draws) since losing 4-1 to Man City in mid-December and will look to change what has been disappointing results in Italy as they’ve gone 1W 3D 4L in 8 games on Italian soil. They’ll face a Juventus side currently on a 15-game unbeaten run (13 wins 2 draws) and a 10-game winning run where they’ve outscored opponents by a 23-1 margin. At home in European play they’ve gone unbeaten in 26 straight (16 wins 10 draws) since April 2013. Juventus to advance at odds of -134
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Manchester City at Basel – Feb 13th
Two other sides meeting for the first time are in action on Tuesday as Manchester City make the trip to Switzerland to take on Basel. City are prohibitive favorites to advance to the quarterfinals and have amassed an impressive 33 wins 2 losses 3 draws this year in all competitions. They’ll look to make it to their first CL Final with their best showing a Semi Final in 2015/16. They’ll face a Basel side that are now just returning from a winter break in the Swiss League where they currently sit 2ND and try and become the first Swiss side to make the quarterfinals in the UCL era. They knocked off City’s rivals Man United in the group stages in Basel with strong defending (1-0) and will look to bottle up midfield which could make Leg 1 a low scoring affair. Ultimately, it’ll be Manchester City off to the Quarterfinals but no play here on
City to advance at -2900 odds unless you have zero money management skills.
Liverpool at Porto – Feb 14th
Liverpool travel to Portugal to face a very good Porto side in what should be a tricky contest on Valentine’s Day. (You’re welcome on that reminder. Just send flowers and settle in for a good game). These sides have meet 4 times in European competition with Liverpool winning both at home and drawing twice away. Liverpool come in having only lost 2 of their past 20 with both losses coming in the last week of January and if there’s any weakness in this side it may be their inconsistent away form (10 wins 4 losses 5 draws) which has much to do with defensive play. (Only 4 clean sheets in 18 away fixtures). Porto sit top of their league while unbeaten (16 wins 4 draws) and their recent loss in penalty kicks to league rivals Sporting ended a 19-game unbeaten run and 10 straight wins and this season at home they’ve amassed an impressive 24 wins 2 losses 6 draws in all competitions. This 2-leg tie might provide for some of the better action we’ll see and possibly an upset with Porto advancing at odds of +195
Paris Saint Germain at Real Madrid – Feb 14th
Last year’s Champions host this year’s favorites as high-flying PSG travel to Spain to take on Real Madrid. They’ve met on 6 occasions and are perfected even with 2-2-2 records. PSG scored a record 25 goals in Group stage play and have put together an impressive 32 wins 3 losses 2 draws this season in all competitions. Although coming in as favorites and seemingly meeting a Madrid side that are struggling to regain their former strong form they’ll need to be weary of a Spanish side that have won this competition the past two seasons and are unbeaten in their past 17 European home matches (14 wins 3 draws). The advantage likely still sits with PSG with the return fixture in Paris in March but I’d expect that for Real Madrid to have any chance of advancing they’ll know the importance of a Leg 1 win, I just don’t feel they’ll be able to get as convincing a win as needed while keeping PSG off the scoresheet for that all important away goal. PSG to advance at –142 odds in what should be a great 2 games.