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The Champions League returns this week with the first legs of Round of 16 ties. Holders Liverpool travel to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night while last season’s runners-up Tottenham host RB Leipzig the following evening. On Thursday, it’s time for the Europa League to return with Manchester United, Arsenal, Wolves, Celtic and Rangers flying the flag for British clubs. But that’s not all. There are also several rearranged league games taking place with Manchester City playing their first game since they were banned from UEFA competitions for two seasons following a breach of the financial fair play rules. There are also three EFL fixtures taking place. But which matches are most likely to see BTTS land and which games could see three or more goals scored? Charlie Mullan has done the homework for you by analysing all the matches taking place this week.
BTTS: Atletico Madrid v Liverpool, Eintracht Frankfurt v RB Salzburg, Shakhtar Donetsk v Benfica
Liverpool (6/5) have proved unbeatable in the Premier League this season, but in the Champions League, their regular first team have suffered their one and only loss this season. That was when Napoli beat them in Naples in the group stage, but it didn’t stop Jurgen Klopp’s side finishing top of Group E, one point clear of the Serie A side. The Reds have been drawn against Atletico Madrid (5/2) who finished second to Juventus in Group D. Atletico are currently fourth in La Liga 13 points behind leaders Real Madrid after 24 games. Liverpool go into this game with an incredible 25-point lead at the top of the Premier League. Atletico will look to take a lead of some kind to Anfield for the second leg on March 10 which should see them take the game to Liverpool, who will be happy to sit back and hit the Spaniards on the counter attack at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium – where Liverpool beat Tottenham 2-0 to be crowned champions of Europe for a sixth time last June.
Diego Simeone’s side drew 2-2 at Valencia on Friday night when they led twice through goals by Marcos Llorente and Thomas Partey. Liverpool and Atletico have met four times before in European action with the last meeting coming in the 2009/10 Europa League semi-finals which the Spanish side won on away goals before beating Fulham in the final. Three of the last four meetings have seen goals for both Liverpool and Atletico and SportPesa are offering odds of 20/21 for BTTS to land in this tie. A score draw is trading at 33/10 while Atletico are 25/4 to win with Liverpool scoring at least one goal. The Reds, who won 1-0 at Norwich on Saturday, are 7/2 to win with BTTS landing.
RB Salzburg were one of the more entertaining sides to watch in the Champions League group stage scoring 16 goals in their six matches which was three more than Liverpool and five more than Napoli who both advanced to the knockout stage at Salzburg’s expense. In fact, Salzburg’s 16 goals is more than 12 of the 16 teams still alive in the Champions League could manage. Half of the goals Salzburg scored came from Erling Braut Haaland who has since joined Borussia Dortmund. Since returning to action following their winter break, Salzburg (21/20) have scored five goals in their two matches.
They have scored in all 15 games they have played away from home in all competitions this season including their 3-0 win at Amstetten in the Austrian Cup when Masaya Okugawa and Enock Mwepu were on target. Both players scored in their 3-2 defeat at home to league leaders ASK Linz on Friday night. Okugawa and Mwepu will both be keen to use these two games against Eintracht Frankfurt (21/20) in the Europa League to raise their profile. Frankfurt were assured of qualification for the knockout stage when they were beaten 3-2 in their final game at home to Vitoria Guimaraes. It was the fourth successive group game in which BTTS landed and SportPesa are offering odds of 20/39 for this tie to see goals for both Frankfurt and their visitors. A score draw is trading at 3/1 while the home side are 9/4 to win with at least one goal for Salzburg who are 4/1 to win with BTTS landing.
Shakhtar Donetsk (29/20) and Benfica (39/20) both hoped to be still involved in the Champions League but sadly for them, they both finished third in their respective groups to drop into the Europa League where they will be expected to go far. Benfica are the away side in this week’s first leg and they will hope to catch their opponents cold on their return to action for the first time since they played their last league game on December 14. Shakhtar went into their winter break with a 2-1 win at Zorya in the Ukrainian League in their latest game in which there were goals for both them and the team they have been playing. That was a trend in their Champions League group games when four of their last five matches saw BTTS land including all three away games at Atalanta, Dinamo Zagreb and Manchester City.
Benfica only have themselves to blame for not making it through to the knockout stage of the Champions League and will rue their missed opportunity at RB Leipzig at the end of November. They led 2-0 as the game entered the final minute. Two late goals earned Leipzig a 2-2 draw. Benfica ended up missing out on second spot by a point. That draw with Leipzig was one of five in the group stage that saw BTTS land and SportPesa are offering odds of 4/5 for both teams to find the net in Donetsk. A score draw is available at 16/5 while the home side are 7/2 to win with BTTS landing while the Portuguese side are 9/2 to win with Shakhtar scoring at least one goal.
Over 2.5 goals: Borussia Dortmund v Paris St Germain, Manchester City v West Ham, AZ Alkmaar v LASK
Borussia Dortmund were already scoring goals for fun before they signed teenage goalscoring sensation Erling Braut Haaland from RB Salzburg on January 1. They had scored 29 goals in the 12 games prior to the Norwegian joining them and since he made his Dortmund debut, the team has scored 24 in their last six games with Halaand scoring nine times. Dortmund’s 4-0 demolition of Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday night was their 18th consecutive game in which three or more match goals had been scored. The last time it didn’t happen was on October 26 when they were held to a goalless draw at Schalke. Dortmund face a Paris St Germain side who have been involved in high scoring games of their own in recent weeks.
Their last five league and cup games have seen five, three, six, seven and eight goals scored and includes their 4-4 draw at Amiens on Saturday when they found themselves leading 4-3 in the last minute after falling behind 3-0 in the first 40 minutes. It’s hard to see both teams not scoring giving the attack options they have to choose from. Dortmund have Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus to call upon as well as Halaand, while PSG shouldn’t be lacking goals with Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi and Edinson Cavani to call on. SportPesa is offering odds of 20/49 for this game to have at least three match goals scored and 10/17 for both Dortmund and PSG to score and combine for over 2.5 total goals. Dortmund, with home advantage, are 13/5 to win with a minimum of three match goals scored while the visitors are 9/5 to win with over 2.5 goals scored in the tie.
Manchester City (2/15) play their first game since they were banned from UEFA competitions for two years following a breach of UEFA’s financial fair play rules. They are still involved in this season’s competitions and will face Real Madrid in their first leg next Wednesday at the Bernabeu. Before that, City will look to take their frustrations out on West Ham in their rearranged Premier League game which was postponed because of Storm Ciara on February 9. City’s defence of the Premier League is coming to an end with a 25-point gap between them and leaders Liverpool, but they can still land the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, and how ironic it would be if they were to go on and win this season’s Champions League.
West Ham (17/1) only have one goal this season and that is to stay in the Premier League. Right now, those hopes are hanging by a thread. The Hammers are 18th, one point from safety with this game in hand, and it would be a major surprise if they were to get anything from their trip to the Etihad. West Ham have failed to win any of their last 11 games with City, who have won the last eight by an aggregate score of 28-3. City’s 5-0 win at the London Stadium was the ninth time in the last 10 meetings in which three or more goals had been scored. SportPesa are offering odds of 4/17 for this game to have a minimum of three goals while both teams to score and over 2.5 goals is available at 10/11. City are 4/13 to win this game with three or more goals scored in the match while the Hammers are 25/1 to win with over 2.5 goals landing.
AZ Alkmaar (11/10) are proving that last season’s fourth place finish in the Dutch Eredivisie was not a fluke by carrying their good form into their current campaign. They sit second, six points behind leaders Ajax and four points clear of third placed Feyernoord. And their run in this season’s Europa League has seen them hold Manchester United to a goalless draw at the Kyocera Stadion at the start of October. Their last two home league games have seen a total of four goals scored in each and they will be looking to bounce back from losing 2-0 at Twente at the weekend. LASK Linz (12/5) are competing in Europe for just the second time and after failing to make the group stage last season, they managed to progress to the Round of 32 this season after finishing top of Group D ahead of Sporting Lisbon, PSV Eindhoven and Rosenborg.
If their recent games are anything to go by, there could be plenty of goals in this tie. LASK’s 3-2 win at RB Salzburg not only saw them go top of the Austrian Bundesliga, it was also the sixth time in their last seven games in which three or more goals had been scored in league and cup matches involving them. SportPesa are offering odds of 4/5 for this tie to have three or more goals scored while BTTS and over 2.5 goals is on the market at 21/20. The home side are 2/1 to win with over 2.5 goals landing while LASK are 4/1 to win with a minimum of three goals scored.
A £10 bet on the BTTS accumulator has potential returns of £54.00
A £10 bet on the over 2.5 goals accumulator has potential returns of £31.30