By Antony Jordan
Last week saw four matches from the last 16 stage of the Champions League and the second group of four first leg clashes play this Tuesday and Wednesday evening. This evening’s matches certainly are the bigger draws with four of the biggest sides in Europe in action against each other as we are treated to Arsenal v Barcelona at The Emirates and Juventus v Bayern Munich in Turin.
We preview both matches and provide our top Champions League picks with online sportsbook WilliamHill.com here.
The Premier League and La Primera Liga sides have long been associated with each other in European football as they both play similar types of football, although Barcelona’s record in recent times has seen them win many more trophies than Arsenal, who have taken just two FA Cups over the last decade. These teams meet for the first time since 2011 where Barcelona needed two late goals on home soil at the last 16 stage of the competition to progress 4-3 on aggregate as they went on to lift the title with a 3-1 win over Manchester United at Wembley.
Barcelona have not lost either of the two ties in the knockout stages since coming from behind to beat Arsenal in the Champions League Final a decade ago and they are favoured to win this first leg too. However, both of the matches at The Emirates in this time have seen them concede two goals as the sides drew 2-2 in 2010 and Arsenal triumphed 2-1 the following season before turning around at the Camp Nou on both occasions.
For this match Arsenal will be the more rested as they saved many of their players for this game as their second string drew 0-0 with Hull City in the FA Cup at the weekend to see them go five matches unbeaten in all competitions, but with Barcelona having gone eight points clear at the top of La Liga with victory over Las Palmas over the weekend to see them unbeaten in 32 matches they will be confident about their visit to North London.
The attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez certainly gives Barcelona an advantage going forwards as Arsenal have conceded ten goals in this competition and have just two clean sheets in their last six home games. Barcelona do not defend well either with them winning to nil on just two occasions in their last ten games and Arsenal certainly have enough talent in the middle of the park and up front to cause the leaky Spanish defence problems. As a result of this we see goals from both of these sides and at least three goals in the match, just all of the five meetings between the teams over the last decade.
Our top Arsenal v Barcelona tip is back Both Teams to Score – Yes and Over 2.5 goals @ 1.85 with William Hill.
The table toppers in Italy and Germany come together in this first match of the knockout stages of the Champions League with both sides looking to claim the advantage before they travel to Munich for the second leg of this tie in three week’s time. Juventus have not done well against Bayern in recent times having lost three and drawn one, including losing both home matches, since a 2-1 win more than ten years ago in the group stages of this competition. William Hill certainly believe that this’ll be a close game going by their match odds, but can the home side defeat the five time winners of this competition?
Juventus impressed on home soil in the group stages of the Champions League this season as they won two and drew one of their three matches while keeping a trio of clean sheets. They have conceded just six goals on home soil all season too in 17 matches and they are unbeaten in 16 of those games, winning 13 of them. They have record six successive clean sheets in front of their own fans before this clash with the German champions, now will they be able to make it seven in a row?
Bayern impressed too in the early stages of this competition with five wins and 19 goals whilst they only conceded three goals and all of these came against Arsenal as they were beaten 2-0 in North London before gaining revenge with a 5-1 home soil victory. They have won five and drawn one of their last six away and with their record at the Juventus Stadium in recent times they will be confident of victory in this match.
However, with both sides missing defending players for this match and the home side having a fantastic defensive record we can see this match being a more cagey game than the Arsenal v Barca game in North London and we see at least one of these teams emerging with a clean sheet as we feel that the tie will be finely poised going to the Allianz-Arena in the middle of March.
Our best Juventus v Bayern Munich bet is back Both Teams to Score – No at odds of 1.73 in the William Hill Sportsbook!