As the European Cup moves closer into view, just eight teams remain in this season’s UEFA Champions League with the quarter-final first legs taking place in midweek.
For Manchester City, the quest to finally be crowned European champions looks closer than ever this term, but their latest obstacle in Atletico Madrid will be tricky customers to negotiate.
In what will be the first meeting between the two sides in the competition, two managerial titans in Pep Guardiola and Diego Simeone will lock horns and though the odds may favour City, Los Rojiblancos know how to win in the north west – as Manchester United will attest.
Winners by a goal to nil at Old Trafford in the last 16 second leg, Atletico will be canny opponents and the hosts’ 4/11 price carries no value. However, the in-form Joao Felix to score anytime does. The Portuguese has seven goals to his name in all comps since mid-February and for Felix to follow up his weekend brace over Alaves, 13/2 odds with SportingBet looks very decent. A BTTS added-on 21/17 with SBK is similarly worth examination.
As City prepare to face-off with Liverpool in the Premier League this weekend, first, the Reds travel to Lisbon to face Benfica. After Inter pushed Jurgen Klopp’s men into a nervous evening at Anfield in the last round, Liverpool arrive in the Portuguese capital having notched their 10th league win on the bounce. Benfica sit third in Primera Liga but lost 3-2 on the road to Braga on Friday night, where their defensive issues were highlighted. Liverpool look set to expose them further, not least with former Porto man Luis Diaz.
Having scored twice on consecutive visits to San Siro this term and netting three at Atletico, Liverpool also netted five on their last trip to Portugal and could again be in the mood. For the visitors to put over 2.5 goals past Iberian opposition, 7/5 odds lie store with Coral and Ladbrokes, or for Liverpool to put on a five-star show once more and notch over 4.5 goals, a 11/1 shot with PaddyPower is worth a look. A Diaz goal, meanwhile, fetches 19/10 with 10Bet and SportNation.
Back in London, Chelsea face Real Madrid in a repeat of last season’s semi-final clash. Though Thomas Tuchel’s side romped past Lille, facing Los Blancos looks a daunting task, not least after their 4-1 humbling at home to neighbours Brentford on Saturday. Madrid, meanwhile, are closing in on regaining the La Liga crown from across the Spanish capital and have one of the continent’s hottest strikers in the evergreen Karim Benzema. Though Real were taken apart by Barcelona in El Clasico last month, Chelsea are a far more measured team and that could play into the hands of Carlo Ancelotti’s men. Here, a Benzema-Kai Havertz double looks enticing at a boosted 8/1 with SkyBet, whilst in terms of a result, Chelsea are 15/13 and the Spaniards 29/10. It is the draw however, that looks a good punt at 27/11 with 10Bet.
The final tie between Villarreal and Bayern Munich looks on paper a mismatch, but that said, it was the Yellow Submarine that knocked out Juventus last time out, taking the Old Lady apart three-nil in Turin. Though Bayern look to have got the wheels back on track, Die Roten can be an unpredictable commodity and away from home might be in for a test here. Unai Emery has become infamous for his ability to win in the Europa League and now in the last eight of Europe’s top tier competition, could he mastermind a first semi-final for Villarreal since 2006? The bookies aren’t banking on it with Bayern 8/13, but the Spaniards could easily be level as they travel to Germany in a week’s time. At 17/5 with PariMatch and BetVictor, the draw could be a winner for punters.