This game is one of the hardest to call in the round of 32 first legs and the betting is split down the middle. There’s also the issue that Turkey is never an easy place to go, regardless of what kind of form the home team is in. T
So ignore the win-draw-win market and focus on how many goals will go in. Both sides have been finding the net with regularity this season, and both are the highest scorers in their respective leagues. Expect goals.
Benfica, in particular, have been ruthless in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, notching an impressive 57 goals in just 21 league games, including a ridiculous 19 in their last three matches. Goals clearly haven’t been an issue for the two-time European Cup winners and Haris Seferovic and Jonas are both potent goal threats up front for them.
Galatasaray also rarely fail to score at home, having done so just once this season in a 0-0 draw with Schalke in the Champions League group stages. It’s set up to be an open kind of game and it should clear the 2.5 goal mark.
Verdict: Over 2.5 goals @ 1/1
Similar to going to Turkey, going to Greece is never an easy proposition, especially considering it will be Dynamo Kiev’s first competitive match in over two months. The Ukrainian side haven’t played since their final Europa League group stage at the beginning of December and face a baptism of fire when they resume their season in the hostile environment of the Karaiskakis Stadium.
It is hard to gauge Dynamo Kiev’s form considering they haven’t played in nearly 70 days, but they weren’t particularly impressive before the winter break. Yes, they topped their group in this competition, but it was a rather weak looking group and they also sit seven points off the pace domestically. While Olympiacos did finish second in their group, their’s was a far tougher group and did dump AC Milan out of the competition in the process. That might be more of an indictment of how bad things are for the former Italian giants, but it’s still an impressive feat for Olympiacos.
Logically, Kiev should be off the pace and could take a while to settle back into competitive football. In such a difficult venue, where Olympiacos have lost only once all season, that could make all the difference.
Verdict: Olympiacos to win @ 10/11
Club Bruges v Red Bull Salzburg, 8pm
Salzburg had a perfect record in what was on paper a very tough looking group and that has made them one of the dark horses for the competition. The Austrains won home and away against Red Bull rivals Leipzig, Celtic and Rosenborg in a very impressive group stage campaign. They have yet to lose a game in the Austrian Bundesliga, dropping just six points all season. They have a sizeable 14-point lead at the top of the league and can safely put all of their eggs in the Europa League basket.
Club Bruges, on the other hand, are in the Europa League courtesy of being the less shit of two teams in Group A of the Champions League. The Belgian side are in Europe’s secondary competition because Monaco decided to forget how to play football for five months, meaning the Belgian side finished third by default.
They are well off Genk at the top of the Belgian Pro League and have won just one of four games since the resumption of the league in January. They did become tougher to beat in the Champions League the longer the competition went on, drawing with both Dortmund and Atletico Madrid, but both had already qualified at that point.
Club Bruges only managed one home goal in the Champions League, and they drew blanks on three occasions. Goals have been an issue for them in Europe, and Salzburg should have too much for them in Belgium.
Verdict: Red Bull Salzburg to win @ 6/5
*Prices correct at time of publishing and the treble comes to 7/1