Barcelona vs Man United: Barca to win and both teams to score – 17/10
Barcelona’s victory at Old Trafford was nothing more than a procession. The Catalans were seldom troubled in a facile win where they didn’t have to get out of second gear, or even face a shot on target.
From the moment Luke Shaw inadvertently turned the ball into his own net, Barcelona seemed content to take their foot off the pedal and invite United onto them.
Much of the talk in the build-up to this game will centre around United’s miraculous recovery at the Parc des Princes and whether or not they are capable of doing something similar on Tuesday night – but, Barcelona are not PSG.
PSG are the Spurs of Europe and are the only team to throw away a four-goal lead in the Champions League. That was ironically against Barcelona and the 6-1 defeat in March 2017 and that was indicative of just how strong Barcelona are at home.
You have to go back six years to find their last home defeat in Europe – a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich – and back as far as 2007 to find their solitary home defeat to an English club in the Champions League.
That means if United were to do the unthinkable and reach the semi-finals, it would be an even more remarkable turnaround than the one in Paris, even if the tie is closer on the scoreboard.
The Red Devils have hit a wall since that 3-1 win over PSG and have lost four of their last six. Their two wins in that period were extremely unconvincing as well, and the need for investment in the summer is becoming increasingly apparent. Having said that, United are far better away from home in Europe than they are at Old Trafford.
They have won just one of their last six Champions League ties there, losing four of them. But on the road, they have been generally very good. Wins against Juventus and PSG have been the highlight of United’s season and both are equally credible.
You get the sense that Solskjaer’s men will get chances on Tuesday, even if they lacked creativity last week. However, this one should be a step too far for them.
Juventus vs Ajax: Ajax to qualify – 12/5
Ajax largely bossed proceedings in the 1-1 draw in Amsterdam and were unlucky not to come away with a win from the first leg. Juventus’s away goal means Ajax need to become only the second away side to score in Turin in the Champions League this season if they are to progress. Luckily for them though, they have the capability to score goals in spades.
The Eredivisie leaders have netted a staggering 106 goals in just 30 league games this season, averaging well over three goals a game. In Europe, they have come up against some of the continent’s best teams and still boast an average of two a game.
Granted, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich do not look remotely like the forces they once were, but Ajax still tore through them at their leisure. Their youthful exuberance has been a breath of fresh air and surely, every neutral wants them to win the competition this season.
Juventus, on the other hand, are almost the exact antithesis of Ajax. Boasting by far the oldest squad in the tournament, The Old Lady will rely on experience to get them over the line.
They have been underwhelming in Europe this season and were hugely fortunate to still be in the tie after their away defeat to Atletico Madrid. A 2-0 loss flattered Juventus and paved the way for Cristiano Ronaldo to rescue them in Turin.
They were second best in Amsterdam and were again extremely lucky to come away with anything after last week’s first leg.
However, Ajax proved in Madrid that they don’t need to enjoy home comforts to play their expansive brand of football and will play without fear on Tuesday night. We’re backing them to qualify at a very attractive price of 12/5.
* All odds correct at time of posting.