Besiktas v Bayern Munich
Thursday March 15, 4:00 AEDST
Besiktas were surprise victors in Group G as they finished ahead of Porto, Leipzig and Monaco, winning four of six unbeaten games, and as a result will have been disappointed to have been paired with Bayern in the last 16. The Bavarians’ 5-0 win in the first leg was aided by a 16th minute red card, but there’s little to suggest Jupp Heynckes’ side would have struggled to dominate regardless. Bayern have won 16 of 17 unbeaten outings in all competitions, and they’ve been thumping teams in 2018 so far as they’ve scored an average of 3.5 goals per game.
The Turkish outfit will hope to restore some pride in front of their own fans, and they’re typically very adept at getting on the scoresheet as they’ve only failed to score once at home in the last calendar year. That certainly raises the prospect of a high-scoring affair in Istanbul, and given Bayern & Over 2.5 Goals has landed in nine of their last 12 at this level, whether or not the Turks register a goal the visitors’ firepower should be enough to see that bet over the line.
There’s unlikely to be a whole raft of changes for Bayern as even though they have matches with Leipzig and Dortmund in their last two, their 20 point lead at the top of the Bundesliga is unassailable. Having netted 26 times in their last six round of 16 matches, and with Lewandowski in irrepressible form at the moment, this should be a comfortable and enjoyable evening for the German champions.
BACK – Bayern Munich & Over 2.5 Goals at 1.95
Man Utd v Sevilla
Wednesday March 14, 6:45 AEDST
Sevilla will have been happy to prevent United from grabbing an away goal in Spain, but history is against them here as in the eight Champions League ties where the first leg finished goalless since 2010/11, the second leg has been won by the home side on six occasions. The visitors weren’t particularly impressive in the group stages with their nine points the lowest of any team to qualify, and having lost seven of eight games against top-five sides in La Liga since the start of last season, don’t appear up to the task of thwarting the Red Devils here.
Mourinho will of course favour a typically cautious approach with an away goal potentially very damaging to United’s prospects, but he’ll be encouraged by Sevilla’s lack of bite this term as only Eibar amongst those currently in the top half of La Liga have scored fewer goals. United have kept a clean sheet in four of their last six at Old Trafford, with only Liverpool and Chelsea managing to breach their defence, while City are the only side that have managed to walk away with three points from their fortress since Mourinho took over the reins. What’s more, the visitors haven’t had the best preparation ahead of this clash as they suffered a confidence-draining defeat at home to Valencia last time out, virtually ending any chance of retaining Champions League football for next season.
BACK – Man Utd to win to nil at 2.6
Roma v Shakhtar
Wednesday March 14, 6:45 AEDST
Shakhtar have started 2018 with five consecutive victories including their 2-1 win in the first leg of this tie, but though they head to Rome in high spirits the quality of opposition they’ve faced domestically hasn’t been anywhere near the same standard that they should expect to encounter at the Stadio Olimpico. The Ukrainian side have consistently struggled on their travels in the Champions League, losing five of six such games since 2015/16 and failing to score in each of these defeats.
Meanwhile, despite a difficult group to navigate with Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, Roma took seven points from their home group stage matches as they kept clean sheets in all three. They’ve won five of their last seven across all competitions ahead of this clash, including victories over Napoli and Torino in their last two where they’ve netted seven times and shipped just two goals – both on the road against the title-chasing Neapolitans.
Roma will of course have to be wary of Shakhtar’s counter-attacking potential, but given the way the Ukrainians have struggled to net on their travels in Europe, the hosts should see this one out. Of the 22 ties that have seen the hosts from the first leg triumph 2-1 since the turn of the century, the hosts in the second leg have subsequently won 15 of the returns. Given they were always expected to fare better on home turf, Roma look good value to shut out these poor travelers.
BACK – Roma to win to nil at 3.4