The knockout stages of the Champions League have already given us plenty of drama. Last Tuesday, Real Madrid looked set to advance to the Quarterfinals. Real Madrid had won three straight Champions League titles, and they were in commanding position to advance over Ajax after beating the Dutch club in Amsterdam in the first leg. However, Ajax’s young guns ripped apart Real Madrid’s back line in a 4-1 stunner that sent the defending champions crashing out and Ajax on to the Quarterfinals.
That result sent shockwaves around the world, but it might not have been as big of an upset as what we saw on Wednesday. Paris Saint-Germain looked ready to shake off its Champions League woes after beating Manchester United 2-0 in Old Trafford in the first leg of their knockout round tie. Manchester United were short-handed with most of their starters from the previous leg injured, but a Romelu Lukaku brace and a Marcus Rashford extra time penalty gave United a stunning 3-1 victory over PSG in Paris.
On Tuesday, Juventus and FC Schalke 04 are out to continue the bad beats for prohibitive favorites and find a way into the Champions League Quarterfinals.
Juventus -0.5 and -1 vs. Atletico Madrid, O/U 2 and 2.5
The first leg in this tie was a thing of beauty for Atletico Madrid. Their defense thwarted Juventus’ attack exceptionally well, and they were devastating on the counter. Atletico could have won this match 4-0 if not for VAR. A penalty kick was disallowed and an Alvaro Morata goal was disallowed (questionably) as well, but Diego Simone’s club are certainly happy with the result.
Atletico Madrid allowed Juventus to put just two shots on net despite possessing the ball for two-thirds of the match. They eventually broke through on the counter with Jose Maria Gimenez scoring in the 78th and Diego Godin scoring in the 83rd to give them a 2-0 advantage, and they will defend that advantage here.
If Cristiano Ronaldo is going to make his presence felt, now’s the time. He was brought over from Real Madrid for his Champions League experience, but he has scored just one goal over Juventus’ seven matches. The competition’s all-time leading scorer needs to work his magic to put Juventus through to the next round, but I don’t think it happens given Atletico’s strength in defense.
Manchester City -2 and -2.5 vs. FC Schalke 04, O/U 3.5
Things could have been a lot more interesting in this tie. FC Schalke 04 took a 2-1 advantage into halftime of the first leg thanks to two penalty kicks from Nabil Bentaleb, and the hosts were on cloud nine after Nicolas Otamendi was sent off in the 68th minute. Schalke were hoping to extend their lead and give themselves a great chance of stunning City, but the visitors had other plans and Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling scored in the final five minutes of regulation to give the Citizens a 3-2 win.
Schalke have their work cut out for them, but there is a glimmer of hope. We’ve already seen Ajax and Manchester United overcome pretty long odds, and this City team will be dealing with some fatigue. They are dealing with injuries to a few of their key midfielders and defenders, and many starters haven’t had much chance to rest given the club’s workload in an attempt to win an unprecedent quadruple.
I think Schalke can keep it close and maybe even get the draw here. City aren’t as solid as you might believe given their iffy efforts in the Premier League and Champions League, and betting the visitors on the goal line is a solid move.
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