AFTER a goalless draw in Ukraine, will Bayern Munich continue their march towards domestic and continental dominance this midweek? We asked Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire).
Bayern Munich v Shakhtar Donetsk | Wednesday 19.45 | Sky Sports 1
These two sides played out a scoreless draw in Ukraine in the first leg, prompting a do-or-die match at the Allianz Arena as Pep Guardiola looks to take his side into the Champions League quarter-finals. Only a win will do for FC Hollywood and it would take a brave man to bet against the Bayern juggernaut.
Sure, Shakhtar nullified the Germans in Lviv (and almost sent me to sleep) but a trip to Bavaria is a completely different task for Mircea Lucescu’s side who’s only Champions League wins (and 12 of their 15 goals) this season have come against no-hopers BATE Borisov.
The Ukrainian champions make the journey with Taras Stepanenko available again but the holding midfielder may be forced into central defence should Yaroslav Rakytskiy, Serhiy Kryvtsov and Ivan Ordets all fail fitness doubts. Meanwhile, Alex Teixeira missed Saturday’s game with food poisoning and will be monitored ahead of kick-off.
That potentially leaves Shakhtar short and although Lucescu’s tactics are unlikely to deviate from the first leg (surrender possession and play on the counter), you have to assume Bayern will go up through the gears in front of their adoring home support.
Xabi Alonso is suspended following his dismissal in the first leg. David Alaba could fill his shoes alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger in midfield while Phillip Lahm is on the comeback trail from his broken ankle. The five-time European champions are timing their challenge this term, well aware of their capitulation at the business end of the 2013/14 campaign.
Five clean sheets in their previous seven Champions League matches will attract many punters to the 8/11 on a Bayern win to nil, especially when you take into account Shakhtar’s poor form in front of goal in continental competition this season. The Ukrainians hacked up against BATE (mentioned above) but only managed one shot in the revere fixture three weeks ago.
But it’s worth noting that Pep’s charges have leaked in four of their nine games since the winter break with the lesser lights of Koln and Hannover rattling FC Hollywood’s cage in the past fortnight. True, they’ll boss possession (posting over 66% possession on average in this competition this season) and yes, they’ll be in the hat for the last eight. But how do we profit from this clash?
I’ve found two bets I’d like to be on. Firstly, the blanket defence approach from Shakhtar is unlikely to but could possibly keep this game alive going into the second-half. The Miners have conceded all four of their goals in the competition after the 68th minute and backing Draw-Bayern in the HT-FT market is worth a stab at 17/5 with BetVictor. Of course this bet might be down within the first 10 minutes should the Bavarians start on full throttle but it offers a better alternative to taking the cramped 13/20 on Bayern-Bayern.
Elsewhere, I really like the 6/5 on Arjen Robben to score at anytime. The price on the Flying Dutchman is bigger than the wincast with most firms and Robben has been in sensational form for months now. With 18 goals in his last 21 games, only failing to score in nine of those, he’s likely to be at the forefront of the Germans attack.
The wing wizard hasn’t scored in his previous two appearances but he’s not failed to net in three consecutive club games since September, so you could say the Dutch star is overdue a goal. The 6/5 from Betfred is certainly better value to odds-on alternatives such as Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller.
Bayern Munich v Shakhtar Donetsk – Draw-Bayern in the HT-FT market (17/5 BetVictor)
Bayern Munich v Shakhtar Donetsk – Arjen Robben to score at anytime (6/5 Betfred)
Reckon you’ve found a better value bet elsewhere? We want to hear it!
Let us know what you’re backing in the comments box below!