DORTMUND host PSG on Tuesday night as the Last 16 of the Champions League gets underway. We asked Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) to analyses the odds and share his best bets.
Dortmund v PSG | Tuesday 18th February 2020, 20:00 | BT Sport
This should be a classic.
The Champions League returns as two of Europe’s most potent sides, Borussia Dortmund and PSG, battle it out for a place in the quarter-finals.
It comes of little surprise to know that BVB and Les Parisiens are the top scoring teams in their respective leagues when you take a glance at the attacking talent they have at their disposal. Hitting the net 130 times between them domestically also highlights the attacking intent that Lucien Favre and Thomas Tuchel demand from their players.
Tuchel, of course, will be returning to his old stomping ground of Signal Iduna Park where he managed for two years, in a reign that contained controversy and dispute, just as his time at PSG has done.
Tuchel has had a strained relationship with some of his senior players and although they’ve been unsurprisingly dominant in Ligue 1, PSG have been unable to shake off the Last 16 Champions League jinx which is preventing them from progressing on to European glory which owners Qatar Sports Investment crave.
One big doubt for French club is a fitness of Neymar, who is considered doubtful to be fit in time to travel for this first leg. Of course the Brazilian is no stranger to injury, especially considering how often he is hacked down by opposition players wound up by his tricks and flicks, but his absence would still be a blow.
Neymar missed the latter stages of this competition last season so will desperate to make sure he’s fit enough to make an impact this time around with a return to Barcelona rumoured to be his next destination.
For me, PSG just don’t have the character or mentality required to win the Champions League. A squad full of big money signings have repeatedly frozen when it comes to the crunch of a match-up like this and they simply have too much defence naivety and petulance to force a real challenge in my view.
The weekend’s 4-4 draw with Amiens, a side in the relegation zone, showed some of the best and worst of PSG under their current manager, going three goals down only to turn the game on its head to lead 4-3 before surrendering that advantage in stoppage time.
To have conceded four goals from five opposition shots on-target will be of huge concern to the capital club and points to a team playing far too open and without much discipline. The main plus from the game however would have been the contribution of 17 year-old defender Tanguy Kouassi who scored twice from corner kicks, a weakness of Dortmund from a defensive point of view so the 6ft 2” centre-back will look to use his aerial prowess to good effect again.
Dortmund are such a fun side to watch and I think that they’ve been underestimated here in front of their own supporters, including the infamous Yellow Wall. Priced at 2/1 in some places just simply does not reflect how imperious the Germans have been at home with Favre’s men now unbeaten in 17 on home territory, a run of games which has seen them score a whopping 62 goals. It’s a price I expect to shorten before kick-off.
The 4-0 demolition of Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday evening was a brilliant performance in which all but one of their outfield players registered a shot on goal, showing how dominant they were all over the pitch in winning their one-on-one battles. The likes of Raphael Guerreiro and Jadon Sancho have been in fabulous recent form but it’s January signing Erling Haaland who has grabbed the headlines with his instant success in new surroundings.
Haaland now has eight goals in five appearances and won the Bundesliga Player of the Month for January despite only playing 59 minutes during the month with a goal every 11 minutes on the pitch!
Favre has described the Norwegian as “unstoppable” and with PSG looking so flimsy at the back, it’s hard to ignore the 13/10 on Haaland to score anytime with SkyBet. The 19 year-old striker already has eight goals in the Champions League this season for former club Red Bull Salzburg so surrounded by better creative players, it’s little wonder he has hit the back of the net so frequently already.
Given that I’m backing Dortmund’s main front man to bag, it make sense to look at the team goal lines too which, in line with the outrights, are too generous in my opinion. The home side to score Over 1.5 Goals in the game is Evens with Bet365 and I’m going to make that my second selection.
Favre will know that progression in the tie will heavily depend on the result in this first leg and will want his side to take a healthy lead to Paris is a few of weeks time.
Examining PSG’s Champions League away record gave me even more encouragement to place this bet. Although Neymar, Mbappe and Co. have been comfortable winners at the likes of Club Brugge, Galatasaray and Red Star Belgrade, they’ve conceded two or more goals on visits to Real Madrid (x2), Liverpool, Bayern Munich and THAT trip to Barcelona in 2017 which saw them implode late-on and concede six goals.
Guerreiro to have plenty of joy
I’ve mentioned Raphael Guerreiro already and the Portuguese utility man has been getting better and better by the week. Since Dortmund’s switch to a 3-4-3 formation, Guerreiro is playing in a more advanced wing-back role rather than at left-back.
The 26 year-old is no stranger to playing in midfield positions having done so earlier in his career and he is currently thriving with more attacking responsibility on his shoulders. He’s managed at least two shots in his last five matches and is priced at 23/20 with Coral to do the same here which is something I will be getting behind.
With three goals in four matches, the French-born will be full of confidence and determined to make an impact against the manager who signed him for Dortmund back in 2016.