Atalanta vs RB Leipzig | Thursday 14th April 2022, 17:45 | BT Sport
I certainly think this fixture has all the credentials of a classic.
It pits Gian Piero Gasperini’s unorthodox, hodgepodge of rotation, overlapping CB’s and a relentlessly irritating man-to-man press vs RB Leipzig, who’ve reverted back to their old blueprint under the tutelage of one-time wunderkind Domenico Tedesco. It takes place against the backdrop of the City of the Thousands- the queen of the provinces- the allure of European silverware and a spot in the semifinals up for grabs .
This fixture is perfectly poised as well. We were treated to a real feast of football in the first leg at Red Bull Arena. It finished 1-1 but that scoreline is an insult to the quality of chances created. There was a combined total of 4.82 xG generated by the sides, staggeringly six big chances were calved, all of which missed!
So, the underlying data suggests their game warranted 5 goals based on the quality of chances created and that barely does it justice. Following Luis Muriel early opener, the goal frames battered.
There were 34 shots total- the most of any QR first leg- four of which hit woodwork, Andre Silva had his penalty saved- one of eight saves made by the goalkeepers- with Atalanta’s shot stopper Juan Musso awarded Whoscored’s star man award.
In terms of goalmouth action, the fixture in Germany was no fluke. The Italian top flight has been the place to go for goals this campaign and The Goddess have topped its goalscoring charts for the past three seasons. In fact, in Europe's top five divisions, only Bayern Munich have scored more goals than them last campaign. Their issue is they concede an awful lot, which is good news for RBL.
In the Bundesliga, they have scored 64 goals which is the fourth highest total and a long way clear of fifth placed Hoffenhiem, who have scored 50 domestic goals.
With the away goal rule abolished I think that we are set for an equally enthralling yet slightly more clinical game. This is why I think over 2.5 goals at ¾ is worth 3pts, I will also be having 0.25pts on over 3.5 goals at 19/10 with Sport Nation.
Given how goal laden I expect this match at the Gewiss Stadium to be, I think it is having a punt on one of the hottest prospects in Europe to add to his tally.
Following his hattrick vs Man City in September, Raphael Honigstein called Christopher Nkunku RBL’s next gem. Given the campaign he has had- sparking interest from around Europe- I think it is fair to say the French lavender amethyst has been unearthed.
He has directly contributed to 43 goals already this season, eight of which came in Europe's premier cup competition, the Champions League. With him averaging 1.1 G+A per 90 you would anticipate he will have a hand in the goals in Italy on Thursday. Therefore, I’ll be taking him to either score or register an assist at 1/1 with Betfair (1pt). I will also be having small plays on a brace at 12/1 (0.2pts) and a hattrick at 90/1 (0.1pts), all with Betfair and Paddy Power.
With Mateu Lahoz taking charge of this one, this game should really have it all. The Spanish whistleblower has brandished 32 cards in his last three games, including a move where he simultaneously booked four players with one pirouette and flick of the wrist.
Rafael Toloi's price of 15/4 for a card also appeals. The defender already has ten to his name this season in 33 appearances for club and country, half of which have come in his last seven appearances!
WIth the same bet as short as 11/5 elsewhere, I’ll be having a point on this.
Rangers vs Braga | Thursday 14th April 2022, 20:00 | BT Sport
Rangers welcome Braga to Scotland on Thursday for the second leg of their Europa League quarter final bout. The Gers have it all to do if they are going to stand any chance of reaching the next stage.
This was the only fixture of the last round not to end 1-1, the Archbishops come to the Ibrox with a 1-0 lead to protect and I think this game state could yield a high corner count. Bet365 have Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side with a -1.5 asian handicap at 9/10 and I think this is worth 1.5pts.
Given the dynamic of the game, you would imagine Carlos Carvahal will deploy a low block meaning- bar an early Rangers double- the match will end up resembling a game of attack vs defence.
In comparison to the Premier League, football north of the border is genuinely slightly more direct. Bit of a crass statistic- does not tell the whole story- but EPL clubs average just over 50 passes per game more than SPL clubs. It is also worth pointing out that SPL clubs average over four crosses per game more than EPL clubs.
Just using that comparison as a yardstick, I think these statistics begin to depict the slightly more agricultural approach in Scotland and this- combined with the game state- bodes well for the corners.
Barcelona vs Eintracht Frankfurt | Thursday 14th April 2022, 20:00 | BT Sport
Eintracht Frankfurt could have sold their stadium out five times over for the visit of Barcelona last week, illustrating the magnitude of the occasion and the task in hand at the Camp Nou for Oliver Glasner's squad.
The hosts are priced at around ⅖- which is too small to get onboard with- giving them an implied probability of victory of 71%. They are unbeaten in their last 15 and as- I fancy them to get the job done comfortably- I think taking Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to bag a brace is the way to go. Betfair and Paddy Power have this priced at 4/1, I would advise a quarter of a point.
The Gabon international's first few months in Catalonia have gone like a dream. Dubbed a ‘gift from heaven’ he fits Xavi’s tactical evolution perfectly. 14 games in and he has started eleven games, scoring in ten.
He loves this competition as well, only Radamel Falcao and Aritz Aduriz best the Arsenal loanees all time UEL tally of 24.
Lyon vs West Ham | Thursday 14th April 2022, 20:00 | BT Sport
Recent history suggests that as the competition hots up, the amount of bookings brandished increases. Last season's quarter final second legs averaged four cards per game and the season before that saw 4.75, which is comparatively higher to the per game averages in the group stage.
However, it is not particularly high, so using those statistics as a starting point, I think Bet365’s line of 4.5 is worth opposing as it would have clicked in 75% of the previous eight QF second legs.
Domestically, only Manchester City have picked up fewer cards than West Ham this campaign. Their composure rarely goes missing on the European stage. Prior to the knock-out stages, they picked up just three cards in first six UEL games and with Aaron Cresswell receiving his marching orders in the reverse fixture, I expect to see a much more measured performance from Moyes' men at the Groupama Stadium.
The hosts, Lyon, rank in the bottom 20% for cards accumulated in Ligue One. Since the turn of the year, they have averaged just 1.25 per their 16 games thus far.
Atalanta vs RB Leipzig – Over 2.5 Goals (Vbet at 3/4)
Atalanta vs RB Leipzig – Christopher Nkunku Goal or Assist (1/1 Betfair)
Atalanta vs RB Leipzig – Rafael Toloi Card (15/4 Bet365)
Rangers vs Braga – Rangers -1.5 Asian Corner Handicap (9/10 Bet365)
Barcelona vs Eintracht Frankfurt – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Brace (4/1 Betfair)
Lyon vs West Ham – Under 4.5 Asian Cards (9/10 Bet365)