THE Champions League continues this Wednesday as Real Madrid welcome PSG to the Bernabeu. Ben Levene (@BenLevene96) shares his best bets.
Real Madrid v PSG | Wednesday 14th February 2018, 19:45 | BT Sport
Current Champions League holders and winners of the competition in three of the last four seasons, Real Madrid, come into this game on the back of a strange campaign so far.
Madrid sit fourth in La Liga, 17-points behind leaders Barcelona, and are out of the Copa Del Rey. So the Champions League looks all they have to play for.
Zinedine Zidane’s future seemingly lies on the competition too, even a third successive Champions League title, and his job safety is not guaranteed.
Madrid the value
Real Madrid are outsiders for this tie, and it just doesn’t look right despite their poor season. Madrid were outsiders in their quarter-final meeting with Bayern Munich last year where they progressed. Real opened up around 6/4 to qualify here, but that’s been backed into a shade of odds-against.
Los Blancos possess the know-how, and that’s something that let PSG down last season in their extraordinary meeting with Barcelona. PSG showed their undoubted quality in their 4-0 first-leg destruction, with an impressive counter-attacking team display.
But I’m not sure that team dynamic is still in place. Unai Emery’s side are heavily reliant on Neymar. We’ve already seen the Brazillian have on field disagreements with frontman Edinson Cavani, whose work-rate and willing running is often key to PSG’s success.
I watched PSG’s cup quarter-final with 10-man Amiens back in January; they ran away 2-0 victors through a Neymar penalty, and an Adrien Rabiot header from a corner. They should have put six or seven goals away, but were more interested in showboating. I worry about PSG’s ability to dig deep and grind, and in these elite level two-legged ties, that’s often required.
Although already qualified, PSG lost 3-1 away at Bayern Munich when at full-strength, which is arguably the only elite level evidence we have to go by this season. They lost at Lyon last month, and drew away at Marseille earlier this season.
Real Madrid are 6/7 (BetVictor) off a scratch 0 start in the Asian Handicap market – the exact same selection as the Draw No Bet market- that looks the clear value this Wednesday and that’s my main bet. They haven’t lost at home in the Champions League since 2015, a run of 17-games.
Goals on the cards
All six of PSG’s group games saw Over 1.5 first-half goals. It’s a bet that also landed in two of Madrid’s three home group games. It landed in both legs of PSG’s tie with Barcelona at this stage last season too.
Since the winter break, five of Madrid’s six La Liga games have seen at least two goals before half-time. Their two meetings with an attacking Borussia Dortmund side earlier this season were goalfests, with Madrid winnning 3-1 and 3-2.
They won 3-1 in both legs with Napoli at this stage last season. Dortmund and Napoli's high-tempo style saw them come at Real all guns blazing, and PSG are sure to have a crack themselves on Wednesday.
The return of Gareth Bale adds weight to our edge, as does the absence of Dani Carvajal, who incidentally would have been up against Neymar. Cristiano Ronaldo has seven goals in his last four La Liga games, including a hat-trick on Saturday. He scored eight-goals in the group stage, and 10 goals in five knockout games from the quarter-final onwards last season.
Goals are heavily expected here, with Both Teams To Score best priced at 2/5, and Over 2.5 Goals at shorter than 1/2. Over 1.5 first-half goals is available at 5/4 and looks a clever way of siding with goals.
Real Madrid v PSG – Real Madrid +0 Asian Handicap (6/7 Bet Victor)
Real Madrid v PSG – Over 1.5 First-Half Goals (5/4 Coral)