THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Last 16 gets underway on Tuesday evening. We asked Tom Love (@TomLove_18) to source the best bets from Roma's match-up with Porto.
Roma v Porto | Tuesday 12th February 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport
When the draw for the Last 16 was made, this was probably the one tie that past most by. It does, however, match-up two of the more intriguing sides in the competition.
Porto are currently on a mammoth 26-game unbeaten run in all competitions – the last time they lost in 90 minutes was away at Benfica back in early October. Admittedly, the quality of the Portuguese Primeira Liga is not at the same standard as most of the European elite, but to be so consistent is highly commendable.
Not only are Porto doing well domestically, they also garnered an impressive 16 points out of a possible 18 in the group stages of this competition. Some may point to the fact they had a rather meagre looking group with Schalke, Lokomotiv Moscow and Galatasaray but you can only beat what’s in front of you, and they looked the real deal.
Roma, on the other hand, lost three of their group-stage fixtures but still progressed. They were downed twice by Real Madrid and also lost in the Czech Republic against Viktoria Plzen. It was a fairly unconvincing first half of the season for the Giallorossi but they’ve improved since the European group-stages concluded.
Eusebio Di Francesco has seen his side only lose twice since they progressed back in December with one of those defeats coming at Juventus. Consistency is improving and the results are coming with that.
Edin Dzeko is proving himself as one of the best lone strikers on the continent. The Bosnian is always a huge threat in the box and is excellent at bringing the likes of Justin Kluivert and Stephan El Sharaway into play. WhoScored have him as the highest rated player with a 8.49 average rating out of 10 – considering he’s only scored five goals this season, it shows how important he is to this team as a collective.
Gun for goals
I’m happy to get stuck in on the 19/20 offered by Betfair on there being three or more goals in the capital. It’s a stats-based play but Over 2.5 Goals has landed in nine of Roma’s last 10 Champions League fixtures, it’s also landed in Porto’s last four, so to get near enough even-money on it happening again looks too good to turn down.
Roma could appeal to some at odds-against, however backing goals at a slightly shorter price looks a more sensible option, especially given the fact Porto have scored three or more themselves in their last four games in this competition.
When doing my research for this clash, one thing that stood out like a sore thumb was how many penalties were given in Champions League games involving Porto.
There has been eight spot-kicks given in their six encounters thus far – double that of the next highest side on the same metric. It is a remarkable statistic and a repeat is available to back at 14/5 with Boylesports – William Hill seem to have spotted this trend though as they have the same bet as short as 7/4!
Let’s carry on with this theme….
Roma are the home side here and will be expected to do most of the pushing in this first leg. Even more so when you see that key Porto strikers Moussa Marega and Vincent Aboubakar are unavailable for the visitors.
Roma have the fleet-a-foot El-Shaarawy, Kluivert and Nico Zaniolo in and around the box. All players are hard to keep tabs on and could well get fouled often. You can tell where this is going…
Who’s the first choice penalty taker for Roma I hear you ask? Well that just happens to be former Manchester City full-back Aleksander Kolarov. The Serbian is in charge of all set-pieces and with his wicked left foot it’s no surprise to see he’s notched goals already this term.
Kolarov takes a mean free-kick and with Di Francesco tending to play with two holdings midfielders in Daniele De Rossi and Steven N’Zonzi, it’s commonplace to see him allowed the freedom to wander into advanced areas, untracked on the left-hand-side as El-Shaarawy cuts inside.
Given all this information, should he be as big as 8/1 (Unibet) to score anytime? I think not. Most bookies have him around 5/1 which is closer to a truer price in my eyes.
Roma v Porto – Over 2.5 Goals (19/20 Betfair)
Roma v Porto – A penalty to be awarded (14/5 Boylesports)
Roma v Porto – Aleksander Kolarov to score at anytime (8/1 Unibet)