The Champions League returns this week, and for many teams, it’s now their No. 1 priority to win a trophy this season. Since the group stage ended, a number of teams, including the champions of the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A have all lost vital ground in the race for domestic glory. Liverpool, Real Madrid and Juventus are all in danger of being dethroned which makes success in the UCL even more important in terms of winning a major trophy. Here are some bets that I think are worth considering on DraftKings Sportsbook for the midweek slate of Champions League games.
Barcelona vs. Paris St-Germain
Barcelona goes into this first leg tied eight points behind La Liga leaders Atletico, which has played one game fewer than Ronald Koeman’s side. Koeman knows the demands of being the boss of Barca and failure to win trophies will not keep him in a job for long. Eliminated from the Copa del Rey, the Champions League is all that is left for Koeman and his players. Rumors about Lionel Messi’s future persist with reports that this could be his last season in the famous Barcelona shirt. If it is, then he will want to end his two-decade association with the Blaugrana in style. Paris St-Germain has the advantage of hosting the second leg and they will go to the Nou Camp possibly with a cautious approach to make sure the tie is still alive when the two sides meet in the French capital. Barca warmed up for this contest with a 5-1 win at home to Alaves with Messi scoring twice while PSG, which is without the injured Neymar, made it four successive wins with a 2-1 home win over Nice. First legs are often cagey affairs so under 2.5 goals would be a bet worth considering.
RB Leipzig vs. Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp effectively conceded that his side will not retain the Premier League trophy, the trophy they waited 30 years to win. A 3-1 defeat at Leicester on Saturday left the champions 13 points behind current leaders Manchester City, and even Klopp knows that gap is unlikely to be closed. Defensively, Liverpool is a shambles with too many cheap goals conceded, such as Leicester’s second which was a comedy of errors. The usually rock-solid keeper Alisson needlessly collided with new signing Ozan Kabak to gift Jamie Vardy a goal. Alisson was to blame for two of the four goals Liverpool conceded to City in a must-win game the previous weekend, and RB Leipzig will be well aware of the keeper’s issues. Because of Germany’s COVID-19 travel restrictions, this game will be played at a neutral venue in Budapest. Even without home advantage, Leipzig will be confident of adding to the Reds’ woes at the Puskas Arena. Leipzig’s 2-1 win over Augsburg on Saturday was their fourth consecutive in league and cup games.
Porto vs. Juventus
The pressure is on Juventus manager Andrea Pirlo, who is making a case for those who think good players do not necessarily make good managers. Pirlo had no previous experience as a manager, and even with the talent he has to choose from, Juventus is running out of titles to win this season. Eight points between themselves and leaders Inter is perhaps too much to overcome. They can still win the Coppa Italia, but after winning the Serie A title in each of the past nine seasons, supporters of Juve had hoped the club could reach the next level and be crowned champions of Europe for the first time since 1996. Porto is a very favorable draw for the Turin club, which will expect to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat at Napoli on Saturday despite Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata leading their attack. Porto only conceded three goals in their group stage that consisted of matches against Manchester City, Marseille and Olympiakos. Juventus will happily take a 1-0 win back to the Allianz Stadium in three weeks' time.
Sevilla vs. Dortmund
A lot has changed for Dortmund since they ended their group stage with a 2-1 win at Zenit St. Petersburg, which helped secure the top spot. A 5-1 loss at home to Stuttgart the following week was the final game for manager Lucien Favre, who was sacked. The one constant to remain is striker Erling Braut Haaland, who is back scoring goals after missing a few games, including the Stuttgart loss, because of a hamstring injury. The Norweigan forward found the net in his side’s 2-2 draw at home to Hoffenheim, which leaves Dortmund sixth in the Bundesliga, 15 points behind leaders Bayern Munich. Sevilla’s hopes of winning the Spanish title are effectively over despite winning their fifth straight league game, 1-0, at home over Huesca. Sevilla has won their past eight in all competitions and is very hard to beat on home soil. Defensively, Sevilla has not given up a goal in its past seven games, but that defense will have its hands full containing Haaland.
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