The return of the Champions League has not disappointed. Last week we saw several thrilling matches, and we will get more of the same this week.
This is a decisive week for all clubs involved. It can certainly be a season-breaker, even if you can’t guarantee anything just yet.
So, here are a few musings on the two Wednesday night Champions League matches.
SEVILLA vs Manchester United
Manchester United were absolutely ruthless in their defeat of Huddersfield at the weekend. The performance itself was typically underwhelming, but you could just as easily interpret it as being a model of Jose Mourinho efficiency.
Sevilla kept their top four hopes alive with a victory over Las Palmas. Their home form is amongst the best in Europe, despite a challenging start at the club for manager Vincenzo Montella. Liverpool suffered in the intimidating Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in the group stage, but it’s as good as guaranteed that this match will be played at a different tempo.
The Mourinho versus Paul Pogba saga hangs over United’s build-up for this. Illness supposedly ruled the Frenchman out at the weekend, but it’s anyone’s guess if Mourinho will pick him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him left out in a 4-2-3-1.
The hosts are out at 2/1 to make it through. I like the look of that price given Manchester United’s issues of late. Luis Muriel to score the opening goal at 6/1 is certainly worth consideration, too, with the prospect of Chris Smalling dealing with the flying Colombian.
I imagine Mourinho would take a draw if it was offered to him now, and I expect a pragmatic display from the off.
Tip: Sevilla to win or match to be drawn @ 11/20
SHAKHTAR DONETSK vs Roma
Shakhtar Donetsk did what was unthinkable at the time to qualify from Group F when they beat Manchester City. Progressing from that group – which required a win over Napoli and beating Feyenoord twice – shows that one of Europe’s renowned selling clubs are still a force to be reckoned with.
Since the end of the group stage, Roma have been through a tricky period, which saw them not win in seven. Three straight Serie A victories have aided a revival of late.
Much like Shakhtar, Roma upset the odds to win their group, beating Atletico Madrid in the process. Their inconsistences make them a tricky side to predict, but the Italian giants are the 1/2 favourites to make it into the last eight.
The biggest coup of this season for the hosts was keeping hold of Fred in January. He and winger Bernard are threats to any side in Europe, and will be further boosted by their formidable home record. Winning 5-0 on Friday will have given them a bit more confidence, too.
This is a huge occasion for Roma. Making it out of their group was a relative feat in itself, but delivering in a match like this would be a real step forward for the club. I don’t think we can overlook the Ukrainian side’s home form, however.
TIP: Shakhtar Donetsk – draw no bet @ 4/5
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*