The Champions League last 16 returns with two fascinating ties that could have plenty of fireworks, and we’ll start with Lazio v Bayern Munich. The visitors – 10/3 second favourites for the title with starsports.bet – have mostly carried all before them this season but following their Club World Cup victory, have had a wobble at the worst time with a draw and loss since their win over Tigres in the final.
Bayern had to come from 2-0 and 3-1 down to take a point against struggling Arminia Bielefeld and were then beaten by in form Eintracht Frankfurt – who have now won nine of their last ten league matches – in their last two outings in the Bundesliga.
They face a Lazio side that is in very strong form – the only sides to beat them since the sixth of January are Atalanta (also in the last 16, face Real Madrid tomorrow) and Serie A leaders Inter, and Simone Inzaghi’s men are arguably facing Bayern at the perfect time.
Bayern are missing Douglas Costa, Cotentin Tolisso, and Serge Gnabry, due to injury whilst Thomas Muller and Benjamin Pavard are unavailable due to COVID-19. The absence of Muller is proving to be a huge burden – his running lines and passing are hugely important whilst without him Bayern are losing 10-15 pressures per game – and recently they’ve been defensively vulnerable, especially down the flanks.
In Ciro Immobile – who already has five goals in this season’s competition – Luis Alberto (four goals in last six games), Joaquin Correa and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Lazio have players who can target Bayern down the right-hand side whilst the visitors have their brilliant front three of Sane, Lewandowski, and Coman, which suggests that goals could be in the offing.
All of Lazio’s games in the Champions League have seen both teams score whilst Bayern have seen three goals or more in four of their group games, so this looks like it’ll be a high scoring contest. Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals pays 5/8 when combined with starsports.bet and that could be the play although over 3.5 makes appeal as well.
Lazio v Bayern Munich
UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg
20:00 BT Sport 3
(Maximum 10 matches, since 2010)
First head to head meeting
Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid take on Chelsea in one of the most intriguing ties of the round of 16. Madrid are leading La Liga at the time of writing (they’re 4/7 to take the title with starsports.bet)
But they arrive here in relatively poor form, winning only one of their last four La Liga games including a 2-0 loss at home to Levante at the weekend. Diego Simeone’s teams are known for being miserly in defence but their Levante loss was the seventh consecutive match in which Atletico have conceded, having only let in six league goals in their first 16 games, and it remains to be seen if Atleiti’s elite centre-back Jose Maria Gimenez is fit after going off in that game.
However, it’s worth noting that Atleti were hideously unlucky to lose that game, winning, the shot count 28-6 and InfoGol’s xG count 2.84 to 0.87, and Madrid have more attacking threat than in the past with a rejuvenated Luis Suarez scoring 16 goals in 19 La Liga starts whilst Joao Felix, Angel Correa and Marcos Llorente (whose eight goals in 22 league starts are more than any other midfielder in La Liga) are getting forward much more, and they can present a challenge to Chelsea’s defence.
Thomas Tuchel is still very much trying to find his best side (along with a formation that gets the best out of players such as Timo Werner and Mason Mount) whilst the Blues have regained the winning streak, their opposition has been low grade with their five wins in Tuchel’s seven games coming against Wolves, Burnley, Tottenham, Sheffield United, Newcastle and Barnsley.
Chelsea looked to have their own issues when held to a draw against a Southampton side that had lost their last six games and aren’t particularly attractive as a prospect here, and this game might be best watched here given both sides recent struggles.
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