Juventus v Real Madrid a very different prospect 12 years on from last Champions League semi-final meeting

This week sees Juventus and Real Madrid go head-to-head for a place in the Champions League final, with the tie delicately poised after the Italian champions held on for a 2-1 first-leg win in Turin.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side is looking to become the first ever to retain European football’s top trophy, following last year’s extra-time victory over Atletico Madrid, but if they want another shot at glory they will need to get past the side which ended their hopes of back-to-back victories in this competition 12 years ago.

 

UEFA Champions League – Outright Betting Odds:

Barcelona 53/100

Real Madrid 3/1

Juventus 11/2

Bayern Munich 33/1

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Back in 2003, Vicente Del Bosque’s Real Madrid were locked in an unlikely title fight with a Real Sociedad side inspired by Darko Kovacevic and a young midfielder by the name of Xabi Alonso. Del Bosque had added just one player to the squad which edged past Bayer Leverkusen to win the previous year’s Champions League, but what a player – Ronaldo returned to Spain fresh from securing Golden Boot honours at the previous summer’s World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

While the Spanish title race would go right to the wire, Juventus had already secured the Serie A title by the time the two sides met at the Stadio Delle Alpi for the second leg of their semi-final. It may have been that lack of domestic pressure which allowed Marcello Lippi’s side to play without fear.

 

The first leg in May 2003 produced a comparable outcome to the equivalent tie this year, with a 2-1 home win keeping Real Madrid’s dream of La Decima well and truly alive. Indeed Graham Hunter suggested the winner from Roberto Carlos left the Spanish club “on course for their fourth Champions League final in six seasons.

However the gulf in quality and spending power between the Spanish and Italian leagues was nothing like it is now: the Bianconeri could boast such talents as David Trezeguet, Lilian Thuram and Pavel Nedved, while the likes of Alessandro Del Piero and Gigi Buffon were approaching their respective peaks.

 

Indeed Lippi’s side would go on to meet AC Milan in an all-Italian final after playing what Del Piero described as “the perfect match” in the return leg. Trezeguet, who had scored an important away goal at the Bernabeu, put Juve ahead within the first 15 minutes. Madrid sorely missed Ronaldo, only fit enough for the bench on his return from injury, and Del Piero doubled the lead before half-time.

Del Bosque’s side still had plenty of their other Galacticos on show, and Ronaldo – introduced early in the second half – gave Luis Figo the chance to level things up on aggregate when he was brought down in the area by Paolo Montero. However Figo saw his spot-kick saved by Buffon and the Portuguese was made to pay not long after when Nedved added Juventus’ third. A late strike from Zinedine Zidane against his former club would not be enough to keep the Spaniards’ dream alive.

 

The game – and the season – would prove momentous for both clubs. Juve lost on penalties to Milan in the final and went a decade without getting as far as the semi-finals again, losing their Serie A status in the Calciopoli scandal in the intervening period.

Madrid, meanwhile, parted ways with Del Bosque and midfield anchor Claude Makelele that summer, leading to a sustained run of underperformance in Europe. They would not reach the semi-finals again until 2011, while they had to wait until last year for La Decima.

 

This week both clubs enter the game with the awareness that the winner will likely go into the final as an underdog against a Barcelona team which brushed aside Bayern Munich in their first leg, however that ought not to matter too much.

Madrid enter as reigning champions of Europe and as such are expected to progress, while Juve – without any high-quality competition domestically – have done well even to make it this far. Their goalscorers in the first leg, Carlos Tevez and former Real Madrid youngster Alvaro Morata, while both undoubtedly talented, are only in Italy because richer clubs decided they were surplus to requirements.

In contrast, their opponents parted with more than €100m last summer, bringing in the likes of James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos and Lucas Silva. They cruised through their group with six wins from six and after edging past local rivals Atletico in the quarter-finals they will feel like this is a tie they should win.

 

For Juventus it is a chance to return to the glory days of the early 2000s, while Real have the chance to exact revenge for a painful defeat. But in truth this game is only comparable to that famous 2003 meeting on a superficial level.

 

Betting Instinct tip Real Madrid to win by two goals is 7/2 with Intertops.eu

 

tv

 TOM VICTOR (editor) is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot. You can follow him  on Twitter.

Will Liverpool and Man City miss key men in Champions League showdowns?

Who will be missed more, Sergio Aguero or Daniel Sturridge?

Who will be missed more, Sergio Aguero or Daniel Sturridge?

While Chelsea and Arsenal have sealed their progress to the Champions League second round with a game to spare, things are not so simple for the remaining two Premier League representatives.

A combination of tough opponents and underwhelming performances have left Liverpool and Manchester City with a tough task to qualify, but both have their fate in their own hands going into matchday 6.

Liverpool v FC Basel Betting Odds:

Liverpool win 7/10

Basel win 7/2

Draw 53/20

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Liverpool’s return to European football’s top table for the first time in five years has been overshadowed by attacking woes, with Daniel Sturridge’s absence through injury adding to the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona. Strikers Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert have scored just once each in the five group games so far, with Brendan Rodgers’ side picking up just one more point after a narrow win over Ludogorets in their opening game.

However victory over FC Basel would be enough to ensure progress behind group winners Real Madrid. The Swiss champions edged past the Reds at home thanks to a Marco Streller goal, but have won just one of their last five away games in the competition. That was in England, though, when a Streller winner made the difference against Chelsea last season.

An absent striker is the main story for Manchester City as well, with the injury picked up by Sergio Aguero in Saturday’s victory over Everton ruling the Argentine out of Wednesday’s trip to Roma. And after his hat-trick in a last-gasp win over Bayern Munich, it is fair to say that Aguero will be missed, with Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko both yet to score in the competition this season.

Like their fellow Premier League club, City have just one win from five games so far. However, due to a quirk in the Champions League’s head-to-head tiebreaker, Manuel Pellegrini’s men could progress with six points or exit with eight. All they know is defeat in the Italian capital (or a goalless draw) would see them eliminated.

Will we have a repeat of 2012-13, where two English sides failed to make it past the group stage, or could we still see the perfect qualification record enjoyed by Premier League outfits last season?

Betting Instinct tip Liverpool to win and Manchester City to win or draw is 2.6 with Intertops.eu

tv TOM VICTOR (editor) is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of    sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot. You can follow him  on Twitter.

Will Real’s 1-0 lead over Bayern be enough to see them reach the Champions League Final?

Karim Benzema celebrates scoring the winning goal in the first leg of this semi final.

Karim Benzema celebrates scoring the winning goal in the first leg of this semi final.

While the Champions League Semi Final between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid was expected in many parts to be an explosive goal filled extravaganza, the first leg at the Bernabeu last week was far from that. Real scored early through French striker Karim Benzema, but no more goals appeared in the final 70 minutes of the game as the Spaniards claimed the advantage with a 1-0 win. The big question is will a one goal advantage be enough to bring to the Allianz Arena this Tuesday night?

Bayern Munich v Real Madrid Odds:

Bayern – 1.70

Draw – 3.90

Real – 4.30

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Although they failed to score a goal in the first leg of this final four match in the Champions League last week, Bayern were the dominant side as they controlled much of the possession during the match in the Spanish capital. However, their final ball was completely missing and they rarely tested Iker Casillas in the home goal. They will feel that they cannot play much worse in the final third this week and the only way is up. Bayern have, however, suffered defeats on home soil to Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena this season, albeit in dead rubber games, and Real are certainly a better side than both of these teams. With it do or die time for the opportunity for retain their Champions League crown how will the hosts fare in this must win game?

Real will be reasonably happy with their endeavours last week as their performance sees them ahead at the halfway stage of the tie. They were second best in the ball retention area last week as they finished the match with just 36% possession yet they were better in every other area. They created three clear cut chances in the first half and converted one of these to secure victory while they prevented Bayern from creating any serious chances too. With both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale likely to start for Real this Tuesday evening Carlo Ancelotti’s men will fancy their chances at progression, but can their defensive unit survive a 90 minute German onslaught?

With this tie poised the way it is at the midpoint, I believe that this second leg is more likely to see the goals that were lacking last week. Real know that pushing for a goal will see the Germans needing three to progress if they do find the net, while Bayern will want to keep things tight at the back while improving on their performance in front of goal. The game will see Bayern dominant possession once again and likely win this match, but whether they can win by enough to progress is the big question and is one that I feel could go either way by the full time whistle.

Back Bayern to beat Real and there to be at least 2.5 goals in the match @ 2.40 with GR88.com

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Ronaldo and Bale to fire Real Madrid to victory over Bayern Munich?

Will the firepower of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale give Real a first leg advantage over the European champions?

Will the firepower of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale give Real a first leg advantage over the European champions?

This Wednesday sees the clash of two of the biggest names in European football as this Real Madrid v Bayern Munich clash in the Champions League Semi Finals sees a meeting of two sides that have lifted the European Cup on 14 occasions. Real have won the title on nine separate occasions, but are without a win since 2002, while Bayern have five wins including lifting the title at Wembley last season. Both teams will be desperate to claim a first leg advantage in an attempt to book their place in Lisbon for the Champions League Final at the end of May, but who is favoured for victory at the Bernabeu?

Real Madrid v Bayern Munich Odds:

Real – 2.30

Draw – 3.30

Bayern – 2.88

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Real come into this final four match of the Champions League as one of just two sides to have gone unbeaten throughout the tournament, with their city rivals Atlético Madrid the only other team to match this feat. They will come into this match boosted having not played a match in a week since securing the Copa del Rey title over Barcelona with a stunning winning goal from Gareth Bale. Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, who is likely to return for this clash following a spell on the sidelines with injury, have scored 19 goals between them in this competition so far and they will be hunting for more goals on home soil tonight. Real are especially impressive at the Bernabeu this season with 20 wins in their last 21 games in all competitions, including scoring three against German sides Schalke and Borussia Dortmund, so will CR7 and Bale fire them to victory again?

It will not be easy for Real as they face a side that has swept the board as they have taken every trophy they have contested over last season and this. They have taken two Bundesliga titles, the German Cup, the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup in this time. They do not have the standout firepower of Real Madrid’s star players and world record breaking purchases, but they have a much more rounded and balanced side overall. The question is, will this better team play see them able to neutralise the firepower of the Spanish team?

Since wrapping up the Bundesliga title early this season, Bayern’s concentration has seemed to waver with losses to Augsburg and Borussia Dortmund in recent weeks as well as managing to draw only 1-1 at Old Trafford with a subpar Manchester United despite dominating possession too. I feel that Bayern are likely to once again dominate possession in this Champions League Semi Final, but you can sure that Real will be more direct and lethal when they get the opportunity to attack Manuel Neuer in the Bayern goal.

As a result of this, I can see this match being a close but high scoring clash in the Spanish capital with both sides finding the net. However, the edge that the home support will give Ronaldo, Bale and the rest of the Real Madrid side leads me to believe that Real will just edge this first leg tie setting us up for a fantastic second leg at the Allianz Arena next Tuesday.

Back Real Madrid to beat Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu in this Champions League Semi Final first leg @ 2.30 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Atlético favoured to reach the Champions League Final ahead of Chelsea

Will Diego Costa be the striker that separates Atlético and Chelsea in these semi finals?

Will Diego Costa be the striker that separates Atlético and Chelsea in these semi finals?

And then there were four! We’re down to the final four sides in the Champions League and this week sees the first leg matches of these Semi Final games, with Atlético Madrid v Chelsea at the Estadio Vincente Calderón first up this Tuesday evening.

The Spaniards are favoured to both progress overall to the final and claim victory over the Premier League side who were upset by the bottom of the table team Sunderland at the weekend.

Atlético Madrid v Chelsea – To Progress:

Atlético – 1.88

Chelsea – 1.92

Atlético Madrid v Chelsea – First Leg Odds:

Atlético – 1.90

Draw – 3.10

Chelsea – 4.20

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Atlético have been one of the outstanding teams of the season in Europe this season with them top of the La Primera Liga table and just two matches away from the Champions League final. They also reached the semi finals of the Copa del Rey title but had a defensive breakdown against their big city rivals, Real, as they were defeated 5-0 on aggregate. That was one of few defensive horror shows they have had this season as they bring the best defensive records in both Spain and Europe to this final four stage match with 22 goals in 34 league matches and just five in ten Champions League conceded. They have outscored visitors to the Estadio Vincente Calderón 14-3, including keeping clean sheets against Porto and Barcelona, in the Champions League this season and they will be confident of another advantage this week.

Chelsea will be concerned about their lack of goals from strikers Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba this  season as they come to one of, if not, the most difficult place to score goals in Europe. Their last three Champions League away games have seen them beaten by PSG and FC Basel as well as drawing with Galatasaray. The French and Turkish sides were faced in the knockout stages and Chelsea used their super weapon of Jose Mourinho’s tactical knowledge to turn the games around at Stamford Bridge, but with Atlético conceding so few and having the lethal goal scorers of Diego Costa and David Villa at their disposal will Mourinho’s brain be enough to see them through?

In my opinion, it will not be enough as Chelsea, although they may have the experience at this stage of the Champions League that Atlético do not thanks to winning the title two seasons ago, do not have the quality to unlock the Spaniards back line to score enough, possibly even any, goals to win this first leg. As such, I am backing the home side to secure the spoils and the advantage from this Atlético Madrid v Chelsea first leg game this Tuesday evening.

Back Atlético Madrid to beat Chelsea in this Champions League Semi Final first leg in Madrid @ 1.90 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Champions League semi-finals – The Key Battles

Diego Costa will hope to round off a great season by firing his club to the Champions League final

Diego Costa will hope to round off a great season by firing his club to the Champions League final

 

There is little doubt that the final four in the Champions League represent the elite of European football.

Last year’s champions Bayern Munich are aiming to become the first side to go back-to-back, while Chelsea – the side that beat them in the 2012 final – can give manager José Mourinho a third win with three different teams. However they will need to get past the top two in Spain, Atlético Madrid and their domestic rivals Real.

Ahead of the first legs, we take a look at a few of the key battles.

 

Champions League Outright Betting Odds:

Bayern Munich – 2.26

Real Madrid – 3.50

Atlético Madrid – 4.30

Chelsea – 5.20

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Gareth Bale v Philipp Lahm or Rafinha

Welsh international Bale has had the eyes of the world on him this season after swapping Tottenham for Real Madrid in a world record move last summer. While he has impressed in La Liga, hitting double figures for goals and assists, a stunning winning goal in the Copa Del Rey final has helped him fully announce himself in the Spanish capital.

Bayern manager Pep Guardiola has given captain Philipp Lahm a new midfield role this season, using Rafinha – a squad player under Jupp Heynckes – more regularly. However the Brazilian’s lack of experience at the highest level could make Guardiola hesitant to risk him. Javi Martinez may well be used in a holding midfield role as he returns from suspension, leaving Lahm with the responsibility of keeping Bale in check.

 

Diego Costa v John Terry

A year ago, you may not have known much about Diego Costa unless you closely followed La Liga. The striker had never scored more than 10 league goals in one season, while his international career amounted to two appearances for Brazil in friendly matches.

However this all changed in 2013-14, with 26 goals for Atlético Madrid in the league and seven in the Champions League putting Costa on the radar of clubs such as Atlético’s semi-final opponents Chelsea. Furthermore, after he was granted Spanish nationality last summer, the striker earned a call-up for his adopted country for the first time and could well lead the line for La Roja at the World Cup.

One of his opponents on Tuesday, Chelsea captain John Terry, has unfinished business in this competition. He missed a crucial penalty in the 2008 final and was suspended for his club’s triumph in 2012, and he will be as determined as any of the other 21 players on the pitch.

 

Domestic form v European form

Three of the four remaining sides are still very much in their domestic title race, while the fourth, Bayern, have seen their form slide somewhat after clinching the Bundesliga title.

Chelsea have the biggest conflict of interest, taking on title rivals Liverpool between the two legs of their semi-final, but the two Spanish sides may also feel the pressure as they reach crunch time in La Liga. Fatigue and concentration could well come into play, particularly for Atlético, who have not reached this stage of the competition since they won the European Cup some 40 years ago.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Real and Atlético have lost just three home matches between them in all competitions this season. Both Spanish teams to win their first leg match is 4.53 with GR88.com.

 

With tired legs towards the end of a long season, we could well see late goals in either of the first-leg games. If a goal is scored in the 88th minute or later then GR88.com will refund selected losing bets. Full terms and conditions can be found here.

 

 

tvTOM VICTOR (editor)  is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of  sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot.

 

Barcelona favoured to send Atlético crashing out of the Champions League tonight!

Neymar celebrates scoring the equaliser in the first leg of the Atlético v Barcelona tie

Neymar celebrates scoring the equaliser in the first leg of the Atlético v Barcelona tie

Talk about finely poised, this Atlético Madrid v Barcelona Champions League Quarter Final could not be tighter if it tried! Tonight’s match between these two sides will be the fifth meeting of the sides sitting first and second in the La Primera Liga in Spain, and all of the previous four matches have ended level. Two of the games have ended 1-1, including the first leg of this Champions League last eight stage tie, while two have seen the games end without a goal scored.

Barcelona claimed the Super Cup from Atlético at the start of the season thanks to their away goal at the Vincente Calderón, but their second visit saw them fail to find the net. If they cannot find the net in this third match in the Spanish capital this season then Atlético will have their revenge this evening. However, the visitors and four time European Cup/Champions League winners are favoured to overcome the Spanish league leaders. Will they do so or will tonight see another Atlético upset?

Atlético v Barcelona Betting Odds:

Atlético Madrid – 3.15

Draw – 3.25

Barcelona – 2.16

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

The first leg of this tie saw an utter domination of the ball by Barcelona at the Camp Nou as they finished the match with 74% possession and they completely outstripped the capital city visitors in chances too. Barcelona managed 12 shots, half of which were on target, while Atlético could manage a total of just two in the entire match. Yet it was the visitors who were more clinical despite losing their key player in Diego Costa after just 30 minutes of the game.

The Brazilian born player, who will be part of the Spanish national side for the World Cup in his homeland this summer, has been named in the squad for tonight’s game but he is still a doubt to play in front of his own fans. Midfielder Arda Turan is definitely out for the hosts this evening. Despite these injuries issues, Atlético will feel that they can still progress this evening thanks to a defence that has seen them concede just 22 times in 32 league games and just five times in nine Champions League matches, giving them the best totals in both competitions.

They have also shut out Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi on all four occasions that they have clashed this season, while their backs to the wall defensive performance in the second half of the first leg will have given them massive amounts of confidence and belief that they can reach the Semi Finals this evening. Barcelona have lost two of their four away games since beating Manchester City 2-0 on their way to this Quarter Final berth in Europe’s top club football competition.

They were beaten 3-1 at Real Sociedad and 1-0 at relegation threatened Real Valladolid, but have bounced back with a 4-3 El Clásico victory at the Bernabeu over ten man Real Madrid and a 1-0 win over local rivals Espanyol, who also finished with ten men, in their last two away games. With the way that Atlético defend, it may be essential that the Madrid side see a red card if Barcelona are to progress too!

I, personally, believe that, even with the close odds between these two teams, that this match will be closer than the odds suggest and the game could be settled on the first leg score or by a single goal in what promises to be a cagey and tight game. As a result of this, my money is again on few goals between Atlético Madrid and Barcelona this evening.

Back 0/1 goals in the Two Goals No Bet Market on this Atlético Madrid v Barcelona match this evening @ 2.62 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

The Greatest Champions League Comebacks

Can José Mourinho emulate  Roberto di Matteo and mastermind another Chelsea comeback?

Can José Mourinho emulate Roberto di Matteo and mastermind another Chelsea Champions League comeback?

 

On Tuesday night, Borussia Dortmund will look to overturn a three-goal deficit when they host Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

When you consider that the 4-1 recorded by a full-strength Dortmund side when the teams met in last seasons semis was considered a surprise, and the defensive problems suffered by Jürgen Klopp’s side, even a home win is no guarantee.

 

Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid Second Leg Betting Odds:

Borussia Dortmund win – 3.05

Real Madrid win – 2.08

Draw – 3.60

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Dortmund have spent most of the season with a makeshift defence, replacing real centre-backs Hummels and Subotić with a loud grunting sound (Durm) and a player devised to mock English commentators (Papathatopoulos). With that in mind it seems unlikely that they will keep alive their hopes of back-to-back finals, but stranger things have happened.

Below are three of the most memorable second-leg comebacks in the Champions League, and Dortmund progressing this week could trump them all.

 

 

Deportivo La Coruña 4-0 AC Milan (Aggregate 5-4), 2004 quarter-finals

You might find this hard to believe when looking at their current squad of Fulham rejects, over-the-hill ‘hard men’ and Kévin Constant, but a decade ago Milan were good. Really good.

They had won the Champions League the previous year and would go on to make the final in 2005 and 2007, and while they stumbled through the group stage they still had Kaká, Andrey Shevchenko and Andrea Pirlo, all of whom had scored in the first leg after Walter Pandiani gave Depor a shock early lead.

The Spanish side were no slouches of course, making it through to the knockout stages after a scarcely believable 8-3 victory over Monaco and seeing off 2003 finalists Juventus in the last 16. But a three-goal deficit was too much, right?

Wrong. In fact it only took them 44 minutes to take an away-goals lead in the tie (note to ITV – that is what ‘getting half the job done’ means), before talisman Fran made sure with a late fourth. Ironically they then went on to lose in the semi-finals to Porto, who were joined in the final by the Monaco side who had shipped eight goals in Spain earlier in the season – José Mourinho no doubt thanked Depor manager Javier Irureta for giving his team an easy path to victory.

 

 

Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea (AET, Aggregate 6-4), 2000 quarter-finals

It’s an oft-repeated myth that Chelsea came into being in 2003 when Roman Abramovich’s millions transformed them into title contenders. To make such an assumption would be to forget the 1999-2000 season, when the club splashed out around £20m on the likes of Gabriele Ambrosetti, Jes Høgh, Emerson Thome and Chris Sutton. And to think people said Alexey Smertin was a waste of money.

It was thanks to their existing players, however, that they made it through two group stages (yes folks, that wasn’t just a bad dream) and inflicted a first defeat of the competition on Barça, with two goals from Tore Andre Flo and one from Gianfranco Zola giving the Londoners every chance of making it through.

However you’ve heard the saying – the only things certain in life are death, taxes, and Barcelona beating Chelsea in the Champions League. Rivaldo and Luis Figo gave the hosts the upper hand at the Nou Camp, and while Flo pulled one back after an error from home goalkeeper Ruud Hesp, Dani’s 83rd minute header levelled the scores. There was still almost time for Barcelona to seal the deal within 90 minutes, but Rivaldo missed a late penalty.

The killer blow came in the 99th minute. Celestine Babayaro brought down a marauding Figo in the area, referee Anders Frisk (remember him, Chelsea fans?) sent the Nigerian off, and Rivaldo stepped up to score from the spot. Patrick Kluivert added a fifth five minutes later and that was that.

 

 

Chelsea 4-1 Napoli (AET, Aggregate 5-4), 2012 last 16

It took more than a decade, but finally Chelsea would have their chance to see what it was like to be on the other end of an epic European comeback. And the two legs could not have been more different, right down to the man in charge of the London club – the first-leg defeat in Italy was one of André Villas-Boas’ last, and return match was only the second outing of Roberto di Matteo#s tenure.

Needing a 2-0 win to progress, goals either side of half-time from Didier Drogba and John Terry put Chelsea within touching distance of the quarter-finals, but they knew from previous setbacks not to get too carried away. And indeed an impressive 20-yard strike from Gökhan Inler put the ball back in Napoli’s court.

But with 15 minutes left, Andrea Dossena handled in the box and Frank Lampard beat Morgan De Sanctis from the penalty spot. That took the game to extra-time, where an extended spell of Chelsea pressure ended with Branislav Ivanović smashing the ball into the roof of the net for the first of many crucial goals that the Serbian would score.

We all know what followed – an improbable run to the final and an even more improbable victory over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena after the German side could only muster one goal from their 35 shots. And if Chelsea fans believe in omens, the scoring in that first leg in Napoli was opened by Ezequiel Lavezzi, the same man who netted Paris Saint-Germain’s first in last week’s 3-1 first-leg victory. Can history repeat itself?

 

Betting Instinct Tip – Chelsea to make it through to this year’s semi-finals is 3.20 with GR88.com. Can they manage another famous comeback at Stamford Bridge?

GR88 will refund selected losing bets if a goal is scored in the 88th minute or later (in normal time) in any of the four quarter-final second legs this week. For full terms and conditions click here.

 

tvTOM VICTOR (editor)  is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of  sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot.

Zlatan to give PSG the edge over Chelsea in Paris?

With ten goals in the Champions League this season with Zlatan Ibrahimovic fire PSG to glory against Chelsea?

With ten goals in the Champions League this season with Zlatan Ibrahimovic fire PSG to glory against Chelsea?

The Parc des Princes hosts a massive match this evening and two of Europe’s top spending clubs go head to head for a slender advantage for the second leg at Stamford Bridge next week, but what will be the difference between the two sides? For me it is the fact that PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored ten times himself in this competition so far, with his team mates adding another 12 goals, while Chelsea have scored just 15 goals in total with their top scorers being Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o with three goals each.

GR88.com believe that this will be the difference too as they favour a home win this evening in the French capital.

PSG v Chelsea Odds:

PSG – 1.98

Draw – 3.10

Chelsea – 3.85

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change).

Not only do PSG have a more in-form striker and have scored more goals than their guests tonight, they have a fantastic record in front of their own fans at the Parc des Princes too. They have won each of their last five home games and have conceded just a single goal in this time, while they have lost just once in 22 games on home soil this season. They have kept clean sheets in more than half of these 22 matches, so they will be certainly confident of keeping out a relatively goal shy Chelsea side while their Swedish striker conducts his magic up front.

Chelsea  will not be particularly confident coming into this match, to be totally honest, as they could manage just a 1-1 draw with Turkish side Galatasaray in the last 16 stage of the Champions League away from home and they won just one of their last six away games in all competitions. Most worryingly is the fact that they have failed to score in either of their last two away games as they were beaten by Aston Villa and Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

If Chelsea could not defeat these bottom half sides from the English league, how will they fare against a side currently top of the French Ligue 1 with a 13 point lead? I feel that Chelsea are lacking, especially up front, with their two top scorers in the Champions League in Torres and Eto’o having a combined total of just more than half of Zlatan’s goals so far and the smart money in this PSG v Chelsea game is going on the home win tonight.

Back PSG to beat Chelsea at Parc des Princes tonight @ 1.98 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Barcelona heavily favoured to beat Atlético in the Champions League

Will Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi make the difference at the Camp Nou?

Will Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi make the difference at the Camp Nou?

While the Manchester United v Bayern Munich Champions League Quarter Final clash will attract plenty of attention as the transitional Premier League side take on the all conquering Bundesliga champions at Old Trafford this evening, the all La Primera Liga  Barcelona v Atlético Madrid clash at the Camp Nou is going to be the more intriguing clash of the night.

These two teams have already faced each other on three occasions this season and all three matches were draws. The 1-1 draw at the Estadio Vincente Calderón in the Super Cup was followed by a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou so it was Barcelona who claimed that particular trophy on away goals. Their first meeting in the league was also at the home of Atlético and that saw no goals between the two teams, yet despite the lack of goals and ability for either side to claim a winner the bookmakers clearly see Barcelona claiming the advantage in front of their own fans in this Champions League Quarter Final.

Barcelona v Atlético Madrid Odds:

Barcelona – 1.51

Draw – 4.00

Atlético – 6.40

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Although they managed to draw with AC Milan and lose to Ajax in the Champions League this season, Barcelona have managed to win each of their home games so far scoring 15 goals and conceding just three in their four matches so far. In fact their overall home form at the Camp Nou, even when they were slipping up on the road, has been outstanding. Since drawing 0-0 with their opponents in this Champions League match at the end of August they have won 21 out 22 matches in front of their fans, losing only to Valencia.

This makes Atlético just one of two sides to avoid defeat at Barcelona this season and with them having the psychological advantage of leading them in the La Primera Liga title race this season they will fancy their chances in this first leg Quarter Final. Atlético, along with their city rivals Real Madrid, are unbeaten in the Champions League this season having won five of their six group matches, as well as drawing with Zenit St Petersburg in Russia, before booking their place in this last eight stage game by doing what Barcelona failed to do in beating AC Milan as they followed up a 1-0 win at the San Siro with a 4-1 thumping on home soil.

Can either of these sides actually win this match following three straight draws? If either side is to do so I feel that Barcelona’s experience at this stage of the competition will be a massive advantage, as will the scoring ability of Lionel Messi. The Argentine striker has eight in this competition so far, but Atlético have their own star striker this season in the Brazilian born Diego Costa. He has played 75 minutes fewer than Messi, but has just one fewer goal and with 25 goals in the league, he has bagged two more than Messi in that competition.

Will there be goals from these two star strikers? Will there be a winner? The two sides have cancelled each other out all three times already this season and I feel that this match will be another close one. As a result of this, I am backing Atlético to get something from this match to bring to the Estadio Vincente Calderón for the second leg.

Back Atlético/Draw Double Chance in this Champions League Quarter Final match against Barcelona @ 2.58 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.