MIDWEEK BETTING PREVIEW – MCB’s Champions League Guide

The Champions League returns with four games this week. Complete with the odds from your club’s betting service, we take a glance at all of them.

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BAYER LEVERKUSEN v ATLETICO MADRID

Tuesday, 7.45pm

Leverkusen (12/5) saw off Tottenham and SCKA Sofia to reach the last 16, finishing second in the group to Monaco. Two wins and four draws means they are unbeaten in this competition. One of the more organised teams, Roger Schmidt’s side have shown plenty of resilience, without setting the world alight. The issue for us is a lack of goals and modest league form. They are currently mid-table in the German Bundesliga and striker Javier Hernandez is in fair goalscoring form, stop him and you effectively stop Leverkusen.

Atletico (11/8) come into this having topped Group D with five wins from six and having the likes of Bayern Munich behind them. Having lost two Champions League finals in three years, there is a deep determination to prove they can go the distance and while Diego Simeone has not been able to bring in reinforcements because of a transfer ban, the Spaniards are a side who are always capable of scoring.

Antoine Griezmann (above), reportedly on his way to Manchester United in the summer, Fernando Torres, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Kevin Gameiro will give any side fits in and around the penalty area. There are no obvious defensive weaknesses, so we expect them to go through, winning both legs.

VERDICT: BAYER LEVERKUSEN 0 ATLETICO MADRID 1 @ 11/2

BEST BET: UNDER 2.5 GOALS @ 8/15

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MANCHESTER CITY v MONACO

Tuesday 7:45pm

Manchester City’s (8/13) defence continues to look shaky, although John Stones is beginning to blossom after a shaky start to his City career. That is great news for Pep Guardiola and England. City’s home form was a strength in qualifying for the last 16, seeing off Borussia Monchengladbach and Celtic, which saw a second-place finish behind Barcelona in Group C.

We do have concerns that Sergio Aguero (above) is unhappy at being replaced by the now-injured Gabriel Jesus, and while you can look at it as a blessing that he will be a hungry player anxious to prove a point, the flip side is his ego has been damaged and he feels disrespected. City look better with Yaya Toure in the starting line-up and in Kevin de Bruyne, they have a world-class midfielder who, for our money, has been consistently the best player in the Premier League since his arrival.

Monaco (17/4) arrive in form and are pushing for a first French title since 2000. Leonardo Jardim’s side were impressive in not only winning Group E (ahead of Beyer Leverkusen and Tottenham), they were also a delight to watch.

The resurgence of Radamel Falcao has been key to their success. He has scored more goals this season than in the last three seasons combined, so the Colombian is a man to be feared. It should be a really interesting battle between Stones and him, and it would not be a surprise should he get on the scoresheet in the first leg.

We see this as being a tight affair, but City’s home form should give them a cushion for the second leg on March 15.

VERDICT: MANCHESTER CITY 2 MONACO 1 @ 7/1

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 4/6

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PORTO v JUVENTUS

Wednesday 7:45pm

Porto (5/2) are a shadow of the side that won this competition under Jose Mourinho in 2004. They finished runners-up in the group behind Leicester and lack experience, which has shown in qualifying. The youngest squad in the Champions League have done well domestically, however, losing just twice all season, so they are no pushovers.

Keep an eye out for striker Andre Silva (above) – the Portuguese international has been in flying form recently and must go on the shortlist of players to score at any time.

It has been relatively plain sailing for Juventus (5/4) in Serie A. The Italians are well placed to follow up last season’s title – their fifth consecutive – and they have been excellent away from home in this competition, winning all three qualifying games on the road. The Bianconeri have the ability to soak up pressure and play on the break, thanks to experienced defenders who have a fabulous last-line of defence in keeper Gianluigi Buffon.

What they have lost in Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal, they have made up for in work-rate and guile in the midfield. Up front, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala have formed a formidable partnership. We don’t expect Juventus to slip up.

VERDICT: PORTO 0 JUVENTUS 2 @ 8/1

BEST BET: JUVENTUS TO WIN @ 5/4

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SEVILLA FC v LEICESTER CITY

Wednesday 7:45pm

Out of the FA Cup and in danger of being relegated, Leicester City (15/2) are in turmoil. The Foxes have been a different animal in the Champions League, though, convincingly progressing to the knockout stage after winning four and drawing one of their opening five matches. Yes, they were thumped 5-0 at Porto, but that was with a second-string team.

Claudio Ranieri (above) is unlikely to employ the same tactics here, but quite what the tactics have been defensively this season is open to argument. They simply do not close down quickly enough and the void left by the departure of N’Golo Kante to Chelsea has been as wide as the Grand Canyon. It is clear he made the team tick, produced his teammates to give that little bit extra which lifted them to the title. Confidence is low and it will be a surprise should they come away with anything in this first-leg tie.

Sevilla (2/5) remain the hunt for the Spanish title and have plenty of experience of Europe, having won the Europa League for the past three seasons. Jorge Sampaoli’s side progressed to the last 16 behind Juventus and they will fancy their chances of building a healthy first-leg lead. Some would say a 2/5 shot does not represent value – in this case we would argue it does.

VERDICT: SEVILLA FC 4 LEICESTER CITY 1 @ 20/1

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 3/4


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2016 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL: OUR BETTING GUIDE

When it comes to club football, there is no bigger event on the calendar than the Champions League Final.

This year’s clash takes place at the world famous San Siro in Milan, and will be a repeat of the 2014 final as Madrid’s two biggest teams do battle on Saturday evening.

Can Real claim their 11th Champions League title? Will Atletico continue the recent dominance over their neighbours?

Find out as MyClubBetting & Bet4Causes tipster Calum Chinchen analyses Saturday’s game – giving you a few tips along the way!

REAL V ATLETI

There is no doubting that Atletico Madrid (9/4) have had a far more difficult route to the Final than their neighbours.

After struggling through their last 16 tie against PSV, Diego Simeone’s team impressively overcame Barcelona in the quarter-finals and then Bayern Munich in the last four. While this shocked many, it was no surprise to us, as we tipped Atletico to make it to the San Siro in our pre-tournament preview.

In all fairness, Real Madrid (11/8) haven’t exactly had it all their own way either.

While Los Blancos came through their last 16 and semi-final ties (against Roma and Manchester City respectively) with ease, they really had to work in their quarter-final tie with Wolfsburg.

It’s fair to say that Zinedine Zidane (below) and his men had a torrid time in the first leg of that tie. Real were played off the park in Germany, eventually losing 2-0. This meant that the Spanish giants needed to win by three clear goals in the second leg at The Bernabeu – which is exactly what they did.

ZIDANE

Cristiano Ronaldo’s splendid hat-trick helped Zidane’s men to a 3-0 win on the night, allowing them to advance to the semi-finals with a 3-2 aggregate win.

As mentioned earlier, these bitter rivals met in Lisbon at the same stage in 2014 – a final that nobody will forget in a hurry.

On the night, Atletico led for just under an hour, only for Sergio Ramos to break Rojiblancos hearts with a 93rd minute equaliser, which sent the game into extra time.

Real Madrid then dominated the additional period, eventually winning by a convincing 4-1 margin.

This didn’t sit well with the fiery Atletico manager, Diego Simeone (below) who famously entered the pitch to confront defender Rafael Varane after Real Madrid’s fourth and final goal.

SIMEONE VARANE

Diego Godin got the opening goal that evening, and the experienced defender is known as a threat from set-piece situations. Since joining Atletico in 2010, Godin has managed 11 league goals, and a further 5 in cup competitions.

The Uruguayan is second to nobody in La Liga when it comes to aerial ability, dominating at both ends of the pitch on a regular basis. It would surprise nobody if Godin (below) capitalised on Real Madrid’s lack of set-piece organisation on Saturday night – and in truth, we fancy him to find the net at the San Siro.

GODIN

Another man who netted in that 2014 final is Cristiano Ronaldo, and to say that the Portuguese winger has been prolific in this year’s competition really would be an understatement.

We tipped Ronaldo to be the Champions League’s top scorer in our preview and he certainly hasn’t let us down.

The Portuguese winger has netted on 16 occasions so far, which amazingly, is 7 goals more than Robert Lewandowski, who lies in second place of the standings.

RONALDO 2

While many critics label Ronaldo (above) as selfish, it is worth noting that the former Manchester United man has also managed to lay on four assists for his teammates in this Champions League campaign.

There is no doubting that Atletico have a wonderful recent record against their neighbours. Within normal time, Diego Simeone’s men have lost just one of their last 12 meetings with Real Madrid.

However, Atletico have only managed to win 5 times in that period, meaning the draw has been the most common outcome when these sides meet.

To conclude, we see a similar game to the 2014 final being played out, with extra time being required after a nervy 90 minutes.

However, this time, we see Atletico nicking it and lifting the world famous trophy at the San Siro.

BEST BETS

THE DRAW @ 21/10

ATLETICO TO LIFT THE TROPHY @ 11/10

DIEGO GODIN – ANYTIME SCORER @ 15/2

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2015/16 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: THE MCB BETTING GUIDE

By Calum Chinchen

To the delight of football fans around Europe, next Tuesday night marks the return of Champions League football.

All roads lead to the San Siro where the best two sides in Europe will face-off on 28th May 2016.

We have spent all summer researching and preparing this in-depth betting guide for you, with some top tips included.

We hope you enjoy it, and remember to keep viewing our WordPress site for regular betting guides and previews for a number of sports…

Defending champions: Barcelona

Barcelona beat Juventus 3-1 in Berlin back in June to claim the 2014/15 Champions League title. The Defending champions look raring to go again this year, still possessing one of the most lethal strike forces in history. The front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez have terrorised defences for the last twelve months, and they don’t look like stopping anytime soon.

Barca: Talented front three

Barca have spent big over the summer, with La Liga stars Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal arriving from Atletico Madrid and Sevilla respectively. However, neither men will be able to play in any form of club competition until January, due to the transfer embargo that has been placed on the Catalan club. We can only see Barcelona getting better this year and really fancy them to retain their title.

Pep Guardiola will be looking to win the title for the first time as Bayern Munich manager. There is no doubt that the former Barcelona manager has impressed neutrals since taking over at The Allianz Arena, however the Bayern board are a very hard bunch to please, as are the club’s supporters.

Domestic success is not going to be enough to satisfy either party, and Pep is now starting to feel real pressure as he looks to conquer the competition, as he did with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.

Ronaldo: Prolific

Real Madrid appointed a new manager over the summer, and it appears that Rafa Benitez was not everybody’s choice to replace the popular Carlo Ancelotti. The combination of nagging pressure from Real supporters and Barcelona’s recent dominance is not going to make things easy for the former Valencia and Liverpool manager. Things weren’t made any easier when Real drew 0-0 at Sporting Gijon on the opening day of the La Liga season.

Real find themselves in a tricky group, alongside PSG and the always dangerous Shakhtar Donetsk. That being said, Real Madrid are a side who never fail to impress in Europe and have a wealth of talent including Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez, among many others. Ronaldo has a frightening European goal scoring record and we fancy him to continue that this year, especially with two group games against Malmo coming up. They will definitely challenge, but we just don’t see Real lifting the trophy this year.

Mourinho: Focussed on Euro success

The Premier League will once again be represented in the competition by four clubs. Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United have all qualified successfully for the groups stages. However, there hasn’t been an English finalist since Chelsea won the trophy in 2012.

In truth, we can’t see any of the domestic club’s going on to claim the title in this campaign, due to the physically demanding nature and competitiveness of the Premier League on a weekly basis. We do see Chelsea going furthest in the competition. We feel that Jose Mourinho will do his utmost to claim his first European title as Chelsea boss, which may lead to him favouring the competition over certain Premier League clashes.

Pogba: Still a Juve player

Last year’s runners up Juventus have had a fantastic summer of transfer activity. The Italian double winners bought in masses of talent with Mario Mandzukic, Sami Khedira, Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado, Alex Sandro and Hernanes all arriving. They also managed to keep prized asset Paul Pogba, who was handed the famous number 10 shirt at by manager Massimo Allegri over the summer.

To us, Juventus look a very big price to go all the way, especially considering the ability, size and depth of their squad. They may be in a tough group, but as with last year, we expect the Turin club to dominate domestically with relative ease. This may allow them to fully focus on lifting the Champions League title for the first time since 1996.

Simeone: Working wonders

Atletico Madrid are one of the hardest sides to beat in the whole of Europe. Diego Simeone has totally transformed the club since taking over as Manager, guiding Atletico to La Liga and Copa Del Rey success. Simeone also managed to lead the club to The Champions League final two years ago, where they were cruelly denied the title after a late Sergio Ramos equaliser for their rivals Real Madrid. Atletico then went on to lose convincingly in extra time, something that many fans are still rather bitter about.

Atletico have made some key acquisitions over the summer, with the key addition being the prolific Colombian striker Jackson Martinez, who arrived from Porto.

Atletico find themselves in arguably the easiest of all the Champions League groups, so qualification to the knockout stages is going to be a formality. However, we fancy them to go much further than that and it wouldn’t surprise us if they were gracing the San Siro on May 28th.

OUR WINNERS: BARCELONA

OUTSIDE BETS: ATLETICO MADRID & JUVENTUS

TOP GOALSCORER: CRISTIANO RONALDO

PL TEAM TO ADVANCE FURTHEST: CHELSEA

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