LINE: Barcelona +230 | Draw +285 | Bayern Munich +105
KICK OFF: Friday, August 14th, 3PM EST
WHERE: Estadio do Sport, Lisbon, Portugal
WATCH: CBS Sports
These are the games which makes the Champions League so special. Two of Europe’s elite going head to head. Alphonso Davies, one of the games most promising talents testing his mettle against the GOAT, Lionel Messi.
I’m not convinced by Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Napoli. Look beyond the scoreline & this is a side far from the days of Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola & Luis Enrique. Second half they recorded one attempt on goal & 47% possession. This match was at the Nou Camp & Napoli are chasing the game throwing players forward. The Barcelona of old would have dominated possession to kill the game off or put this tie to bed in one swift counter attack.
Clément Lenglet’s opening goal should have been cancelled by VAR. The Frenchman clearly pushed Diego Demme into Kalidou Koulibaly to gain an advantage with a free header. Their third came from the spot after Koulibaly uncharacteristically dawdled on the ball & gave away the penalty.
The only glimmer of hope is Messi showed he is always capable of producing moments that are pure magic. As always in recent times, they will look to him to progress to the semi-finals.
As expected, Bayern Munich made easy work of a depleted Chelsea side. This game was more of a formality than a contest as Die Roten comfortably booked their ticket to Lisbon. My play for them to win Halftime / Fulltime -114 cashed.
Across both legs Robert Lewandowski played a part in all 7 goals scoring 3 & assisting 4. That takes his season total to 13 goals in the Champions League & gives him the real possibility of beating Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 17 for Real Madrid in 2012-13.
I would like to add that it is absolutely criminal France Football Magazine have decided to cancel this years Ballon’Dor. We should be celebrating the achievements of the players & teams who were able to complete their seasons. Lets be honest with ourselves, the winner’s only ever going to come from the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga or Serie A. It’s a terrible decision all round & has robbed Lewandowski of his best chance to win it.
I’m intrigued to see how the battle between Davies & Messi plays out. If the Argentinian beats him will the Canadian’s pace bail him out of trouble like we’ve seen so many times before? Hansi Flick has to stick with Ivan Perišić down the left. The Croatian is stronger defensively & the harder worker when compared to other options Kingsley Coman & Philippe Coutinho. He will willingly track back & give Davies the support he needs.
Sergio Busquets & Arturo Vidal return from suspension. Barca will welcome them back into the starting lineup at the expense of Ivan Rakitić & Sergi Roberto. Both are 32 & 33 respectively & don’t have the legs to compete with Leon Goretzka & Thiago Alcántara. Bayern will dominate possession, Thiago will dictate play & Thomas Müller’s pressing will force the side from Catalonia into mistakes.
Hansi goes with the same starting eleven. The only doubt is Jérôme Boateng, but he is expected to be available after his injury scare was deemed not to be serious. We will see another high energy, high pressing & ruthless display by the team from Bavaria.
STRENGTH FROM THE BENCH
With 5 substitutes available it’s easier for manager’s to correct mistakes made with their starting line-up, tactics & formation choices. Since the restart, all across Europe we have seen the strongest clubs with the deepest squads benefit against weaker opposition.
Barcelona’s bench was awful against Napoli, with Junior Firpo the oldest player at 23. Ansu Fati is an exciting talent with a big future in the game. At 17 he can’t be relied on to make a difference against a side like Bayern. All the rest were 21 & under with limited first team & Champions League experience.
Rakitić & Roberto drop to the bench to offer Quique Setién better options. This highlights how poor player acquisition has been recently.
Bayern have much stronger & experienced options from the bench. Philippe Coutinho, Kingsley Coman & Corentin Tolisso can come on to make a difference. Javi Martínez, Niklas Süle, Álvaro Odriozola & Lucas Hernández offer excellent defensive options to see a game out.
PREDICTION: When Messi’s involved you have to play it safe. Back Bayern on the Money Line +105.
WHERE TO BET THE 2019-20 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE IN THE US
In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in New Jersey, Indiana and Pennsylvania.