The Champions League has reached the point of no-return for all involved, with this fourth fixture out of six being the crunch time that some teams book their places in the last 16, some depart the competition and others look to escape the barbaric horrors of the Europa League consolation prize.
For the two English concerns on Tuesday night the task in hand could not be anymore contrasting: the Arsenal boys can enjoy a trip to Bulgaria safe in the knowledge that a straightforward victory awaits, while Manchester City welcome Barcelona to these shores desperately hoping to avoid another caning at the hands of the Spanish champions.
Here is the best of Tuesday night’s Champions League betting tips.
Manchester City vs Barcelona (7:45pm)
You might think that finding betting value in this kind of fixture would prove tricky, but the bookmakers have very kindly offered up Barcelona at an odds-against price and that is a decision that could come back to haunt them on Tuesday evening.
The basis for that decision is probably because City have home advantage, and also the news that defensive trio of Andres Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique will be missing for the Catalan giants. But that latter pair were subbed off in the first half of the reverse fixture and still City never looked like scoring; Barca bagged four remember and missed a penalty.
So there is a clear gulf in class between these two sides, and even accounting for home advantage we still have to favour the visitors. Their front three of Messi, Suarez and Neymar will make the trip, and you fancy that they will be even more deadly playing on the break away from home against a City backline, shorn of first choice keeper Claudio Bravo, that has kept just three clean sheets in thirteen outings.
It would take a brave punter to go against Barcelona on any given day, but when they are priced at 7/5 to win we simply have to get involved. Goals, expected as they are, can help to add additional value.
Barcelona to Win (7/5 with Coral)
Barcelona to Win & Both Teams to Score (3/1 with bet365)
Ludogorets vs Arsenal (7:45pm)
Goal difference could play a huge part in deciding who finishes top and second in Group A – key in securing an easier draw in the last 16, with Arsenal and PSG expected to cruise through comfortably ahead of Basel and Ludogorets.
Consequently, doing a professional job is top of Arsene Wenger’s list here as his outfit travel to Bulgaria to take on minnows Ludogorets.
A 6-0 hammering in the first leg was obvious enough, even if the stats – Ludogorets must be one of the first teams to have more possession of the ball than Arsenal (46%-54%) – raised an eyebrow or two. But with 12 shots on target fired in by the Gunners, the scoreline could have been even more comprehensive.
PSG won 3-1 on their trip to Razgrad, so topping that will be at the forefront of Wenger’s thinking. A clean sheet will be a must then, and if they can net three or more goals then that really would put the icing on the cake. The way they are playing at the minute it is hard to see them not making that a reality.
Arsenal -1 Handicap (5/6, Betfair)
Arsenal to Win to Nil (13/10, Stan James)
Besiktas vs Napoli (5:45pm)
We’ve picked out this match specifically for the value available. You see, Besiktas beat Napoli 3-2 in Naples, and in truth were pretty good value for the three points. Fast forward a fortnight and the bookies still have the Turks available at 3/1 to win this one; very kind of them indeed.
Besiktas were never behind in Naples, and despite the hosts dominating possession they were always on the back foot reacting to the Turkish outfits next move. Napoli have now lost four of their last six matches in all competitions, and knowing how tough a European night in Turkey can be we simply have to favour the hosts here.
Besiktas +0.25 Asian Handicap (43/40, bet365)