Champions League Last 16, Second Leg Preview: Poch to Earn his Spurs on Momentous Night at Wembley

Wembley Stadium
Image Credit: Herry Lawford via flickr

There is a sense of nice symmetry in the two Champions League nights this week that will please those with slight OCD tendencies. Tuesday and Wednesday both feature two ties, with one being an English club that is all but through to the quarter finals of the competition, and the other being an intriguing clash that could yet go either way.

For the sake of this preview, we’re happy to overlook Liverpool’s game against Porto at Anfield on Tuesday, as well as Manchester City’s encounter with Basel the following night. The two English sides are comfortably ahead from the first legs 5-0 and 4-0 respectively, and it would take a miracle for them to lose from here. As such, both managers might choose to rest key players on the night, and there really is no betting value to be had in trying to pre-empt the movements of Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.

Instead, let’s focus our attention on a pair of fascinating ties that both bear the hallmarks of Champions League classics.

PSG vs Real Madrid

Real Madrid produced arguably their best performance of the campaign in winning 3-1 in the first leg at the Bernabeu, and Cristiano Ronaldo – not without his critics this term – showed once again he is the man for the big occasion.

PSG are an outstanding side, however, and with an away goal in the take they may otherwise have fancied the job in front of their own supporters However, it would appear that fate has conspired against them….

Their record-breaking summer signing, Neymar, is out for the season after suffering a foot injury, and he is reportedly set to be joined on the sidelines by Kylian Mbappe, Marco Verratti and Javier Pastore for Tuesday’s clash.

That is naturally a hammer blow for a side that has to score twice at the very least to level the tie, and quite probably will need to find a third on the night given the propensity of Ronaldo and co for finding the net.

It’s not necessarily their natural style, but Real can sit back here and hit PSG hard on the counter, and it would not be a huge surprise if the Galacticos were to win this second leg to go with victory in the first.

Check the team news before flying in – Real could be without Luca Modric and Toni Kroos – but if they are anything approaching full strength then backing them in the Draw No Bet market at 13/8 is a fine idea!

Tottenham vs Juventus

After the pulsating 2-2 draw in Turin which they dominated, Tottenham don’t need to have any fear ahead of the visit of the Italian champions.

Okay, so Juventus have a fine pedigree in this competition and have reached the final twice in the past four years. But they don’t quite seem to be the side they once were, particularly in defence, and Spurs took full advantage.

Away goals are often so precious in closely fought fixtures like this, and Mauricio Pochettino’s side have two of them – realistically, all they need to do is score at Wembley on Wednesday and they have one foot in the last eight of the competition for the first time in their history.

Can they do so? You’d certainly think so. Harry Kane had Juve’s central defensive pairing of Chiellini and Benatia on toast in the first leg, and if Dele Alli can recapture his best form alongside the flying pair of Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-Min, the Londoners could run riot.

But of course, a Juventus goal changes the complexion somewhat. The Italians may be without Juan Cuadrado through injury, but Gonzalo Higuaín is expected to be fit for this second leg while for Spurs Toby Alderweireld could once again be missing.

Juve scored twice in the opening ten minutes of the first leg and missed a penalty, so their ability to find a way through this Tottenham rearguard cannot be questioned.

But the hosts have been outstanding at Wembley this term, barely putting a foot wrong since their August defeat to Chelsea, and they should prove too strong for Juventus here; particularly as they have the luxury of playing on the counter attack if necessary.

It’s a shame for punter that their odds of 5/4 are not a tad longer, but Tottenham to win this second leg has to be the play.