Barcelona are favourites to go through in UEFA Champions League when they host Man City in the second leg of their R16 tie. Will Barca come through on their favourable soccer odds? Could Man City deliver the upset? Find out as we analyse this intriguing clash and deliver our free picks.
Barcelona firm favourites
Barcelona take a 2-0 lead into the second leg of their R16 tie with Manchester City, an advantage that correlates to favourable -188 soccer odds to win outright at Bet365 and whopping -3300 future odds to advance into the quarterfinals – both instances underscored by solid form at Camp Nou this season.
Barcelona boast a nigh impeccable 12-0-1 record at home, highlighted by 46 goals scored and just 10 conceded. The only defeat came recently enough, on February 1 when they succumbed to Valencia 3-2 at Camp Nou.
That said overall La Liga form in recent weeks is a source of concern for Barcelona, enough so that many pundits and soccer bettors alike are predicting a fantastic upset by Man City. A notion that gained tremendous momentum on the heels of a shocking 1-0 defeat to relegation threatened Real Valladoid at the weekend. So unexpected was the defeat that many are dubbing it as a confirmation of the changing times, the perceptible shift in the current balance of power in La Liga which could threaten to spill forth into European competition.
Barcelona are down to third in the table, behind both Madrids, after leaking points in five of their last nine games. They’ve suffered defeats to Valencia, Real Sociedad and Real Valladoid in the space of a month. As well dropped points to Atletico Madrid and Levante with a share in the spoils. A run of form that marks their worst in recent memory and, at the same time, suggests an untimely exit from Champions League isn’t out of the question.
That Barcelona are not up to their lofty standards has been conspicuously noticeable in Champions League. Since last year even, mind you. Then it was Blaugrana’s 2-0 defeat to Milan that was the first real sign of a dip, although they did silence the worrywarts temporarily when they beat Milan 4-0 in the second leg. But the doubts didn’t go away all together. They crept back when they advanced past PSG on away goals and then stayed for all and sundry to contemplate over their significance following the disembowelling by Bayern Munich.
This season’s output hasn’t been much better as Barcelona had to work harder than most expected they would to win Group H, namely on the road. They struggled to beat Celtic in Glasgow, drew 1-1 with a hapless AC Milan and suffered a defeat to Ajax in Amsterdam
History however plays in Blaugrana’s favour when they are on home turf in Champions League: they have lost only one of their last 25 European games at Camp Nou while winning 19. What’s more, they have an impressive record after winning the first leg and an equally impressive account against English opposition at Camp Nou. In 34 accounts where they won the first leg they’ve advanced on 32 occasions. And against English clubs they have a 15-11-2 record at Camp Nou.
Manchester City at the significant disadvantage
Man City enter the second leg of their tie with Barcelona as the +500 underdogs to win outright and are listed at staggering +1400 future odds to advance into the quarterfinals (or thereabouts) across sportsbooks, a market stance that has everything to do with both the difficulty of the task before them and their lack of success at this stage of the competition.
Unfortunately, confidence in Man City took a beating this weekend as well when they astonishingly bowed out of FA Cup on a 2-1 defeat to holders Wigan, albeit now a second-tier side. Manuel Pelligrini decided to rest some of his key players, a decision that clearly didn’t go down well and as a result you could say there is even more pressure now on the Citizens than before to get a result in Barcelona and make amends such a disappointment.
That said Man City did beat Bayern Munich this season in the group stage of Champions League. They even equalled the titleholders on points and could have won the group had they scored one more goal at least. The question is do they have another such performance in them to mastermind the biggest upset in Europe this week?
Soccer Betting Verdict
Granted, Barcelona have faltered of late but odds makers are correctly tipping this match in Barcelona’s camp. They have the score advantage going into this match, which is crucial, and they have home edge. The upshot: they are the popular soccer pick to both win outright and advance into the quarterfinals.
Man City need to score three goals in order to reverse this tie in their favour and, in turn, come through as the exotic soccer pick +1400 future odds to advance. Certainly, they have tremendous potential and a flair for goals, which makes them a very tempting bet. But they also have a tendency to come up short in big matches, which is a serious mark against them. It doesn’t help that recent form isn’t quite as good as it needs to be or as good as it was when they beat Bayern Munich (Sergio Aguero is only just returned from injury).
Then again, even if Man City were in top form right now they still wouldn’t be favoured here at all. So good is the Spanish side, so highly regarded their track record of success. So just because the market is set the way it is it doesn’t mean that it’s a foregone conclusion. Besides winning this match is not beyond Man City (winning doesn’t mean they’ll advance) and that makes them a value soccer pick at +500 to win outright. Both sides have had their fair share of woes recently and if Man City were to pull off the upset, this is a good time to do it when Barcelona are not perfect. Simply put Man City must win this match to have a shot at advancing. Wasn’t that objective behind the decision to rest players against Wigan? They have to make it count otherwise it’ll have all been for naught.
Soccer Free Picks: Man City to win at +500 and advance at +1400; Over 2.5 at -211