Messi and Lewandowski Set to Light Up the Champions League Last 16

Martin Green

Monday, February 19, 2018 1:31 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 19, 2018 1:31 PM UTC

Soccer fans can look forward to two exciting Champions League last 16 clashes featuring some of the tournament favorites Tuesday. Premiership champions Chelsea host La Liga leaders Barcelona in what should prove to be an epic clash, while Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich face Turkish champions Besiktas in Germany.

Bayern Munich v Besiktas

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Bayern Munich is in sensational form under Jupp Heynckes and it is the heavy favorite to beat Besiktas on Tuesday. The Bavarians opened up a remarkable 21-point lead over second-placed Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga when they beat Wolfsburg on Saturday. Bayern is on course to win a sixth consecutive league title, and it has also been extremely strong in the Champions League.

It won the tournament in 2013, with Heynckes in charge, and has since made three semifinal appearances and a quarterfinal appearance last year. Bayern made an uncharacteristically poor start to the season, losing 3-0 to PSG in the Champions League group stage, and the club’s hierarchy decided to fire manager Carlo Ancelotti. Heynckes, now 72, came out of retirement to replace him in September, and Bayern Munich has been sensational ever since. It has only lost once in all that time. It also gained revenge over PSG with a 3-1 win in Munich, and now the joint second favorite to win this tournament at +500 with Bovada.

Besiktas, meanwhile, has never been through to the knockout stage of the Champions League before, so this is unchartered territory for Senol Günes’ men. It has been pretty unconvincing in the Turkish league, winning just 11 of 22 games this season, but Besiktas has been excellent in the Champions League. It finished top of a group also containing French champions Monaco, Bundesliga runners-up RB Leipzig and Portuguese heavyweight Porto, winning four and drawing two out of six. It has some strong veteran talent in the form of Ricardo Quaresma, Vagner Love, Ryan Babel and Pepe.

However, it is a huge underdog here, and Besiktas is unlikely to have much joy against a team containing Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Tjomas Muller, Thiago Alcantara, Arturo Vidal, David Alaba, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels. This is a great Bayern team, and it is just -666 with Bookmaker to win. For more value you could try Bayern to win and both teams to score +160 with Bovada. Besiktas has scored in 35 out of 37 games this season, so it could cause Bayern’s defense some problems, but Bayern should win this with Lewandowski leading the charge.

Free Soccer Pick: BayernBest Line Offered: Bookmaker

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8⃣ games. 0⃣ goals.
Will Messi unlock the @ChelseaFC defence this time?

Watch more #UCL goals on the #PSFC app ➡️ #UCL @PlayStationEU

— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 19, 2018

Chelsea v Barcelona

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Barcelona has been magnificent since changing managers in the summer and holds a seven-point lead at the top of La Liga. It has not lost once in either the league or the Champions League, and does not appear to be missing Neymar, who joined PSG in the summer. It is a lot more solid defensively under Ernesto Valverde and Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are on fire up front, banging in plenty of goals and running rings round defenders.

This is an extremely dangerous opponent for a Chelsea team that is struggling badly in the Premiership. Manager Antonio Conte’s days appear to be numbered at Stamford Bridge after a string of poor results, but the Champions League could offer the Italian a route to redemption. There is the spine of a good team here, as Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta and Thibaut Courtois are all excellent players. But there is not enough quality around them and that has left the Blues well behind Man City in the Premiership. It will be a big game for former Barcelona players Pedro and Cesc Fabregas, but they will struggle to impose themselves against a Barca team that likes to dominate possession.

Barcelona is the -312 favorite with Pinnacle to qualify for the quarterfinal at Chelsea’s expense, while the Londoners are +262 underdogs to advance. But the odds are a lot more even in this first-leg fixture, as Chelsea enjoys home advantage. Barcelona is the favorite to win it, but the +110 with Bovada looks very attractive. Another good bet would be Messi to score at any time at even money (+100) with Bovada. The Argentinean superstar seems desperate to wrestle the World Player of the Year title back from his great rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, and has been sensational so far this season. But he will be judged on the big stage, and that means he has to light up the Champions League, so expect fireworks from Messi on Tuesday.

Free Soccer Pick: BarcaBest Line Offered: Bovada

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