Champions League Tuesday Preview: A tight first leg at the Bridge
More Champions League action this week, starting on Tuesday with Chelsea vs Barcelona and Bayern Munich vs Besiktas. Infogol’s Analyst previews the games, using expected goals to generate the best bets.
Tuesday 19:45 GMT
This is a tie that has seen a lot of controversy and drama in recent years, and this year should be no different. Both teams come into this game in differing form domestically, with Chelsea in a fight for a top-four spot and Barcelona seven clear at the top of La Liga.
Chelsea paid the price for finishing second in their group by drawing one of Europe’s best teams, though were very unfortunate not to come top according to Infogol’s expected group table. They were by far the best team in their group, generating the most xG (14.6) and conceding the fewest (6.3), so their performances warranted more than a second place finish. Antonio Conte’s team have a tough task, but they are good enough to give Barcelona a real game and potentially a scare.
Barcelona topped their group, but were far from impressive in their results and performances. Compared to recent Barcelona teams, they scored far fewer in the group stage, hitting the net just nine times. They conceded just once though, which is a great effort, suggesting that Ernesto Valverde is in favour of being defensively solid before showcasing attacking prowess. That too goes for their expected totals, with their group games averaging only 2.2 xG.
A tight and cagey first leg is expected at Stamford Bridge, with both teams prioritising a defensive display and remaining in the tie come the second leg. Under 2.5 goals looks the best bet.
Tuesday 19:45 GMT
Bayern Munich’s group campaign will be remembered for the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti and the re-appointment of Jupp Heynckes. A 3-0 defeat at PSG was the last straw for the Italian, and the man who won the treble with Bayern in 2013 was brought back in, and they haven’t looked back since, losing just one game in all competitions under Heynckes.
They qualified with ease, though did finish behind PSG, and can count themselves pretty fortunate to have avoided some of Europe’s elite in the draw. They averaged 2.2 xG in the group stage, showing that they generated a host of chances, and this is expected in the first leg of this tie.
Besiktas made the Champions League knockout round for the first time in 31 years and in some style, winning four and drawing the other two of their group matches. They were fortunate to qualify according to xG though, as they were the third best team based on performances. They over-performed in both attack and defence in the group, and will find the step up in class very tough to contend with.
Bayern Munich are expected to win this game comfortably, creating a lot of chances in the process, so Bayern to win and Over 2.5 goals is the selection.