The UEFA Champions League and Europa League action continues this week with several of the favorites to win each title on stage, including Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Manchester City, and Ajax.
Here’s a quick analysis of the best matches, alongside the latest player and team news, injury reports, sports betting lines, and predictions (all odds are as of writing).
Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea (Tuesday, February 23)
Atletico Madrid come in as the slight favorite despite losing against Levante last Sunday (La Liga). Diego Simeone (manager) gave some rest to several players, but Atletico Madrid won just two of their last five domestic games.
During the UEFA Champions League Group Stage, Atletico Madrid scored seven goals and allowed eight. They finished with a 2-3-1 record, good enough for second place in Group A.
Both Joao Felix and Luis Suarez are good to go, but Atletico will be without Jose Maria Gimenez, Sime Vrsaljko, Hector Herrera, and Yannick Carrasco, all due to injury.
Chelsea have been playing a lot better since Thomas Tuchel took over as manager. The “Blues” haven’t lost in their last five domestic games; more recently they drew 1-1 against Southampton.
The English side finished the Group Stage unbeaten (4-2-0). They scored 14 goals and allowed just two. Thiago Silva and Tammy Abraham are questionable due to injury.
Chelsea lead the all-time series against Atletico Madrid 2-3-1 (10 goals for, seven against).
Pick and Final Score Prediction: Atletico Madrid 1 – Chelsea 1
Lazio vs Bayern Munich (Tuesday, February 23)
As reigning champions, Bayern Munich should beat Lazio without too many problems, but not so fast; Lazio finished the Group Stage unbeaten (2-4-0), and they scored 11 goals (Ciro Immobile has scored five).
Lazio have lost just two of their last 11 domestic games. Stefan Radu is out due to injury, while Thomas Strakosha is doubtful.
Bayern Munich just lost to Frankfurt 2-1 in the Bundesliga (two straight games without winning), but they were sensational during the UEFA Champions League Group Stage; they finished unbeaten (5-1-0), and they scored 18 goals (allowed just five).
Keep in mind that Benjamin Pavard, Douglas Costa, Corentin Tolisso, Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller are all injured.
Lazio and Bayern Munich have never collided in the UEFA Champions League.
Pick and Final Score Prediction: Lazio 1 – Bayern Munich 2
Atalanta vs Real Madrid (Wednesday, February 24)
|Real Madrid||Pk+120||+190||3||1 ½|
Both Atalanta and Real Madrid are kind of struggling domestically, but they have been a lot better when playing internationally.
Atalanta finished the Group Stage with a 3-2-1 record (including a victory at Anfield over Liverpool); they scored 10 goals and allowed eight.
Hans Hateboer is injured, but the rest of the team is ready to go.
Real Madrid are chasing Atletico Madrid in La Liga, but they have a mystic relationship with the UEFA Champions League. They finished the Group Stage with a 3-1-2 record, 11 goals for and nine against.
Take note, as Real Madrid have several players out due to injury, including Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal, Marcelo, Federico Valverde, Eden Hazard and Rodrygo.
Atalanta have never played against Real Madrid in an international competition.
Pick and Final Score Prediction: Atalanta 2 – Real Madrid 1
Borussia Monchengladbach vs Manchester City (Wednesday, February 24)
|Borussia Monchengladbach||+1 ½||+750||3||½|
|Manchester City||-1 ½||-300||3||2 ½|
Right now, many consider Manchester City as the best team in the world. The “Citizens” lead the English Premier League with a 10-point advantage over Manchester United, and they finished the UEFA Champions League Group Stage unbeaten (5-1-0).
During the Group Stage, Manchester City scored 13 goals and allowed just one.
Nathan Ake is out due to injury, but Kevin De Bruyne is ready to go.
Borussia Monchengladbach finished second in Group B above Inter Milan; they finished with a 2-2-2 record, 16 goals for and nine against. Individually, Alassane Plea has been sensational, he’s one of the tournament’s top scorers with five goals.
Mamadou Doucoure is out due to injury, while Marcus Thuram is doubtful.
Manchester City lead the all-time series against Borussia Monchengladbach 3-1-0 (11 goals for, four against).
Pick and Final Score Prediction: Borussia Monchengladbach 0 – Manchester City 2
Be sure to check all the Champions League betting odds before placing your ticket.
Ajax vs Lille (Thursday, February 25)
|Ajax||-½||-120||2 ½||1 ½|
Last week, Ajax edged Lille 2-1 on the road. That was a huge victory, because they could lose 1-0 next Thursday and still advance to the Round of 16.
The Dutch are in great shape as they also lead the Eredivisie with an 18-2-2 record, 72 goals for and just 17 against.
Lille lead the Ligue 1 with a four-point advantage over PSG. They just beat Lorient 4-1 and several players got some rest.
Ajax have never lost against Lille. Prior to last week’s victory, Ajax beat Lille twice during the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League season; 3-0 at home and 2-0 on the road.
The Dutch are eager to win this competition. They haven’t won the title since 1992.
Pick and Final Score Prediction: Ajax 2 – Lille 0
Arsenal vs Benfica (Thursday, February 25)
|Arsenal||-½||-105||2 ½||1 ½|
Arsenal are not having a good time in the English Premier League, but they have been a lot better when playing internationally. Last week, they managed to draw 1-1 against Benfica on the road, which means that they could tie 0-0 next Thursday and still advance to the Round of 16.
The “Gunners” have a very good team, including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Martin Odegaard.
Benfica come in a must-win situation, because they are 15 points away from first place in the Primeira Liga, so winning the UEFA Europa League is the only way to have a successful season.
This game will take place at the Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis in Piraeus, Greece.
Including last week’s game, Arsenal and Benfica have met three times. They played twice during the 1991-92 Champions League; first they drew 1-1, and Benfica won 3-1 in their second match.
Pick and Final Score Prediction: Arsenal 1 – Benfica 0
Napoli vs Granada (Thursday, February 18)
Surprisingly enough, last week Granada beat Napoli 2-0. The Spanish side is making their European debut this season, while the Italian side is used to playing internationally.
Recently, Napoli beat the almighty Juventus 1-0 (Serie A), proving that they can compete against anyone.
Curiously enough, Granada haven’t won in their last five domestic games (La Liga). It looks like they are fully focused on winning the UEFA Europa League.
Gennaro Gattuso, Napoli’s manager said: “Difficult draw. Granada are a great team – it will be tough for us.”
Napoli won the Europa League (UEFA Cup) title back in 1989 with Diego Armando Maradona as their captain.
Pick and Final Score Prediction: Napoli 2 – Granada 1
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