Connect in the back of the net

Three English teams have progressed to the last 16 of the Champions League this season.

While Arsenal and Leicester City won their respective groups, Manchester City finished runners-up, and the trio will now aim to book their places in the quarter-finals.

The last-16 draw has seen Arsenal pitted against Bayern Munich, with Leicester facing Sevilla and Manchester City locking horns with AS Monaco.

According to the Champions League betting odds on Paddypower.com, Arsenal are 11/2 to beat Bayern and progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League this season. The German giant’s odds of advancing from the tie are 1/2.

The bookmakers are making Carlo Ancelotti’s side clear favourites then, and one can understand why.

 

Arsenal and Bayern, again

Although Bayern are facing strong competition from RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga this season and finished below Atletico Madrid in their Champions League group, they have some truly world-class footballers and a team packed with international stars.

Mats Hummels, Robert Lewandowski, Xabi Alonso, Thomas Muller and David Alaba are all superb footballers, and in Ancelotti Bayern have a man who has won the Champions League thrice as a manager and twice as a player.

Indeed, after the draw was made, Ancelotti said that he is confident that the Bavarian giants will knock the Gunners out of the Champions League and book their place in the quarter-finals.

Arsenal are playing well at the moment and are in good form, but will the Gunners be doing as well in mid-February when the Champions League knockout stage starts? What if Mesut Ozil or Alexis Sanchez pick up injuries?

One advantage that Arsene Wenger’s side have is that they are playing the first leg of the tie away from home at the Allianz Arena.

If the Gunners are able to hold Bayern to a draw or Munich even suffer a narrow defeat, say 2-1 or 1-0, then they will certainly fancy their chances of winning the return leg at the Emirates Stadium in London.

 

Interesting match-up against Sevilla for Leicester

Leicester are also away for the first leg of their tie against Sevilla.

The odds of the Foxes, who won the Premier League last season, progressing to the last eight are 4/1, while those of the Spanish club winning the tie are 8/13.

Sevilla know how to win in Europe pretty well, having clinched the Europa League for the past three seasons.

Playing the first leg at home could be a disadvantage, though, but Jorge Sampaoli’s side do have enough quality to emerge victorious in the second leg.

Leicester are involved in the Premier League relegation battle this season, but Claudio Ranieri’s side have not let that affect them in Europe.

The Foxes finished above European giants FC Porto in Group G, and playing the second leg at the King Power Stadium will give them an advantage.

The problem is that the Foxes do not boast a top-notch team anymore.

True, Marc Albrighton, Jamie Vardy, Robert Huth and Wes Morgan did well last season, but are they good enough to get the better of Sevilla, who are competing with Barcelona and Real Madrid at the top of La Liga table? Probably not.

 

Easy tie for City

Manchester City have arguably the easiest tie amongst the English teams.

The odds of Pep Guardiola’s side winning against French club AS Monaco are 2/5, while those of the Ligue 1 outfit progressing to the quarter-finals are 7/1.

City are still finding their way under Guardiola, but with a team comprising of the likes of Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, they should get things right eventually.

However, Monaco should not be underestimated.

After all, Leonardo Jardim’s side finished above Tottenham Hotspur in the group stage and won against them both home and away, and City’s Txiki Begiristain himself admitted after the draw that it will be a very difficult tie for them.

Guardiola is wise enough to know that the first leg will be key and will do all he can to ensure that City pick up a win at the Etihad Stadium by a good margin.

 

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