Champions League: A Stunning Night With the Most Unlikely of Turnarounds

Paris Saint-Germain 1-3 (3-3 on agg.) Manchester United

What sporting drama! What magic!

There are only a few occasions when it’s hard to know where to begin, yet this was one such night.

In the box seat after a first leg victory at Old Trafford and up against a depleted Manchester United, virtually all the Champions League 2019 betting odds favoured Pars St Germain.

This us writer did, too.

Yet somehow belief, commitment and youth prevailed, refusing to be overawed against stronger opponents at the Parc des Princes and producing an incredible comeback which will live long in the memory, even accounting for United’s illustrious history.

Yes, PSG will kick themselves for mistakes which led to all three of United’s goals.

But the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer effect reached a new level in Paris.

The moment when Marcus Rashford scored a nerveless injury-time penalty will be replayed among Champions League 2019 highlights for years to come as United became the first team in Champions League and European Cup history – at the 107th time of asking – to overcome a 2-0 or greater home first-leg deficit.

Highlights of the game

Only two minutes had elapsed when Romelu Lukaku latched onto a back pass from Thilo Kehrer, calmly rounded Gianluigi Buffon, and slid home the opener.

Surely, a Champions League shock wasn’t on the cards?

Kylian Mbappe went close to an immediate response but did play a part in his side’s leveller 10 minutes later when he sprang the offside trap and played an inviting ball into the path of Juan Bernat who made no mistake.

David de Gea then kept his countryman out to keep the tie alive and was rewarded when Buffon could not hold a Marcus Rashford shot, and the livewire Belgian pounced clinically on the half hour.

United’s injury woes took another blow before the break when centre-back Eric Bailly had to leave the fray, but they kept their shape with the tireless Scott McTominay in midfield among their youngsters displaying a never-say-die attitude.

Angel Di Maria saw a goal disallowed for offside early in the second half, and the Paris mood remained tense.

It was PSG’s turn to suffer an injury blow when Julian Draxler sustained a hamstring injury, and his replacement — Thomas Meunier — called De Gea into action as the match reached the closing stages.

Bernat then hit the woodwork as the visitors tired, but their spirit was unbowed. Knowing his side had to score to progress, interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave another youngster, Tahith Chong, his European debut.

Then another as 17-year-old Mason Greenwood entered the fray.

As the clock ticked over the 90, Diogo Dalot’s speculative shot struck Presnel Kimpembe on the arm, and Slovenian referee Damir Skomina consulted VAR.

Manchester United have been spectacular under Solskjaer as they now get ready for the next round of the Champions League

Manchester United caretaker head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates their Champions League win against PSG in Parc des Princes

After the awarding of a spot-kick and much provocation from home players, Rashford kept his composure and drilled the penalty into the roof of the net in the 94th minute.

De Gea saved a shot again as United held firm during nine minutes of stoppage time, and the home players fell to the floor in disbelief as the final whistle sounded. Meanwhile, United players sprinted across to the corner to celebrate an extraordinary victory with their fans.

It was quite a night.

Key statistics

Solskjær has won all nine of his away games as United manager.

Mason Greenwood became the youngest player to appear for United in the Champions League, aged 17 years and 156 days, breaking the record held by Gerard Pique (17y 310d).

Mbappe has four assists in this season’s Champions League – more than any other player.

PSG had not conceded two goals in the first half of a European tie since playing Bayern Munich in 1997.

This was Manchester United’s first away victory in a Champions League knockout tie since a semi-final victory over Schalke (2-0), in April 2011.

PSG have lost just two of their last 17 Champions League games at home, and that defeat came in the last 16 last season against Real Madrid (1-2).

PSG have scored 36 goals in their last 11 Champions League home games but haven’t kept a clean sheet in each of the last six.

What’s next?

Paris St Germain now have nearly a week to prepare for a visit to second-from-bottom Dijon in Ligue 1 – a side they defeated 8-0 last season and 3-0 in the French Cup last week.

It’s then Marseille at home on March 17 before a visit to Toulouse on March 31 following the international break.

First Half 1X2 Borussia Dortmund @ 1.82 Under 3.0 @ 2.04 Total Goals 2-3 @ 2.15CLICK HEREDisclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.Bundesliga

Manchester United travel to Arsenal in the Premier League this weekend and then visit Wolves in the FA Cup quarter-finals to complete a trio of successive away matches.

Following the international break, they entertain Watford at Old Trafford on March 30.

The draw for the quarter-finals of the Champions League will be held a week later on Friday (March 16) with no obvious clear favourites this time around.

 

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Champions League: It’s Hard to Bet against the French Champions

Paris Saint-Germain vs Manchester United

Paul Pogba, Neymar, Edison Cavani, Juan Mata.

All players who have contributed to this season’s catalogue of Champions League highlights.

All among the star names who will miss the second leg of this last 16 Champions League tie.

I could go on.

Talking Points

For there is many a star name absent from this tie, including Alexis Sanchez who will possibly miss the rest of the season.

Don’t get me wrong, us fans will still have plenty of talent to potentially drool over, most notably young guns Kylian Mbappe and Marcus Rashford in the club’s respective attacks.

Realistically, however, this this tie is over before the second leg begins.

An impressive 2-0 victory in Manchester three weeks ago has left Paris Saint-Germain in sight of a first quarter-final in three years.

That game was even until United lost Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard to injury on the stroke of half-time.

The hosts failed to recover their momentum, PSG showed their qualities and the game (and realistically the tie) was won.

Since then, United have suffered more injury woes and the suspension of Pogba from this second leg means United will be forced to select an entire second choice midfield trio.

Even without Neymar and Cavani themselves, PSG will start as firm favourites and the statistics back that up.

They have won three of their six two-legged knockout ties against Premier League clubs, although the most recent ended in defeat against Manchester City in the 2016 quarter-finals (2-2 home, 0-1 away).

That second leg is also the last UEFA Champions League match in which PSG failed to score; they have found the net in the subsequent 23 matches.

PSG have also won all 15 European matches when they have recorded a first-leg victory away from home.

French forward Anthony Martial is not fit to play the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain

Manchester United forward Anthony Martial walks off the pitch after sustaining an injury during their match against Paris Saint-Germain

Not they can be complacent against a United side which has had a new lease of life since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – a Champions League winner with United in 1999 – took interim charge in December.

Since then, United have won 13 and drawn two of their 16 matches, their sole reversal being the first leg tie.

They too have a good record against French clubs.

The Red Devils have won six of their seven two-legged knockout contests against French opposition. Ironically, Solskjær scored in the sole defeat, against Monaco in the 1998 quarter-finals (0-0 away, 1-1 home).

Then again, United have never come back from a first-leg home defeat to win the tie in UEFA competition, losing both legs of all three previous contests.

One suspects, this will be a match too many for United’s injury hit squad against the Parisians who can even afford to lose by a solitary goal and still progress.

With a massive 20 point lead in Lique 1, PSG could also afford to rest players domestically at the weekend when United were fully stretched.

This will be a footballing match with plenty of match winners still on show in the Parc des Princes, yet the final outcome seems very predictable.

History

Apart from the first leg meeting (United’s heaviest home defeat in Europe) – and a pre-season friendly in 2015 – there is no history. Until the Qatari takeover changed the landscape of French football, the club from the French capital had been perennial underachievers.

Betting Tip

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Paris Saint-Germain vs Manchester United Total Goal 2-3 @ 2.06
March 7, 04:00 (GMT+8)

Champions League betting odds back that up.

In fact, Thomas Tuchel’s side are third favourites to win the competition @ 5.80 behind Barcelona @ 5.55 and new favourites Manchester City @ 3.75.

With a 2-0 first leg deficit, United are out @ 109.00.

So in control are the home side that you can’t actually get odds on them to progress to the last eight from this position.

PSG are firm favourites with 1X2 betting also @ 1.51, the draw @ 4.00 and United @ 6.20.

Similarly, with Asian Handicap betting, you can get PSG -1.50 @ 2.44 and United +1.00 @ 2.08.

For over 3.25 goals, not to be ruled out with two such attacking-minded teams, you can find odds @ 2.42, while an opening half without any goals – First Half under one goal – will payout @ 2.33.

Correct score 0-0, incidentally, is available @ 15.00.

If you think PSG will complete another 2-0 success, correct score is available @ 7.80, whereas a Double Chance Man Utd or draw is on offer @ 2.43.

This tie may lack the intensity of the first leg, particularly if the hosts score first, whereas it will be game on if United reduce the deficit.

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?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Champions League: PSG Show Ole the Way!

Manchester United 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain

PSG put on a classy show at Old Trafford tonight to end Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s unbeaten start as Manchester United boss and all but deny the Red Devils further Champions League adventure.

Thomas Tuchel’s Ligue 1 giants outplayed United in front of a passionate crowd, and goals from Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappe gave them a huge advantage.

The Champions League 2019 betting odds on PSG to win the tournament had decreased, while Manchester United climbed the ladder. us football fans know which way they’ll be going now!

When the draw was made—with Jose Mourinho still in charge at Old Trafford—few fans and pundits, this one included, gave the Red Devils much hope. Ole’s start as boss opened the tie up, but probably only for 90 minutes.

Highlights of the game

Presnel Kimpembe’s goal gave PSG an advantage during the Champions League against Man Utd

Presnel Kimpembe celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Champions League round of 16 match between Manchester United and Paris Saint Germain

Edinson Cavani was ruled out of this game after pulling his thigh in PSG’s Ligue 1 match against Bordeaux, joining Neymar on the sidelines and putting the pressure on the shoulders of Mbappe.

Solskjaer, perhaps smelling blood against the shorthanded French champions, gave a start to Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford in a Manchester United forward line full of pace.

The Red Devils pressed from the off, but it was former Red Devil Angel Di Maria who got the first shot away, swerving wide of David de Gea’s post.

All Paul Pogba needed to rediscover his form for Manchester United was an arm around the shoulder from Solskjaer, who simply told him he was the best midfield player in the world.

The Frenchman got in on the act on 16 minutes, bursting down the wing past Kimpembe, but Gigi Buffon just managed to keep his cross away from Jesse Lingard. But then Pogba went into the referee’s notebook after a daft foul on the dangerous Marco Verratti.

PSG came so close to opening the scoring when Julian Draxler put Mbappe through, but he slid his effort just wide under pressure from De Gea.

There were four yellow cards in the first half hour and after Kimpembe picked one up, he was a little lucky to stay on the pitch when he tripped Luke Shaw.

De Gea was called on again to thwart Di Maria, and then it was Ashley Young’s turn to sweat. He was on a yellow when he bundled the raiding Di Maria off the pitch, luckily avoiding a red. One each!

The Ligue 1 side had the last chance of the half when Draxler was fouled by Nemanja Matic some 25 yards out, but Dani Alves fired the ensuing free-kick over the bar.

Martial had been struggling and was replaced by Juan Mata at the start of the second half. PSG, however, dominated the early stages of the second period and eventually took the lead.

After De Gea made a fine save from an Mbappe header, the visitors went ahead. As Di Maria floated the resulting corner over, Kimpembe took advantage of the dawdling Matic to slam the ball home.

PSG were all over United now and almost immediately made it two, but Alves’ shot flew inches wide after ricocheting off Pogba. And then in the blink of an eye, it was two.

In a lightning break, Di Maria beat Young for pace and squared the perfect ball for Mbappe.

It was all PSG, and De Gea kept United in the tie with two superb saves—one to deny Mbappe in another one-on-one and second to stop a fierce angled drive from Juan Bernat.

The Parisians began to showboat and at times, United were merely chasing shadows. The home fans’ night took a turn for the worse when Pogba was sent off in the dying minutes.

Key statistics

Paul Pogba was sent-off after a cumulated card during the Champions League match with PSG

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba looks dejected as he leaves the pitch after being sent-off for a second yellow card

The pre-match odds on PSG look pretty generous now, and they will be much shorter for the return in Paris. Pogba will be out for the second leg and Cavani may well be back for PSG. If the Red Devils manage to overturn this, it will be one of the biggest Champions League 2019 results so far.

Mbappe took the headlines in the absence of his attacking partners by scoring his eighth goal in ten appearances. It took his season tally to 23, one more than Cavani and three more than Neymar. They are some trio!

PSG are the first French team to beat United at Old Trafford, and it’s only the second time they have won in 11 games away to English opposition.

What’s next?

This game was the start of a phenomenal run of matches for Solskjaer’s United. Next up, it’s Chelsea away in the FA Cup.

After that is a match against Liverpool at home, a game that probably means the most to the Red Devils. Old Trafford fans would love to put a spanner in the Mersey works, even if it means helping Manchester City to another league title.

The Parisians are hurt by the fact they are still to progress beyond the Champions League quarter-finals, and they’ll aim to break through that glass ceiling this season.

But next, it’s back to domestic matters when they visit fifth-placed Saint-Etienne. Tuchel’s men pretty much have Ligue 1 wrapped up, ten points clear of second-placed Lille OSC with two games in hand.

 

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Champions League: A Footballing Clash to Savour

Manchester United vs Paris Saint-Germain

Of all the Champions League ties to come over the next month, this is the one which has got most neutrals talking.

Teams full of attacking pedigree, two clubs possessing some of the best players on planet football, no wonder this clash is so eagerly anticipated the world over.

My advice to you is very simple: sit back and enjoy the spectacle!

Talking Points

Much of the Champions League 2019 news in the build-up has surrounded the fitness of Neymar.

Yes, the Brazilian is out with a recurrence of a metatarsal injury which will probably also rule him out of the second leg in Paris next month.

He could even be joined on the sidelines for the Old Trafford first leg by Edinson Cavani after he picked up a knock in Lique 1 at the weekend.

But the absence of one or possible two superstars does little to detract from the contest which awaits.

Not with the likes of Kylian Mbappe – who scored on his previous visit to England during a defeat in September – Angel Di Maria, Julian Draxler, Marco Verratti, Thiago Silva and Gigi Buffon in the French club’s ranks.

Historically Paris has experienced its fair share of revolutions and in 2011 it witnessed another when Qatari investors took over the perennial underachievers.

Since then, billions have been invested into the club with them threatening to do in France what Manchester City have started to do in England – blow all and sundry out of the water when it comes to the transfer market.

Yet, despite their recent domestic dominance, it is football’s premier club competition which they crave most of all.

That they have failed to progress beyond the Champions League quarter-finals, despite a massive outlay over the past eight years, is a statistic that has clearly hurt the Parisians.

For there is no doubt this is a club which wants to build a pedigree and tradition,similar to that of established heavyweights like Manchester United.

PSG aim to upset Champions League 2019 betting odds and win the first leg of their UCL clash vs Manchester United

Edinson Cavani picks up a knock in PSG’s clash vs Bordeaux

On a run of fine form themselves since the appointment of interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – they broke into the Premier League top four with a convincing win at Fulham over the weekend –the Red Devils will relish the rarity of being underdogs in this tie.

Solskjaer has United believing again after the largely miserable few months of 2018, although there is no question this is the biggest test since his return.

In fact, the next three matches (Chelsea and Liverpool follow this one) will tell us a lot more about the state of United and whether or not Solskjaer is a genuine contender to get the job on a full-time basis.

Much could depend on whether Alexis Sanchez can introduce himself to life in Europe as a top United player.

He has failed to make an impression in Europe since signing for the club just over a year ago – indeed, his European campaign last season ended before it started with United going out in the last 16.

He has also only made two appearances in this season’s Champions League campaign, in the 2-1 win against Juventus in Turin and the goalless draw against Valencia.

The Chilean may have started just one of United’s nine Premier League games since Solskjaer took charge before the Premier League game against Cardiff in December.

However, there is a world class talent in the number seven shirt and one suspects this could be the occasion for him to show it to a wider audience.

It will also be interesting to see what kind of reception Di Maria receives on his return to Old Trafford.

The Argentine’s talent is not in doubt but he seems to go missing when the going gets tough, something which has been labelled against him at both his current and previous employers.

Anyway, that’s enough of the talking. It’s almost kick-off time!

History

Incredibly, this is the first ever competitive meeting between the two sides. One suspects it won’t be the last.

PSG won 2-0 against United in a pre-season friendly in 2015.

Betting Tip

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Manchester United vs Paris Saint-Germain Total Goal 4-6 @ 2.97
February 13 04:00 (GMT+8)

With such dynamic attacking talent on show, I can’t predict anything but goals.

Correct score @ 14.50 it will not be. Over 3.00 goals @ 2.12 also suggests goals are expected.

There will be many us fans who are surprised that the Champions League 2019 betting odds have United as slight favourites.

1X2 Man Utd @ 2.35, 1X2 PSG @ 2.90 and the draw @ 3.30.

Asian Handicap odds also offer tempting bets with Man Utd -0.25 @ 2.09 and PSG 0.00 @ 2.20.

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?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Champions League: PSG See Off Travel Sick Reds

Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 Liverpool

Paris Saint-Germain are in control of their own Champions League destiny after a massive win in tonight’s Group C match at Parc des Princes.

And that means Liverpool must beat Napoli by two clear goals in an Anfield showdown in the final group game in two weeks time. First-half goals from Juan Bernat and Neymar were enough to win the game, as James Milner could only half the deficit with a penalty.

Thomas Tuchel’s team is unstoppable in Ligue 1 with a 100 percent record, but the pressure to perform in Europe is weighing heavily on the shoulders of players and coach alike.

Liverpool fans haven’t had it so good for quite some time as Jurgen Klopp has turned their heroes into one of the best attacking forces in world football. But they just couldn’t haul themselves back into this game. The Champions League 2018 betting odds on last season’s beaten finalists are starting to lengthen, but don’t write the Reds off just yet.

Highlights of the game

For any Liverpool fans browsing through the Champions League 2018 news this week, the report that both Kylian Mbappe and Neymar were fit to play was not exactly what they wanted to hear. And they were both involved in the early exchanges as PSG started the game at breakneck speed.

First, Mbappe’s shot across the face of goal took a touch to deflect it narrowly wide, and after Angel Di Maria drew a good save from Alisson, the Liverpool keeper was in action again to deny Neymar’s curling effort.

But the early pressure told and it was full-back Juan Bernat who opened the scoring on 13 minutes. Marco Verratti slid the ball to Mbappe and the French star’s cross was headed out by Virgil Van Dijk. The ball then fell to Bernat and the Spaniard beat Alisson at his near post.

That got the Parc des Princes rocking, but it did prompt a response from Liverpool. James Milner found Mo Salah in the area and his shot flew narrowly wide. And then Verratti was lucky to stay on the field when ploughed into Joe Gomez, only to receive a yellow card.

But the Reds recovery was short-lived and they were 2-0 down after a superb breakaway goal as Mbappe sent Neymar through.

The Brazil captain made a return pass to Mbappe who then put a dangerous ball into the area which Alisson briefly cleared, but Neymar was in the right place to gather the loose ball and fired home their second.

Liverpool failed to overcome PSG in the Champions League as they lose 2 goals to 1

James Milner gestures to the crowd after scoring Liverpool’s lone goal via penalty

Liverpool fought back again and they grabbed a lifeline as Di Maria fouled Sadio Mane on the stroke of halftime. Mr. Dependable, James Milner, hit the ball low and hard into the corner to haul ‘Pool back at the perfect moment.

That set up a huge second half. Thiago Silva got the crowd roaring again early on when he put in a brilliant challenge to deny Andy Robertson.

Liverpool were on the front foot as Roberto Firmino almost seized onto a poor back pass. He had another chance soon after Robertson crossed, but he steered his header wide.

Alisson kept the Reds in the tie with a wonderful save on 70 minutes when Neymar swung over a corner and Marquinhos sent a bullet header towards the net. That prompted Liverpool to move forwards again, with substitute Xherdan Shaqiri trying to inspire a late fight back.

The Reds had a late chance when Salah was hauled down just outside the penalty area, but Van Dijk was penalised for a foul as Shaqiri floated the ball over.

Key statistics

Liverpool have lost all three of its away fixtures in this group and that’s an unwanted first for Jurgen Klopp’s team.

This defeat makes it four consecutive away losses in the Champions League for the Reds, again a new record they really won’t like.

What’s next?

PSG have two away games to contend with in Ligue 1: firstly a trip down to the south west of France to play Bordeaux, currently 12th, and then back up towards the German border to play ninth-placed Strasbourg. Neither team has won in four league games, so I expect PSG to make it 16 wins from 16 by this time next week.

And for Liverpool, it’s one of the fixtures of the season: the Merseyside Derby as Everton take the short walk across Stanley Park. The Toffees are in fine form, four wins in six league games and a solitary defeat which have lifted them to sixth in the table. It could be another Mersey classic and us will be right there with all the action.

Then Liverpool need to get that big win against Napoli. Now, that is not a game to miss!

 

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Champions League: Paris Match is a Big Test for the Reds

Paris Saint-Germain vs Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp takes Liverpool on a winter trip to the Parc des Princes on Wednesday to face the star-studded PSG in a hugely important Euro clash.

It’s a good chance to do some of your Christmas shopping in one of Europe’s classiest destinations, but we’re there for the big Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool. And it’s going to be a nail-biter; the hosts are at 2.14 to win, with us odds placing Liverpool at 3.10 and the draw at 3.55. All three results are very possible.

Both PSG and Liverpool have a realistic chance of winning the Champions League next May, they are in the small group of teams behind Manchester City, Juventus and Barcelona. But first they need to get out of Group C and the Champions League 2018 results to date have left four teams chasing two places, separated by only two points.

Talking Points

PSG’s 100 per cent record

Thomas Tuchel’s team has as good as won Ligue 1 and we haven’t even had a glass of mulled wine yet! With 14 wins from 14 games they are already 15 points clear of second-placed Lyon who, incidentally, they recently slaughtered 5-0!

But they aren’t having it all their own way in Europe, and sit in third place on five points, one behind both Liverpool and Napoli. PSG took a point in a hard-fought draw in Naples, a result which suited Liverpool after Klopp’s men suffered an embarrassing defeat away to Red Star Belgrade. That was the second draw Tuchel’s team played out against Napoli and it’s about time the Ligue 1 billionaires started winning.

Take a look down the team list and there is no reason on earth why this team can’t triumph in Europe. From legendary goalkeeper Gigi Buffon, flying wingback Thomas Meunier, defensive genius Thiago Silva, and the breathtaking talent of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe up front, with Julian Draxler just behind, this is a team of superstars.

Mbappe and Neymar missed the recent home win over Toulouse but no worry, Uruguay hitman Edinson Cavani did the business. Neymar and Mbappe should be fit to face Liverpool and I wouldn’t back against them adding to their five Champions League goals combined.

Champions League: Neymar and Kylian Mbappe could play a match of that level against Liverpoolcould play the match against Liverpool

Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates with Neymar after scoring their second goal against Lille

Liverpool’s destiny in their own hands

Even after the defeat to Red Star, Liverpool should still qualify from Group C, but it’s a whole lot tighter than the Reds would have hoped. They would probably take a draw right now, but it would be a dangerous ploy to try to frustrate their hosts. It isn’t in Liverpool’s nature to sit back in any case, and they too have plenty of scoring options which can hurt the Parisians. Mo Salah doesn’t have to take it all on his own shoulders, with the likes of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Xherdan Shaqiri alongside him. Firmino and Salah were both on target in a 0-3 win away to Watford at the weekend and both have two goals in the Champions League.

A win on Wednesday would almost certainly confirm Liverpool’s place in the last 16, but to do that they need their defence to play a blinder too. It’s going to be a big night for keeper Alisson and centre-back Virgil van Dijk.

History

This year’s Champions League has pitched together two of the best attacking forces in world football. The return match at Anfield was an absolute cracker, Firmino firing an injury-time winner after MBappe thought he’d snatched a point in the 83rd minute. The 3-2 home win was a big result for Liverpool, giving Klopp’s side a stranglehold on the group, which they loosened rather weakly in Belgrade.

Liverpool has a rich heritage in Europe’s premier competition and the Reds are five times winners. It must rankle with PSG fans that they haven’t yet reached a final, while their fierce domestic rivals Olympique Marseille have already won the Champions League. Failure to qualify from the group stage would be a disaster for Tuchel, with little to play for on the domestic front.

Betting Tip

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Paris Saint-Germain vs Liverpool Liverpool Asian Handicap +0.50 @ 1.80
November 29, 04:00 (GMT+8)

According to Champions League 2018 betting odds both these teams should progress from Group C, but it is mighty close, and for that outcome to materialise, it could mean Liverpool will need to beat Napoli at Anfield in the decider.

PSG’s league form is frightening, but Ligue 1 is not the Premier League and Liverpool will hope an easy time in their domestic league may have softened up the Parisians a little. I can see a draw on the way but get ready for some more late drama.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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Champions League: Still No Clear Winner in This Rivalry

Napoli 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain

This wasn’t an exciting Champions League match, but the star quality present on the pitch when Napoli and Paris Saint-German butted heads for the second time was breathtaking.

Naples bore witness to some of the world’s best footballers strut their stuff and take all of the three points. While the result wasn’t what many us Champions League fans wanted, the contents of this game were enough to keep us talking for days!

Highlights of the game

The match began with the two European giants skirmishing in the midfield. Whenever you have players such as Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe sharing the same pitch, it’s hard not to expect some fantastic footballing action!

Insigne knew that allowing PSG some momentum into the game will only invite disaster, so he and Mertens tried to make things happen on attack and defence and not allow the Ligue 1 juggernauts to have a foothold at the Stadio San Paolo.

However, it is inevitable that Neymar and Mbappe will find themselves with the football and try to make something happen. Everyone in Carlo Ancelotti’s side is especially wary of Mbappe. The world’s best teenager is expected to become the best and showcased his quality in the 23rd minute.

After spells of dominating with the ball and making piercing dribbles on the left during the early minutes, he caught a superb cross on the edge of the box and fired the ball goalwards. Fortunately for the Napoli faithful, the ball grazed over the crossbar.

The match raged on as the players continued to pry the floodgates open and get onto scoring form. PSG seemingly took control of the pace by the 20-minute mark, but Napoli seemingly wrestled back the balance of the match.

Neymar and Angel Di Maria continued pounding Napoli’s defence, mixing short and long passes in order to constantly challenge the I Partenopei backline and tire them out. Their pesky attacks eventually bore fruit when the first goal was scored in the dying moments of the first half.

Kylian Mbappe's assist to Juan Bernat opened up the scoring for PSG in their Champions League clash against Napoli

PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly fight for the ball during their recent Champions League clash

Mbappe got an open ball and ran into open space, baiting defenders to come to him. He then made a quick through ball to the rushing Juan Bernat. He stumbled while getting the ball but managed to kick the ball past David Ospina before hitting the pitch. He immediately ran to Mbappe and celebrate their thrilling lead.

Ancelotti looked like he didn’t worry a single bit, though. While he was hoping that his team would keep the stalemate before the end of the half, he didn’t seem particularly bothered when his team unluckily went down at the end of the half. He instead focused on reorganising his team and playing aggressive football at the reset.

That’s exactly what Napoli did when the second half started. Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon led the charge as they put the Parisien defence to the test. They launched attack after attack, giving little room for captain Thiago Silva to properly reorganise his men.

Napoli’s fiery pursuit finally bore fruit when Italy legend and PSG stopper Gianluigi Buffon made a wrong decision and conceded a penalty for Napoli.

Up then stepped Lorenzo Insigne. These two are familiar with each other’s tendencies as they spent time together in the Italian national team. Lorenzo aimed to the bottom left, and Buffon made the right guess. Unfortunately for him, the ball was too fast for him to spill outwards, and Napoli equalised.

It was from that moment on that everyone knew the game was set. Mbappe and Neymar still tried to force their way back to the top of the game, but the sturdy Napoli backline didn’t allow PSG to even challenge Ospina.

This is the best result for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool after suffering a humiliating defeat against Red Star Belgrade. This is a great result for Napoli as Le Parisiens were slight favourites according to pre-match Napoli vs PSG odds. The German admitted that these two teams are tough opposition for the knockout rounds, and them drawing keeps everything level.

Key statistics

Casuals who didn’t watch the game might be quick to blame the Italian keeper for the draw. However, those at the Stadio San Paolo were reminded just how good the former Juventus man is. He made four important saves in the second half that could have easily put PSG in a big ditch.

If the PSG supporters are still looking for something to blame on this result, the Parisiens‘ lack of attacking intent is the biggest culprit. They had 55% of ball possession, but they only took nine shot attempts. They weren’t able to make the most out of their time with the ball due to Napoli’s solid defensive tactics.

What’s next?

Both teams kept their undefeated streak alive and will be looking forward to their next match. PSG will be facing Monaco and Toulouse in Ligue 1 before squaring off against Liverpool at the Parc des Princes. Napoli will be facing Genoa and Chievo in their domestic fixtures before hosting a confident Red Star Belgrade next month.

For more Champions League 2018 updates, keep your eye peeled here at us.

 

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Champions League: Clubs Seeking New Glories Go Head-to-head Again

Napoli vs Paris Saint-Germain

As football clubs go, this is a tale of past and present.

Of one side which had its most glorious chapter in the late 80s and early 1990s – inspired by the best player in the world – and a club whose newfound wealth should lead them to great heights in the here and now.

Given the differential in resources, Paris St Germain should win this Champions League match but they failed to beat Napoli in Paris so should not necessarily be seen as likely winners in the Stadio San Paolo.

Talking Points

Yet again this could be a chapter of friends reunited.

Former Napoli favourite Edinson Cavani scored 78 goals in 104 Serie A appearances for the club between 2010 and 2013 before moving to Paris where he now leads the line. Cavani is a doubt for this one with injury but has his heart set on a return.

Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti was in charge of PSG between 2011 and 2013, winning the Ligue 1 title in 2013.

He then managed Real Madrid and guided them to Champions League glory in 2014, including a certain Angel Di Maria, now in PSG colours of course.

Then there is Gianluigi Buffon who is set to make his first Champions League appearance for his new club and up against Ancelotti, his coach at Parma from 1996 to 1998.

Champions League: Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti regretful over late equaliser by Paris Saint-Germain

Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti during the Champions League press conference at Parc des Princes stadium in Paris

Buffon was banned for three European matches by UEFA in June for his comments about referee Michael Oliver following his former club Juventus’ defeat to Real Madrid last season.

Away from the reunions, it’s worth noting the French title-holders have won only two of their 19 games against Italian clubs, home and away (drawn eight, lost nine).

It’s also worth noting that Marek Hamsik, who has played a key role in the Napoli resurgence of recent years, is on the verge of setting a new club record.

Should he play, as expected against PSG, he will make his 512th appearance for the club, surpassing the all-time club record he currently holds alongside former defender Giuseppe Bruscolotti.

PSG start as favourites and have just beaten Tottenham’s 58-year-old European record as they defeated Lille to make it 12 consecutive wins at the start of the Ligue 1 season.

Yet the Champions League is a very different beast to Ligue 1 as the Partenopei will be keen to prove once again.

Tellingly, PSG went down to Barcelona in the 2015 quarter-finals and against Real Madrid, home and away, in last season’s round of 16, further proof the club is continually failing to achieve what its spending spree of recent years should have sparked at the top level.

That has to stop or Thomas Tuchel will surely be the next coach to make way for the ambitious Qatar Sports Investments owners.

Any game with the likes of Neymar, KylianMbappe, Julian Draxler, di Maria, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insgine on show will be worth watching and, with the wily Ancelotti ensuring Napoli are more than the sum of its parts, this could be a real leveller.

History

The 2-2 draw on matchday three merely showed how evenly these sides are matched, even if Napoli were rather unfortunate not to return to Naples with all three points.

Competitively, the sides’ only previous clashes came in the second round of the 1992/93 UEFA Cup.

PSG won the first leg 2-0 in Naples, courtesy of a first-half double from Liberian king George Weah. Those goals proved to be the only ones in the tie as there was a goalless second leg at the Parc des Princes. PSG lost to eventual winners Juventus in the semi-finals.

Betting Tip

??
Napoli vs Paris Saint-Germain 1X2 Draw @ 3.35
November 07, 04:00 (GMT+8)

Despite being held at home on matchday three, PSG are slight favourites for this one with the Champions League 2018 betting odds.

us betters can get odds of 1X2 on the visitors @ 2.45, with Napoli priced @ 2.83.

A repeat of the 2-2 draw from last month has correct score odds @ 10.50.

The expected closeness of this encounter is shown in that the most attractive double chance odds only come out @ 1.50 and that is for Napoli or draw.

With such attacking talent on display you can see why total goal 0-1 will pay out @ 5.20, contrast that with under three goals @ 2.01.

Asian Handicap odds is where it really gets interesting and the 0.00 Napoli @ 2.14 certainly made me think, as did -0.25 Paris St Germain @ 2.08.

However, I have to go for the 1X2 draw @ 3.35 as my tip.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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Angel Di Maria Rescues PSG from more Champions League Woes

Paris Saint-Germain 2-2 Napoli

Well, that has set the Champions League cat among the pigeons.

Angel Di Maria’s priceless last-gasp equaliser will feature in many Champions League 2018 highlights for us fans.

But what’s more, the importance to Paris Saint-Germain’s Group C qualifying hopes could be unquantifiable.

Remember, this is a team which has continually failed to master football’s premier competition, even since the Qatar Sports Investments takeover in 2011.

Now, the Champions League 2018 betting odds have moved slightly again after Di Maria’s 93rd-minute effort from the edge of the box found the top left corner of the net.

Seconds before, they had been looking down the barrel of a group exit.

Highlights of the game

Carlo Ancelotti hails Napoli for giving an outstanding show against PSG in recent Champions League fixture

Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti stands in the sideline during his side’s Champions League match against PSG

PSG will be mightily relieved, and it is Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli who have every right to be happier, despite their late concession.

They thoroughly deserved at least a point against a club many consider as favourites to win this season’s competition.

The sense PSG could have an odd night occurred in the opening minutes when former Napoli favourite Edinson Cavani—who scored 78 goals in 104 Serie A appearances for the club between 2010 and 2013 before moving to Paris—and Neymar both went for the same ball and collided, with the Brazilian even requiring treatment for a knock to the ankle.

Marquinhos was also booked within five minutes for raking his studs down Dries Mertens’ leg. The Belgian, though, would later exact perfect revenge.

Mertens also had bad luck when his 24th-minute volley from a Mario Rui cross came back off the crossbar.

Yet, it’s hard to keep a good man down and Lorenzo Insigne, the hero of the Partenopei’s last group match against Liverpool, expertly lobbed the onrushing goalkeeper Alphonse Areola after a threaded through ball from Jose Callejon just before the half-hour mark.

Areola was playing because new signing Gianluigi Buffon is suspended in Europe after his misdemeanours for Juventus in last season’s competition.

The lead was what Ancelotti’s side deserved on his return to the Parc des Princes just over a year after a 3-0 defeat marked the end of his tenure as boss of Bayern Munich.

Yet, this has also been a happy place for the veteran Italian who was coach of PSG from 2011 to 2013 during which he won one Ligue 1 title.

The goal showed Insigne’s class but it was clear he was not fully fit – he later complained of struggling to breathe after a knock to the ribs – and he left the fray eight minutes after the restart at a time when PSG were starting to flex their muscles.

Both Kylian Mbappe, Di Maria and Neymar saw efforts blocked or saved before the hosts drew level as the clock struck an hour played.

The luckless Rui was credited with putting the ball past his own goalkeeper, sliding a Thomas Meunier cross into his own net.

Mertens went close to restoring Napoli’s lead and was not to be denied 13 minutes from time when he poked home a right-footed shot after the ball came to him off Marquinhos.

Mertens nearly had his second moments later when his header from another Rui delivery forced Areola into action. Arkadiusz Milk also went close with a header soon after.

Injury time proved to a decisive moment as Di Maria, who played hero when Ancelotti guided Real Madrid to Champions League glory in 2014, curled a superb effort beyond the despairing dive of David Ospina.

Honours even but a real show of the progress Napoli are making under Ancelotti. The return fixture is in a fortnight’s time and will be a crucial contest in what appears to be a three-way battle to reach the knockout stage.

This was also another example of PSG failing to win in Europe when it matters most.

As for Neymar, the full-time whistle signalled yet more petulance from the world’s most expensive footballer.

He marched straight off the pitch without shaking an opponent’s hand and kicked an object in frustration on his way, presumably back to the dressing room.

His reputation continues to go before him and his sense of entitlement and general body language does him no favours.

Key statistics

This was Neymar’s 50th UEFA Champions League appearance.

The French title-holders have now won only two of their 19 games against Italian clubs, home and away (drawn eight, lost nine).

What’s next?

Both sides have two matches before renewing acquaintances in Naples in just under a fortnight’s time.

PSG travel to Marseille in Ligue 1 and then host Lille before travelling to Italy.

Napoli now have three home games in a row and a big clash with Roma this weekend before entertaining Empoli, also in Serie A.

 

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Champions League: It’s Time for Another Parisian Night in Europe

Paris Saint-Germain vs Napoli

Such is the unparalleled wealth at the disposal of the French champions, domestic dominance in Ligue 1 is no longer the barometer to judge Thomas Tuchel’s side.

It is the Champions League which is the real test for Paris St Germain and one they have continually failed to master, even since the Qatar Sports Investments takeover in 2011.

With massive investments in the likes of Neymar, KylianMbappe, Thiago Motta, Thiago Silva, Angel di Maria and Zlatan Ibrahimovic over the years, it’s not just us fans who have been left wondering why but a host of managers and supporters.

Could 2019 be the year that changes?

Talking Points

At the time of the takeover, PSG were considered French football’s chief underachievers having only ever won two top-flight titles in their 45-year history – a tally lower than nine other clubs.

Since then, France’s capital club have claimed five Ligue 1 titles in six seasons but it’s their Champions League 2018 highlights they will be fully judged on in the months ahead.

They lost their opening Group C encounter at Liverpool and even a thrashing of group minnows Red Star last time out can’t hide the fact that, when it has mattered most in Europe, PSG have mainly been found wanting.

At the weekend, Tucheltook off Di Maria and Marco Verratti as a precaution during a routine 5-0 win over Amiens but hopes both will be fit to face Napoli.

The home side certainly can’t afford another slip up to keep alive their hopes of topping the group.

It certainly should not be too intimidating for the underdog visitors.

That is because the Auteuil end of Parc des Princes will be closed as punishment for last season’s use of flares which means the ultras’ usual home standing area will be empty.

There won’t be an Italian reunion for Gianluigi Buffon either. The veteran shot-stopper is suspended for the clash with the side who have been the main rivals of his former club Juventus in recent seasons.

Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti was Buffon’s coach at Parma between 1996 and 1998.

This clash is a match of many reunions because Ancelotti was PSG coach between 2011 and 2013, winning the Ligue 1 title in 2013 when he promptly left for Real Madrid who he guided to the Champions League 12 months later.

That Real team contained Di Maria.

And then there’s one of the many millionaire stars Napoli will need to contain this week – Edinson Cavani scored 78 goals in 104 Serie A appearances for Napoli between 2010 and 2013 before moving to Paris, winning the Coppa Italia in 2012.

Ancelotti acknowledges this will be a ‘crucial’ test for his side, although both teams should be in high spirits having picked up morale-boosting Group C wins last time out.

Lorenzo Insigne—their hero against Liverpool—is a doubt, as is Simone Verdi and there’s no doubt the loss of one or both of them would be keenly felt by the Partenopei.

Lorenzo Insigne scored the only goal during the Champions League match between Napoli and Liverpool

Napoli striker Lorenzo Insigne celebrates after scoring the game-winner during the Champions League match against Liverpool

Either way, PSG need to improve on a poor record against Italian clubs.

The French title-holders have won only two of their 18 games against Italian clubs, home and away (drawn seven, lost nine).

Napoli are in the group stage for the fifth time – all in the last eight seasons – but only twice have they reached the last 16 (2011/12 and 2016/17).

History

Competitively, the sides’ only previous clashes came in the second round of the 1992/93 UEFA Cup.

PSG won the first leg 2-0 in Naples, courtesy of a first-half double from Liberian king George Weah. Those goals proved to be the only ones in the tie as there was a goalless second leg at the Parc des Princes. PSG lost to eventual winners Juventus in the semi-finals.

PSG have lost only two of their last 48 European home games since crashing 4-2 to Hapoel Tel-Aviv in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup group stage (won 31, drawn 15.

Tellingly though, they went down 3-1 to Barcelona in the 2015 quarter-finals and 2-1 against Real Madrid in last season’s round of 16.

Betting Tip

??
Paris Saint-Germain vs Napoli Total Goal 4-6 @ 2.44
October 25, 03:00 (GMT+8)

The Champions League 2018 betting odds expect goals – not surprisingly given the firepower at PSG’s disposal in particular.

In fact, PSG have scored in their last 18 Champions League matches.

While Napoli are pretty tight in defence, I’m going to predict goals aplenty in this one and my two-star tip is Total goal 4-6 @ 2.44.

Other available bets to take note of include Asian Handicap -1.50 PSG @ 2.20, +1.00 Napoli @ 2.23.

You can also get 1X2 odds on PSG @ 1.44, Napoli @ 6.40 and the draw at 4.60.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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