FC Barcelona – Atletico Madrid:
Only barely winning over PSV Eindhoven in the previous game of The Champions League in the penalty shootout, Atletico lost the following game against Gijon only to score an easy 5:1 victory over Betis Sevilla at the weekend. Atletico had very bad luck, recently losing their whole central defense due to injury as well as Oliver Torres. Barcelona have also been struggling whilst only scraping a draw against Villareal and losing the Clasico because of a very bad performance against Real Madrid, who scored after Sergio Ramos was sent off with a second yellow card. The players will want to redeem themselves by winning and unlike Atletico, Luis Enrique has the full squad to his availability. Two games have been played between the two clubs this season. Both coming out with Barcelona scoring a close 2:1 victory.
Barcelona is the favourite in this game and likely going to start with their standard 4-3-3 formation including MSN. It is a bit harder to foresee Atletico’s tactics for this game. Using the recent (almost) downwards trend of Barcelona to their advantage by playing an offensive pressing might go very wrong because of their young substitute defense, while playing a very defensive tactic and scoring by fast turnarounds could likely fail because of the incredible offensive quality of Barcelona and again the very inexperienced central defense of Atletico. Diego Simeone and his squad have shown before that they are very well capable in beating such a strong opponent and it would be a very nice surprise this season.
Bayern München – SL Benfica
Bayern is top of the league in Germany. That does not change the fact that they only give the absolute minimum of commitment to win in the Bundesliga. The last two games were only won by 1:0 against the 17th and 11th of the table. But in the first game against Juventus, which might have just been the best game I’ve seen in the last few years, they showed an incredible performance for the first 60 minutes, only to go into overtime in the second game because of a terrible performance until the 75th minute. But it is an example of what kind of performance this team is capable off. SL Benfica demonstrated an impressive piece of tactics in the games against Zenit shifting almost the entire game to the left side. But they also demonstrated their incapability to generate dangerous goal scoring opportunities. They had quite a bit of luck to proceed to the quarterfinals and it seems like Bayern are going to be at the end of their champions league season.
After struggling with injuries, Javi Martinez returned onto the pitch last weekend and is likely to start on Wednesday for Bayern, who are still missing Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber and Arjen Robben. A 4-4-2 is likely with Lewandowski and Müller as strikers. Benfica is expected to start with a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3. Still missing are Julio Cesar and Luisao. If Bayern gives a little more effort than in the league and present themselves as good as they were against Juventus Benfica stands little chance proceeding to the next round. If you decide on betting 1€ on a win for Benfica anyway, you will get 18€ in return.
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