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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Midweek Football Picks (April 9-11)

The second legs of the Champions League and the Europa League Quarter Finals will be completed this week and the draw for the Semi Finals will be made at the end of the week. Most of the interest in the games this week, from an English standpoint, won't be until Thursday as there is no representation in the Champions League.

The Europa League second legs are likely to be the more interesting as there seems to be more doubt about the winners of those ties than there seems to be in the Champions League. Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona are all in strong positions to get through to the Semi Finals of the Champions League and I would be surprised if any of those names are not involved in a couple of weeks time.

On the other hand, the Basle-Tottenham Hotspur Europa League tie still looks finely balance, while Newcastle United had enough joy in the first leg at Benfica to think they can find a way to turn that tie around.

Hopefully it will be a good week of football for neutrals to enjoy at the least.

Borussia Dortmund v Malaga Pick: Borussia Dortmund had chances to take a lead in the first leg in Spain last week, but I still think they are in a strong position to book their place in the Semi Final.

The 0-0 draw is a concern in that Dortmund have to really win this game and a score draw would see them exit the competition, but they will feel confident in winning in front of their own fans. The side have won 5 straight games at home in all competitions and they have scored at least 3 goals in each of those games, while winning comfortably in each of those games.

The German side have also won all 4 home games in the Champions League, while Malaga have picked up just 1 win in their last 5 away games in all competitions including a 1-0 loss at Porto in the Second Round of the Champions League.

Malaga did pick up score draws at Zenit St Petersburg and Milan in the Group Stage of the Champions League, but they have been struggling in the second half of the season and they could be ripe for the picking if Dortmund take the lead in this game.

I can see Dortmund being a little too good for Malaga from the off and I like their chances of winning this game by at least a couple of goals.

Juventus v Bayern Munich Pick: Bayern Munich almost blew a two goal lead in the Second Round of the Champions League against Arsenal, but I believe the 2-0 lead they have over Juventus before this game in Turin will prove to be decisive.

The problem for Juventus is that they do need to get much more forward than they did in the first leg last week at the Allianz Arena and that will only leave them open for the counter attack that Bayern Munich used to devastating effect at the Emirates Stadium against Arsenal when winning 1-3.

I do think Juventus are capable of restoring some pride after a limp display in Munich, but I can't see them keeping Bayern from scoring here too and the over 2.5 goals looks the best way to get on this game.

Juventus won't stop attacking as they need to score goals, and we have seen two high-scoring second legs in the Quarter Finals so far and I do believe this game will follow suit. Even if the game is level at 1-1 or Juventus are leading 1-0, you have to think this will be an open game and goals are likely to follow.

Barcelona v Paris Saint-Germain Pick: If you read my comments at the top of this thread, you will know that I do fancy Barcelona to make it through to the Semi Finals after their 2-2 draw in Paris last week. However, after further research, I do think Paris Saint-Germain are going to cause some real problems for Barcelona in this game and certainly look capable of scoring at least once here.

Most people will be looking for the former Barcelona player, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, to be the player that will likely profit for any defensive lapses that the home side are likely to have, but I am instead going to look for Ezequiel Lavezzi who has scored in 4 consecutive Champions League games before the game at home against Barcelona last week.

He scored in Spain against Valencia in the Second Round and will be in and around the dangerous areas with Paris needing to score at least once, but much more likely need to score twice to prolong their stay in the Champions League.

Lavezzi is priced at 6.00 to score at anytime and I'll look for him to continue a fine scoring record in this competition at the Nou Camp.

Rubin Kazan v Chelsea Pick: I am not a big fan of Rafa Benitez (what Manchester United fan could be), but I think he is perfectly in his element in a European knock out tie with his side defending a lead from the first leg.

Time after time at Liverpool, Benitez made sure his side was organised enough to keep things tight in these away games and there has been a similar trend in his two games as Chelsea manager in the Europa League with neither away game seeing more than one goal scored.

With a two goal lead and a FA Cup Semi Final against Manchester City on deck, I can see Benitez sending his side out to be very tight in Russia and looking to make sure that Rubin Kazan can't pick up ahead of steam. Rubin themselves failed to score in their last two home games in this competition, losing to Atletico Madrid and drawing with Levante before putting them away in extra time and so a lack of goals may just be the situation for this second leg.

Newcastle United v Benfica Pick: Newcastle United created enough chances in the first leg to have come away with a much better result than the 3-1 deficit they are facing, but those opportunities will also fire the belief that they can win this game and move through to the Semi Final of the Europa League.

However, it will be dangerous to rule out Benfica, although their game plan is harder to determine- do they stick with the two goal lead or do they twist by trying to wipe off the away goal that Newcastle United picked up in Lisbon last week.

I do think there will be goals in the game as Benfica are a little more direct and won't have long periods of possession like Bayern Munich did in their game at Juventus and so I do also think Newcastle will get chances in the games. The prices have come down, but backing Over 2.5 goals looks the call in this one.

MY PICKS: Borussia Dortmund - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Juventus-Bayern Munich Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.83 Coral (2 Units)
Ezequiel Lavezzi to score anytime @ 6.00 Coral (1 Unit)
Rubin Kazan-Chelsea Under 1.5 Goals @ 3.25 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Newcastle United-Benfica Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

April Update5-11, - 4.25 Units (20 Units Staked, - 21.25% Yield)

March Final16-20, + 7.43 Units (55 Units Staked, + 13.51% Yield)
February Final14-23, - 2.81 Units (48 Units Staked, - 5.85% Yield)
January Final10-22, - 10.89 Units (45 Units Staked, - 24.2% Yield)
December Final17-24-1, - 0.83 Units (53 Units Staked, - 0.02 % Yield)
November Final8-21, - 8.25 Units (37 Units Staked, - 22.3% Yield)
October Final9-9, + 5.44 Units (27 Units Staked, 20.1% Yield)
September Final17-11, + 21.19 Units (46 Units Staked, 46.1% Yield)
August Final12-13, + 1.29 Units (40 Units Staked, 3.22% Yield)

Season 2012/13+ 12.57 Units (351 Units Staked, + 3.58% Yield)

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