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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Midweek Football Picks 2015 (May 12-14)

The final month of the 2014-15 season is coming to an end, but first we are going to see the Europa League and Champions League Finals set this week.

A couple of those Semi Finals look like they have been won in the First Leg, but there other two Semi Finals look finely balanced and should be good viewing for the neutrals.

Bayern Munich v Barcelona Pick: If there is any way that looking at videos can give Bayern Munich confidence to turn around this Champions League Semi Final, Pep Guardiola might want them to view the 4-0 crushing of Barcelona here two years ago. Things have changed since then with that coming in the First Leg of the Semi Final and the likes of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery having huge performances for the German Champions.

Both of those players are still with Bayern Munich, but injury means neither will play in this one and the home team are in a difficult position of trying to recover a huge deficit from the First Leg. Against the front three of Barcelona, it might be nigh impossible for Bayern Munich to keep a clean sheet and beating this Barcelona by four or more goals might be the most impossible of tasks.

Certainly not in the form that Barcelona have been producing and there really is an opportunity for the side to exorcise the demons of two years ago when they were embarrassed by Bayern Munich in both legs of the Semi Final.

It is a tough position for Bayern Munich to be in as they can't be too rash going forward and leave holes at the back, but patience might run out in the stands if they haven't got in front in the first twenty minutes. Guardiola really is in a tough predicament thanks to the third goal conceded last week at the Nou Camp and memories of the 0-4 home defeat to Real Madrid twelve months ago might not be too far from the minds of every Bayern Munich connected person in the Allianz Arena.

Barcelona don't have to win this game to be heading back to Germany and Berlin for the Final, but they looked far superior to Bayern Munich last week. Confidence looks short in the home team and Barcelona have the counter attack to really punish them if they are off their game yet again.

They looked vulnerable at the back and Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez are more than capable of extending Barcelona's winning run away from home in the Champions League, while also underlining their status as favourites to win the competition.

Real Madrid v Juventus Pick: Not many would have picked Juventus to have a 2-1 lead from the First Leg of this tie, but the Italian Champions may actually be a little disappointed that they don't have a bigger advantage heading to the Spanish capital. 

That 2-1 lead still looks a fragile one for Juventus as Real Madrid have won 12 of their last 13 home games in the Champions League and there are goals in the home team which could help them overcome the deficit.

There is something not quite right at the Santiago Bernebeu at the moment and Carlo Ancelotti doesn't look like he will be in charge going into the new season, even if they retain their Champions League trophy. 

No team has managed to do that since AC Milan in 1990 and Real Madrid would be the underdog against Barcelona on current form, but getting the chance to do that in Berlin would be what the Real Madrid fans expect.

Juventus haven't been to the Final in over a decade when falling short against Milan, but they will be striving to get back to that position and honour the thirtieth anniversary of the Heysel Stadium Disaster that cost 39 Juventus fans their lives. 

Juve played so well in Turin in the First Leg that there will be confidence they can progress, but Juventus might also have a slight tendency to slip back and protect what they have.

That won't be easy against this Real Madrid team with their ability going forward, but Juventus will feel confident their counter-attack can provide dividends and erase the away goal scored by Real Madrid last week.

My personal feeling is that Real Madrid are going to be a little too good for Juventus, but I think there is a real chance for this game to go into extra time. It wouldn't surprise me if Juventus scored, but I think Real Madrid have enough in the locker to beat them here and I can see this being another entertaining game following the one last week.

The Spanish title looks like it is gone, but Real Madrid can continue their bid to retain the Champions League trophy. 

I can see there being a few goals in this one, but I favour Real Madrid to win and backing them to do that in a high-scoring game is the call.

Dnipro v Napoli Pick: This is quite a difficult Second Leg to predict as it is finely balance after the First Leg in Naples at 1-1 and there is a real argument to be made for either team progressing to the Final later this month.

Dnipro have been very strong at home in the Europa League as they have won 4 in a row and kept clean sheets in each of those games. Beating the likes of Olympiacos, Ajax and Club Brugge deserves respect, while the home team can bide their time in this one knowing another clean sheet will mean they reach the Final.

On the other hand, Napoli have focused on this competition for some time and Rafa Benitez has the experience of winning it with Chelsea just a couple of years ago. His Napoli team seem much more comfortable playing away from home, but Dnipro are not going to risk coming onto them too much and that might take away some of what the Italians want to do in this game.

It is tough separating the teams and the first goal could be vital to the outcome- I just think Dnipro have slipped up in their last couple of home games and Napoli have the talent to come here and win. 

Nothing will come easy for Napoli, but if they can get in front, I can see them finishing off Dnipro when the home team begin to chase the game and I will back Napoli to win.

Fiorentina v Sevilla Pick: It is going to take something special for this Second Leg to be anything more than a formality for Sevilla when it comes to qualifying for the Final, but Fiorentina will give them something to think about in my opinion.

The tie might effectively be over for Fiorentina, but it has been a really good campaign in Europe and they will want to give their fans something to smile about by winning the Second Leg. They had enough chances in the First Leg to make life very uncomfortable for Sevilla, but now their visitors can sit back and look to hit Fiorentina on the break.

With that in mind, it would be a surprise if Sevilla didn't score at least once, but Fiorentina have been scoring plenty of goals themselves. For all of their ability in front of goal, Sevilla will give teams chances to get amongst the goals themselves and I do believe we will see at least three goals shared between the teams.

Sevilla have scored at least twice in their last three away Europa League games, while goals have been a real feature of recent Fiorentina games and I will back the over 2.5 goals option even if the price is not the most appealing at first glance. 

However, the home team have to get forward and Sevilla should have spaces to exploit so I am expecting chances at both ends of the field and hoping the strikers have brought their composure with them.

MY PICKS: Barcelona @ 2.63 William Hill (2 Units)
Real Madrid & Over 2.5 Goals Scored @ 2.50 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Napoli @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Fiorentina-Sevilla Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.75 Bet Victor (2 Units)

May Update6-8, - 1.66 Units (28 Units Staked, - 5.93% Yield)

April Final18-27-1, - 14.29 Units (83 Units Staked, - 17.22% Yield)
March Final30-18, + 30.66 Units (88 Units Staked, + 34.84% Yield)
February Final20-24-2, + 3.19 Units (75 Units Staked, + 4.25% Yield)
January Final10-22-1, - 10.54 Units (57 Units Staked, - 18.49% Yield)
December Final25-19-1, + 18.70 Units (81 Units Staked, + 23.09% Yield)
November Final17-21, - 0.59 Units (69 Units Staked, - 1% Yield)
October Final8-18, - 14.79 Units (47 Units Staked, - 31.47% Yield)
September Final12-18, - 2.28 Units (41 Units Staked, - 5.56% Yield)
August Final8-22, - 19.92 Units (51 Units Staked, - 39.06% Yield)

Season 2014/15148-189-5, - 9.86 Units (592 Units Staked, - 1.67% Yield)
Season 2013/14164-185-3, + 15.84 Units (577 Units Staked, + 2.75% Yield)
Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

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