Manchester City’s unbeaten streak stretched to six games on Saturday, but despite that they won’t be pleased with the result at all. They were held to a goalless draw away against Huddersfield in the FA Cup, and even though their hosts have been in fantastic form, it’s still a match they should have won easily.
Prior to this they had won four matches on the bounce in all competitions and looked to be getting back to the dominant side we saw at the beginning of the campaign. That failure to break down lower league opposition highlights issues in the attacking aspect though, whereas previously the majority of their issues stemmed from the back.
At home they have won four and drawn two of their six games since a 3-1 loss to Chelsea back in December, and in the Champions League they beat both Barcelona and Borussia Monchengladbach in the group stages before drawing against Celtic.
Monaco won’t be pushovers though. The visitors have been in phenomenal form this season, and their 1-1 draw at Bastia on Friday extended their unbeaten streak to 12 games in all competitions. Nine of these have ended in victory, leaving them top of Ligue 1 with a four point lead over PSG but having played an extra game. They also remain in both the Coupe de la Ligue and the Coupe de France.
Away from home they are unbeaten in seven games across the board, but in the Champions League group stages they only managed one win from their three trips away, beating Spurs, before a draw at CSKA Moscow and a loss at Bayer Leverkusen.
Bernardo Silva is the man that Manchester City need to be on the lookout for. The winger has bagged seven goals in his 14 away appearances in the Champions League and Ligue 1 this season, and he has scored five goals in his last five away matches, so he looks an excellent choice for our anytime goalscorer predictions.
PREDICTION: MANCITY WIN 2-1
Bayer Leverkusen suffered a poor return from the Bundesliga winter break when they lost two of their three returning matches, but their 3-1 win at Augsburg on Friday gives them back to back wins in the league to set them up quite nicely for this crucial first leg of the Champions League tie with Atletico Madrid.
The hosts came 2nd in their group behind Monaco earlier in the season, beating both Spurs and Monaco but drawing all of their other four clashes. That final day win over Monaco was enough to lift them three points clear of 3rd placed Spurs though.
At home they have been known to slip up occasionally though, winning just four of their last eight competitive games at the BayArena and losing against RB Leipzig, Ingolstadt, and Borussia Monchengladbach. They have managed to score in 12 of their 15 games there though, including each of their last nine.
This will put Diego Simeone on high alert. The Atletico Madrid manager is known for his fantastic tactical astuteness at the back, but with Jan Oblak, Diego Godin, and Juanfran all expected to miss this game their back line could come under intense scrutiny.
The visitors haven’t been their best at the back recently either. Their 4-1 win over Sporting Gijon on Saturday made it four games unbeaten for them, but they have conceded in six of their last eight in all competitions and in seven of their last ten on the road.
Away from home in general Atletico Madrid have struggled a bit recently, drawing four of their last five. They are still incredibly difficult to beat, as their eight match unbeaten streak on the road suggests, but their lack of winning mentality at the moment is an issue.
PREDICTION: ATLETICO WIN 1-0
Sevilla kept up their chase for the Spain Primera Division title on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Eibar to make it five wins from their last eight games in all competitions. Only one of these eight games have ended in defeat as well, leaving them just three points behind Real Madrid at the top of the table. The leaders do have two games in hand on them though, and 3rd placed Barcelona are only a point behind Sevilla and have a game in hand too.
Despite them being at a rather large disadvantage in terms of the league title, they are having a good campaign overall. The four time Europa League winners have shed their status as Europa League specialists by qualifying from their Champions League group ahead of Lyon and Dinamo Zagreb and are understandable favourites for this clash.
The hosts will definitely want to take advantage of this home leg though. Their win over Eibar made it five wins from their last seven home matches in all competitions, with the other two ending as draws. This includes a draw and a win against Real Madrid and a 9-1 battering of Formentera in the Copa del Rey.
They are facing a Leicester side in complete and utter turmoil as well. The Premier League champions performed remarkably well in the Champions League group stages as they topped their group ahead of Porto, Copenhagen, and Club Brugge. They kept a clean sheet in their first four group games, but a 5-0 hammering at Porto in the final match put a dampener on their campaign.
The Foxes’ other competitions are going a lot worse though. They were beaten 1-0 at League One side Millwall at the weekend to crash out of the FA Cup, with that making it six losses, one draw, and one win (after extra time) in their last eight matches in all competitions. Not only does this leave them out of the League Cup but they are now just a point above the Premier League relegation zone and show no signs of turning their form around.
Away from home things are even worse for them. They have won just twice on the road all season, drawing five and losing 12. One of these victories was in the Champions League opener, but I wouldn’t bank on them adding to that on Wednesday.
I can see a comfortable victory for Sevilla here. They have scored at least two goals in six of their last seven home games and are facing a Leicester side who have failed to score in four of their last five on the road. This includes two games against lower league opposition as well, and they have conceded a disappointing nine goals in these five games.
PREDICTION: SEVILLA WIN 1-0
Porto’s winning streak continued on Friday when they battered Tondela 4-0 at home to make it six wins on the bounce in all competitions. This has taken them to the top of the Portuguese Primeira Liga, although the two point lead they hold over a Benfica side with a game in hand is far from a comfortable lead.
In the Champions League they managed to finish 2nd in their group behind Leicester, knocking out Copenhagen and Club Brugge in the process with an 11 point haul from their six games. Their last group game was a stunning 5-0 thrashing of Leicester as well, which made it two wins out of three at home in the group stages.
The knockout stage draw hasn’t exactly been favourable towards them though, and they are understandably underdogs in this two-legged tie with Juventus. The visitors beat Palermo 4-1 on Friday to extend their own winning streak to seven matches in all competitions.
This has given them a commanding ten point lead in Serie A as they search for their sixth consecutive league title. Such a big lead in the league will allow them to focus heavily on the Champions League as well, whilst Porto don’t have any room for slip ups in their domestic campaign.
Away from home Juventus have faltered occasionally this season, winning six and losing three of their last nine games, with AC Milan, Genoa, and Fiorentina all bettering them on their travels. Meanwhile, Porto are unbeaten on home soil this season and have won 13 of their 18 matches there in all competitions.
I expect this first leg to be a very tight clash. Juventus know that a draw should be enough for them to comfortably qualify for the next round considering their sensational home form, but ideally they would like a victory. Porto won’t lie down though, and their results at home to Sporting CP, Leicester, Braga, Benfica, and Roma this season show they are a tough side to beat in front of their own fans.
PREDICTION : JUVE WIN 3-1