Barcelona v Man Utd (2000 BST – BT Sport)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping to conjure up another magical miraculous night in Barcelona for Manchester United and while it’s looking unlikely we said that about their trip to PSG in the last round and look how that turned out..
Barcelona are a more trustworthy side than PSG; they did get turned over by Roma last year but that was away from home and the Nou Camp is the best stronghold in the Champions League currently with Barca unbeaten in 30.
Amazingly they’ve not conceded more than once in those 30 games so once again United have it all to do, but it must be said they’re built to be a much better side away from home and showed at Old Trafford that their pace and energy up front can cause problems – even if they collectively didn’t have their shooting boots on.
United being 6/1 to win shows you what they’re up against, while even 4/1 for the draw would be of more appeal if they’d have shown either more clinical finishing against Barca or more quality against Watford and West Ham recently in the league.
The worry is that Barcelona played pretty poorly for them in the first leg, and with the home crowd behind them they surely won’t play that badly again – and that could mean this is a step too far even for United’s powers of recovery.
Barcelona v Manchester United – Opta stats
- Of the 70 previous occasions a side has won a Champions League knockout tie first leg away from home, just four have been eliminated (6%). However, two of those instances have been in this season’s competition, including once by Manchester United.
- Barcelona have never lost a home match against Man Utd in European competition (W2 D2), with their last such meeting finishing 0-0 in April 2008.
- Barcelona have progressed from 39 of their 41 European ties in which they won the first leg away from home – the exceptions were against FC Koln in the 1980-81 UEFA Cup, and against Metz in the 1984-85 Cup Winners’ Cup.
- Manchester United have progressed from one of their four previous European ties in which they lost the first leg at home, though it was in the last round against Paris Saint-Germain.
- Barcelona are unbeaten in 30 Champions League home games, the longest such run in the competition (W27 D3). They’ve also not conceded more than once in any of those 30 games (15 goals in total) since a 0-3 loss to Bayern Munich in the 2012-13 semi-finals.
- 90% of Manchester United’s Champions League goals this season have come away from home (9/10). However, the Red Devils have won just one of their last five away knockout stage games in the competition (D2 L2).
- Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has scored 22 goals in 31 Champions League games against English opponents, more than any other player in the competition. 13 of those strikes have come in his last nine against English sides at Camp Nou, including hat-tricks vs Arsenal (April 2010) and Manchester City (October 2016).
Juventus v Ajax (2000 BST – BT Sport)
A real head over heart one here as Ajax have been wonderful for this competition and have played brilliant against both Real Madrid and in the first leg against Juve, which ended 1-1 but could have been anything.
More of the same in the second leg will make for a fantastic tie, but how can you bet against that man Cristiano Ronaldo from doing the business yet again? He’s already shown why Juve bought him almost exclusively to bring the Champions League back to Turin.
The Italians have the pedigree and now the flare with Ronaldo so no surprises they’re odds-on to win, but could there be a more confident 4/1 underdog than Ajax after their 4-1 demolition job at Real Madrid in the last round?
The fitness of star midfielder Frenkie De Jong could have a huge say on the outcome, but either way Ajax will attack and should have enough to score, it’s whether they have enough to stop Ronaldo that is the major doubt.
Juventus v Ajax – Opta stats
- Juventus are unbeaten in their last 10 meetings with Ajax in all competitions, the joint-longest such run for one side against another in European matches (also Bayern Munich vs Benfica).
- After a run of seven defeats in eight games away against Italian opposition (D1), Ajax are unbeaten in their last four such fixtures (W2 D2).
- Juventus are looking to reach the Champions League semi-finals for the third time in the last five seasons, also making the last four in 2014-15 and 2016-17.
- Ajax are looking to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 1996-97, while they could become the first Dutch side to do so since PSV in 2004-05.
- The reverse match was just the third time Juventus have drawn the first leg of a Champions League knockout match away from home – they progressed against Rosenborg in the 1996-97 quarter-final, and were eliminated by Man Utd in the 1998-99 semi-final.
- Ajax have been eliminated on two of the three previous occasions they’ve drawn the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie at home, most recently in the 2005-06 last 16 against Inter Milan.
- Juventus have lost two of their last five Champions League home games (W3), as many as they had in their previous 45 in Turin in the competition (W28 D15 L2).
- Ajax have won their last two Champions League away games, last winning more consecutively in the competition between November 1995 and March 1997 (7).
- Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in his last five Champions League games against Ajax, netting eight goals in total. The Portuguese has also scored 51% of his total goals in the competition in the knockout stages (64/125).
- Dusan Tadic has been directly involved in 53% of Ajax’s 17 Champions League goals this season (6 goals, 3 assists). The last player to score more than the Serbian for Ajax in a single Champions League campaign was Jari Litmanen in 1995-96 (9)