UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final | Leg 2

The first leg of Europe’s biggest tournament has left three teams delicately poised ahead of this week’s second leg, with only Porto v Liverpool probably settled during last week’s matches, and bitcoin betting odds for UCL’s best-of-eight look quite competitive.

Manchester United’s assured midfield display suggests they are still in the tie at Barcelona, while Manchester City will surely recall Kevin de Bruyne – meaning a comeback is on the cards at the Etihad.

Away from the English matches, Juventus v Ajax is arguably the most intriguing of them all. The Dutch side were very impressive in Amsterdam, but to beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s side in Turin would represent one of the biggest upsets in the tournament’s recent history.

Juventus v Ajax

Tuesday, 16/04/19, 20:00

Ajax missed a golden opportunity last week. Having kept Juventus camped in their own half for long periods and amassing plenty of shots on goal, the Dutch side failed to secure a first-leg lead – and will surely pay for their profligacy on Tuesday. Juventus are considerably more assured and streetwise than the Real Madrid team that lost 4-1 on home soil to Ajax, while a well-rested Cristiano Ronaldo will likely do enough on his own to secure victory for the hosts.

Juve might still hold the minority of possession; Ajax are fearless and will continue to play their short-passing possession game in Turin. But that is unlikely to be enough to stop Juve and Ronaldo, who continued his incredible Champions League scoring record last week.

Back Juventus to win at 1.68

Barcelona v Man Utd

Tuesday, 16/04/19, 20:00

Having already won away at Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain this season Manchester United will feel confident of causing an upset at Barcelona, particularly after their assured 3-5-2 at Old Trafford last week successfully kept Lionel Messi quiet. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is highly likely to use the same formation, funnelling the hosts through a congested central midfield and relying on the pace of Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford on the counter-attack.

These two need to improve from last week, and they surely will: Barcelona should open up at home, pushing both full-backs on and consequently leaving space on the flanks for United’s centre-forward pair. That doesn’t mean it is wise to back Man Utd to qualify, but this match will be tighter than some are suggesting.

Back under 3.25 goals at 1.89

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FC Porto v Liverpool

Wednesday, 17/04/19, 20:00

Liverpool beat Porto 5-0 in Portugal in last season’s Champions League, and although the hosts are more organised this year Jurgen Klopp’s team should achieve something similar. Porto pulled a big surprise last week with a 3-4-3 formation that left them outnumbered in key areas of the field – four on three in central midfield and three on three in Liverpool’s attack. However, it still led to a better defensive performance than anticipated, and so Porto will probably use the same formation on Wednesday.

Chasing the game, Porto will need to open up more and allow their wing-backs to bomb forward, which means Liverpool’s gegenpress is almost certain to succeed. When Porto begin to counter, Liverpool will pinch the ball and find their front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah up against a nervous trio of central defenders who lack the pace to match their runs.

Back Liverpool to win at 2.13

Man City v Spurs

Wednesday, 17/04/19, 20:00

Pep Guardiola only has himself to blame for the 1-0 first leg defeat at Tottenham last week. He once again over-thought a big Champions League game, nervously playing two holding midfielders in an unfamiliar 4-2-3-1 formation that allowed Spurs’ high press to cut off the passing lines between defence and midfield. He is likely to engage much higher up the pitch on Wednesday – and start Kevin de Bruyne.

De Bruyne will be able to drop deeper, get on the ball early in a move and drive City forward, helping to evade the Spurs squeeze. This in turn should force the visitors back, leading to the sort of attacking pressure Mauricio Pochettino’s side had faced in each of their last three games again City prior to last Tuesday. Tottenham’s first leg advantage means they might still progress, but either way this game should have goals.

Back over 3.25 goals at 2.01


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Posted on 2019-04-15

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