THE ULTRA Tues: Champions League Preview

THE ULTRA Tues: Champions League Knockout Stage

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Our football tipster The Ultra previews Tuesday’s opening knockout 1st leg games between PSG v REAL MADRID and SPORTING LISBON v MAN CITY both including a recommended BETDAQ bet and extended match stats.


8pm The Champions League knockout stages are finally here and we have an excellent few weeks ahead on BETDAQ Betting Exchange! Before we begin the preview, I can’t help but moan about the schedule. I really don’t understand why we have to have two games kicking off at the same time for the next couple of weeks. The 5.45pm slot works so well, and there’s going to be so many top class ties I don’t know why they can’t showcase every game. Even the Europa League broke up the fixtures with the 5.45pm and 8pm kick offs! There’s probably a logical (in their eyes, or legal!) reason, but it’s such a shame. Anyway, all eyes will be on this blockbuster fixture to kick off the Last 16 as PSG host Real Madrid. Messi is back against his old sparing partners from La Liga and it will be fascinating so see how he performs. I think it’s fair to say he has appeared a little lacklustre thus far in Paris; perhaps even going through the motions but this is the big European night to come alive. I can’t wait to see what happens. PSG have such a strong squad full of stars, but the question is do they gel together well? They already have Ligue 1 won so they can focus on the Champions League but they haven’t really been at their best this season.

Pochettino has been facing criticism for “not winning well enough” in France but we all know this is the acid test. For Real Madrid, they have been fluffing their lines a little in La Liga recently but because Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have been so off the pace this season they still have a decent lead at the top of the table. Sevilla keep dropping points with them, but Real arrive into this fixture with only two wins from their last five. In fairness to Real, they have been desperately unlucky in those games – they didn’t play well against Getafe but they didn’t deserve to lose with a draw a fair result while in the draws against Elche and Villarreal they created xG figures of 5.24 and 2.30! Despite the poor score line, they are impressive performances and PSG have to be on their game here. So much will focus on Mbappe who appears to be going to Real during the summer for free and while the PSG attack is scary they haven’t exactly been putting the French teams to the sword this season. They probably had one eye on this fixture, but they only created an xG of 0.96 at the weekend against Rennes. I know PSG have the stars to put in a perfect performance but I have yet to be fully impressed by them this season. Real have had some tough games against Inter in the Champions League already and I feel they can get a result here – I wouldn’t have PSG as short as 2.05 and I’m happy to lay them from a value point of view. I just expect a very close game here, and PSG shouldn’t be such heavy favourites in my opinion.

The Ultra Says:
Three points lay (liability) PSG to beat Real Madrid at 2.05 with BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE.

You can view all markets here ->


● Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid have met on 10 previous occasions in European competition, with the Spanish side just edging the head-to-head in terms of victories (W4 D3 L3). They last faced each other in the UEFA Champions League in 2019-20, where PSG avoided defeat in both meetings in the group stage (W1 D1).
● This will be the fourth time that Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid have faced each other in the knockout stages of a European competition. After being eliminated in the first two (1992-93 UEFA Cup quarter-final and 1993-94 Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final), Real Madrid progressed from the most recent one, knocking the French side out in the Round of 16 in the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League.
● Paris Saint-Germain won 3-0 against Real Madrid the last time they hosted them in the UEFA Champions League (in September 2019). However, they were beaten the last time they hosted them in the competition in the knockout stages, losing 1-2 in the Round of 16 second leg in 2017-18 and being eliminated in the process.
● Real Madrid won all three of their away games in the group stage of this season’s UEFA Champions League, while keeping a clean sheet on each occasion (1-0 v Inter Milan, 5-0 v Shakhtar Donetsk and 3-0 v Sheriff Tiraspol). The only previous UEFA Champions League campaign in which they won their first four away games was in 2014-15, during Carlo Ancelotti’s first spell in charge.
● Paris Saint-Germain have only won one of their last six home games in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, including four defeats in this run (D1). Indeed, they failed to win all three of their home games in the knockout stage last season (D1 L2), despite making it to the semi-final stage.
● Real Madrid have averaged 8.4 passes in the sequences leading to their 13 goals in the UEFA Champions League this season (excluding own goals) – since 2003-04, this is the highest average by a team in a single campaign in the competition, among those with at least 10+ goals scored.
● Since the start of the 2020-21 season, Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappé has been involved in more open play sequences ending in goals (17) than any other player in the UEFA Champions League. Mbappé also has the highest xG sequence involvement of any player in this period (16.4).
● Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema has scored in each of his last four UEFA Champions League appearances, scoring five goals in total. The Frenchman could become just the third player to score in five consecutive appearances for the club in the competition, after Cristiano Ronaldo (four times, between 2013 and 2018) and Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2007.
● Across the last three editions of the UEFA Champions League (since 2019-20), the three players who have made the most successful take-ons in the competition are Lionel Messi (100), Neymar (87) and Kylian Mbappé (69). This trio have started together in half of Paris Saint-Germain’s games in the UEFA Champions League so far this season (3/6).
● Real Madrid winger Vinícius Júnior has carried the ball further upfield than any other player in the UEFA Champions League this season (1,227 metres), while he also leads all players for shots generated via carries (17) – the act of moving at least five metres with the ball – attempting nine shots and creating eight chances for a teammate.


8pm I’m sure all eyes will be on PSG v Real Madrid tonight, but there will be a lot of UK football fans other than just Manchester City fans interested in this fixture. As I said above, it’s a such a shame this fixture can’t kick off at 5.45pm but that’s life in the Champions League. Pep Guardiola would have been delighted when he saw Sporting Lisbon come out of the hat for the Last 16 tie but at the same time City can’t afford to ease off the gas here – they have to deal with what’s in front of them. They have the luxury of a little cushion at the top of the Premier League and they warmed up for this fixture with a smooth 4-0 win away from home against Norwich at the weekend. City are going to start this game as very short priced favourites, but I couldn’t put anyone off including them in their BETDAQ Multiple at 1.31. I feel this will be a case of how many goals can City score rather than will they win. Of course, the Sporting Lisbon tactics will make the goals market interesting here and I’m sure most football punters will be focusing on the goals market with City trading so short.

Sporting had one of their biggest games of the season at weekend as they drew 2-2 with Porto. It was a pretty even game, Sporting finished with a marginally higher xG figure but there wasn’t much in it. That fixture will set them up very well for this game, but they are six points behind Porto at the top of the table in Portugal so I can’t see City fearing them here. Sporting are in a difficult situation here to be honest tactics wise. They basically need to win with home advantage to have any chance of getting through but I can’t see them wanting an open game against City. Any side that tends to play an open game against City can’t keep them out. They finished with an xG of 4.41 at the weekend, and there’s nothing you can say about their xG figures this season only that they are exceptional. Guardiola says Chelsea are the best side in Europe because they are current Champions League Champions but we all know that’s nonsense – it’s between City and Bayern Munich in my opinion. We should have a good game here, and I can only see goals. I know there’s a huge difference between this level and the level in Portugal, but Sporting tend to see goals in their games and will City you know they will attack for a large part of the game. Over 2.5 goals looks the value call at 1.63.

The Ultra Says:
Two points win Over 2.5 goals at 1.63 with BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE.

You can view all markets here ->


● Sporting CP and Manchester City’s only previous meetings in European competition also came at the Round of 16 stage, with the Portuguese side knocking the Citizens out in the UEFA Europa League in 2011-12 (3-3 on aggregate, progressed on away goals).
● Manchester City have won just one of their six matches in European competition that were hosted in Portugal (D2 L3), with this run including defeat to Sporting CP in March 2012, as well as last season’s UEFA Champions League final defeat to Chelsea.
● Sporting CP are contesting a UEFA Champions League knockout stage tie for only the second time. The previous occasion came against FC Bayern München in the Last 16 in 2008-09, with Paolo Bento’s Sporting losing 1-12 on aggregate – the largest aggregate defeat in the competition’s history.
● Manchester City have won each of their last four UEFA Champions League knockout stage matches when playing as the away side – this run comes after winning just three of their first 10 such games in the competition (D1 L6). Should they win this game, Manchester City will be the first team in UEFA Champions League history to win five consecutive away games in the knockout stages.
● After keeping a clean sheet in seven successive UEFA Champions League matches between the group stages and the Last 16 last season, Manchester City have since kept just one clean sheet across their last 11 matches in the competition, failing to record a single shut-out during this campaign.
● Sporting CP manager Ruben Ámorim will be 37 years and 19 days old on the day of this game, which will make him the second-youngest Portuguese coach to take charge of a UEFA Champions League knockout stage tie after André Villas-Boas (34 years and 127 days) with Chelsea against Napoli in 2011-12; Villas-Boas was sacked before the second leg.
● Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has faced opposition managers under the age of 40 on 12 previous occasions in the UEFA Champions League, with Sporting’s Ruben Ámorim set to become the seventh different such manager he has faced in the competition. Guardiola has won each of his previous 12 matches against managers in this age group, with his side’s scoring 42 goals (3.5 per game) while conceding only nine in return (0.8 per game).
● Sporting’s Pote has scored four goals in four UEFA Champions League appearances this season, with those four goals coming in the form of two braces across his two home appearances against Besiktas and Borussia Dortmund in November. Pote could become only the second Portuguese player to score 3+ braces in a single UEFA Champions League campaign, after Cristiano Ronaldo, who did so in 2009-10 (3 times), 2011-12 (4), 2013-14 (6), 2015-16 (5), 2016-17 (4) and 2017-18 (5).
● Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez has scored nine goals in his last 10 appearances in the UEFA Champions League, while the Algerian has been directly involved in six goals in his last six games in the knockout rounds (4 goals, 2 assists). Since the start of last season, Mahrez has scored at least four goals more in the competition than any other Manchester City player (Gabriel Jesus, 5).
● Among Portuguese players, only Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo (6 goals) has been directly involved in more UEFA Champions League goals this season than Sporting’s Pote (5 – 4 goals, 1 assist) and Manchester City’s João Cancelo (5 – 2 goals, 3 assists).

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