Spark Sports: UCL Round of 16: Match Day 3 (Previews and Predictions)

Out of the field.


Coming into this week’s round of 16 knock out stage matches, Man City is still in top form out of the field. At the bottom. Dortmund with a very underwhelming performance vs Tottenham last week, a bad showing in their domestic league yesterday, they’ve allowed on average 2 goals per game in their last 5 matches, they are currently rated as the worst team out of the 16 team field coming into their off week. As for PSG, even though they have the best defensive form out of the field this week, they still only average 1 goal per game in their last 5 matches. Roma, is the other team with Dortmund that is averaging 2 goals against per game. Making them tied for the worst defensive team out of the field this week. Man City has the best net goals per game numbers headed into this week with +1.6 net goals per game, Dortmund on the other end with -0.6 net goals per game. Man City, Tottenham and Lyon are the top 3 teams out of the field this week in win percentage out of their last 5 matches. All 3 teams have won 4 out of their last 5 matches. On the other end, Dortmund is winless in their last 5 matches. When it’s all said and done though, regardless of the Man City numbers and domination of the field this week, the coveted Euro Club Index is still on the side of the Catalan crew, Barcelona – who is rated +4.32 on the ECI, Juventus actually 2nd with a +4.06 rating, and then Man City with +3.98 rating. On the opposite end, Schalke is the lowest rated team out of the field with a +2.91 rating. When you put it all together though, my numbers have Manchester City as the highest rated football club in the Champions League field with a personal power rating of +3.1, and then on the opposite end you got Dortmund with just a +0.9 rating.

Week to Week.


After this past week and coming into these matches today. If we were to look at the changes in form and thus the changes in perception about different teams, coming out of last week and into this week – I think for instance, Tottenham. They had a lot of doubt coming into this match vs Dortmund last week, they performed beautifully even without Harry Kane or Deli Ali. It was definitely a surprise for most people, who somewhat thought this would be a goal fest for both sides, maybe 3-3 or 3-2 or something to that effect, but Dortmund was kept off the score sheet – and because of that it really changes the perception of Tottenham as a contender coming out of their first home leg of the round of the knock out stages. So on my ratings they are the most improved team from last week to this week jumping a full 9 spots on my power ratings, and then on the other end, I think it comes to no surprise, Manchester United. Coming into their match last week vs PSG. They had won 4 of their last 5, they were undefeated in their matches since Jose Mourinho had left the club, there was a lot of hype and expectation around what their performance would be against PSG, and it was an utter disaster, I think they got into some injury trouble early and that set them off, they were immensely frustrated as well by the style of the PSG offence. So even though they had a great showing during the week vs Chelsea in the cup match, and they don’t have any real outliers against them, they are averaging over a goal and a half per game in their last 5 matches, allowing just under a goal per game in their last 5 as well. Those are good enough numbers to be a dominant team in your region, but they are just not over that hump yet of being a great club – they’ve definitely dropped off the list of contenders for me for this year’s champions league, they have dropped 7 spots in my power rating. I just don’t think they have it in them to put it together in time for their 2nd leg match next week, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are eliminated from the competition with ease next week.

On the brighter side of English football, Tottenham is the most improved offensive team this week going into the second week of the knock out stage for me. They were one of the lowest scoring teams out of the field last week only scoring 1.4 goals per game in their last 5 matches headed into their clash with Dortmund. Coming out of it, they did themselves some good by getting goals they needed to outlast the German side here. I think they will get through to the next round easily. Dortmund on the other hand for me, they’ve gotta be the biggest disappointment offensively going into week 2. They couldn’t generate anything vs Tottenham, but going back even further then that – they had a 3-nil lead against Hoffenheim last saturday in Bundesliga went into the half – came out and allowed 3 goals in the second half, they allowed 3 goals vs Tottenham in champions league, and then they are kept scoreless vs Nurnberg, the worst club in the league, so coming out of that HT last week vs Hoffenheim, they have allowed 6 goals against and have scored none in 225 minutes of football. It’s an absolute shocker for a team that is #1 in Bundesliga. For me, they are as good as done in this competition this year.

Italy Soccer Champions League Final

As far as defence goes, Man City gives up a goal to a much lesser, Newport County on the week, that hurt their defensive form quite a bit. On the other end as far as improvement, Ajax who lost to Real Madrid last week in a rather controversial match with a VAR review over turning a Ajax goal which would have been key for them – they were able to get back to their top form in the dutch domestic league with a 5-0 win on the weekend, and also Atletico Madird, they had a rather surprising loss to Real Madrid last weekend at home, they got back to their top form defensively in a 1-0 road win over Rayo Vallecano. Atletico hopes to keep that defensive form as they are going to need it vs the Italian power house Juventus tomorrow.



Net/Net it is still a story of one match. Tottenham on top and Dortmund at the bottom. Spurs come into their off week having added almost a full goal to their average winning margin over their last 5 matches, and then Dortmund on the other end of things, downgraded almost a goal and a half on their goal differential over their last 5 matches.

As for winning percentage, Tottenham, Roma and Atletico Madrid all improved their winning percentages, and then once again on the bottom of things – Dortmund haven’t won a match in their last 5 matches – they are in dire straits – the only team downgraded on the euro club index this week and like I said I have little hope for their chances in this competition going forward.


The only upgrade on the Euro Club Index this week is PSG, who I think deserves a bump absolutely, as I said from the top, the perception change that PSG caused, seeing as they were such big favourites when the draw was made back in December – United was in shambles with Mourinho, they make the change – PSG gets into some injury trouble, they are going into the match up without Neymar, without Kevani, they get some big performances. Kimbembe, Di Maria, Mbape, they all show up and put on a clinic against United, on the road mind you as well – that’s another side where – I really don’t think they have anything left to throw into this – I think they are at the end of their rope as far as this competition goes. I don’t think there is anything they can do, to stop the french side here, and that’s not a knock on Solskjaer at all, he has brought this team back to the caliber of play that they should be at – but vs this team, i mean were talking world class football here, we’re talking the premier team in the nation that just won the world cup. Like, what Solskjaer is doing that might be good enough to keep them in the top half of the table in EPL, but again – this is world class championship football we’re talking about here. United is simply not built for it, they don’t have the speed in their midfield to compete with this PSG team that has such success spreading the field out and attacking off the counter and off rushes. And even as this team, PSG – has been really and truly struggling as far as offence goes. They haven’t scored more than 2 goals in a match since January 27th. Once they figure that out fully and completely this team will be a real serious threat going forward.

FILE PHOTO: Manchester United Reserves v Aston Villa Reserves Barclays Premier Reserve League Play-Off Final

Overall though, in my power ratings – I couldn’t upgrade PSG at all, and actually had to downgrade them slightly, simply because of their continuing lack of scoring, and then at the same time – I had to downgrade Manchester United by the same amount, simply because of the high they were on – getting knocked off of it at such a climax spot in their season when it finally looked like they had put all the pieces back together from the disaster they were facing earlier in the season. But for me – the most improved team of the week is Tottenham, and the biggest disappointment is Dortmund. Those two teams I think will be the tale of the round of 16, as far as expectation and perception, because in reality, no one was giving Tottenham a chance, and everyone had high hopes that Dortmund would kind of turn things around, like they were saving their best play for the champions league, and that just clearly wasn’t the case.

So after all that talk about the week that was.

Let’s take a look at this week’s iPR Power Ratings

Overall Spark Sport’s Champions League iPR Prediction Model

Week to Week: Upgrades/Downgrades

Bayern Munich @ Liverpool

One of the giants of European soccer will be eliminated in the round of 16, that you can count on. Liverpool takes on Bayern Munich, there is 10 Champions League titles between these two clubs. Five on each side. However, Liverpool are in the knock out stage for the only the second time in ten years, meanwhile the German side Bayern Munich have reached this stage or better for seven straight seasons.

Liverpool qualified behind PSG in Group C after a final match day win over Napoli. They finished the group stage with 3 Wins and 3 Losses. This is Liverpool’s seventh two legged tie at this stage in the Championship. They have 5 wins and 1 loss. Historically, the Reds have been strong defensively keeping clean sheets in their last six Round of 16 matches and going unbeaten in those six matches with 5 Wins and 1 Draw.

Further, Liverpool are on a 19 game european unbeaten streak at their own turf, 14 Wins and 5 Draws. Winning their last 5 at home in a row. Overall, the Reds have lost just one home match all season 14 Wins, 2 Draws and 1 Loss – they have also kept 10 clean sheets in 17 home matches. Liverpool has plenty of confidence against Bundesiglia opponents as they have won 14 of 16 two-legged ties against German clubs.

Regardless of history though, Liverpool must contend with the absence of their suspended star Virgil Van Dyk in this opening leg of the knock out round.

Bayern have been eagerly waiting this opportunity and may be able to take advantage of Liverpool’s vulnerability in this position. Die Bayern are unbeaten in the Round of 16 in their previous 14 appearances, with 11 Wins and 3 Draws. As Group E winners, Bayern put in 31 goals in their last seven Round of 16 matches. An average of over 4 goals per game.

In the Bundesliga, Bayern have scored in all but one of their away games this season. For them offense is not the problem, on the defensive side things have not been as pretty. Bayern have conceded 2 goals on average across their last four competative matches on the road.

Sadio Mane is the player to watch for Liverpool in this one, he has scored in four straight matches across all competitions, while Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski is the Champions League top scorer with eight goals in six matches.

There is a strong possibility that turns into an all out goal fest. Six of Liverpool’s last matches have seen both teams score goals, and the last six of Bayern’s matches have seen atleast four goals.


The Positive Approach.

The positive approach to this match would be leaning towards the draw, Bayern is 8-26 to the draw this season. Draw bettors are up +20.69u’s betting the draw blindly in Bayern Munich matches. That’s +1.52% per bet at 2.5% each and +$15.21 per bet win or lose at $25 per wager.

As well for parlay purposes, the under 3.5 in Bayern Munich matches has been a decent investment so far this season. Under 3.5 bettors across the board are 19-15, +9.45u. That’s +0.69% per bet at 2.5% each, and +$6.95 per wager at $25 per bet. The juice in this match up is rather steep, but you can get the under 3.5 globally at around -210, the best price available at the moment is at Betway for -200. A decent price for a lay a lot to win a little play, or a decent leg to a Champions League parlay.

As for Liverpool, they have a rather unique betting trend on their side that has been cashing at a fairly decent rate this season. So far this year in UCL, from the group stage on – favourites of -143 or better vs underdogs with odds of higher value than the draw are winning at a 59% clip. System bettors have gone 13-9, +3.4u. An ROI of +0.39% per bet @ 2.5% each, and +$3.86 per wager at $25 per bet. Liverpool is a +114 favourite, Bayern is a +264 underdog, the draw is +260. The system is active.

Another positive approach here is to go against the grain in thinking that this match may be a goal fest, or at the very least, set yourself up so that you have non-correlated bets, if one bet loses, it doesn’t set up the rest of your bets for loses as well. The under 2.5 in Liverpool matches has been worth a small investment this season. I wouldn’t recommend betting the farm because sometimes this team breaks out for goals every so often, but there has been success in riding the under with this team. Under 2.5 bettors across the board have gone 15-19, +2.49u’s, an ROI of +0.18% per bet at 2.5% each, and +$1.83 per wager at $25 per bet. Nothing to bet the farm on, but a decent investment none the less.

To set yourself on the other side of that one, using the ‘Both Teams to Score: Yes’ market in Bayern Munich matches has also been slightly profitable this season as is worth a shot at using in this match even with the added juice. Both teams have scored in 55% of all Bayern matches this season. BTTS Yes bettors have gone 19-15, +1.46u. A small ROI of +0.11% per bet at 2.5% each, and +$1.07 per wager at $25 per bet. Again, something to add to the parlay card.

Head to Head Model

Both teams are coming into this match averaging over 2 goals for per game in their last 5 matches, however – Bayern edges the Reds by a half goal with an average of 2.6 goals per game in their last 5 matches. Both teams have conceded on average a goal per game over their last 5 contests, although Liverpool is in slightly better form defensively as Bayern has allowed 1.6 goals per game in their last 5 contests, and Liverpool only 1.0 goals per game. Both teams come into the game with a goal differential of +1 over their last 5. They’ve both won 3 of their last 5. The only difference that was a deciding factor in my power rating is that the Euro Club Index rates Bayern Munich slightly better than Liverpool by about 30 percentage points. However regardless of that difference, the model has these teams almost dead even because of the home field advantage given to Liverpool. The iPR model gives a miniscule edge to the German side, however that edge is not big enough to deem it anything more than an outright draw as these teams are only rated at about a 0.07 point difference. The iPR model has Bayern +1.83 over Liverpool +1.77, the lack of margin between those two sides only points to the draw, and more obviously the fact that both teams should be able to score atleast one goal each, with a possibility of two each.

Your Best Bet

Your best bet for this one is to play this from multiple angles. The draw seems to be the most obvious choice here, but if you don’t want to take the middle side – a small shot at Liverpool on the asian handicap wouldn’t be something that I could argue with. If you’re going to bet the outright draw, you could take a shot at the 1st half draw, as well as the 1H under as well. A combination of those will more than likely be profitable, attacking these games from all sides has been a profitable method for me in these high profile soccer matches, especially when you have the +EV trends and power ratings on your side.

Play it safe though, save the ‘BTTS: Yes’ and the ‘Under 3.5’ for parlays and accumulators paying heavy juice on these big matches could be a recipe for disaster.


All Odds via BetCris + 1XBet


3.8% – Liverpool/BayernMunich (Draw) +263

1.11% – Liverpool -0.25 (-123)

0.55% – Liverpool/BayernMunich u2.5 (+114)



$50 – Liverpool/BayernMunich u2.75 (-103)

$50 – Liverpool -0.25 (-116)

$50 – Liverpool/BayernMunich (Draw) +255

$50 – Liverpool/BayernMunich (1H – u1.25) -135

$25 – Liverpool (1H) -0.25 (+118)

$25 – Liverpool/BayernMunich (1H – Draw) +137

Barcelona @ Lyon

The only clash between two unbeaten UCL clubs takes place in Lyon this evening, the French squad who are attempting to pass the Round of 16 for the first time in seven campaigns – take on a Barcelona side that Lyon have never beaten.

The Ligue 1 power house drew each of their last five group matches to make this stage with all three of their home ties ending 2-2, Each of their home matches saw Lyon score in just one half. Lyon’s domestic form has been dominant as they have won six of their last seven matches, including ending PSG’s. With a 2-1 success over Man City in the group stage, Lyon have proven they can rise to the occasion more times than once.

This will be Barcelona’s 15th straight Round of 16 contest, with progression seen in 12 of their 14 previous ties. However, the Catolina’s are are winless in their last five european knock out away matches with 1 Draw and 4 Losses.

At the top of their domestic league, Barcelona come into this match after a narrow win over Valladolid which broke a three game winless streak. Overall, Barcelona have failed to take maximum away points in seven of 17 games in all competative matches.

Lyon’s Nabil Fekir will be a player to watch in this match. He has been directly invovled in almost half of Lyon’s 12 goals during the UCL group stage. Meanwhile, Lionel Messi ranks as the second top scorer in the competetion with six goals, and has three goals in four games against Lyon.  

Recent stats show that this should be a track meet, five of Lyon’s last 7 matches have had over 2.5 goals. Barcelona has had ample success vs French sides with a historical record of 13 Wins, 8 Draws and 5 Losses in European competitions. Lyon has 11 Wins, 8 Draws and 11 Losses to Spanish sides in European matches.  

The Positive Approach.

The positive approach in this match, not unlike the other match today is leaning towards the draw. Lyon has played to a draw in 33% of matches this season. Lyon Draw backers have gone 12-24, +13.46u’s this season. An ROI of +0.93% per bet @ 2.5% wagers, and +$9.35 per wager at $25 each. Further more, Barcelona has played to a Draw in 9 of their 38 matches. Barcelona Draw bettors have gone 9-29, +7.6u’s this season, an ROI of +0.50% per bet at 2.5% wagers, and +$5 per bet at $25 each. So needless to say, the profitable side to be backing here is the draw.

There is another positive expectation approach in this match up and that is on the alternative total. The current betting total sits at 3, however – both teams have positive expectation towards the under 2.5 line. Bettors backing Lyon at home under 2.5 this season have gone 9-8, +4.79u, an ROI of +0.70% per bet at 2.5% each. On top of that. Lyon under 2.5 over all games, backers have gone 16-20, +2.63u, an ROI of +0.18% per bet at 2.5% each. To sweeten things just a little more. Barcelona on the road has had a tendency to go under 2.5 this season. Betting the Under 2.5 in all Barcelona road matches this season, backers have gone 8-9, +2.64u, an ROI of +0.39% per bet at 2.5% each. Needless to say, the under 2.5 as a big + money underdog is the total of choice in this match.

Another correlating trend for both teams is the Both Teams to Score market. Both teams have scored in 63% of Barcelona matches. ‘BTTS: Yes’ backers have gone: 24-14, +2.32u, an ROI of +0.15% per bet at 2.5% each. On the flip side, both teams have scored in 61% of Lyon’s matches this season. ‘BTTS: Yes’ bettors have gone 22-14. At about a -200 price, the ‘BTTS: Yes’ market would go very well with the same market from the other UCL match today. A parlay of the two would be a cheeky, but affective play.  

Head to Head Model

Coming into this contest Lyon has averaged just under a goal and a half for per game in their last five. Barcelona has averaged just over 2 goals per game in their last five. Lyon averages just over a half goal against per game in their last five, and Barcelona averages just a little bit under a goal per game in their last five. Barcelona has a net goal differential of +1.4 in their last five contests, Lyon has a net goal dif of +0.8 in their last five. Lyon has won 4 out of their last 5 matches. Barcelona has only won 2 of their last 5. However because of how high Barcelona is rated in the Euro Club Index. That slight lack of success throughout their last few matches is not affecting their stance in the ECI, so that keeps them afloat in the power rating model. The iPR model has Barcelona taking this one by a margin of +1.06. Barcelona -138 and the Under 3.25 at -134 are the two model plays for this match.


All Odds via BetCris + 1XBet


3.59% – Lyon/Barcelona (Draw) +289

3.19% – Lyon/Barcelona u2.5 (+134)

1.73% – Lyon +0.75 (-104)

0.85% – Lyon/Barcelona (BTTS: Yes), Liverpool/BayernMunich (BTTS: Yes) (Parlay) +147

3.13% – Liverpool/BayernMunich u3.5, Lyon/Barcelona u3.5 (Parlay) +132




$100 – Barcelona/Lyon u3 (-108)

$25 – Lyon +0.75 (-105)

$50 – Lyon/Barcelona (Draw) +292

$25 – Lyon/Barcelona (1H) u1.25 (-118)

$25 – Lyon (1H) +0.25 (+106)

$25 – Lyon/Barcelona (1H) Draw +151

Follow all AlMac’s picks on Twitter @AlMacSportsTO

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