The first leg matches in the Champions League Last 16 draw went pretty much as expected, but there may well be twists and turns afoot, as teams fight to stay in Europe’s top competition. Let’s look at the best bets for the matches this week, along with the top DraftKings daily fantasy football picks for all the games.
TUESDAY, MARCH 7
Napoli vs. Real Madrid (1st leg: Real leads 3-1)
This was supposed to be more of a contest, between an Italian side that is in the hunt for the title, and a Real side with its eye on La Liga, but 3-1 is a comfortable lead for Madrid going into the second leg. The only blot is that Napoli away goal, but expect Karim Benzema and company to close this one out, even with Cristiano Ronaldo an injury doubt.
Top Bet: 14/5 with Bet365 for a draw
DraftKings Pick: G Jose “Pepe” Reina, Napoli ($4,600)
Although Reina conceded three goals against Real Madrid in the first leg, San Paolo is an incredibly difficult place for even the world’s best teams to get a result. As such, expect a much better defensive performance from the Italian side in front of its own passionate support. Reina made possibly the save of the season for any goalkeeper against Roma at the weekend, so is on his game.
Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich (1st leg: Bayern leads 5-1)
Bayern was rampant against a feeble Arsenal first-leg performance, and has nothing to worry about going to the Emirates Stadium. We may see a much-changed Munich side as Carlo Ancelotti tries to keep the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben fit for the end of the Bundesliga season.
Arsenal may manage its customary second-leg exercise in damage-limitation, but this is still Bayern’s path to the quarter-finals, whatever happens, especially with Alexis Sanchez having fallen out with some of his team-mates.
Top Bet: 11/5 with Betfair for an Arsenal win
DraftKings Pick: M Thiago Alcantara, Bayern Munich ($5,600)
With two goals and two assists in the Champions League plus an apparent inability to misplace a pass, and an also apparently enjoyment of playing Arsenal, Thiago is the man for all seasons, and will be in the middle of whatever moves Bayern puts together.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8
Borussia Dortmund vs. Benfica (1st leg: Benfica leads 1-0)
There’s still everything to play for in this match, with Dortmund at least on paper the superior side, but perhaps not ready for a full-on Champions League challenge, while Benfica carries a one-goal lead from the first leg to Signal Iduna Park.
Dortmund has an intimidating home support to rival any in Europe, and even with Marco Reus out injured, if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has his shooting boots on, this may well turn back Dortmund’s way.
Top Bet: 16/5 with BoyleSports for Borussia Dortmund to win by two goals
DraftKings Pick: F Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Borussia Dortmund ($8,500)
With 21 league goals to add to four Champions League goals, Aubameyang is the Dortmund go-to up-front and, if the team ticks, will more than pay back his large DraftKings salary.
Barcelona vs. Paris Saint Germain (1st leg: PSG leads 4-0)
Barcelona’s implosion in the first leg against a side that it has beaten before in Europe was unexpected and shocking, and led directly to Luis Enrique’s decision to step down as head coach at the end of the season. Nonetheless, Barca looked back in freewheeling, carefree form in a 5-0 win over Celta Vigo at the weekend, so PSG can’t just sit back and relax at Camp Nou.
Expect a Barcelona win in the leg, but for the French side to advance on aggregate, even after Aleix Vidal’s horror-injury. PSG misses Angel di Maria, Adrien Rabiot, Thiago Motta and Marquinhos, but still has Edinson Cavani and Marco Verratti to make things tick.
Top Bet: 13/5 with Betfair for Barcelona to win by three or more goals
DraftKings Pick: D Jordi Alba, Barcelona ($4,300)
Jordi Alba has been valued downward after the humiliation at Parc des Princes, but Barca is always a tougher prospect in attack and defence when it plays in front of its own fans at Camp Nou. Expect the whole team to step up its game, and potentially not to concede a goal.
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