Charlie Nicholas Football Expert’s predictions
Charlie Nicholas’ European predictions: Liverpool v Man City, Juventus v Real Madrid, Arsenal v CSKA Moscow
Charlie Nicholas has had his say on this week’s European ties, including Juventus against Real Madrid, an all-English Champions League quarter-final and Arsenal hosting CSKA Moscow.
The Champions League quarter-final action kicks off with two-time reigning champions Real Madrid visiting last season’s losing finalists Juventus, while runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich also travel to Sevilla on Tuesday.
Then, on Wednesday night, the two remaining Premier League sides, Liverpool and Manchester City, clash at Anfield as favourites Barcelona host outsiders Roma.
The Europa League also reaches the quarter-final stage on Thursday, where Arsenal pursue their only realistic route back into Europe’s top-tier competition by taking on CSKA Moscow at the Emirates.
Here’s what Charlie is predicting for the five clashes…
Juventus v Real Madrid (Tuesday, 7.45pm)
Juventus showed they can be vulnerable at home against Tottenham and I think they’ll play this like an away tie as they know how dangerous Real Madrid are on the break.
We know Real have picked up over the last month or so with the goals of Cristiano Ronaldo, so I think Juve will sit in, be compact, and would be content with a goalless draw.
I’m not Gonzalo Higuain’s biggest fan but he does come up with big goals, not always at international level but certainly for his club, which is why they spent so much money bringing him in from Napoli, and I think he can be decisive in a classic Juve display.
Charlie predicts: 1-0 and Higuain to score first (30/1 with Sky Bet)
Sevilla v Bayern Munich (Tuesday, 7.45pm)
When I watched Manchester United v Sevilla I was surprised how bad Jose Mourinho’s side were but I perhaps underestimated Sevilla as well.
They are like a bag of Revels, they could have won about 8-6 against Barcelona at the weekend, and there can’t be many teams more difficult to predict.
There is a great atmosphere in Seville but I think they’ll let Bayern dominate the ball and look to counter-attack, which could prove another masterstroke or see them totally dominated and struggle to get out of their own half.
Charlie predicts: 2-2 and Lewandowski to score first (40/1 with Sky Bet)
Liverpool v Manchester City (Wednesday, 7.45pm)
Well, can we have another 4-3? Anything is possible when these two meet, although I think there will be a bit of an adjustment from City’s approach.
I think City will be more reserved and compact as last time Liverpool cut through the middle of them, so they’ll want to force them out wide.
Yes, Liverpool deserved to win when they met here in the league but there were crazy spells where either side could have run away with it.
This is a game where Mohamed Salah can cement himself as the PFA Player of the Year and leave Kevin De Bruyne to be content with just the Premier League title and a League Cup win.
However, I still think this tie will be alive if Liverpool win 3-1 and I think there will be everything to play for in the second leg.
Charlie predicts: 1-1 and Salah to score first (22/1 with Sky Bet)
Barcelona v Roma (Wednesday, 7.45pm)
I’ve been watching Roma with interest this season and they were my dark horses, but Barcelona are the team I’d love to see win it.
Roma will double up on Lionel Messi but he’ll be just fine with that, dragging them all over the pitch and opening the game up for his team-mates.
Barca do struggle a bit with Philippe Coutinho being cup-tied as Paco Alcacer isn’t sufficient back-up and Ousmane Dembele is still adapting alongside players of the ilk of Messi and Luis Suarez.
I think they’ll go with Dembele, who has the pace to exploit those gaps left by Roma focusing on Messi, and it should be a comfortable night at the Nou Camp if he can step up.
Charlie predicts: 3-0 and Suarez to score first (14/1 with Sky Bet)
Arsenal v CSKA Moscow (Thursday, 8.05pm)
Arsenal were bog standard at the weekend but somehow managed to come out of it with some momentum thanks to the three late goals against Stoke.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is obviously a miss as he is cup-tied but it was good to see his team spirit letting Alexandre Lacazette take the second penalty.
I’d like to see Arsenal finish the league season the way they rounded that game off, with Aubameyang coming in off the left and Lacazette central – surely that is the reason Arsene Wenger signed both?
However, that obviously can’t happen on Thursday night, so Danny Welbeck will keep his place on the left and hopefully get his name back on the scoresheet.
It is too early for Arsenal to be getting ahead of themselves and thinking about winning this trophy yet – the focus must be on getting a good win heading to Moscow and avoiding another difficult situation.
Charlie predicts: 3-0 and Lacazette to score first (19/1 with Sky Bet)
Source: Sky Sports