Livingston v Dundee
Neither Livingston nor Dundee United approach Wednesday’s match in West Lothian in good form, yet this is a fixture that could prove to be surprisingly entertaining.
Dundee United are under new management in the form of Jim Goodwin, whose Aberdeen side were notoriously soft bellied earlier this season. The Tangarines, meanwhile, have been giving up cheap goals all term and continued that trend in his first match against the Dons last weekend as they suffered a 3-1 defeat. Although that loss proved to be a heavy one, United did show some positive signs going forwards. Indeed, they boasted an xG of 3, suggesting that they do have potential to impress offensively.
Certainly, Livingston have not been good at the back lately. At the weekend, they were dismantled 4-1 at home by Hibs, while they have conceded two or more goals in three of their last seven Premiership matches. This is not the assured, organised team that fans have grown used to seeing from David Martindale’s side.
So with neither team defending well and Dundee United at least showing some offensive promise, there is scope for goals and perhaps even an upset. Indeed, the men from the City of Discovery have already won in Livingston this season, picking up a 2-1 victory in the League Cup. For those interested in a long shot, United to win and over 2.5 goals is on offer at 5.5, but even just backing over 1.5 goals at 1.40 provides ample value.
Hibernian v Rangers
Hibs’ home match against Rangers on Wednesday promises to be an exciting affair, with the home side having found arguably their best form of the season to date as they welcome Michael Beale’s outfit, who still harbour hopes of chasing down Celtic to defend their title.
The Easter Road men are flying at present. They are undefeated in the league since their derby loss to Hearts on January 2, going seven fixtures without a loss, winning five of these. Amongst these games have been some eye-catching performances, including a 6-0 win at home against Aberdeen. Meanwhile, they beat Livingston 4-1 at the weekend in what was an impressive show of strength.
Lee Johnson’s side were further boosted by the return of Kevin Nisbet after missing their previous couple of games. The striker has eight goals in nine matches and is one of the most dangerous forwards in the league. Even if Hibs don’t win this match, they have the available firepower to at least score.
Rangers, meanwhile, have been going along steadily but not spectacularly. They are on a seven-match winning sequence in the league, with each of their last four providing more three or more goals. Having conceded twice against Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle in recent matches, they are anything but reliable at the back and with the home side confident in their attacking qualities, the Gers are likely to have to score at least twice to get the win.
With the previous matches between these sides this season ending 2-2 at Easter Road and 3-2 in Rangers’ favour in mid-December, another thriller is forecast.
Bayern Munich v PSG
After a first leg that Bayern Munich dominated but only won 1-0, expect to see a thrilling return match at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday.
The Bundesliga side should really hold a greater advantage than they do, but in some ways are lucky to be ahead at all after Kylian Mbappe’s brilliant cameo at Parc des Princes three weeks ago threatened to change the complexion of the tie. PSG barely had their star man in that game, but he showed that he has the capacity to seriously trouble Bayern.
Indeed, PSG have been impressive going forward in recent matches, bagging four against Lille and Nantes in recent Ligue 1 matches while also routing Marseille 3-0 away from home. It was that victory at the Velodrome they may look to replicate here, playing in a counterattacking style and spearheaded by the combination of Lionel Messi and Mbappe, who many feel actually look better when Neymar is not there.
But the French side’s defence is a point of concern. That win over OM was a rare cleansheet. Against Nantes and Lille they conceded five goals and come into this game with goalkeeper Gigio Donnarumma being questioned after recent weak displays. Bayern, meanwhile, will not go easy on PSG. This is a team that has 66 Bundesliga goals in 23 games and had scored at least twice in all their European matches this season until the first leg.
Goals at both ends are expected in this match and are likely to arrive. This should be an absolute thriller.
Spurs v AC Milan
Outgoing Italian champions AC Milan travel to Tottenham with the narrowest of first-leg leads to protect as they hope to book their place in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Leading 1-0 at what is the interval thanks to a scrappy Brahim Diaz goal at the Stadio San Siro three weeks earlier, Stefano Pioli is likely already working about the number of chances Milan passed up in that first leg, as the chances of keeping another clean sheet against Spurs are slim.
That first-leg loss sparked some life into Spurs though, going on to win back-to-back London derbies over West Ham and then Chelsea – both by a 2-0 scoreline, though they’ve since stuttered to 1-0 losses to both Sheffield United and Wolves. As good as they can be on their day – again seen in a 1-0 win over Manchester City – they have just as bizarre off days – see their 4-1 hammering against Leicester immediately after the win over the English champions.
For Milan, Pioli might be hoping that this game had come a week earlier and before their defensive bubble appeared to burst on the road at Fiorentina. Against La Viola, Milan fell 2-1 and their goal came in the form of a last-gasp consolation. Prior to that, their win over Spurs formed part of a four-game run in which they won to nil. Now, both sides have vulnerabilities to exploit in their opponents, and both sides have enough class in their respective attacks to do damage.
Magallanes v Independiente Medellin
Both of these sides are 180 minutes away from the Copa Libertadores group stage, and with plenty on the line, I’m expecting both teams to find the back of the net.
There’s plenty of pressure on Magallanes to take advantage of their home draw, who will want to take a lead to Colombia next week. The Chilean club had an easy time of it in the previous round against Bolivia’s Always Ready – but their opponents here are far stronger. Medellin play their home games at 1,500m above sea level, whereas Magallanes play at 600m – so there’s a lack of advantage on that front for the home side.
However, the home side have proven to score from corners, set pieces and in-play this season, and the tie will be over before the second leg if they don’t manage to get on the scoresheet here. Medellin’s star striker, Luciano Pons, scored 18 goals last season, but also showed his worth assisting two goals in the last qualifying round. Expect him to be at the forefront of Medellin’s attacks.
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