Liverpool FC: Christmas Crack Me Up Challenge
Liverpool and Arsenal bid to make the finals of their respective European competitions this week and I believe it will be a mixed week for the Premier League sides.
No team has ever overturned a 2-1 first leg defeat in the Champions League semi-final and Bayern face a huge task in the Bernabeu given they have now lost their last six games in the Champions League against Los Blancos.
I feel Bayern will score in the Spanish capital, but the holders have scored in their last 41 CL home games although the Bundesliga outfit will take heart from the fact that Juventus won the quarterfinal in the Bernabeu 3-1.
A repeat scoreline midweek would see Bayern in Kiev next month of course, but I expect to see my former club qualifying for the final from a close but entertaining second leg.
Tips: Game to finish in a scoring draw at 7/2
Roma are yet to concede a home goal in the competition so far this season, but I do not expect lightning to strike twice for the Italians despite their remarkable comeback against Barcelona from a similar three-goal deficit in the previous round.
Liverpool have scored 38 goals in the competition so far this season, which is an extraordinary achievement, and I expect them to add to that tally in the Italian capital on Wednesday.
Mo Salah has scored in his last five CL games and is, correctly, lauded as the talisman of the Reds team but this a real team effort and I would like to mention one of their unsung heroes.
James Milner has provided eight assists in the competition so far this season – that is the joint-most ever in the tournament since the new format was introduced in 2003/4. The player Milner shares the record with is non-other than Neymar by the way.
Gareth Southgate is reported to have tried to tempt Milner out of international retirement when he took over from Sam Allardyce – is it time to give him another ring?
Tip: Liverpool to win at 6/4
Arsenal had a wonderful opportunity to make it through to Lyon next month after Atletico were reduced to 10-men after ten minutes at the Emirates.
Griezmann’s late equaliser at the Emirates was a bitter blow to the Gunners, however, and Atletico have won their last four Europa League home games without conceding a goal.
Chelsea won in the Spanish capital in the Champions League earlier in the season but I can see this being Arsene Wenger’s 250th and final European club game. Remember the Gunners have not picked up an away point in the Premier League in 2018.
Tip: Atletico halftime/fulltime at 7/4
Michael’s midweek double: Liverpool and Atletico Madrid at 10/3