Wed, Feb 15, 11:17am by Senior Writer
The knockout stage of the Champions League started with two massive upsets, but the next lot of Round of 16 matches are expected to be much more straight forward as Real Madrid host Napoli and Bayern Munich welcome Arsenal.
Arsenal have famously crashed out at this stage in the last six editions of the Champions League and when the Gunners drew Bayern Munich, Arsenal fans felt a sick déjà vu feeling sweeping over them.
Two of those six Round of 16 exits, 2013 and 2014, have come at the hands of the German powerhouse who have historically dominated the north London club, winning five of their ten Champions League clashes going back to 2000.
Arsenal’s most recent trip to Allianz Arena was back in November 2015 when they were humbled 5-1.
With that in mind, it’s hardly surprising that Bayern Munich are $1.50 favourites to win this match, with the draw at $4.20 and Arsenal at $6.
Munich, who are currently seven points clear in the Bundesliga, have not lost at home in nearly a year and have won 15 home Champions League matches in a row in a streak which goes back nearly three years.
Defending champions Real Madrid have similarly imposing home record in the Champions League, having gone 12 matches unbeaten at the Santiago Bernabeu.
But Napoli, who haven’t played at the Bernabeu since 1987, are in excellent form, having gone 18 games since their most recent defeat in October.
This is the first time Napoli have made the knockout stage of the Champions League in five years and as a result they are rated $3.32 chances to progress with Real Madrid at $1.32.
The home side will be without Gareth Bale again as he continues his recovery from a long-term ankle injury, while Danilo and Marco Asensio also miss this tie. Dani Carvajal will start at right back in Danilo’s place.
The bookies have Cristiano Ronaldo as $3.40 favourite to score the first goal but Karim Benzema might be better value at $4.50, considering he has scored their past three goals in Champions League football, Of course, Ronaldo has scored in each of their past three games.
One thing for sure, there will be goals in this, as Napoli have failed to keep a clean sheet in nine of their past ten Serie A games and Real Madrid have scored at home on 33 consecutive Champions League matches.
With that in mind, it might be worth taking a punt on the over 3.5 goals market at $2.24.
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