So, after getting three out of three correct scores in my first ever installment of back page tips, and having hopefully won some people a bit of extra money over the Easter weekend, I have inadvertently created an alarming precedent.
I am not a machine, nor am I a genius, and unfortunately (as someone asked me this weekend) I cannot predict the lottery numbers.
Nevertheless, I have always enjoyed a flutter and will continue to try to pick out the best value for back page football followers which should give you the best chance of making your next trip to the bookies a successful one.
Barcelona V Arsenal
After last week’s thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates, the second leg of this quarter final is a nightmare to predict.
Although both teams are missing key players, it is Arsenal who are likely to suffer most. Without Fabregas and Arshavin they may lack the creativity needed to open up a confident Barcelona side.
Defensively, the loss of Gallas and Song will mean relying on Sol Campbell to reproduce some forgotten form. I personally think he will be run ragged by Messi, Pedro and Bojan (Barca’s expected front three) and may well come unstuck.
Barcelona are missing centre back Carlos Puyol through suspension after his sending off in the first leg but have a ready-made repacement in Gabriel Milito. Despite a recent long term injury, Milito is more than comfortable of stepping into the captain’s boots.
More concerning for Barcelona might be the doubt over Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s fitness. However, although the Swedish marksman scored both goals in the first leg, Barcelona have got half a squad full of some of the world’s finest attacking players to take his place. I do not see Imbrahimovich’s absence as a particular problem.
If Arsenal win at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night it will be one of the great European coups. If you are one for the fairytale bet, or just a confident Gooner, odds of 7/1 for the Arsenal victory are very good value.
If you think this one’s going to be a classic, dramatic Arsenal victory why not stick a quid on them winning 3-2 at odds of 50/1.
Arsenal will be pushing hard and are likely to score in 90 minutes, but I do not think they will progress. I fancy Barcelona to repeat their outstanding performance from last week but not be so wasteful in front of goal this time, so I am going for Barcelona to win 3-1 at odds of 10/1.
My bet: Barcelona to win 3-1 (@ 10/1)
Manchester United V Bayern Munich
Manchester United looked flat without Rooney on Saturday and if they are to progress to the semi final they need Berbatov to start repaying his £30.75 million price tag.
But, Berbatov’s isolation and poor form might point to goals coming from midfield in this one. I always like Nani and Scholes as a first goalscorers, especially when Rooney is not in the side. At odds of 15/2 and 12/1 respectively, they both represent a worthy punt if they start the game.
Bayern Munich looked strong in the first leg but it is difficult to bet against Manchester United when they are playing at home.
I am expecting a United win, but it is not going to be an easy game. It is incredibly difficult to call but a 2-1 United win represents reasonable value at odds of 15/2.
Manchester United to win 2-1 (@ 15/2)
Nani to score first (@ 15/2) (If he starts)
Liverpool V Benfica
With the infamous Anfield crowd and a well rested Fernando Torres, I think Liverpool will get the job done against Benfica on Thursday night.
They looked firmly in control of the first leg before Ryan Babel was sent off, and if they can reproduce that form they should be alright. But with Liverpool’s form like a yo-yo this season do not be surprised if it takes extra time to seal the win.
For me this one is an absloute toss up between a 2-0 win and a 2-1 win for Liverpool. At odds of 13/2, the 2-0 win is good value, but as a liverpool fan myself I might be a little optimistic. With that in mind lets go for Liverpool to win 2-1 at 15/2.
My bet: Liverpool to win 2-1 (@ 15/2)