Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
UEFA Champions League football returns to screens and pitches across Europe this week with the second legs of this year’s Quarter Final ties scheduled to be played across what promises to be two frenetic evenings of action on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Some of the eight competing club’s continental future looks brighter than others, however, none of this week’s double-headers look completely dead ahead of this week’s crucial second legs.
As always, there are tons of potentially lucrative betting markets and exciting specials available for each fixture, leaving punters with plenty of choice ahead of the Champions League carnage.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of player specials for this week’s Champions League fixtures. Take a look at our selections below:
Paul Pogba – over 0.5 shots on target – 4/5 (Barcelona vs MANCHESTER UNITED)
Like most of his Manchester United teammates, Paul Pogba was largely an uninfluential, peripheral figure against Barcelona last week, in the teams’ Quarter Final first leg at Old Trafford.
A huge improvement in individual performance is needed from all of United’s players if they are to stand any chance of overturning their 1-0 first leg deficit, though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking to the mercurially talented Paul Pogba in particular to lift the rest of the United team on Tuesday.
Pogba has scored 15 times in all competitions for United this season – an impressive goal haul that has has been reached largely due to the Frenchman’s prolific shot statistics.
The 26-year old has averaged 3.1 shots per game in the Premier League this season, which is more than any of his United teammates, while his Champions League average of 1.6 attempts on goal per game also ranks near the top for his club.
1.6 and 0.9 of those shots respectively have hit the target, and if Pogba can find his range just once against Barcelona this week to test Marc-André ter Stegen, bet365 will pay out winning bets at 4/5 odds.
Check out our comprehensive Barcelona vs Man Utd match preview for more betting tips and predictions here.
Ashley Young to get booked – 6/5 (Barcelona vs MANCHESTER UNITED)
As we predicted in our UCL Lionel Messi Specials feature last week, regular United left-back Luke Shaw picked up a yellow card against Barcelona in the clubs’ Quarter Final first leg clash last week.
Shaw’s booking, which was his 3rd Champions League caution of the season, earned him a one-match suspension, ruling him out of the second leg at the Nou Camp on Tuesday.
Shaw’s absence will likely see veteran full-back Ashley Young switched from right to left for United, putting the 33-year old in direct opposition to Lionel Messi.
Having been booked an incredible 11 times in all competitions himself already this term, Young is no stranger to landing in trouble with referees.
The fullback’s defensive workload is expected to be intense in Catalonia, and we think he looks brilliant value at 6/5 with bet365 to pick up his 12th yellow card of the season.
Dusan Tadic over 0.5 shots on target – 5/6 (Juventus vs AJAX)
Dutch giants Ajax have been one of the Champions League’s major success stories this season, making it to the competition’s Quarter Finals for the first time since 2003 with a vibrant, youthful, attacking team.
As one of the more senior members of the Ajax playing staff, Serbian attacker Dusan Tadic carries a great deal of responsibility for the Amsterdam outfit, though the 30-year old seems to be revelling in his role.
Tadic has scored 29 goals for Ajax so far in 2018/19, 6 of which were plundered in the Champions League and the former Southampton star has averaged 1.8 attempts on goal in Europe’s top club competition, with 1 of those hitting their mark on average.
In their 1-1 first leg draw with Juventus last week in the Dutch capital, Ajax showed more than enough to suggest that they can cause plenty of problems for the Old Lady in Turin on Tuesday.
Tadic has been Ajax’s most productive player on the continental stage this season, and we think he is priced fantastically at 5/6 with bet365 to register over 0.5 shots on target in Italy.
Make sure to read our detailed Juventus vs Ajax match preview for more betting tips and predictions here.
Virgil van Dijk over 1.5 tackles – 5/4 (FC Porto vs LIVERPOOL)
In a contest that Liverpool found tougher than many had anticipated, central defender Virgil van Dijk had one of his busiest Anfield evenings of the season against FC Porto last week.
The imposing Dutch centre-half made 3 tackles to help keep the Portuguese champions at bay, hitting that total of challenges in a single game for only the 4th time for Liverpool this term overall, and for the 1st time in this season’s Champions League.
Wednesday’s rematch has the potential to be just as tricky. Porto are 0-2 down from last Tuesday’s first leg tussle on Merseyside, though the Dragões will believe that Liverpool’s lead is far from insurmountable.
That should ensure that the home side attack with enthusiasm on Wednesday and we predict that van Dijk will hit lofty tackle figures again in his attempts to repel Porto’s advances. That makes him a cracking price at 5/4 to with bet365 to make over 1.5 tackles.
Click here to read our FC Porto vs Liverpool match preview for more 100% FREE betting tips and predictions here.
Fernandinho over 68.5 passes – 5/6 (MANCHESTER CITY vs Tottenham Hotspur)
In Wednesday’s other Champions League quarter final, Manchester City will be aiming to flip their two-legged tie with Tottenham on its head, following their first leg loss in London last week.
In terms of possession, City have been the most dominant team in both the Premier and Champions League this season, hogging the ball for 64.2% and 60.2% of their games on average in the respective competitions.
Naturally, their overall dominance allows their individual players to rack up some incredibly high passing averages of their own, and Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho generally ranks near the top for the Citizens in that metric.
The midfield destroyer has already topped the 68.5 pass mark in 16 separate matches for Manchester City this season, and with the Citizens’ likely to monopolise possession against Spurs again this week, Fernandinho looks a great bet at 5/6 with bet365 to play over 68.5 passes again.
Read our much more detailed Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur match preview for more betting tips and predictions here.
A 5-fold accumulator featuring our 5 Champions League player special selections above is available at 28/1 odds with bet365!! You can back our acca by clicking the banner below!
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