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Alex Campean makes his picks for Champions League and Europa League matchups this week.
ANALYSIS

Champions League and Europa League Predictions: Expect Chelsea to Take Care of Business

Lille vs. Chelsea (Champions League)

The future of the Champions League winners is in doubt after the UK government sanctioned their owner, Roman Abramovich. Following last week’s developments, the Blues could lose millions in sponsorship revenue, won’t be able to sell new tickets for matches, and the club’s merchandise stores will be closed, players transfers are banned, as are new contracts.

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Still, the team is winning games. They began their knockout campaign in style beating Lille 2-0 in the first leg and they enter this clash on the back of a four-match winning streak and had scored three or more goals on three occasions. If we take out the penalty shootout defeat to Liverpool in the EFL final, Chelsea won their previous 10 games across all competitions keeping six clean sheets in the process. Chelsea did drop plenty of points in December and January. However, they have hardly set a foot wrong since then but we must accept the fact that they are no longer involved in the title race.

Despite the internal issues, the players and manager look focused and their main objective is to defend their UCL trophy. Tuchel has declared that his team will travel to Lille to finish the job no matter what, and his players have done an outstanding job of focusing on the tasks on and off the pitch. They outplayed Lille in the first leg and we expect that to happen again. On the other side, since losing to Chelsea, Lille managed to keep three domestic clean sheets in a row, winning two games during this period (1-0 over Lyon and 4-0 over Clermont).  They’ve been knocked out from the competitions every time they’ve lost the first leg.

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This will just be the fourth clash between the two sides with Chelsea winning all three head-to-heads so far. The Blues will be without Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi, both injured but Thiago Silva is expected to return to the defensive line after being rested against Newcastle. Lille will be forced to attack from the first whistle of the game in order to overcome the two goals deficit and Chelsea will definitely catch them on the break.

Pick: Chelsea ML at -110 (Bet $110 to win $100)

Leverkusen vs. Atalanta (Europa League)

Leverkusen lost 3-2 on the road in the first leg but they are another animal on home soil. They’ve won seven of their last 10 home games across all competitions. They are enjoying a great season both domestically and in Europa League, being one of the most entertaining teams in the European top five leagues.

Despite their 1-0 defeat to FC Koln from last weekend, the Germans are sitting third in the Bundesliga standings but three teams (RB Leipzig, Freiburg, and Hoffenheim) are breathing down their neck sitting just one point behind them. The fight for the Champions League spots is getting more and more intense with eight rounds to go till the end of the season.

Yes, stats are important but sometimes the injury issues are more important. Leverkusen’s most important player, Florian Wirtz faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last weekend against Koln. His absence will be a major blow for the German side.

On top of that, Bundesliga's second-highest scorer with 20 goals this term, Patrik Schick, is still working his way back to fitness and he will be unavailable for this clash. Another super important player, Jeremie Frimpong also suffered a season-ending ankle injury last weekend, has to be operated and will therefore only be able to play again next season. Still, Leverkusen is a free-scoring side and on a positive note, they have a great home record in the European competitions.

Atalanta dropped into the Europa League after going out of the Champions League, arguably unluckily, and they beat Olympiakos home and away to make it here. They failed to beat Genoa last weekend in Serie A being held to a goalless draw. With Duvan Zapata injured, Colombian striker Luis Muriel was the hero of the first leg scoring a brace.

Atalanta's goals rate in Europe this season is impressive. In 11 Champions League and Europa League games, they’ve contributed on the scoreboard in all of them and have netted two or more goals in ten of them. We expect them to extend this amazing scoring run and hit twice on their own.

Pick: Atalanta Team Total Over 1.5 goals at +115 (Bet $100 to win $115)

Article Author

Soccer

Alex Campean has been a soccer fan since 1990 when he watched the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. He knows everything about the top 5 European leagues, Champions League and Europa League and he is well known for his “trade-mark” “Alex Classic” bet (both teams to score and over 2.5 goals in the match). He’s very disciplined, follows a strict set of rules, and has great bankroll management. He’s our European soccer specialist and he's having an average of 55 units of profit in the last 7 years with his soccer picks. He’s all about positive energy, respect, and long-term profit and if you ever hear “Alex’s last-minute goal” that means he did it again winning a bet in the last minute of the game, so never lose hope.

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