Find the best football predictions from 888sport writers on the following matches:
Porto vs Arsenal - Wednesday, 8pm
Napoli vs Barcelona - Wednesday, 8pm
Freiburg vs Lens - Thursday, 5.45pm
Marseille vs Shakhtar Donetsk - Thursday, 8pm
Football Predictions Wednesday
Porto vs Arsenal
After a blip around the turn of the year, Arsenal are back in their best form.
A 3-1 victory over Liverpool has been followed by thumping wins over West Ham and Burnley, beautifully setting them up for the resumption of the Champions League.
Mikel Arteta’s team are favoured in Champions League betting for their trip to face Porto.
It was a relatively kind draw for the Gunners, but it’s worth noting that the hosts have not lost in 10 home fixtures, and have won nine of those. Barcelona and Estoril are the only teams to win at Estádio do Dragão this season.
Arteta was naturally happy with his team after consecutive heavy victories, but was keen to turn attention to Porto.
“Yeah, really happy obviously with the performance and the result, with the individual and collective as well. The contribution of every single player has been very, very good and the fact that the team looked like it wanted more.
“They weren’t satisfied, they wanted to score more and didn’t want to concede a goal, so I’m really pleased to see that consistency.”
He added, “Yes, obviously we want to dominate the game and play in the opponents’ half as much as possible. I think the threat, the purpose, the activity and the connections of the players at the moment is flowing and they really want it.
“We have momentum now and we have to maintain it. Now we leave the Premier League and go to Porto, we know it’s going to be a really tough environment and game to play again, and we just need to prepare well to go again and be ourselves.”
Arsenal’s goal-scoring spree of late contributes to them being such a short price. Going to Porto is never an easy away day, though, so we fancy the hosts to at least keep this competitive. We’re backing Porto +0.75 in the Asian handicap market.
Napoli vs Barcelona
Football odds give Napoli and Barcelona exactly the same odds of winning on Wednesday night.
This is possibly the most intriguing last 16 tie for neutrals. Napoli are Serie A champions, but they have not been the same side this season with just three wins from their last 11 outings.
Barcelona have won three of their last four. It has been far from a faultless season, though, with defeats to Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal since the winter break. Across those three matches, the Catalan giants have conceded 13 goals.
Despite being seven points behind Real Madrid in the La Liga title race, Xavi made a bold claim following Barcelona’s weekend win over Celta Vigo.
“If we finished our chances more, we would be the league leaders. They showed me the Big Data statistics recently.”
He continued, “The victory came in an agonizing way, suffering, but it is welcomed due to the involvement of all the players and the team’s effort.
“The first half was good and the second, not so much. The victory is very good for our morale, we have done more good things than bad, with dominance in the first half, preventing Celta’s transitions, but in the second we have suffered more.”
It is true Barcelona have created plenty of chances, but their defensive showings have been inconsistent at best. Napoli’s attack hasn’t been anywhere near as formidable as last season, though they should still have some joy in this match.
Both teams to score is a must-back even at a short price. We’d look to combine this with over 2.5. We like the value on 2-2 in the correct score market.
Football Predictions Thursday
Freiburg vs Lens
A goalless draw in France last week leaves this tie beautifully poised before the meeting at Europa-Park Stadion. While Freiburg are winless in five, Lens are unbeaten in their last five. The visitors are still football betting underdogs.
Lens have won four matches away from home all season. Freiburg’s home record has generally been good, but they drew 3-3 with Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend, and have only won one of their last four home fixtures.
While Lens were left frustrated not to win the first leg, manager Franck Haise was keen to look ahead to the second leg.
“Everything is still playable after this 0-0. I have the feeling that we could do better against this low block and this 5 3 2 defense with little depth for us.
“We should have been much better technically for a large part of the match… But there is still a return match (scheduled for Thursday February 22) and we are not yet eliminated.”
Freiburg manager Christian Streich also felt his team could have won the match.
“We should have won the game with the chances we had, but I don’t want to blame the team, they left it all out on the pitch. The team was very, very disciplined and smart, playing at this wonderful stadium with a spectacular crowd.”
These are two relatively well-matched teams. Home advantage makes it hard to bet against Freiburg, but Lens have been an incredibly difficult team to beat in 2023-24.
We’re backing this one to go to extra time – don’t be surprised if this is decided on penalties. 1-1 is the correct score pick after 90 minutes.
Marseille vs Shakhtar Donetsk
After sacking Gennaro Gattuso on Monday, it’s safe to say Marseille are in turmoil ahead of the visit of Shakhtar Donetsk. Online betting markets comfortably favour the hosts, despite the tie being deadlocked at 2-2.
It’s now seven matches without a win across all competitions for Marseille. Shakhtar’s domestic form was strong before Christmas, and they have had seven days to prepare for this match.
Shakhtar manager Marino Pusic was a little disappointed not to win the first leg, but remains confident ahead of Thursday’s matchup.
“Sometimes football is like that. Sometimes you don’t get the result you deserve. But it was a tough game for both teams, an interesting game for the viewers. And we have the same result.
“We knew in advance that such a clash would not be decided in the first game, so in the first part, we got a draw, so we confidently approach the next stage.
“We showed how well we can play. I am confident in the second leg, even when we play away against Marseille. And it’s great – to play such matches. This is what you become a footballer for, to play such matches.
“I experienced this as a coach, I know what it feels like to play away against Marseille. It’s a tough away game against a serious opponent, but we are ready. We will be ready to compete again and, of course, we will try to win.”
Maybe Marseille get a new manager bounce after a torrid start to 2024. They definitely need it.
Shakhtar, though, put in an impressive performance in the first leg, and we know their attack will create chances after scoring four goals across their Champions League away days in Barcelona and Porto.
We really like the value on the visitors to win this one. Shakhtar and BTTS is excellent value with how free scoring the Ukrainian club have been.
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