The Champions League has reached the knockout stages, and with many established names already out, those who have made the final 16 are hoping this could be their year. In France, two teams with plenty of pedigree go head to head when Marseilles take on Inter Milan. Who looks likely to grab the initiative in the first leg?
Inter Milan Win (4.6 @ Betfair)
At first glance, a punt on Inter Milan looks like an act of insanity. Their recent form reads LLLDL. That is not a run that will fill anyone will any confidence. The Champions League however, is a different beast to the Italian League or Cup programme, and a little research suggest the Italians may not be quite as inept as recent form would suggest.
Firstly, the Nerazzurri won 8 straight games between December and January, so the quality of the squad is not really in question, but it is the European form of both clubs, and more importantly, the pattern of those matches, that makes the 7/2 about the visitors fair value.
In their 3 away Champions League group games, Inter surrendered the lion share of possession. Against Lille and CSKA Moscow, it was over 60% in favour of the hosts. Inter won both of those games. The Italian side like to absorb pressure – and are good at it. The experience of Zanetti, Lucio, Maicon and Chivu is unparalleled in European football. The recent struggles have come predominantly in games that Inter would be expected to boss, and it is then that they hit problems.
Marseille have already been beaten at home in the Champions League by both Arsenal and Olympiacos and have also not registered a clean sheet in the last 6 games. Add to that the absence of star man Loic Remy and Inter appear better than 7/2 pokes.
At 4.6 with Betfair, the much maligned Italian giants offer value. Away wins have been the norm for the Nerazzurri in this European campaign, and home defeats have been for L’OM. Just try not to look at the recent form guide.