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Paper Talk: United on Griezmann alert

Man Utd have been alerted to Antoine Griezmann's possible availability, while there's news on Thibault Courtois in today's back pages round-up.

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Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifying tips

Paul Higham has a four-team accumulator for Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifiers and says Austria could be the bet of the night to start their campaign with a win.

Top 50 managers of all-time (clockwise from top left): Sir Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola, Marcelo Bielsa and Rafa Benitez all included by France Football3

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Free betting tips: Champions League - Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham; Real Madrid v Ajax

Our best bets for the Champions League
Our best bets for the Champions League

The second-leg ties in the Champions League begin on Tuesday night. Tom Carnduff is looking to the stats for value.


Recommended bets

1pt Axel Witsel to have 2+ shots on target in Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham at 13/2

1pt Hakim Ziyech 2+ shots on target in Real Madrid v Ajax at 7/4

For advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record


Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham (Signal Iduna Park, BT Sport 2, 2000 GMT)

Jan Vertonghen scores against Borussia Dortmund
Jan Vertonghen scores against Borussia Dortmund

A wonderful performance from the home side at Wembley has meant that Tottenham are all-but through to the next stage of the competition.

Goals from Son Heung-Min, Jan Vertonghen and Fernando Llorente wrapped up a 3-0 victory for Mauricio Pochettino's men, and that has given Dortmund a mountain to climb.

History isn't on their side either. There have only been seven cases out of 130 in European Cup history where a team who have lost the first leg 3-0 away have gone on to progress.

That said, they have won by a scoreline that would at least force extra-time here on multiple occasions at home this season, which includes Champions League group stage wins over Monaco and Atletico Madrid.

Dortmund can take confidence in Spurs' recent poor form, but then again they haven't been much better themselves and have seen their lead at the top of the Bundesliga disappear following dropped points - which includes defeat to Augsburg last time out.

Axel Witsel was our winning selection in the shots on target market in the first leg and I'm willing to put my faith in the midfielder again here.

He had one shot on target at Wembley, although the value is there in taking the 13/2 on offer for two or more in this contest. He sits third for shots taken in the Dortmund squad in the Bundesliga this season, second in the Champions League.

The hosts will need to attack as they look to try and close the deficit between themselves and Tottenham. That means that the likes of Witsel will be expected to contribute in an attacking sense, and he's had at least two shots in multiple games this season.

Score prediction: Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Tottenham (Sky Bet odds: 8/1)

Best bet: Axel Witsel to have 2+ shots on target at 13/2

Axel Witsel celebrates his goal against Atletico Madrid
Axel Witsel celebrates his goal against Atletico Madrid

Opta facts

  • 100% of teams to have won 3-0 at home in the first leg of a Champions League knockout match have progressed to the next round (7 previous cases). If Tottenham go through, it would be their second appearance in the competition’s quarter-finals after 2010/11.
  • Tottenham have won their three previous encounters with Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, twice in last season’s group stages (3-1 at Wembley, 2-1 at the Signal Iduna Park) and in this season’s round of 16 first leg (3-0 at Wembley).
  • Borussia Dortmund conceded more goals in the first leg against Tottenham (3) than they did in the entire group stages earlier this season (2).
  • Tottenham secured their joint-biggest Champions League victory in the first leg against Borussia Dortmund, winning by a three-goal margin for the fifth time in the competition.
  • Borussia Dortmund have lost 10 of their last 13 Champions League knockout games (W3), after losing only one of their previous 14 (W9 D4).
  • 11 of Tottenham’s 12 goals in the Champions League this season have come in the second-half (92%).
  • Tottenham have scored in each of their last 17 Champions League games, their longest run in the competition. They’ve also only ever lost one game in the Champions League (out of 31 played) by more than two clear goals, against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in April 2011 (0-4).
  • Borussia Dortmund’s attacking trio of Mario Götze, Jadon Sancho and Christian Pulisic only had one shot combined in the first leg against Tottenham.
  • Raphael Guerreiro has scored four of Borussia Dortmund’s last five goals in the Champions League.
  • Tottenham’s Son Heung-min has scored nine goals in 11 games in all competitions against Borussia Dortmund, more than he has against any other side in his senior club career.

Real Madrid v Ajax (Santiago Bernabeu, BT Sport 3, 2000 GMT)

Hakim Ziyech celebrates his goal against Real Madrid
Hakim Ziyech celebrates his goal against Real Madrid

Marco Asensio provided the late heartbreak for Ajax as the midfielder score the winning goal in the first-leg in the 87th minute. That gives Real a 2-1 advantage here.

However, since then, they're suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of Barcelona - the first of which being in the Copa Del Rey and then a narrow 1-0 loss in LaLiga.

Real have also won just one of their four games since the win in Amsterdam. That was against Levante, but they suffered a shock defeat at home to Girona just days after the Ajax victory.

The hosts will be without Sergio Ramos after he was suspended for a sending off in the first-leg. He has since been handed a further ban after it was adjudged that he deliberately received the cards to tactically serve a suspension.

Ajax will look to exploit that, although it might not be enough to see them through to the quarter-finals. The value are in the stats again here and Hakim Ziyech is worth backing for another high shot count.

The midfielder has seen a huge 117 total shots in the Eredivisie this season, averaging one every 14 minutes, while also posting a total of 31 shots in their Champions League campaign.

Ziyech had a total of six shots in their first-leg victory, three of which were on target, that includes scoring the goal that drew them level at the time.

Backing two or more shots on target in this game looks appealing at a price of 7/4 with Sky Bet. It's clear that he doesn't have a fear of shooting and regularly racks up a high shot count wherever they are playing.

He has only had less than four shots in one league game this season, while averaging over five shots per game in the Champions League.

Score prediction: Real Madrid 1-1 Ajax (Sky Bet odds: 17/2)

Best bet: Hakim Ziyech 2+ shots on target at 7/4

Sergio Ramos in action against Ajax
Sergio Ramos is serving a suspension

Opta facts

  • 100% of teams to have won 2-1 away from home in the first leg of a Champions League knockout match have progressed to the next round (8 previous cases).
  • Real Madrid have won their last seven games in all competitions against Ajax (22 goals for, 3 against), the best ever run for the Spanish side against a single opponent in European competition. Ajax’s last victory against the Merengues was back in November 1995: 2-0 in the Champions League group stages at the Bernabeu with goals from Jari Litmanen and Patrick Kluivert.
  • It’s 22 years since Ajax progressed through a Champions League knockout stage tie – in the 1996-97 campaign when the Dutch side prevailed against Atlético Madrid in the quarter-finals before being eliminated by Juventus in the semi-finals.
  • Real Madrid have won the Champions League four times in the last five seasons. Juventus were the last team to eliminate Real in a Champions League knockout phase, back in the 2014-15 semi-finals.
  • Real Madrid have reached the Champions League semi-finals in each of the last eight campaigns, a record run in the history of the competition.
  • Real Madrid have lost two of their last five home games in the Champions League (W2 D1), as many as in their previous 48 at the Bernabeu combined (W40 D6 L2).
  • Ajax’s last away win in the Champions League knockout stages was in March 1997 – it was in Madrid, against Atlético (3-2).
  • 11 of Ajax’s 12 goals in this season’s Champions League have been scored in the second-half (92%).
  • Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema has either scored or assisted a goal in each of his six Champions League matches against Ajax (4 goals, 4 assists). In the first leg, he became only the fourth player to reach the 60-goal tally in the competition after Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Raul.
  • Four of Real Madrid forward Marco Asensio’s five Champions League goals have been scored in the knockout stages.
  • In the first leg against Real Madrid, Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech scored his first Champions League goal with his 30th shot in the competition.

Odds correct at 1455 GMT (04/03/19)

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Most Read Football

Get all the latest football gossip from the day's back pages1

Paper Talk: United on Griezmann alert

Man Utd have been alerted to Antoine Griezmann's possible availability, while there's news on Thibault Courtois in today's back pages round-up.

Northern Ireland's Windsor Park2

Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifying tips

Paul Higham has a four-team accumulator for Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifiers and says Austria could be the bet of the night to start their campaign with a win.

Top 50 managers of all-time (clockwise from top left): Sir Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola, Marcelo Bielsa and Rafa Benitez all included by France Football3

Top 50 football managers ever?

Ferguson second? Well-respected France Football has published a list of the top 50 managers ever. See if you agree with them here.

The latest rumour and gossip from the back pgaes4

Paper Talk: Real come calling

David de Gea is back on the radar of Real Madrid following Zinedine Zidane's return. Get all the latest transfer rumours from Sunday's back pages.

Paul Pogba: The France midfielder has enjoyed life under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford5

Pogba wants Solskjaer 'to stay'

Paul Pogba hopes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is given the Manchester United manager's job on a permanent basis.

Football Tips

Northern Ireland's Windsor Park

Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifying tips

Paul Higham has a four-team accumulator for Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifiers and says Austria could be the bet of the night to start their campaign with a win.

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Our best bets

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Nathan Aspinall is the UK Open champion (Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Sporting Life Tipping Record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed in March 2019.