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Nic Ladds 22nd Feb 2010 - 17:13

Tuesday’s Champions League previews

Olympiacos v Bordeaux

Olympiacos make only their third appearance in the Champions league knock-out stage and they have a really tough tie against French league leaders Bordeaux. The visitors had the best group-stage record in the whole competition and are this year's surprise package.

Olympiacos (2/1) are second in the Greek Super League but are just two points off top-spot. They had a solid group campaign with wins over AZ Alkmaar, Standard Liege and even an impressive victory over Arsenal.

Bordeaux (6/4) are three points clear at the top of French League 1 and although they have wobbled slightly in the league recently they come in to this match on the back of two consecutive victories. Their group form is what really impressed though as they beat Maccabi Haifa and Bayern Munich home and away and picked up four points from Juventus.

The French football governing body realises how important it is for Bordeaux to be fully prepared for this match as they have allowed their league match against Auxerre to be postponed to give them more time to ready themselves. With such a packed schedule, it is seen as "in the interest of French football" that they progress here and they have every chance of doing so.

As was shown against Arsenal though, it is not easy to travel to the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium - a stadium renowned for its heat and intense crowd atmosphere.

Bordeaux will be happy to have avoided any of the tournament's big guns but this is by no means an easy tie for them. They could just play out for a draw (2/1) here, possibly try to nick an all important away goal and really try to win it at their ground.

Two names you might recognize upfront for Olympiacos are the ex-Blackburn striker Matt Derbyshire and the old Pompey favourite Lomana Lua-Lua who are 13/2 and 7/1 respectively to get the first goal.

Bordeaux's main man is Marouane Chamakh (11/2 first goal), the highly-rated front man has two goals in this competition so far and with his constant links to big European clubs, he is one of football's most wanted men.

I think Bordeaux have much the better chances of progressive overall but I would be wary of the draw with Olympiacos' impressive home record. Backing Bordeaux on the draw no bet at 8/11 is the way to go.



Stuttgart v Barcelona

Barcelona continue their defense of the title with what could be a tricky away tie to Stuttgart. Both teams are in excellent form and it should be an entertaining match. Barca shouldn't underestimate their opponents but should have enough quality to take a lead in to the second leg.

Stuttgart (9/2) aren't having the best of league campaigns, they sit in ninth place but have won six of their last seven matches. Their home form is inconsistent at best with four wins, four draws and four defeats in the league - they will really need to improve to win here.

Barcelona (4/6) reacted well to their first league defeat of the season by trouncing Racing 4-0 on Saturday. They do need to be wary of complacency though with a fair few injuries in the ranks. Xavi, Dani Alves, Ibrahimovic, Seydou Keita and Eric Abidal are all doubts for the match.

Stuttgart got to this stage with wins over Rangers and Unirea Urziceni although they could only get one point from Sevilla over two games. Barca had a mixed group stage; they got a win and a draw over Inter Milan and two wins over Dynamo Kiev but lost at home to Rubin Kazan and only got a point away.

These two met in the group stages of the 2007/08 tournament with two pretty comfortable victories for Barcelona - 2-0 (6/1) and 3-1 (10/1). They are good against German opposition in general, unbeaten in 13 consecutive matches, winning eleven.

In terms of first goalscorer for Barcelona, as long as they start, there is Messi and Ibrahimovic at 4/1, Henry is 6/1 and Iniesta is 9/1.

Stuttgart will be without attacking full-back Arthur Boka but will be boosted by the return of Jeronimo Cacau. The Brazilian-born German international returned from injury to bag four goals in a 5-1 away win at Cologne, he is 8/1 to score first or 11/4 anytime. In a pre-match interview he realised the team has nothing to lose; Barca are big favourites but they will try their best to get a good result at home.

Barca are big scorers away from home, and with the players Stuttgart have - I expect a fair few goals here. Over 2 is priced at 4/6 or over 3 is 7/4.

If you fancy Stuttgart to cause an upset then it is probably best to cover them and the draw at 23/20 but realistically the likes of Messi, Henry and Iniesta should be comfortable enough. The 17/10 on them -1 provides a fair bit of value.



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