The Champions League returns next week and Liverpool return to the scene of their 2019 triumph when they meet Atletico Madrid in the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in their last 16 1st leg tie on Tuesday.

Atleti manager Diego Simeone was reported in the French newspaper L’Equipe last week to be the highest paid manager in European football and, with that in mind, a barren run of five games without a win prior to their workmanlike 1-0 win over Granada at the weekend, has put pressure on the Argentinean although, in his defence, he has had to contend with a raft of injuries to key players. 

Atletico finished six points behind Juventus in the group stages of the competition and, while they are likely to have a number of their better players back next week, it is hard to make case for the Madrid club who trail neighbours Real by 13 points in the table and are facing a fight to maintain their Champions League status given they currently sit fourth in La Liga level on points with Seville.

Liverpool are 6/5 at BetVictor to take a lead back to Anfield with the hosts and the draw at 23/10. As well as the Reds have played in the Premier League so far this term, they have ridden their luck at times and did lose in Naples in the group stages of the competition. Jurgen Klopp’s side have won their last 11 two-legged ties and have not lost a knock-out phase tie in the Champions League since 2009 when Chelsea beat Liverpool 7-5 on aggregate in the quarter-finals.

Liverpool are 1/3 to qualify for the last eight with Atleti 9/4 and I think they will get the job done back at Anfield, but they may not have everything their own way in the Spanish capital on Tuesday. The recommendation is for the game to finish in a draw.

England play South Africa in the first of a three-game T20 series in East London this early evening. England’s returning spinners Moeen Ali and especially Adil Rashid were the main reason why England levelled the ODI series on Sunday and the latter was exceptional although the fact that Eoin Morgan’s side barely scrambled over the line was a bit disconcerting.

Ben Stokes returns to the T20 squad, having been rested for the ODI’s, and with the T20 World Cup beginning in Australia later in the year the countdown to the finals starts now. Jofra Archer misses the series with an ongoing elbow injury, but I still expect England to prevail although I hope they are quicker out of the traps today than they were in both the recent Test & ODI series’ when they lost the opening game.

England are 8/13 to take a 1-0 lead this afternoon with the Proteas 13/10 at BetVictor. Hosts Australia are 11/4 to win the T20 World Cup later in the year with India 7/2 and New Zealand 13/2. I would be staggered if the winner did not come from one of the big four.   

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