Mexes wary of Messi threat

Bet on the Champions LeagueAC Milan defender Philippe Mexes knows they will have their work cut out to stifle Lionel Messi, but insists they will give it a real go to knock holders Barcelona out of the Champions League (Milan 4/1, Barcelona 2/11 – To Qualify with bet365).

The Catalans travel to the San Siro for the first leg of their quarter-final clash on Wednesday night in red-hot form, having won their last seven matches in La Liga.

They will face a Milan side who are currently top of the Serie A standings, but who are suffering with injuries.

The Rossoneri will have to do without the services of influential defender Thiago Silva, who misses out with a hamstring strain, and much will depend on the form of striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who averages almost a goal every game in the league this season.

While the giant Swede will be the hosts’ main threat in front of goal, Messi will, as ever, be the player that Milan have to stop if they are to come away with a first-leg lead (Messi 9/1 To Score Three or More Goals with bet365).

Mexes will be charged with that particular task and, while admitting that ‘it is difficult enough to stop Messi on Playstation’ the France international centre-back insists that the Italians will give their all to try to stay in the competition.

“Messi is a great player and he deserves respect, but we will play like we have always done,” he said.

“Barca are the best team in the world, but we will do everything we can to advance. We had to meet them sooner or later.”

Deschamps doesn’t expect miracles

online footblal oddsMarseille coach Didier Deschamps insists he is not looking for divine intervention, but feels it will take a couple of excellent displays to knock Bayern Munich out of the Champions League (Marseille 7/2, Bayern 1/5 – To Qualify with bet365).

L’OM welcome the Bavarians to the Stade Velodrome during the home side’s worst run of the season, as they have not tasted success in eight attempts in all competitions (Marseille 7/2, Bayern 5/6, draw 5/2 – Match Prices with bet365).

They will face a Bayern side who have been scoring goals for fun, with 22 in their last five games in all competitions and who still have their eyes on the Bundesliga title, with just five points to make up to league-leading Borussia Dortmund.

Marseille have slipped to ninth in Ligue 1 and have little chance of qualifying for next season’s elite European competition after a dreadful run of results for the southern France outfit.

Deschamps is under no illusions as to how difficult it will be on Wednesday and in the subsequent return leg against one of the in-form teams in the competition.

But he refuses to throw in the towel and has urged his men to up their game over the two legs to see where it takes them.

“It won’t take a miracle, but it’s obvious that Bayern are the favourites,” he said. “They’re possible candidates to become champions of Europe.

“We’re facing a team that’s been on a very good run. Qualifying will require two big performances in the first leg and the second leg.”

Hart admits captaincy desire

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart says that he would love to captain England at this summer’s European Championships in Poland and Ukraine (England 9/2 Euro 2012 outright with bet365).

Hart is currently one of the few England players to be considered a regular in the side and is expected to play a vital role, if the Three Lions are to win their first major championship since 1966.

The question of who will captain the team is still up in the air after John Terry was stripped of the armband earlier this season, leading to the resignation of manager Fabio Capello.

It is still unclear who will manage the team in the summer, with Spurs boss Harry Redknapp (5/2 – Next Permanent England manager with bet365) the favourite to take the reins following the conclusion of the current Premier League season.

Hart was previously in the running to lead the side in the recent friendly against Holland but missed out to Scott Parker.

However, he is still being mooted as a possible skipper in the summer and says that regardless of whether he is picked to captain the side he will still be doing his best to inspire his team-mates.

“Of course, I would take it if it was given to me – but there are lot more people in pole position,” Hart said. “I think football is the kind of sport where it doesn’t really matter who is in charge.

“You can be a captain without being one,” he added.

Guardiola switches focus

Bet on the Champions LeagueBarcelona coach Pep Guardiola says although he will not give up on winning La Liga, he is now more concerned with retaining the Champions League (Barca 6/5 – Champions League outright with bet365).

Following Saturday’s 2-0 win away to Sevilla, the Catalans currently sit seven points behind their great rivals Real Madrid, but Jose Mourinho’s men have the perfect opportunity to extend their lead when they face Malaga at the Bernabeu on Sunday night.

Despite beating Real before the Christmas break, Guardiola’s side have fallen behind Los Blancos due to a number of sloppy performances, most notably the away defeats to Getafe and more recently Osasuna.

However, Barca have continued to impress in the cup competitions, qualifying for both the quarter-finals of the Champions League and the final of the Copa del Rey in May, where they willll face the ever improving Athletic Bilbao (Barca – 1/6 Copa del Rey outright).

The Blaugrana boss says he’s more worried about winning these two competitions as he cannot see his side’s deadly rivals Real slipping up.

“We’re just here to do our job and win what we can” he said. “You already know my opinion on the league – we’d love to compete for the league right until the end, but I don’t think that’s going to be possible.”