The wait is finally over, as the top clubs in Europe get ready to battle it out in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League round of 16. The 1st leg of fixtures will take place on 13th-14th February and 20th-21st of this month. Even with teams like Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid out of the competition, there are some mouth-watering battles lined up for the coming two weeks.
Finalists in two of the past three seasons, Juventus will take on Tottenham, while the pick of the match-up sees two-time to defending champions Real Madrid take on the PSG. Chelsea, on the other hand, will take tackle an in-form Barcelona team just like they did in their Champions League winning season.
Here we look at the Round of 16, 2017/18 UEFA Champions League Predictions:
Juventus vs Tottenham
Juventus have come mightily close to winning their 3rd UCL title in recent years but have fallen short every time. Tottenham, on the other hand, have always been a major disappointment in the Champions League but will be hopeful that their recent performances over the big clubs can power them to the quarter-final stage. Juventus, however, come into this match on a 16 match unbeaten streak, having only conceded just 1 goal in that run.
Tottenham will have the advantage of the playing the second leg at home, however, Juventus are almost impossible to beat at home. Pochettino will do well to approach the first leg with caution and try and take an away goal back to Wembley.
Juventus 2-1 Tottenham
FC Basel vs Manchester City
Basel will be looking to make it third time lucky as they take on Manchester City hoping to qualify for the quarter-final stage for the first time in their history. The English league leaders enter the tie fully focussed to go the distance in Europe knowing that the domestic title is almost sealed up.
Manchester City have tipped as one of the favourites to win the UCL trophy this season following their early season charge and it will be a major shock to see them falter at this stage. Having a manager who has won the trophy twice before will just instil the much-needed self-belief in the players prior to the next few rounds.
FC Basel 1-3 Manchester City
Porto vs Liverpool
This is one of the most difficult fixtures to predict in this week’s 2017/18 UEFA Champions League, as 2004 winners Porto take on 5 times champion Liverpool at the Dragao Stadium. The Portuguese club will be hoping to go one better than last year when they were eventually knocked-out by Juventus. Liverpool, on the other hand, know that they can’t afford to rely on their leaky defence rather might need to depend on individual moments of brilliance.
Liverpool will enter the first-leg knowing that a draw will be the perfect result to take back home for the second-leg. However, Porto will try and come out firing knowing that anything other a win in the 1st leg could signal the end of their campaign.
Porto 1-1 Liverpool
Real Madrid vs PSG
Truly the pick of the fixtures from the round of 16, as the two-time defending champions Real Madrid take on the young pretenders from Paris. There will be an array of attacking talent on display, from Ronaldo to Mbappe to Neymar and without forgetting the likes of Bale and Di Maria, this match will definitely grab the majority of the eyeballs.
PSG will enter this match hoping to exorcise last seasons dramatic lose against Barcelona, while UCL success is now Real Madrid’s sole focus this season given that they trail league leaders Barcelona by 19 points in Spain. This match will sure shot turn into a goal-fest, the question who will score more?
Real Madrid 2-2 PSG
Bayern Munich vs Besiktas
When the draw was announced, Bayern were firmly labelled the favourites to progress to the next round but make no mistake, this Besiktas team will not be easy pushover. Especially given that they qualified top from a group that had the likes of Porto, RB Leipzig and Monaco.
Bayern were struggling during the initial few months of the season but seem to have gotten back on track thanks to the return of Jupp Heynckes. Although not as lethal as a couple of seasons before, Bayern still will be confident of seeing out the Turkish side with ease over the two legs.
Bayern Munich 3-1 Besiktas
Chelsea vs Barcelona
Both these clubs have a history of epic battles of the years with Barcelona suffering more of often than not. However, Chelsea will enter this encounter pretty low on confidence after suffering two heavy defeats in the league recently and manager Conte’s future hanging by the thread. On the other hand, the Catalan club enters the round undefeated in the Champions League and in the La Liga this season.
A heavy defeat for Chelsea in this round could mean the end of Antonio Conte, however, if the Blues manage to give a spirited competition to the Spanish club, it could give them a new lease of life as they enter the final few weeks of the domestic season.
Chelsea 1-2 Barcelona
Sevilla vs Manchester United
Jose Mourinho would have been glad to see Sevilla being picked against them in the round of 16 of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League. The Spanish team are currently struggling to qualify for the Champions League next year and their priority will be the domestic league. Vincenzo Montella’s side has a lot of European pedigree but one must side with Man United, who will add Alexis Sanchez to an already lethal forward line.
Sevilla did well in their two matches against Liverpool in the group stage and will look to take confidence from those performances but there is no denying that Man United enter the tie as favourites to progress.
Sevilla 1-1 Manchester United
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Roma
Both these teams performed well above expectations in the group stage, with Shakhtar defeating Manchester City and finishing above Napoli. While Roma did extremely well to finish above Chelsea and in turn got a much easier draw. This will be a very tight game, whose outcome will be pretty difficult to predict. However, whichever team does better in the 1st leg will have a huge head start going into the 2nd leg, something that could put the opposition under severe pressure.
Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 Roma