2017/18 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 is upon us, and we have some massive fixtures to look out for as elite teams from the European football battle against each other to be crowned as the next UEFA Champions League winner. Holders Real Madrid battle PSG in perhaps the most exciting match-up from the round of 16 while Chelsea take on Barcelona and Tottenham play against Juventus.
UEFA Champions League Predictions: Round of 16, 1st leg fixtures:
Juventus vs Tottenham Preview
Juventus have conceded just 1 goal in their last 16 games this season and have once again got back the invincibility about their defense after losing Leonardo Bonucci in the summer.
Tottenham will be over-reliant on Harry Kane’s goals to see them through to their second quarterfinal appearance in their history, however, Kane will need able support from Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and new signing Lucas Moura to take Spurs to the next round of the UEFA Champions League.
Major absentees from this match-up will be Toby Alderweireld and Paulo Dybala as the dup are still nursing their injuries and still lack match-fitness.
Prediction – Tottenham are on a high after beating Manchester United and Arsenal in recent weeks, however, one feels Juve’s strong defense and the midfield brilliance of Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira could be a lot to handle for the Premier League side.
Predicted Scoreline – Juventus 4-2 Tottenham (Over 2 legs)
FC Basel vs Manchester City Preview
Given Manchester City’s imperious league form, one has to wonder if FC Basel can even put up a fight against Pep Guardiola’s side in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16. Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus are expected to be fit for the second leg of this fixture which considerably improves Man City’s chances of qualifying beyond the round of 16 of the Champions League 2017/18 season.
Scoreline Prediction – FC Basel 1-5 Manchester City (Over 2 legs)
Porto vs Liverpool Preview
One major advantage Liverpool have is the fact that the second leg will be played at Anfield and the obvious form of Mohd Salah and Roberto Firmino must make Liverpool the firm favorites to qualify to the quarterfinals of the Champions League 2017/18 season.
One concern for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and their fans has been their goal-keeping position, however, with Loris Karius putting in decent performances must come as a relief as Klopp eyes his first major trophy as the Liverpool manager.
Porto are unbeaten for over 20 consecutive matches and are safely leading the table in Portuguese League table which could see them rest their key players for both legs making the tie a must-see encounter given Liverpool’s priorities and commitments in the Premier League.
Scoreline Prediction – FC Porto 3-4 Liverpool (Over 2 legs)
Real Madrid vs PSG Preview
Easily the standout fixture from Champions League round of 16 stage as an under-pressure Real Madrid side take on an exciting PSG team who have been taken to a new level with Neymar and Edinson Cavani’s outstanding form this season.
Despite having all the best players in the world, Real Madrid have struggled this season and part of the reason has been Zinedine Zidane’s inability to get the best out Cristiano Ronaldo and keep Isco on the bench for most of the matches.
PSG will not hold back to play their attacking football and why should they even consider holding back when their front-three reads Neymar-Mbappe-Cavani. PSG’s defense is well marshaled and will not roll over against Real Madrid’s attack.
Scoreline Prediction – Real Madrid 3-5 PSG (Over 2 legs)
Bayern Munich vs Besiktas Preview
One of the more straightforward matches from Champions League’s round of 16 stage this season as Bayern Munich are well on their way of getting back to their best and have shown signs of replicating the success they had back in 2013 under Jupp Heynckes.
Scoreline Prediction – Bayern Munich 6-1 Besiktas (Over 2 legs)
Chelsea vs Barcelona Preview
The moment I saw this fixture drawn out for the Round of 16 in this season’s Champions League 2 moments (Ronaldinho’s stunning solo goal and Fernando Torres rounding up Victor Valdes and scoring the winning goal for Chelsea at Camp Nou) flashed before my eyes.
On paper, it must look like an easy win for Barcelona given Lionel Messi’s inspired form and Chelsea’s horrendous season both on and off the pitch, however, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas are capable of winning games against any opposition and Barcelona must be aware of their threat going forward. It may get cagey times but like many Barcelona matches, Messi could end up being the key difference.
Scoreline Prediction – Chelsea 2-5 Barcelona
Sevilla vs Manchester United Preview
This can easily go either side and perhaps the outcome of this match may depend on Jose Mourinho’s team selection. If Mourinho picks Paul Pogba in a 2-man midfield, United fans should lose any hope of qualifying for the quarterfinals, however, if Pogba gets the cover from Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera/Michael Carrick, we can see Man United roll back the years in the Champions League.
Sevilla are 6th in the league table and have shown signs of inconsistency which could see United use their squad strength and qualify through to the quarterfinals. Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are expected to play some part in the 2nd leg of this tie.
Scoreline Prediction – Sevilla 1-3 Manchester United (Over 2 legs)
Shakhtar Donetsk vs AS Roma
This tie can go either ways as both teams are equally balanced and have match-winners in their ranks. AS Roma did very well to keep hold of Edin Dzeko and Allison in January despite a strong interest from Chelsea and Liverpool respectively which could give them the edge for this tie.
Scoreline Prediction – Shakhtar 2-2 AS Roma (Roma to qualify on penalties)