We’ve got a busy few weeks of Champions League games to look forward to, so let’s begin with a look at how the eight games in the Round of 16 will pan out across this week, when four games will be played, as well as next week which sees the final four first legs completed.
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To help you along the way, we have previewed each of the eight games that are taking place in the Champions League over the next two weeks and given you our tips on how we see each of the first legs going, together with our view on which team will make it through to the quarterfinals of the competition in March.
Champions League Round of 16 – First Legs
Tuesday 12th February
- Manchester United v Paris St Germain
A short time ago, this looked like a nailed on Paris St Germain win and elimination for United, but since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over, United’s form has been the best in the Premier League, while Paris St Germain have seen Neymar and possibly Edinson Cavani ruled out of this game, with Neymar also out of the return leg in Paris.
That makes a huge difference to PSG and while they are still the favourites to progress, I think Manchester United could well spring the surprise of the round here and not only win tonight, but also get the result they need in Paris to make it through and send PSG tumbling out of the competition.
First Leg Scoreline – Manchester United 2-1 Paris St Germain – 8/1
Who progresses? – I’m backing Manchester United to do enough in Paris to earn a place in the quarterfinals at 6/5.
- AS Roma v FC Porto
I think this will be a very close game, as the odds on who qualifies suggest. AS Roma reached the semifinal of this competition last season but it is fair to say their recent form is poor and they haven’t really showed anywhere near that class in the Champions League or Serie A this season.
FC Porto in contrast are unbeaten over 90 minutes since October 2018 and came through their group with five wins and a draw. Roma’s home advantage is huge and Porto tend not to travel well but I think this Porto team has enough about it to keep that unbeaten record going here to set up a massive return leg in Portugal.
First Leg Scoreline – AS Roma 1-1 FC Porto – 11/2
Who progresses? – The bookies have these teams as the same 10/11 price to progress, but I think Porto’s form cannot be overlooked and with the second leg in Oporto, I am backing FC Porto to reach the quarterfinals.
Wednesday 13th February
- Ajax Amsterdam v Real Madrid
I was impressed with Ajax in the group stage, especially with how they performed against Bayern Munich on the road but I feel that they may just be catching a Real Madrid side who are coming into form, following the current Champions win over Atletico Madrid at the weekend.
It remains to be seen whether Real can reproduce that fine form on the road in Holland but they have an excellent recent record over Ajax (including two 4-1 wins in the last two games between the teams) and while I can’t quite see Real matching those scorelines, I am of the opinion that they will take a comfortable lead back with them to Spain.
First Leg Scoreline – Ajax Amsterdam 1-3 Real Madrid – 12/1
Who progresses? – I’m expecting a strong showing from Real in the first leg which will make the second leg in the Bernebeu a relatively comfortable evening. Back Real Madrid to qualify at 1/5.
- Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund
Of the first set of games, I think this is likely to be the one that has the most drama in both legs. I think both Spurs and Dortmund are two teams capable of scoring plenty of goals against each other, and also of letting in a number of goals, which is why I have gone for a relatively high scoring outcome to this first game.
Spurs have struggled a little in the early stages of the Group Stage, while Dortmund made light work of a much easier group to qualify with ease. The Germans also lead the Bundesliga but they are not the best defensively and I can see this tie being all square heading into a crucial second leg in Germany.
First Leg Scoreline – Tottenham 2-2 Borussia Dortmund – 12/1
Who progresses? – This is a game that could go either way, but I just feel Dortmund have the edge in terms of consistency. This may well go down to away goals, but I’m backing Borussia Dortmund to edge it at 4/6.
Tuesday 19th February
- Liverpool v Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich have a fine record in this competition over the years and Liverpool were last season’s beaten finalists. This is a plum tie in the Round of 16 and with the first leg at Anfield, it should be a fantastic occasion and one that I think the home team and its supporters will rise to.
Bayern have not been the same this season domestically or in Europe and that I think gives Liverpool, who have also had issues in Europe away from home, a real chance. Key for the Reds is keeping a clean sheet and if they can do this then I think their attack could cause Bayern real problems and take a healthy lead into that second leg in Munich in three weeks’ time.
First Leg Scoreline – Liverpool 2-0 Bayern Munich – 10/1
Who progresses? – I can see Liverpool grabbing an away goal in Munich leaving Bayern needing four and against this Reds defence, that is a lot to ask. As such, I’m backing Liverpool to progress at 4/5.
- Lyon v Barcelona
Lyon have beaten Manchester City in Europe this season but they have found winning games and keeping clean sheets difficult and against Barcelona’s frightening attack, that looks like being a forlorn hope for the French side even on home soil for the first leg.
That said, I don’t think this Barcelona team is quite at the same level as those that have been such a feature of the recent history in this competition and although I am expecting them to win, I can’t see them totally dominating the game and I can see Lyon’s talented strike force grabbing a goal to make the second leg somewhat delicately poised, if still in Barcelona’s favour.
First Leg Scoreline – Lyon 1-2 Barcelona – 15/2
Who progresses? – I expect Barcelona to secure a first leg lead from the match in France and this should mean they make progress relatively easy at the Nou Camp. Take Barcelona to progress at 1/8.
Wednesday 20th February
- Atletico Madrid v Juventus
I have an inkling that this may well be the closest of all the ties in the Round of 16. These teams have contested in three of the last four finals, so both have a fine track record in the Champions League and while Juventus have shone in Serie A, with Ronaldo at the fore, Atletico have once again been the bridesmaid this season to Barcelona in La Liga.
Atletico were beaten at the weekend by Real Madrid at home, a cautionary warning for the team, but I think Juventus are a different prospect and I think Atletico match up well against the Italian side and as such, I think a low scoring first leg is likely with perhaps Atletico taking a slender lead with them into the second leg in Turin.
First Leg Scoreline – Atletico Madrid 1-0 Juventus – 11/2
Who progresses? – This could be a very, very close game and I have a feeling an away goal could be the decider. If Atletico can keep a clean sheet at home, they’ll fancy their chances in Italy and as such, I am just favouring Atletico Madrid to progress at 6/4.
- Schalke 04 v Manchester City
I think of all the games in the Round of 16, this is the most one-sided and in fairness to Manchester City, I think that would have been the case whoever had drawn Schalke 04 as they are definitely the weakest team in the tournament by a considerable margin, based on their performances this season alone.
That’s not to say the German side can’t make it difficult for City, they can especially at home, but I feel that City are playing so well that they will simply steamroller Schalke 04 in the first leg on the counter attack to set up what should be a very comfortable second leg in Manchester in three weeks time.
First Leg Scoreline – Schalke 04 0-3 Manchester City – 7/1
Who progresses? – I think City have drawn the weakest team left in this competition. Schalke have had a relatively poor season domestically and I think City will earn a big win in Germany to make the game in England a formality. Man City are 1/66 on to qualify and that tells you all you need to know about who to back here.