Four Big Games, Four Big Tips For This Weeks Champions League Round Of 16 Ties
After the usual hiatus over the Christmas and New Year period, the Champions League and its cousin the Europa League, both resume this week with the first set of games in the knockout phase of this competition. While in the Europa League it is the Round of 32, in the Champions League it is the first four games in the Round of 16.
There are some very big names in action in this set of fixtures including a couple of teams that many people have a good chance of winning it, such as Paris St Germain, Juventus, Barcelona and Liverpool.
The second set of four Round of 16 ties in the competition are played next week and then the second legs of these ties are played in the first couple of weeks of March. By elongating this round of games, this means that by the time we reach the quarterfinal stages of this competition, the Europa League is also at the quarterfinal stage by that point too.
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Let’s now take a look at the four games we have lined up in the Champions League this week and give you our predictions on how we see each one going.
Champions League Fixtures
Tuesday 16th February
Red Bull Leipzig v Liverpool
This game will be played at the Puskas Arena in Hungary due to travel restrictions, which does put Leipzig at a bit of a disadvantage for this game. The German side sit second in the Bundesliga, a little off the pace being set by Bayern, but despite selling some key players at the end of last season, they still look a real threat in this competition.
They were one of the teams that put paid to Manchester United’s hopes of progressing in the group stage and after beating both United and PSG at home in that phase of the tournament, they won’t be too worried about taking on an out of sorts Liverpool.
The 2019 Champions of Europe have hit a brick wall in terms of form of late with a number of poor displays, especially at Anfield, seeing them go down to a number of unusual defeats at home. The lack of central defenders due to injury has really played havoc with the team this season and it’s little wonder that they have hit a wall.
Klopp’s team lack the high energy that made them so difficult to play against the past three years and without that, this is a Liverpool team that can be picked off as many teams have shown. I am backing Leipzig to do that and claim a narrow 2-1 win in what is their home leg.
Match Result Tip – Red Bull Leipzig to win – 12/5
Barcelona v Paris St Germain
What do you make of Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona? For me, this is a pale imitation of some of the great Barcelona teams of the past and if anything, it is a team that has not improved any since being knocked out of the last two Champions League tournaments by the eventual winners (Liverpool and then Bayern Munich) in humiliating fashion.
The furore over the debt situation, whether Lionel Messi will remain at the club, as well as the blooding of several youngsters means that things look very tricky for Koeman at the moment and the team he would probably want to have avoided in this round of the competition would have been Paris St Germain.
The French side have their own issues. Neymar is likely to miss the game through injury according to reports, but even so this is a squad packed with talent and who I think are more than capable of going to the Nou Camp and matching Barcelona on the day.
So much so that I almost tipped PSG to land a famous victory here, but in the end, I feel Messi magic may just do enough to keep Barcelona in the tie, but I can’t see them going to Paris in front. I am backing this game to be a 1-1 or possibly 2-2 draw.
Match Result Tip – Draw – 29/10
Wednesday 17th February
Sevilla v Borussia Dortmund
Last season, I’d have probably made a case for Dortmund to snatch something from this game and perhaps even win the tie over two legs. This season, I am not so sure that the German side are capable of progressing past the Spaniards here so poor is their general form at the moment.
Sevilla in contrast have been in pretty good shape of late. They have a very solid spine of the team and also have Ciro Immobile in attack, who spent last year on loan with Dortmund. Rakitic is a real cog in the midfield and the Spanish sides defence is rock solid too. They just look to be set up better than Dortmund at the moment.
The German side have some fantastic individuals, especially in attack where Haaland, Sancho, Reyna and Reus are all top quality but they have not been anywhere near as consistent as fans would have hoped they would have been this season.
As such, I think Sevilla will actually win this game relatively comfortably and take a solid lead into the second leg in Germany. I think Sevilla will bag a 2-0 win on home soil to defend in the second leg.
Match Result Tip – Sevilla to win – 6/4
FC Porto v Juventus
FC Porto are one of the more unusual teams in the Champions League. They always seem to qualify from the group stages of the tournament without too much trouble, but they seldom go much further than either the Round of 16 or at best, the quarterfinals.
They face a Juventus side who are sitting in third place in Serie A at the moment and who have been a little below the high standards that they have set in previous seasons. However, they also have Cristiano Ronaldo, the leading scorer in the history of this competition and who tends to come alive when it reaches the knockout faze.
There’s no doubt that FC Porto fans would rather not be facing their record-setting countryman in this game and in truth, I look at the quality of the two sides and even with FC Porto having home advantage, it is hard to see how they can get the better of the Italians here. Juventus just look to have so much strength in depth.
I think this could be a close game, don’t get me wrong, but I think that extra top quality attacking edge you need to get through to the latter stages of this competition exists more for Juventus than it does for Porto so I am backing the Italian side to claim a narrow 1-0 win here.
Match Result Tip – Juventus to win – Even Money
*All odds shown were correct with bet365 Sport as of 8am Friday 11th February 2021