Everyone’s favorite club football competition is soon to be back: the UEFA Champions League. Now, more than ever, the competition is wide open heading into the knockout stages of the competition. Below, I will (probably not) correctly predict the winners of the ties, and who is moving on to the last 8 of the competition.
Let’s get the boring ones out of the way first:
Lyon vs. Barcelona
Lyon in the group stage were paired with Manchester City, Hoffenheim and Shaktar. Having beat Man City at the Ethiad, and drawing with them the return leg, Lyon found themselves coming out of the group as runners up. While having been in great form this season, Barcelona will prove too much for them in this one. Barcelona, seemingly running away with La Liga once more, look too strong having scored 78 goals as a team at the writing of this article, have proved once again that they are going to be one of the favorites to win the competition. The tie will be a lot closer than people think, but Barcelona will still manage to go through.
Prediction: Barcelona- 5, Lyon- 2
Roma vs. Porto
Arguably the two weakest teams remaining in the competition, Roma comes into this tie having had some questionable form as of late. Losing to bottom feeders Spal (who?) in the league earlier in the season, Roma have been a completely up and down team this season. The departure of Radja Nainggolan and Allisson Becker certainly have not helped their cause as well, as replacements of their ability level weren’t brought in. On the flip side, Porto have just picked up psychopath Portuguese defender, Pepe, from Besikstas, who teams up with his former Real Madrid teammate Iker Casillas. Porto have quality with the likes of Casillas, Pepe, Hector Herrera, Yacine Brahimi and Maxi Periera in their ranks. But I feel the quality and style of Roma will best them in this tie.
Prediction: Roma- 4, Porto- 1
Manchester City vs. Schalke
Manchester City, in typical City fashion, get a very favorable draw in the round of 16 once again, pitting them against Schalke. City come into this one heavy favorites, having recently beaten a high flying Liverpool 2-1 at the Etihad, albeit not in the most convincing fashion at times. City sit second in the league, four points off of Liverpool. On the flip side, Schalke sit 13th in the Bundesliga with only eighteen points from seventeen games. This isn’t a long preview because it doesn’t need to be. City will easily advance to the last eight
Prediction: Manchester City- 7, Schalke 2
Now time for the ones that you want to watch!
Juventus vs. Atletico Madrid
Offense vs. Defense, beautiful free flowing football vs. destruction and bastardy (mostly from Diego Costa), six pack abs vs. men who look like they could use a haircut and a trip to the gym. This is the most polar opposite tie in the round of 16. Cristiano Ronaldo has been in great form since making his move to the Old Lady who sit atop Serie A, banging in sixteen goals in twenty six games. They come up against Clean Sheet FC, who have kept 14 clean sheets in 29 games this season. Jan Oblak is in seemingly unbeatable form in goal at the moment, and Diego Godin is locking the defense down tighter than a JP Morgan bank vault. Juventus with the likes of Dybala, Ronaldo, Cuadrado, Mandzukic, Douglas Costa and Blaise Matuidi may have the best attack in Europe, but there are certainly question marks of their defense. Having cocked away a game to Manchester United earlier in the group stage (in amazing fashion as well, with Bonucci scoring an own goal to win it in extra time for United), there are serious questions about the ageing defense and weakness in between the sticks in goal. Simeone manages Atleti like Mourinho used to manage his sides before turned into a nutcase, he sets their style of play to how the opposition play. Juventus usually dominate possession and attack, expect Atleti to throw everything at Juventus the first leg, scrap a goal or two and throw everyone behind the ball for the second leg. Its tight in all aspects, but the only stronger defense than Atleti in Europe is NATO.
Prediction: Juventus- 1, Atletico Madrid- 2
Ajax vs. Real Madrid
UPSET ALERT! Real Madrid come into this one having been all over the place this season. One week, they look like world beaters, the next they look like a JV team coached by someone’s parent who never played football before, but took a $395 course on it, got a license and thinks they now know just as much as Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. With the exception of Luka Modric, every player looks completely lost out there with Zidane and Ronaldo. Sergio Ramos and Marcelo have been more interested in attacking than defending, Toni Kroos changed his boots from the adidas 11pro to the Copa Munidal after six years and seems to have lost his touch, and butterfingers err… I mean Thibaut Courtois, hasn’t meshed well yet with the Real back four. Ajax have had an interesting season. Being a selling club, Ajax relies heavily on their academy products. But that has changed a bit this season having brought back goal machine Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Dusan Tadic and Daley Blind being brought in this season. Ajax have two of Europe’s most sought after youngsters in Frankie de Jong and Kasper Dolberg. Dolberg seems set to stay, but de Jong seems to be off on his way to either PSG or Barca. In the Ajax defense is Matthias de Ligt who is one of Europe’s best young defenders. This Ajax team has the perfect mixture of youth and experience. It will go down as one of the competitions biggest upsets in its history, but Ajax’s youth will take down the three time defending Champions League winners in monumental fashion.
Prediction: Ajax- 5, Real Madrid- 2
Tottenham vs. Borussia Dortmund
With Harry Kane recently getting his ankle absolutely obliterated in the last minute of the game against Manchester United by Phil Jones, and Son Heung-min off to South Korea for the Asian games, there are now huge question marks around Tottenham heading into this one. Harry Kane is expected to be back mid February and will most likely not be 100% heading into the second leg. The same question marks remain for this Tottenham team as it remains for every other Tottenham team: when will they finally break through? For Borussia Dortmund, is it another case of almosts again? Both teams are young, and both teams have great talent on both sides. But I think Poch has figured this Tottenham side out. I have a feeling that, this will be the hurdle Tottenham finally don’t stumble over.
Prediction: Tottenham- 3, Dortmund- 2
Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich
Living Off Of Past History FC vs. Making History FC. This tie pits the Bavarian giants against the upbeat attack from Merseyside. With the likes of Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, there aren’t many attacks better in Europe. Liverpool have the Great Wall of Van Dijk in defense which has helped their defense keep thirteen clean sheets in the league thus far this season. On the flip side, you have the Bavarians who have struggled to find their form this season, sitting second in the league (God forbid, they don’t win the league for a change) having recently jumped up to their position, sitting three points off of Dortmund heading into the weekend. Bayern have been plagued with injury issues all season, with Robben and Ribery always swapping turns on who is injured. But it may be their last chance at winning another Champions League crown, as both are heavily rumored to be retiring at season’s end. Bayern also have started to find their form once again with the revival of their defense, which struggled massively after the injury to Manuel Neuer in August of last year. Bayern have been there and done that before so to say, Liverpool haven’t gone all the way. Liverpool have a team that is capable of going all the way again, and winning it this season, but I firmly believe that Bayern have sorted their issues out in defense and with the return of a healthy Neuer, stand a better chance at making a deep run. It will be close, it will be very close. But I give the edge to the Bavarians SLIGHTLY. This tie truly is a coin toss, though.
Prediction: Bayern- 3, Liverpool- 3 (Bayern advance on away goals)
And finally… Manchester United vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Maybe the most interesting tie, this pits a Non JMO (Jose Mourhinfo Free) United against Baguette FC. The Parisians have steamrolled through Ligue 1 so far, and will probably have the league wrapped up by the end of March (again) which does not bode well for them historically in the Champions League. Managers have come and go such as Blanc, Emery, and now Tuchel in charge, but the problem still remains the same for PSG: playing down to the level of their competition. A month ago when this tie was announced, it was a no brainer that PSG would advance. Now with Jose out at United, and hero, legend, God (you get the point) Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is in the hot seat, things have suddenly changed. Having won six games on the bounce, World Cup winner Paul Pogba seems to have regained the form that made him the $100 million man at Juventus, Marcus Rashford seemingly scoring with every touch of the ball he takes, David De Gea performing some matrix shit in goal, this looks like a United team of old, which should scare PSG. It has been long since the days of Fergie time at Man United, where the ball would seemingly get sucked into the goal when United needed a goal, but they seem to be slowly coming back. The fans are behind Ole, they players are having fun out in the pitch once again, and all is well at United. PSG on paper are the better team, but unfortunately for them, the game is played on grass. The glory days aren’t back yet for United, but this will be one massive step for them.
Prediction: United- 4, PSG- 2
Let me know what you all think, I’m curious to know which fan base I have pissed off this time! Let me know in the comments!