Footballs most prestigious club tournament is finally back after over 2 months of waiting. The winter has been packed with lots of good league and cup matches across Europe, but most football fans will agree that nothing quite compares to the Champions League. The feeling of hearing the famous hymn, seeing the blue and white logo and the flood lights as some of the worlds greatest players walk out of the tunnel is totally unique and we cant wait to feel it again! The round of 16 lies before us and presents us with several highly interesting matchups. In this blog text we will be taking a quick look at the 8 games to see what we can expect from the different teams, along with giving our prediction of who we think will progress into the quarter finals. Let the action begin!
The Champions League Round of 16 consists of 2 legs where 1 match will be played at either teams home stadium. All games are kicked off at 9:00 PM CET and the team first mentioned in the subheadline will play at home first.
Roma vs Porto (12/2 and 6/3)
Roma vs Porto may not sound like the most exciting fixture in this bundle, but these two sides can quickly end up delivering a contest to remember. AS Roma are currently not having the greatest of seasons, sitting 6th in the Serie A they have failed to dominate in the big games theyve faces thus far. Its now time for the Romans to step up and show their best side as we know they have the quality to create a show, something that was very evident during the quarter finals and semi finals of last season against Barcelona and Liverpool.
FC Porto are reigning Portuguese champions and are currently leading this edition of the Primeira Liga too. Their group stage spell was an adventure, collecting 5 wins and 1 draw to secure the first spot in their group. Their current form however, is 2 draws in a row against weaker teams, something that doesnt give a whole lot of confidence for the Portuguese side. But once the Champions League hymn starts playing, chances are we will see the old Porto return.
Favourite to qualify: Porto
Man United vs PSG (12/2 and 6/3)
Manchester United has seen a new dawn after the Norwegian Ole Gunnar Solskjær took over after Mourinho, and with Pogba, Martial and Rashford blooming like never before, the optimism in the red part of Manchester is on a high. Their January and February form has been nothing short of sensational and they are looking to carry on against the mighty PSG. If they keep playing like they have, nothing is impossible for the Red Devils.
In the French capital, things arent so positive. Both Neymar and Cavani are likely to miss both clashes with the English club due to injury, and after struggling to find grip in the last few games there is a growing sense of concern at Parc des Princes. But with talents such as Verratti, Mbappe and Di Maria available, it would be silly to call the Parisians weak. The two games between the sides will be a spectacle to witness and amongst the biggest highlights of this round.
Favourite to qualify: PSG
Tottenham vs Dortmund (13/2 and 5/3)
Tottenham will have to do without their English talismans Harry Kane and Dele Alli for the first meeting with Dortmund at Wembley Stadium. Heung Min Son has been their hero in the absence of the aforementioned and will do his best for that to happen against the Germans as well. The Spurs survived a group containing both Inter and Barcelona and have shown that they have the quality to compete with the best. Several wins in the English league and a firm third place also give hopes of yet another triumph, but they will need to be at their very best to beat the runners up of 2013s edition of the competition.
The black and yellow Dortmund currently sit atop of the Bundesliga and showed a lot of strength in the Champions League group stage, but one loss and two draws in their last three games mean that they will need to change their current fortunes when they travel to London on Wednesday. With Reus at the front there is always risked involved when facing Dortmund and when the second leg is played at the Signal Iduna Park, the yellow wall is undoubtedly going to take on the role as the twelfth man and create hell for the visiting Lilywhites.
Favourite to qualify: Dortmund
Ajax vs Real Madrid (13/2 and 5/3)
Real Madrid, the reigning champions that now have won this competition 4 of the last 5 times have had a rough season so far both in the Spanish league and in the Champions League group stage where they lost twice to Russian CSKA Moscow. But now, under the leadership of Solari, things are finally looking bright again for the Whites. A draw in the Clasico last week and a solid 3-1 win over city-rival, Atletico Madrid, has given both the fans and players confidence again.
Ajax, on the other hand, are currently sitting second in the Dutch Eredivisie and have only won 2 out of their last 4 games. However, the Amsterdam-side showed great from in the group stage this autumn, finishing second behind German giants, Bayern Munich. They will hope to reignite that form for the two games against Madrid, as it will be a massive test.
Favourite to qualify: Real Madrid
Lyon vs Barcelona (19/2 and 13/3)
FC Barcelona is not a team anyone would like to face at any stage of the competition. They finished on top in the group of death this last autumn and are currently leading La Liga by a solid margin. However, their form has been dipping slightly as of late and they struggle to find their rhythm in games. But with a Lionel Messi in their squad, a man fully capable of winning games on his own, Barcelona almost always have the edge over their opponents.
Olympique Lyon had a remarkable spell in the group stage this season, playing 5 draws and 1 victory, which was enough to secure second place behind Manchester City. They are currently number 3 in the French league and got fresh memories of beating PSG 2-1 at home, and although they recently lost to OGC Nice, they got another game to regain their form before they welcome the Spanish champions next week.
Favourite to qualify: Barcelona
Liverpool vs Bayern (19/2 and 13/3)
Liverpool had a wonderful run in last seasons Champions League, losing only to Real Madrid in the final after a bizarre game. Now they are back and with world class Alisson between the sticks they look stronger than ever. They have also been dominating in the English Premier League, although their recent form hasnt been the best of the season. Their run in the group stage wasnt too impressive either, 3 wins and 3 losses saw them finish second behind PSG. Now the German champions await, and itll be interesting to see if they can rediscover their top form.
Bayern Munich has been one of the top teams in the world for ages, but this season they find themselves in an unfamiliar position behind Borussia Dortmund on the Bundesliga table. Their group stage run however, was more or less impeccable and we all know what the mighty Germans can do in this competition. Another aspect about this matchup to get excited about, is the two stadiums that will host the games. Anfield and Allianz Arena are notorious grounds with amazing atmospheres, so crank up the volume on your TV when these two teams take to the field!
Favourite to qualify: Liverpool
Atletico Madrid vs Juventus (20/2 and 12/3)
Cristiano Ronaldo has a wonderful habit of winning the Champions League, evidenced by his 5 trophies in the competition, 3 of which in a row. But now he has swapped the crown of Real Madrid for the old lady of Juventus and the Italian side look fearsome. Sitting comfortably on top of the Italian league, as per usual, they also look like one of the clear favourites to lift the Champions League trophy at the end of the season.
Atletico Madrid never fail to something special to the party and are always worth watching. They finished the group stage in second place behind Dortmund, only losing out on goal difference. At the moment, they have lost two games in a row to Real Betis and Real Madrid and will need to cook up something new ahead of their date with Juventus. Simeone is a master tactician and with Alvaro Morata having got some time to adjust to his new surroundings and getting ready to team up with Griezmann, its likely that Atletico will rediscover their Champions League tricks that saw them play two finals in a row a few years back.
Favourite to qualify: Juventus
Schalke 04 vs Man City (20/2 and 13/3)
Schalke 04 is not having a great season at all. They are currently 14th in the German Bundesliga and are struggling to find any sort of consistency. They finished second in their group behind Porto last autumn, a group that by many was seen as the least entertaining of the lot due to its lack of world class teams. Now the side from Gelsenkirchen will face an unbelievable challenge when two matches against Manchester City await.
The English champions have really come back to their winning ways with a 6-0 humiliation of Chelsea this weekend. Now a visit to Newport County in the FA Cup is next on the schedule, a game in which Guardiola is likely to rest several star players before the trip to Germany. Its hard to find any weaknesses that can be exploited in the current edition of Manchester City, but as football has taught us before; there is always at least one. It will be up to Schalke manager Tedesco to find it and shock the football world, Guardiola is waiting.
Favourite to qualify: Man City
In total we will see 16 highly interesting fixtures being played over the next few weeks that will decide which 8 teams that will go into the quarter finals of the Champions League. For us football fans, watching is the most we can do to get involved, even though many of use would love to be out on that pitch ourselves. With ScandiBets generous odds you can turn up the heat even more and make every kick on the ball a bit more exciting as more than pride is at stake. Bet like a true champion with us!