Last week in the Champions League, four Round of 16 first leg ties were played with three English teams in action and all three performed well above what was expected in their respective matches to give themselves an outstanding chance of progressing into the quarterfinals.
Champions League 13th & 14th February results
- FC Basel 0-4 Manchester City
- Juventus 2-2 Tottenham
- FC Porto 0-5 Liverpool
- Real Madrid 3-1 Paris St Germain
Two goals from Ilkay Gundogan and single strikes from Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero put Manchester City in an almost unassailable position against FC Basel. The Swiss side were well outclassed on the night, as were FC Porto on Wednesday who went down to an even bigger home defeat, a 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool who have now scored the most goals in this year’s competition (28) and who broke City’s 24-hour old record of the highest ever win away from home in the Knockout Stage of the Champions League by an English club.
The most dramatic clash came in Turin where Juventus romped into a two-goal lead early on, a lovely set piece goal followed by a penalty, both converted by Gonzalo Higuain within the first ten minutes of the game. After that though, it was Spurs who were in control and who seized a draw thanks to goals from Harry Kane and Cristian Eriksen, though Juventus fans will rue Higuain’s missed penalty on the verge of half time when the scores were at 2-1 to the home side.
The final game of the night saw Real Madrid come back superbly from a 1-0 deficit to PSG to earn a 3-1 win. Ronaldo grabbed a brace for the home side with the crucial third goal converted late on by the Brazilian left back Marcelo. Paris had several chances to expand on their only goal, scored by Rabiot after 33 minutes, and will rue their inability to take the chances they did create.
The second leg of these ties takes place in a couple of weeks’ time on the 6th and 7th of March.
Champions League 20th and 21st February – Preview and Tips
Over Tuesday and Wednesday this week the second batch of four Champions League Round of 16 ties will take place across the continent and there are two more English teams in action, as well as a couple of other intriguing ties.
Outlined below is our preview of each tie, together with some of our top tips for each of the games.
Bayern Munich v Besiktas
It seems strange to consider that Bayern Munich come into this game as the second-place team from the group stages, but the Germans finished behind PSG on head-to-head record in the group stage whereas Besiktas came top of their group. However, the Turkish side have not yet faced a team of the calibre of Bayern in the tournament this year and when they have in the past, the result has not generally been a good one for the Turks.
With home advantage and even without the long-term injury absentee Manuel Neuer, Bayern should prove to be far too strong for Besiktas over two legs. The Turkish team also are missing Cenk Tosun, who spearheaded their attack in the group stage but who moved to Everton in January. Wagner Love, the veteran Brazilian, will likely deputise but he faces a tough task against a side that is dominating the Bundesliga this season and who will be huge favourites to go through.
- Bayern Munich to win 3-0 – 6/1 with Coral
- First Goalscorer – James Rodriguez – 6/1 with Coral
- Bayern Munich to win both halves – Evens with Coral
Who will qualify? – This will be a straightforward qualification for Bayern who I would expect to win both legs of the tie relatively comfortably.
Chelsea v Barcelona
The sixteenth time these two teams will clash will kick off on Tuesday night at Stamford Bridge with everything all square between the teams historically, five wins apiece plus five draws between the teams. Who will break that stalemate over the two legs coming up over the next few weeks? Well certainly the bookmakers have Barcelona as the strong favourites to be the team that progresses.
It’s easy to see why with Barcelona only having lost a total of three games all season long and they are still unbeaten in La Liga. In contrast, Chelsea have lost six times already in the Premier League and were also well beaten in the Champions League by Roma. However, Lionel Messi has not scored in eight matches against Chelsea and Antonio Conte has the tactical nous to get a result in this one.
This should be a belting clash between the two teams and I think the first leg is always likely to be cagey, but in this case, with the attacking players on show, I think there will be goals and I can see them going in at both ends of the pitch.
- Chelsea v Barcelona – Draw – 12/5 with Coral
- HT/FT – Chelsea/Draw – 11/1 with Paddy Power
- First Goalscorer – Eden Hazard – 6/1 with Coral
Who will qualify? – I fancy this first leg to end all square but that then sets up the prospect of a massive match in the Nou Camp and at home this season, Barcelona have been imperious and it is hard to see Chelsea getting a result there. They would need a massive performance to get through but I think Barcelona will just have enough to get through, but it will be closer than many experts think.
Sevilla v Manchester United
Sevilla have already encountered English opposition in the Group phase when they drew two memorable games with Liverpool. Manchester United though are a much better defensive unit and their ability to catch teams on the counter should stand them in good stead here.
Sevilla have blown hot and cold in this tournament this year and I don’t think they have the quality of many of the other teams left in the tournament. I think United will stifle them defensively and hit them hard on the counter to come away with a win here.
That said, I do still expect Sevilla to find the net, I just feel United will score at least two goals in the game and head to Old Trafford with a solid win on the road behind them.
- Sevilla v Manchester United – Man Utd to win – 29/20 with Coral
- Man Utd to win and both teams to score – 4/1 with Coral
- Alexis Sanchez first goalscorer – 6/1 with Coral.
Who will qualify? – Sevilla have an amazing record in the Europa League but their record in the Champions League isn’t great and I think United will likely win both legs against the Spanish team to record a comfortable aggregate win to progress.
Shakhtar Donetsk v AS Roma
Shakhtar may play their games in Lviv but have been solid performers in the competition this season and saw off Napoli to claim second spot in their group behind Manchester City (who they beat in the final game of the group). They face an AS Roma side who did well to come top of a group that also featured Chelsea and Atletico Madrid.
Roma’s form though has been very up and down of late and the Italian teams tendency to blow hot and cold really worries me in terms of them getting a result here. Donetsk are well organised and have some talented players and I think this has the potential to be the closest and tightest game of the night.
As such, I’m backing this one to end in a low scoring draw.
- Shakhtar Donetsk v AS Roma – Draw – 9/4 with Coral
- First Goalscorer – Marlos – 7/1 with Coral
- Draw and both teams to score – 13/4 with Coral