The round of 16 stage of the UEFA Champions League will begin from Tuesday night and there are a number of interesting match-ups with the most intriguing of them being the clash between Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
Lionel Messi appeared set to come up against his former Blaugrana teammate Neymar, but that won’t be the case anymore with the Brazilian out for around a month with a groin problem. Like in recent seasons, Neymar’s injury absence has come before his sister’s birthday next month which can still be regarded as pure coincidence.
Here are our predictions for the round of 16 first-leg games:
RB Leipzig vs Liverpool: – 17th February:
Leipzig have won three league games on the bounce and in the same time, the Reds have done the exact opposite with three defeats. The Reds have been vulnerable at the back with injuries to first-choice centre-backs while their new defensive signings have yet to adapt. Leipzig should fancy their prospects of winning the first-leg, but the Reds may nick an away goal.
RB Leipzig 2-1 Liverpool
Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain – 17th February:
The Blaugrana will fondly remember the previous meeting with Les Parisiens in 2017 where they came from a 4-0 round of 16 first-leg deficit to win 6-5 on aggregate.
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Neymar’s absence is a blow for Les Parisiens and that could offer the Catalan giants the edge over both legs. Lionel Messi has been in sparkling form in eight goals in five league games and will have a key role to play for Ronald Koeman’s side.
Barcelona 2-1 Paris Saint-Germain
Sevilla vs Borussia Dortmund – 18th February:
Sevilla have been the Europa League kings and have lifted the trophy in their six finals. They have not been able to replicate a similar streak in the Champions League. They are on a stunning nine-match winning run, but it won’t be easy against Dortmund despite the German’s side poor league form. We are fancying a stalemate with both Youssef En-Nesyri and Erling Haaland finding the back of the net.
Sevilla 1-1 Borussia Dortmund
Porto vs Juventus – 18th February:
Porto will go into the Juventus as the underdogs and will be hoping to spring up a surprise. The Bianconeri have had a tough league campaign and recently dropped points for the ninth time in 21 matches. Still, they have improved defensively of late with six clean sheets in last eight games in all competitions. The Serie A holders should come on top in midweek.
Porto 0-2 Juventus
Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea – 23rd February:
The teams have met previously on seven occasions and they have won two games apiece. Atletico have the best defence in Europe’s top-five leagues and we are fancying them to prevail over the Blues. The west London side have improved defensively and won games under new boss Thomas Tuchel, but they have had limited attempts on target.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Chelsea
Lazio vs Bayern Munich – 23rd February:
Bayern hit the headlines earlier this week as they celebrated winning the FIFA Club World Cup, their sixth trophy over the past year. They are being backed by many to reclaim their European title, but first need to beat Lazio, who are on a sublime six-match winning league run. Bayern no longer have a rubber-tight defence, but their attack has often made the difference.
Lazio 1-3 Bayern Munich
Atalanta vs Real Madrid – 24th February:
Atalanta were last season’s surprise packages as they went all the way to the quarter-final stage. Their attack is definitely their main strength, but they also concede goals quite often. Real Madrid are without their talismanic captain and defender in Sergio Ramos and it could be a high-scoring contest with both sides sharing the spoils.
Atalanta 2-2 Real Madrid
Borussia Monchengladbach vs Manchester City – 24th February:
Manchester City are the in-form side in Europe at the moment with a stunning 16-match winning streak where they have kept 11 clean sheets. Since 2015, they have met Gladbach on four occasions and have come on top in three games alongside one draw. Judging by their recent run, it would come as a surprise, if they don’t come up with a first-leg advantage.
Borussia Monchengladbach 0-2 Manchester City
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