Published on February 12th, 2018 | by Ian John
Champions League Round of 16 Preview
The reason that this particular round of the Champions League takes so long to play to a conclusion is simply because UEFA want the quarterfinals onwards of their two premiere competitions in Europe, the Champions League and Europa League to be played in the same weeks.
In the Europa League however, there are 32 teams that qualified for the next phase of the competition. 24 from the Group Stage plus the 8 teams that finished third in the Champions League Group Stage. So in order for the competitions to be played in the same week from the quarterfinals onwards, UEFA need to play two Rounds of Europa League action in the same time as one round of Champions League games.
This means that the Europa League Round of 32 games will take place on the 15th and 22nd February, with their Round of 16 games taking place on the 8th and 15th March. At which point there will be just 8 teams remaining in both competitions ready for the competitions to realign.
This is why there is almost a month between the start and end of the Round of 16 in the Champions League and teams have a three-week wait between the first leg and second leg of their ties.
The full schedule for the Round of 16 is as follows:
Champions League Round of 16 – First Leg Ties (7.45pm Kick Off Unless Stated)
Tuesday 13th February
Juventus v Tottenham
FC Basel v Manchester City
Wednesday 14th February
FC Porto v Liverpool
Real Madrid v Paris St Germain
Tuesday 20th February
Bayern Munich v Besiktas
Chelsea v Barcelona
Wednesday 21st February
Sevilla v Manchester United
Shakhtar Donetsk v AS Roma
Champions League Round of 16 – Second Leg Ties (7.45pm Kick Off Unless Stated)
Tuesday 6th March
Paris St Germain v Real Madrid
Liverpool v FC Porto
Wednesday 7th March
Tottenham v Juventus
Manchester City v FC Porto
Tuesday 13th March
AS Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk
Manchester United v Sevilla
Wednesday 14th March
Besiktas v Bayern Munich
Barcelona v Chelsea
Available fixtures at Bet365 Sports
|Chelsea – Barcelona||11/4||5/2||11/10|
|Bayern Munich – Besiktas||1/6||15/2||18/1|
|Leganes – Real Madrid||14/1||5/1||1/5|
|Sevilla – Man Utd||9/5||9/4||6/4|
|Shakhtar Donetsk – Roma||6/4||9/4||9/5|
Round of 16 Match Previews
First Leg Odds courtesy of Bet365 Sport.
Juventus (19/20) v Tottenham (3/1) – Draw (23/10)
Having already earned a point at the Bernebeu and then beaten Real Madrid at Wembley, plus doing a home and away win double over Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham will feel a little aggrieved at drawing arguably the toughest team in the pot of second seeds in Juventus. The Serie A side have reached two of the last three finals, losing both, but have been very strong competitors in this tournament, especially at the knockout stage.
Juventus started their Serie A season slowly and they weren’t overly impressive in the group stage, winning three, drawing two and losing one of their six games. Defensively, they remain very strong, but it is an ageing defence and Tottenham will certainly look to exploit their lack of pace and legs, although I expect the first leg in Turin to be a very tight and close-run affair.
Prediction: Juventus 0-0 Tottenham
FC Basel (9/1) v Manchester City (1/3) – Draw (15/4)
A 2-0 win over Benfica, while CSKA Moscow went down 2-1 at Old Trafford secured a place in the Round of 16 for FC Basel, who also beat United in the penultimate game in the group to afford themselves the opportunity to progress. The Swiss team are no strangers to European competition, but this is usually the stage at which they go out and having been drawn against the hot favourites to win the competition in the Round of 16, that looks likely here.
Manchester City romped through Group F winning five and losing their meaningless final game against Shakhtar, albeit with a weakened team. Pep Guardiola’s team have been hit by injuries but they should still be able to field a very strong team here against a side who are comfortably the weakest left in the tournament. City should take a comfortable lead back to Manchester with them.
Prediction: FC Basel 1-3 Manchester City
FC Porto (2/1) v Liverpool (13/10) – Draw (12/5)
FC Porto squeaked through Group G after Red Bull Leipzig lost at home to Besiktas and they defeated Monaco 5-2 on the final night of matches. The Portuguese side is a mix of young players making their way in the game as well as some experienced veterans such as keeper Iker Casillas. Results suggest that they are not one of the stronger teams left in the competition and their home form in the Champions League, that win over Monaco apart, is not that great.
That will give Liverpool hope of taking a lead or at least a good result back to Anfield for the second leg. Jurgen Klopp’s men scored 23 goals in winning Group E but were also guilty of throwing away points in the three games they drew (two with Sevilla and one with Spartak Moscow). The Reds have the attacking flair to win this game however and I think they’ll do precisely that.
Prediction: FC Porto 1-3 Liverpool
Real Madrid (5/4) v Paris St Germain (9/5) – Draw (11/4)
The current holders of the trophy take on the team many expect to succeed them this season. Real Madrid have not endured a happy campaign at home or in Europe, finishing second to Spurs in the Group stages and lying in fourth place in La Liga well behind their great rivals Barcelona. The pressure is on Zidane and elimination against Paris St Germain could well see him face the sack, while victory would definitely give him a stay of execution.
PSG romped through their group stage scoring more goals in the tournament at that stage than any other team in history (25), though Liverpool pushed them close this year with 23. Their only blemish was a 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in their final group game, which has raised questions as to their true level of quality. We’ll know a lot more about both of these sides but my gut feeling here is that this game will feature plenty of goals and that Madrid will take a slight lead into the second leg in Paris.
Prediction: Real Madrid 3-2 Paris St Germain
Bayern Munich (1/6) v Besiktas (14/1) – Draw (6/1)
Bayern are the odds-on favourites to progress from this tie, but having finished second to PSG in their group, they are not quite the force in this competition that they were a few years back when they were deserving winners. The German side are still going strong domestically, but Besiktas form in this competition, especially away from home, has been excellent this season with them winning all three of their away group games against Monaco, Red Bull Leipzig and FC Porto.
That said, Besiktas have been hurt by the sale of Cenk Tosun to Everton during the January transfer window but they did bring in veteran Vagner Love in his place, along with young Cyle Larin from Orlando City in the MLS. However, Tosun was a key player for Besiktas in those away games and he will be a big miss here, which makes me feel Bayern will take a lead with them into the second leg in Turkey in three weeks.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-0 Besiktas
Chelsea (5/2) v Barcelona (21/20) – Draw (5/2)
Over the years there have been several memorable clashes between these teams in the Champions League and this looked like being one of the ties of the round, but then things kind of fell apart for Antonio Conte’s men in the Premier League. Successive defeats to Bournemouth and Watford, conceding seven and scoring just one in those games, has cast doubts over whether Conte will even be in charge of the home side going into this huge clash and that will not help Chelsea’s cause.
That’s disappointing as without Neymar, this Barcelona team has looked a lot less potent at times in the Champions League this season. They may be slightly better defensively but I don’t think an out of form Chelsea is going to cause the runaway La Liga leaders too many problems. Can Chelsea put it together in this huge game at Stamford Bridge? I think they’ll put in a performance but will it be enough for them to get the required result at the Nou Camp? I’m not so sure.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona
Sevilla (2/1) v Manchester United (13/10) – Draw (12/5)
Sevilla finished second in their group behind Liverpool but ahead of Spartak Moscow, despite a 5-1 defeat to the Russian team in their clash in Moscow. Their place in this phase was clinched by Liverpool thumping Moscow 7-0 at Anfield on the final night of action while Sevilla earned a 1-1 draw in Branik against Maribor. Their best performance was coming from 3-0 down at half-time against Liverpool to snatch a 3-3 draw at the Roman Pizjuan.
However, they face tough opponents in Manchester United who came through their group stage strongly, bar one poor performance against FC Basle. Jose Mourinho will be well aware of the qualities Sevilla possess but in a squad bursting with talent, United have more than enough to get a professional job done here to put themselves in a strong position for the second leg at Old Trafford.
Prediction: Sevilla 1-2 Manchester United
Shakhtar Donestk (31/20) v AS Roma (13/8) – Draw (12/5)
Shakhtar Donetsk are not a team to be underestimated as they were the first team to defeat Manchester City in any competition this season, albeit an under-strength City side in their final Champions League game (when City had already qualified). The Ukranian’s also play their home games away from Donetsk due to the political situation in the Ukraine, which you would think would hand Roma an advantage, but which has instead inspired Shakhtar to reach the second phase of the tournament ahead of Napoli and Feyenoord.
I was massively impressed with Roma during their two games with Chelsea, in the group phase but at other times they lacked creativity and ideas in their other matches with Qarabag and Atletico Madrid. There’s no doubt that keeping hold of Edin Dzeko in the January window increases their chances of a win here and while I can’t see them taking a victory in the Ukraine, I do think that they will be well set for the home leg.
Prediction: Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 AS Roma