Champions League Round of 16 Predictions
The UEFA Champions League is back on. Here are the predictions for the 16 participating teams:
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Chelsea F.C
Prediction: PSG advance 4-3 agg
With Chelsea in a transition phase, PSG will have a great opportunity to advance. Di Maria is in excellent form along with the rest of the club, and with transfer rumors behind them, potential transfer target Edison Cavani can have peace of mind and his focus on football. With PSG at home for the first leg of the series, the chance for goals at home is an enticing offer. Chelsea don’t have the power to challenge PSG greatly in this matchup, nor the competition period compared to their opponent.
St. Benfica vs. Zenit
Prediction: Benfica advance 2-2 agg, penalties
These aren’t high profile teams in the competition. However, they are both equally matched in this fixture, so it is likely they are to go a long distance to define a winner. Zenit are a very aggressive team statistically as their offsides and shot numbers are high. Benfica are decisive and very non-reckless in play. They’ll look to use the counter attack to beat Zenit’s defense, but as they styles are opposites, these teams will have to see who makes the most mistakes and who the better goalkeeper is in this fixture.
KAA Gent vs. VFL Wolfsburg
Prediction: Wolfsburg advance 4-1 agg
Wolfsburg are the clear favorites to win this fixture. Gent are a talented team in the Belgian league but against a top German club they fall short. Even in the absence of Kevin DeBruyne, Wolfsburg have remained competitive and can be dangerous should they advance along the competition. Despite having to play the first leg away, Wolfsburg should handle this team comfortably and finish the job well at home in the second leg.
AC Roma vs. Real Madrid F.C
Prediction: Real Madrid advance 5-2 agg
Even under Zinedine Zidane, Real are primed for success in this year’s Champions League. Roma are a competitor but not one that can beat Real Madrid so easily. It’s hard enough to handle Cristiano Ronaldo, but Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez, and Madrid’s stout midfield and defense should handle Roma. Roma will dread the second leg of the competition at the Santiago Bernabeu. Real Madrid are primed for goals in both stadiums.
Arsenal F.C vs. F.C Barcelona
Prediction: Barcelona advance 5-4 agg
This matchup is one Arsenal can’t win. But that doesn’t mean they won’t give Lionel Messi and Co. a run for their money. The first leg is in London and coming off a big win against Leicester City in the EPL, Arsenal are riding huge momentum and confidence into this fixture. The front three attack of Barcelona is lethal. Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez are primed to strike against Arsenal but great caution must be taken in the first leg. To get complacent that the second leg is in Spain is no reason to feel a tie or a one goal advantage coming out of London will do. Arsenal are a dangerous team when given the chance to act. This fixture is a potential upset for Barcelona but that shouldn’t feign trust.
Juventus vs. FC Bayern Munich
Bayern advance 4-4 agg, penalties
This is most highly anticipated matchup in the Round of 16. These European powerhouses will have a drawn out clash that will end in penalties. These two clubs are too good to have one pull out a win cleanly. Juventus have an excellent systematic form of attack where their goals could come from anywhere and anyone. Bayern Munich have the same approach, and with manager Pep Guardiola set to leave for Manchester City next season, the players would certainly love to send him off on a good note. Furthermore, incoming manager Carlo Ancelotti will be watching Bayern closely to see who fits into his system when he takes over. This fixture is a big tryout in some ways so we should see the best both teams have to offer.
PSV vs. Atletico Madrid
Prediction: Atletico Madrid advance 3-2 agg
It’s safe to say PSV got the better end of the Memphis Depay deal with Manchester United. Still his 20 goals last season would help against this top Spanish club. PSV aren’t favored to win this matchup even with the first leg at home. Atletico are a challenging club in that they’re intimidating the likes of Real Madrid and F.C Barcelona for the La Liga title. Against a team like PSV, Atletico shouldn’t have too much trouble against this club, but it won’t be by a huge margin.
Dynamo Kyiv vs. Manchester City
Prediction: City advance 3-1 agg
If you think the players at Bayern Munich are under pressure in light of a new manager, you must wonder how Manchester City feel. They’re favored to win this matchup as Kyiv aren’t an intimidating foe. But with Pep Guardiola coming in and Manuel Pellegrini going out, this Manchester City squad must prove to their new boss they’re worthy of staying under his roof. Pellegrini and Guardiola are very different in their tactics and with this team built to the current managers liking, players are going to have to stand out to make an impression. They’re futures may not be decided in this matchup, but time is of the essence. City must put on a show not only for the fans but for Guardiola as well.
Hailing from New York City from the borough of Brooklyn, Dillon is a die-hard New York sports fan. He currently resides in Upstate New York, where he studies at Wells College in Aurora, NY.
Follow him on Twitter @thedavistirado and the other MFST writers.
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