The tournament designated for the highest tier of soccer clubs has grew yet another step closer to potentially crowning new kings of Europe, when the matches for the next round were officially drawn and announced. After playing a hard fought set of matches in the Group Stage of the Champions League, the top two clubs from each group have advanced to the round of sixteen. With clubs residing from England, France, Italy, Germany, Holland (Netherlands), Portugal, and Spain, the best of the best are preparing for anything to be crowned champions. The matches of the UEFA Champions League Round of Sixteen are as follows:
FC Schalke 04 (Germany) vs. Manchester City FC (England)
The Germans face an uphill challenge as they face last year’s Centurion Champions of the English Premier League. On a run significantly below the club’s standards, Schalke sits only four places from last place in the German Bundesliga and may even face a relegation battle towards the end of the season. Meanwhile in the Premier League, Man. City have been having yet another outstanding season as they play tug-of-war over the top place with Liverpool. Taking second in Group D, Schalke will have to create a massive upset to knock out the Group F winners Man. City.
My Prediction: Manchester City blowout (5-1 scoreline on aggregate)
Atlético Madrid (Spain) vs. Juventus (Italy)
As one of the most anticipated matchups in the Round of Sixteen, Spanish Atlético Madrid face the Italian giants Juventus. With both squads overflowing with talent and depth, viewers will either witness an absolute goal-fest or a minimal-scoring pair of matches between the two sides. With World Cup Winning striker Antoine Griezmann leading the front line for Atlético, the Juventus defensive unit will have plenty of work to do, trying to keep him from putting his name on the scoresheet. Fortunately enough, with the ranked second best player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, on the Italian’s side, they have the creativity and goal-scoring abilities like no other. The battle between the two should be thrilling to see, with such great qualities throughout the squads from both teams, anything may happen.
My Prediction: In a very close pair of games, a Juventus victory (3-2 scoreline on aggregate)
Manchester United (England) vs. Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) (France)
After recently parting ways with manager Jose Mourinho, downhill spiraling Manchester United may struggle to survive against French giants PSG, who are just coming off of a European record-breaking 14 game win-streak. The Man. Utd. team have faced a disappointing run of results and form in all competitions over recent weeks, which ultimately has led to the sacking of Jose Mourinho. As they try to find the perfect lineup, formation, and tactics most appropriate for their squad, Man. Utd. may be humiliated by the Parisians, who have one of the highest potential squads in all of Europe. PSG’s star-studded lineup has been working together this season with such high levels of chemistry, even Mr. Markley would be impressed. Still trying to figure out a winning game-plan, Man. Utd. may have met their match as they look to play a very strong PSG side.
My Prediction: PSG cruising to the quarterfinals (3-1 scoreline on aggregate)
Tottenham Hotspur (England) vs. Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
In another tight matchup, Tottenham may have to defy the slightly unbalanced odds against themselves as they come against current German Bundesliga table leader’s Borussia Dortmund. After recently breaking the record for the most goals scored by a substitute in a single season in the Bundesliga, Dortmund striker Paco Alcacer will see Tottenham as his next target to tally goals against. With just barely making it out of the Group Stage, Tottenham will look to upset the Germans with their well-known use of pressure on and off the ball. With Dortmund in red-hot form this season, Tottenham may be stunned by the performance the Germans may put on.
My Prediction: Paco Alcacer masterclass for Dortmund (4-2 scoreline on aggregate)
Olympique Lyonnas (France) vs. FC Barcelona (Spain)
This matchup may bring similar sights to that of the Manchester City, FC Schalke matchup. After dominating Group B in a 4-2-0 route, historic Lionel Messi and Barcelona are showing no mercy for their opposition on the European stage, whereas Lyon just nearly made the cut to advance into the Round of Sixteen. The Barcelona Catalonians are running away with the Spanish LaLiga title, while Lyon is struggling to find their ways in France as they sit in third place. Throughout the two legs between these two clubs, Barcelona may run circles around Lyon, given both team’s recent performances.
My Prediction: FC Barcelona picking apart the opposition (6-2 scoreline on aggregate)
AS Roma (Italy) vs. FC Porto (Portugal)
The bout between the Italians and the Portuguese sides may be one to keep an eye on, as these two teams are very unpredictable and oftentimes highly underestimated. Struggling to make the top five in Italy’s Serie A league table, Roma May face some unexpected obstacles as they come up against Portugal’s Liga NOS leaders, who did not suffer a single defeat in the Group Stage matches. Not really able to make a name for themselves thus far this year, it may all come down to Roma’s confidence and belief in their own ability, especially with the form Porto has been in recently. In a memorable Champions League run for the club, Porto scored fifteen goals and allowed just six within the six matches of the Group Stage, while Roma found the back of the net eleven times and allowed eight goals in between their own posts. This matchup may ultimately be decided by the confidence and defensive abilities of both teams, which seems to be favored heavily towards Porto.
My Prediction: Porto with an unexpected performance, taking them to the Quarterfinals (3-1 scoreline on aggregate)
AFC Ajax (Holland) vs. Real Madrid CF (Spain)
This set of matches could be very eye opening as the Netherland’s Eredivisie League’s Runners-up Ajax prepare to pour heart and soul onto the pitch against the 2-time consecutive European Champions Real Madrid. Since losing veteran manager Zinedane Zidane and also selling long-time team leader Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, Madrid have missed the mark significantly as far as meeting their own standards go. Regardless of recent results, fans of the Madridistas believe Ajax have no chance against the Spanish giants, but the Dutch natives may have something to prove to everyone, as they come out of the Group Stage on an unbeaten run (3-3-0) and an incredible goal fest shared with German superpower Bayern Munich. Overall, this matchup could be more exciting than many may see it as, with Ajax looking to make a name for themselves against the giants of European competition and Madrid looking to prove why they have won the tournament both times over the past two seasons
MyPrediction: Real Madrid showing their true colors (3-2 scoreline on aggregate)
Liverpool FC (England) vs. FC Bayern Munich (Germany)
Having a historic season thus far, Liverpool are looking to take advantage of Bayern’s fluctuating form this season. Though the English side faced a scare in the Group Stage after suffering a loss from lowly-ranked Serbian side Red Star Belgrade, they have been on fire in the Premier League, holding a 17-game unbeaten streak and giving Manchester City a run for their money. As Liverpool look to continue their fine form, Bayern will be looking to make a turnaround to their season, as they sit third in the Bundesliga. Though the German giants exit the Group Stage with a 4-2-0 record, they will have to pull out all the stops to shut down the confidence and skill of this Liverpool team.
My Prediction: Bayern runaway with a tight set of matches after extra-time or advancing on away goals (2-1 scoreline on aggregate)
When asked about this year’s Champions League Round of Sixteen, Senior and former Prep Soccer goalkeeper, Jared Heidt, said, “The teams that made it through the Group Stage successfully are the usual teams I feel make it into this round and play very well as they do so. I would say the biggest surprise to me is Ajax’s appearance in the knockout stages, but there are great matchups which will result in very entertaining games. It will be filled of intense competition and some of the best played soccer some will see all season.”
Manchester City vs. FC Schalke: Manchester City with a great win
Atlético Madrid vs. Juventus: Juventus
Manchester United vs. PSG: PSG
Tottenham vs. Dortmund: Tottenham
Lyon vs. Barcelona: Barcelona
AS Roma vs. Porto: Roma
AFC Ajax vs. Real Madrid: Real Madrid
Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich: Bayern