Champions League 1/8 (last 16) Predictions

Champions League 1/8 (last 16) Predictions

Champions League 1/8 (last 16) Predictions
Autor betsonly 01 Feb 2019

A review of the matches which have been drawn in the last 16 of the Champions League and predictions who will win the head-to-head encounters.

The draw for the last 16 of the Champions League was made in Switzerland before Christmas, and it has produced some interesting fixtures, although it will not be until late February that the first leg ties are played. However, for those interested in placing a bet it is not too early to wager on the matches, although gamblers should be aware that a lot can happen in football in a few weeks, and injuries, suspensions and form can all play their part.

Liverpool versus Bayern Munich is one of the most interesting ties of the round, especially as the pair, both former winners of the trophy, have never met in the competition since it was re-named the Champions League. The teams would appear to be on different trajectories this season – Liverpool are flying high, unbeaten in the League, and top of the table, whilst Bayern, by their excellent standards are struggling under their new manager Niko Kovac, languishing in third place in the Bundesliga behind Borussia Dortmund. The German side, although strong in midfield, have problems at the back, where they have been exposed at times for a lack of pace whilst, despite the goals of Robert Lewandowski, the rest of their forward line is ageing, with Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben in their mid-thirties, and Thomas Müller struggling for form. However, with the second leg to come at the Allianz Arena where Bayern are strong, Liverpool will need to build a good lead in the first leg at Anfield if they are to progress. Liverpool are currently slight favourites at 8/11 on, whilst you can get evens on Bayern.

Another Anglo German clash will see Tottenham Hotspur pitted against Borussia Dortmund. The pair met as recently as the Group stages last year when Spurs won both legs, beating the German side 2 – 1 in front of their home fans, and then triumphing 3 – 1 at Wembley. Dortmund this season though are a different proposition. The surprise team of the Bundesliga so far this season under Swiss coach, Lucian Favre, who was appointed in the summer, Dortmund are the league leaders, and have already beaten arch rivals Bayern Munich. They have an array of attacking talent, led by Paco Alcacr, top scorer in Germany so far this season with 11 goals, closely followed by Marco Reus who has 10. They also have some superb young talent emerging, such as England teenager Jadon Sancho and American international Christian Pulisic.

Spurs, who should have moved into their new White Hart Lane stadium by the time the matches are played, will need to be wary of what Dortmund can do in front of goal, and will need to be resolute in defence. The Germans have the advantage of playing the second leg at home but, if Spurs can show the same determination as they exhibited in Barcelona to secure the draw that ensured their qualification, then they might just edge it, especially given their current attacking potency. The bookmakers call this one too close to call and have priced both teams at 5/6.

Dortmund’s neighbours and rivals from the Ruhr, Schalke, are the third German team to take on Premier League opposition in the form of Manchester City, and theirs would appear to be the most difficult of all. Last season Schalke finished runners-up to Bayern in the Bundesliga, but this year has been more of a struggle, and the club is currently languishing in 13th place, a massive 24 points beyond their local rivals Dortmund. By contrast, City, despite their recent setbacks away to Chelsea and Leicester City, are playing with verve and confidence and, under Pep Guardiola, will be determined to go far in the Champions League this season. They are amongst the favourites to lift the trophy in Madrid in June and it is difficult to see beyond a City win, probably in both legs of the tie; they are 14/1 on to qualify. For those looking for an outside bet Schalke are 13/2 to make the last eight.

England’s 4th Premier League representatives, Manchester United, are in a completely different place though to their neighbours City. They may have qualified for the knock-out stages but, one day after the draw was made, they saw manager Jose Mourinho sacked, and the club has been riven by turmoil on and off the pitch since the season began. They have never met their opponents PSG, in a competitive fixture, but under manager Thomas Tuchel, the club and its wealthy Qatari owners, are determined to go further than the Quarter-Finals of a competition they have set their sights on winning. United have appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as interim manager,whilst he has got the team winning again, it is difficult to know if he will be able to fully mend some of the on and off the field divisions in the club by the time that the tie comes around. Also, unlike the club spends big in the transfer window and buys the commanding defensive figure that Mourinho always wanted, it is hard to see United restricting the PSG forward line of Neymar, Edison Cavani and Kylian Mbappé. A PSG win must be expected, and is priced at 1/4 on; you can get 11/4 on United progressing over the two legs.

Atlético Madrid against Juventus is one of the match-ups of the round. Atlético are the current UEFA League holders, and, with the final scheduled to be held in their own Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on the 1st of June, they have every incentive to progress. As ever, their team is built around a rugged defence, whilst Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa supply the goals. Their opponents, Juventus though, are, along with Manchester City, one of the favourites to lift the trophy. Finalists in two of the last four years, they will be looking to go one better this week, and showed their ambition by signing Cristiano Ronaldo in a €100 million transfer from Real Madrid in the summer, specifically to make the difference in Champions League ties. The Italian champions will start as favourites to progress, and are priced at 4/9. Atlético are 13/8 and may be the best bet of the outsiders.

Ronaldo’s former club Real Madrid have been drawn against Ajax, who are making their first appearance in the knock-out stages of the competition since 2005 – 2006. Real have won the Champions League for the last three years in a row, but it is hard to see them making it a 4th. Three days after winning the trophy in Kiev in May they lost manager Zinedine Zidane and then saw star player Ronaldo leave for Italy. Neither has been adequately replaced. Zidane was replaced by Spanish manager Julen Lopetegui, recruited in controversial fashion, but he only lasted four months before he was sacked and replaced by Santiago Solari. He has since struggled himself, and the club suffered their biggest home defeat in European competition when beat 3 - 0 by CSKA Moscow in what, fortunately for them, was a dead rubber. Meanwhile Ronaldo’s replacements, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, have struggled for form and fitness, and have not replicated his output in terms of goals. Ajax have a young side full of attacking talent, with the likes of Frenkie De Jong and Matthijs De Ligt being watched by all Europe’s top clubs. Despite this, Real, who have just clinched the World Club Championship again, will start heavy favourites because of their greater experience in the competition, and are priced at 1/5 on but don’t rule out a surprise. Ajax are currently rated 10/3 to win the overall tie.

Real’s arch rivals Barcelona have been drawn away against Lyon. This is not a vintage Barcelona side. Their defence has been struggling this season, hit by both injuries to key players like Samuel Umtiti, and a series of high profile mistakes by Gerard Piqué. Andrés Iniesta left for Japan in the summer, and they have struggled to replace him. New arrival Arthur is hard-working, but Philippe Coutinho is struggling to justify his vast transfer fee from Liverpool. Meanwhile Ousmane Dembélé is inconsistent up-front, and has off the field disciplinary issues. The team is still overly reliant on the goals and creativity of Lionel Messi but, whilst they have him, will still be favourites to progress in this tie. Lyon, currently third in Ligue 1, have had an inconsistent campaign in the Champions League, starting with a stunning away win at Manchester City, but then followed by 5 successive draws, which saw them surrender top spot in the group by throwing away points against Hoffenheim and Shaktar Donetsk. There is also a risk that, by the time the matches are played, they could be shorn of stars like Nabil Fekir and Houssem Aour, who have been linked with moves to Liverpool and Barcelona in the transfer window. Barcelona are heavy favourites to win with the bookmakers – 1/10, whilst you can get 11/2 on Lyon qualifying.

Roma and Porto were two of the sides that the other teams wanted to meet, so the face that the two have been drawn against each other means that one of the more unfancied sides is guaranteed a place in the Quarter Finals. Roma reached the semi-finals last season, knocking out Barcelona on the way and narrowly missing out to Liverpool in the end, but it is hard to see them repeating that feat this time round. They are having a mixed season in La Liga, lying currently 7th in the table, and, points-wise, are nearer the bottom than the top. Manager Eusebio Di Franceso has been battling to save his job after a series of embarrassing defeats to teams like SPAL, and their defence has been especially porous, shipping goals on a regular basis. Porto currently top the Primeira League in Portugal, and managed to top their Group in the Champions League, winning five of their matches against Schalke, Galatasary and Lokomotiv Moscow. Despite this, Roma are favourites with the bookmakers to qualify from this match at 8/11. Porto are evens and, given the relative form of the two sides currently, the possibility for an upset looks strong.

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