UEFA Champions League Preview

We're into the second set of Round of 16 matches in the tournament with four teams battling it out.
We're into the second set of Round of 16 matches in the tournament with four teams battling it out.
The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 continues with four enticing matches lined up. Monaco travel to Manchester City in this week’s tie of the round, boasting a fairly decent record against English opposition. Champions of England, Leicester City, face a daunting test against Spanish giants, Sevilla, who almost caused an upset in their group to finish just behind Juventus. Speaking of the Old Lady, they face an arguably favourable test against FC Porto in the Round of 16, while Atletico Madrid are also fancied to progress through to the next round against Bayer Leverkusen. But, if things were so straightforward, we wouldn’t call this the greatest club competition across world football.


Tuesday 21 February

24/10 Bayer Leverkusen | Draw 21/10 | Atletico Madrid 12/10 (21:45)

Bayer Leverkusen host Diego Simeone's ruthless Atletico Madrid side in the first round of their Champions League cup tie. Leverkusen have the talent to present a significant challenge to Rojiblancos, but Simeone’s outfit enter the knockout rounds as huge favourites after a convincing group stage performance. Roger Schmidt’s Leverkusen side have blown hot and cold this season, winning eight of their 20 matches in the German Bundesliga, which has seen them in the bottom half for most of their campaign. Atletico Madrid are unbeaten in seven league matches, but still find themselves trailing in fourth spot. Simeone’s side have been too open this season which has seen them concede more goals than they usually do. They’ll need to be more solid against Leverkusen who have some brilliant young stars in attack, most notably Julian Brandt. Atletico Madrid have the tied best defence in the Champions League this season, along with Juventus, and I’m not expecting much goals in this tie. Under 2.5 Goals is tipped at 11/20.

11/20 Manchester City | 31/10 | Monaco 9/2 (21:45)

The form is identical with these two sides heading into the Round of 16. At the time of writing, Manchester City and Monaco have won four matches on the trot. Pep Guardiola’s side are on a nine-match unbeaten streak at home in the UEFA Champions League, winning six times. But Pep will not take this game lightly. The Spaniard has already given his thoughts on his side’s opposition.

“My impression of them? They are strong. They are physical. They score a lot of goals.”

And indeed they do. Monaco lead the French Ligue 1 by three points and have scored a staggering 75 goals in the league – more than any other team across Europe’s top five leagues. Leonardo Jardim’s men love to face English opposition as well. The 2004 UEFA Champions League finalists’ away record against sides in England read five wins, two draws and just two defeats from nine meetings. It will be a difficult clash for City who have added Yaya Toure and Gabriel Jesus to their squad for the tournament. Jesus has been superb in attack for the Citizens and will hope to keep Guardiola’s 100% record of seven wins from seven in the Round of 16 intact. This match is likely to produce fireworks, back City to Win & Both Teams to Score at 29/20.

Wednesday 22 February

23/10 Porto | 21/10 | Juventus 5/4 (21:45)

Old heavyweights, FC Porto, face a stern test at the Estadio do Dragao when they host Juventus in the first leg of their Round of 16 clash. Two of Europe’s most legendary goalkeepers will go toe-to-toe in the opposite sticks with Iker Casillas representing Porto, while Gianluigi Buffon will look to keep the Old Lady’s defence neat and tidy. Porto got through Group G finishing runner-up to Leicester City, winning just three of their six matches. The Dragons only shipped in three goals, though, conceding the second least amount of goals in the tournament. Juve are one of two teams to only concede just twice and will look to shut out the bright young talent of Andre Silva for Porto. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side will also have their work cut out for them with Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve side fielding four strikers in recent weeks. Juan Cuadrado, Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain have formed a deadly quartet in attack this season for Juventus. Despite that, I see nothing but a low-scoring affair. Get on the Under 2.5 Goals market at 5/10.

9/20 Sevilla | 33/10 | Leicester City 6/1 (21:45)

Wednesday will see a clash between two sides not really used to this stage of the UEFA Champions League. Sevilla have been known as Europa League kings, winning the last three trophies, while Leicester City are participating in their first ever UEFA competition. The Foxes are a completely different side that ran away with the English Premier League last season and are fighting a relegation battle back home. Leicester are playing a much higher line this time around which has seen Wes Morgan and Robert Huth get caught out for most of the campaign. Sevilla have taken their football to the next level this season under Jorge Sampaoli. The Argentine boss has got the Sevillistas into the knockout stage of the Champions League and fighting it out with Spain’s big guns for the La Liga title. No player has dominated the goalscoring charts for Sevilla, proving that they have finishers all over the pitch. Luciano Vietto, Samir Nasri, Wissam Ben Yedder, Vitolo and newly-signed Stevan Jovetic are all capable of chipping in with the goals. While the goalscorers do their thing up front, Steven N'Zonzi protects a stubborn backline that will avoid conceding any away goals here. It will be tough for an off-form Leicester City to breach the hosts’ defence here. Back Sevilla to Win to Nil at 21/20.

QUAD @ 10/1
Bayer Leverkusen vs Atletico Madrid Under 2.5 Goals 11/20
Man City Win & BTTS 29/20
Porto vs Juventus Under 2.5 Goals 5/10
Sevilla Win to Nil 21/20

Written by Jesse Nagel