The second leg of the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League, the most prestigious club competition in the world, is ready to kick off with some intriguing match-ups. Here are our predictions.
Napoli v. Real Madrid (Leg 1: Agg. 1-3)
Real Madrid were heavy favorites in the first leg, playing in their home stadium in Spain against a seemingly inferior Napoli side, most people didn’t even give them a chance. However, it was the Italians who stunned the home side and struck first, through a 35-yard stunner from striker Lorenzo Insigne. Despite the early lead, Madrid struck back with 2 goals in 5 minutes from Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos, before midfielder Casemiro sealed the game with a stunning volley. Though Napoli scored the always-crucial away goal, and leg 2 being played in Naples, we think Real Madrid will have no problem advancing to the next round due to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
Bayern Munich v. Arsenal (Leg 1: Agg. 5-1)
Arsenal once again has been paired up with their nightmare match up against Bayern Munich. Arsenal is looking for a bit of revenge after Bayern Munich eliminated them 3 out of the last 4 Champions Leagues. Arjen Robben and Bayern Munich struck first with an absolute beauty of a curler into the top left corner. However Arsenal had the fight to score the ever so important away goal coming from the feet of Alexis Sanchez in the 30th minute. However Carlo Ancelotti half time speech lit a fire in the Bayern players. At the start of the second half Bayern snatched Arsenals fight right away from them with goals from Lewandowski in the 53rd minute and Thiago Alcantara in the 56th minute. Bayern later added two more goals in the 63rd minutre and 88th minute. Arsenals chances of recovering from this first leg thrashing are slim to none, leading to speculation of manager Arsene Wenger’s job security.
Benfica v. Borussia Dortmund (Leg 1: Agg. 1-0)
Defending Portuguese champions Benfica drew one of the most even match-ups of the Round of 16 in perennial German powerhouses Dortmund. The first leg, played in Portugal, was very even, with Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missing three clear-cut chances, including a penalty that was saved by Benfica keeper Ederson. It was Greek striker Mitroglou who scored the game’s only goal, to see them hold a 1 goal advantage heading back to Germany. Dortmund’s stadium, known for it’s “Yellow Wall”, is one of the hardest stadiums in the world to play in, so we see them coming from behind to advance past Benfica, into the next round.
Paris Saint Germain v. Barcelona (Leg 1: Agg. 4-0)
Coming into this fixture Barcelona was seen as heavy favorite around the world after knocking Paris Saint Germain out of the Champions League the last three times they faced off. This time around it was a different story all together for Paris Saint Germain. Angel Di Maria opened up the scoring for PSG with a beautiful curling free-kick that left Ter Stegen rooted to the ground. German up and coming star Julian Draxler added a second goal for PSG in the 40th minute. Angel Di Maria continued to shine throughout the whole game and added another beautiful curler in the 55th minute. At this point Barcelona was struggling to get any type of goal scoring chances. Edinson Cavani sealed the game for PSG in the 72nd minute with a counter attacking goal. A 4-0 result is nearly impossible to comeback from in fact not team in the history of the champions league has ever done it. That being said we foresee PSG going through, but if anytime as the capability of turning this result around it would be Barcelona.
Manchester City v. Monaco (Leg 1: Agg. 5-3)
The only remaining English club in the Champions League, Manchester City, were definitely favorites when they drew Monaco in the Round of 16, especially playing at home, and under experienced manager Pep Guardiola. However, Monaco found themselves ahead 3-2 with just 30 minutes to play, thanks to 18-year-old Kylian Mbappe and two goals from Falcao, including a precise chip (see below). After this though, City kicked it into high gear, and Monaco had no answer. They scored three unanswered goals from talisman Sergio Aguero, defender John Stones and young German Leroy Sane. Heading into the second leg, Monaco may be able to pull off the upset at home, but we see Manchester City going through without a problem.
Juventus v. FC Porto (Leg 1: Agg. 2-0)
The reigning Italian champions Juventus drew a favorable matchup by their standards against Portuguese champions FC Porto, despite the match being played in Portugal. As expected, Juventus took care of business pretty easily, especially when Porto defender Alex Telles got a red card in the 28th minute, reducing them to 10 men for the rest of the match. It was substitutes Marko Pjaca and Dani Alves who scored the goals to seal the win. In the return fixture, in Turin, we see Juventus facing no issue with a 2-goal cushion, and advancing into the next round.