With the UEFA Champions League round of 16 fixtures around the corner, we at The VideScope team will be taking an extensive look into the crazy knockout ties that lies ahead. There has been a lot of changes in the narrative in a lot of matches, including injuries, form and even some transfers, so without further ado, let’s get right into it!
Champions League Round of 16:
Roma vs Porto
Kevin: Roma (2) vs Porto (4)
Roma 1 – Porto 1
Porto 3 – Roma 1
AS Roma just haven’t impressed anyone this season as they’re having a fairly poor domestic campaign, Edin Dzeko who only recently broke a goal drought (who hadn’t scored in the league since October) and one crazily leaky defense (as they are finding out that Robin Olsen is no Alisson Becker). The only real shining light is the fact that despite his goal scoring troubles in the league, Edin Dzeko has actually scored 5 goals in 4 UCL matches. That however won’t be enough to stop FC Porto.
FC Porto have been dominating this season, having topped group D of the Champions League (and undefeated at that), leading Liga NOS and having gone through in both domestic cups, it seems like it’s fair to say that Porto are the in-form team between the two. Both Alex Telles and Moussa Marega have been outstanding for Porto all season and will be the reason FC Porto go through to the quarter-finals. Will FC Porto repeat the heroics of 2004? Probably not. Can they though? Most certainly, as this is one of the best Porto sides I’ve seen in a long time. Dare to dream, Porto fans! You have this tie in the bag!
Mathias: Roma (1) vs Porto (3)
Roma 0 – Porto 0
Porto 3 – Roma 1
This is not the same Porto side that lost 5-0 to Liverpool in this round last season. Mostly because of internal development, especially Alex Telles and Moussa Marega like Kevin mentioned, but also because of the new rock in their defence, Eder Militão. The Brazilian came from Sao Paulo before the season, costing only £3.5 million and is already being courted by the biggest clubs in the world. Porto conceded only 4 goals in the 5 matches Militão played in the Champions League and only 8 goals in his 18 Primeira Liga games.
Roma are not the same team as last year either, missing big time contributors like Alisson and Radja Nainggolan. After nearly making the final last year, I can’t see Roma even getting past the round of 16 this season. They have some fun young players in Justin Kluivert, Cengiz Ünder and Nicoló Zaniolo along with a great centre back pairing in Federico Fazio and Kostas Manolas, but it won’t be enough to stop the firepower of Moussa Marega.
Tottenham vs Dortmund
Kevin: Tottenham (2) vs Dortmund (4)
Tottenham 2 – Dortmund 2
Dortmund 2 – Tottenham 0
If Harry Kane and Dele Alli were available for this tie, I would predict very differently and would say that Spurs have it in the bag. Unfortunately for Spurs, reality hit them hard as two of their key players are injured and Dortmund are playing some of their best football since Jurgen Klopp was their manager.
I think I am being harsh on Mauricio Pochettino who has on several occasions pulled a rabbit out of the hat, but when you’re missing your main goal scoring threat, had a very inconsistent season and barely crossed the line to stay in the competition… everything is pointing towards the exit. Sorry Spurs fans, I think Dortmund will knock you out.
Why? Well, Dortmund have been elevated to the top of the Bundesliga, thanks to Lucien Favre who has brought the best out of a very attack-minded Dortmund team. Marco Reus is showing the world again why he’s one of the best wingers, Paco Alcacer is making the FC Barcelona board, fans and any doubters of his abilities rue the day and Jadon Sancho is making Pep regret not keeping him around at Manchester City.
It will be a thrilling encounter that will see plenty of twists and turns, but I think Dortmund will show the world exactly why they’re a force to be reckoned with this season.
Mathias: Tottenham (2) vs Dortmund (3)
Tottenham 1 – Dortmund 1
Dortmund 2 – Tottenham 1
A fun matchup between similar teams that value player development while playing entertaining football. Like Kevin, I think having Alli and Kane for both matches could have sealed it for Spurs. Despite the efforts of superstar Heung-Min Son, I don’t see Tottenham going through here. Cheers, Son’s crying.
Tottenham’s full-backs have looked less than stellar this season and when faced with the burgeoning stars that Kevin mentioned – Reus and Sancho as well as future Chelsea star Christian Pulisic – Spurs will be in deep trouble.
Manchester Utd vs PSG
Kevin: Manchester United (2) vs PSG (4)
Man Utd 2 – PSG 2
PSG 2 – Man Utd 0
PSG has already faced a Premier League team in Liverpool in this season’s UCL (who are a lot better than Manchester United) and technically beat them on aggregate over two group matches and topped group C. So why will United pose a problem for them?
Well, Manchester United have been in a weird phase as they played so horribly under Jose Mourinho this season. Bring in a Manchester United legend in Ole Gunnar Solskjær, and everything seems like a distant memory, as they’re playing fun flowing football and literally all their players are scoring for fun (AND POGBA IS FINALLY GIVEN THE ROLE TO FLOURISH. #MourinhoOUT).
Sure. It’s easy to be skeptical of Manchester United’s chances but maybe, just maybe, they will be able to put up a fight! They are SO lucky that Neymar will be missing the match however, that shouldn’t prove to be that much of a problem considering both Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe have been in crazy form as of late. This is a tough game to predict considering anything can happen in Europe but PSG have just been dominating in all fronts, and if they want to be taken seriously, have to beat Manchester United out of the Champions League.
Mathias: Manchester United (1) vs PSG (2)
Man Utd 1 – PSG 0
PSG 2 – Man Utd 0
Solskjær has done many great things with Man Utd, but faces his biggest test yet against PSG. He survived their only big test so far, a 1-0 win against Spurs, and I could see the same happening again in the opening fixture against PSG on Old Trafford. Man Utd are full of confidence and catch PSG at the best possible time with Neymar out for both legs and with his striking partner Edinson Cavani and the mercurial right back Thomas Meunier out for the first leg.
Without the necessary offensive firepower for PSG, Man Utd will be able to better hide their biggest weakness with their porous defence and they have the individual quality to nick a goal with either Pogba or Marcus Rashford surely playing a role.
In the opposite fixture however, back in France, I think PSG will take charge from the get go and give Man Utd the business. Not only should Man Utd’s confidence be lower, as their schedule tightens up, but Cavani should be back for the reverse fixture. Kevin mentioned his crazy form, as he has 7 goals in his last 5 league matches. With a possible away goal advantage in hand, Man Utd will be in it for the full 180 minutes, but I think PSG’s quality will be too much for Man Utd to handle in the end.
Ajax vs Real Madrid
Kevin: Ajax (2) vs Real Madrid (5)
Ajax 2 – Real Madrid 2
Real Madrid 3 – Ajax 0
I love Frenkie de Jong and so pleased to see him join up with FC Barcelona this summer and glad that he will get his first piece of action against Real Madrid. Unlike Barcelona, Ajax might not be as successful despite the wealth of talent that Ajax have at their disposal.
Real Madrid have looked a lot better as of late, including a draw at the Camp Nou in the Copa Del Rey against Barcelona and beating Atletico Madrid 1-3 at the Wanda Metropolitano! Real Madrid should go through with ease.
Mathias: Ajax (1) vs Real Madrid (5)
Ajax 0 – Real Madrid 3
Real Madrid 2 – Ajax 1
Ajax have some of the premiere talents in the world, with one of them, Frenkie de Jong, already on his way to FC Barcelona. He will try his best to make his best impression with plenty of Culés watching intently, hoping Ajax can pull off the upset.
I don’t see that happening, but if it does, it will probably come down to heroics from De Jong as well as contributions from the other major talents in Ajax, like André Onana, Matthijs de Ligt, Hakim Ziyech and Kasper Dolberg among others. Interestingly enough, most of those names have been linked to Barcelona. Now is the time to make an impression.
The reigning champions should be able to win this rather easily, even without Cristiano Ronaldo in the team. They are still loaded with Champions League experience, obviously, as opposed to this young Ajax squad. Karim Benzema has been on fire lately and stars like Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, Marcelo and a whole host of other big names will be more than enough for Real Madrid to go through.
Lyon vs Barcelona
Mathias: Lyon (3) vs Barcelona (7)
Lyon 1 – Barcelona 3
Barcelona 4 – Lyon 2
Barcelona will be heavy favorites in this one, but face an Olympique Lyonnais team that should not be taken lightly. Lyon caused the first major upset in this season’s Champions League campaign, by beating Man City in Manchester back in September. They didn’t lose a single game in the group stage, but that win against Man City ended up being their only one, as they drew 5 matches in a row. The price they get is a date with Barcelona in the Round of 16. Lucky you…
It’s hard for them to take notes of how Roma knocked out Barcelona last season, in a truly dumbfounding fashion, but Barcelona should take notes of last year’s failure themselves and take Lyon seriously over two legs. Lyon have a young and hungry squad, with several players who can showcase themselves to bigger clubs. Tanguy Ndombele is the next big thing at central midfield and is already chased by the biggest teams in the world. Nabil Fekir almost had his move to Liverpool this summer and is a quality player. Memphis Depay is out to prove that his stint with Man Utd was just a fluke. He has so much more to give.
Still, Barca have an ace in their sleeve with Lionel Messi, the greatest player of all time. Messi has possibly had his best Champions League campaign ever so far, with 6 goals in only 297 minutes, averaging a goal every 50 minutes. Those are insane numbers even for Messi. He knows that Barcelona needs Champions League success again for him to regain the Ballon D’or and will do everything in his power to achieve it.
Kevin: Lyon (1) vs Barcelona (5)
Lyon 1 – Barcelona 3
Barcelona 2 – Lyon 0
Make no mistake. FC Barcelona are hungry for a Champions League title after seeing their bitter rivals Real Madrid win it three times in a row. After Lionel Messi was made captain, he vowed that the beautiful trophy would come back to the Camp Nou. Did you know that FC Barcelona has won the UCL after every World Cup year since 2010? So why not make it a hat-trick by winning it in 2019?
Ernesto Valverde stupidly caused Barca to go out last year by playing defensive football last year against Roma at the Stadio Olimpico, so make no mistake. It’s all engines go against Lyon.
Lyon should not be underestimated either, as they have so many wonderful talents that will for sure dominate parts of Europe when they inevitably disperse to various top sides around the world.
Liverpool vs Bayern
Mathias: Liverpool (1) vs Bayern (2)
Liverpool 1 – Bayern 1
Bayern 1 – Liverpool 0
This might be the hardest one to predict with Bayern’s reign perhaps coming to an end and Liverpool’s only just beginning. Jürgen Klopp managed to take down Bayern for a little bit in Germany, but the giant from Munich fought back and reclaimed their place at the top. Now, in the midst of a poor season from Bayern, they might have to turn to the Champions League for some success, which is the reason I’m giving them the edge over the now favoured Liverpool.
It’s not as if Bayern don’t have enough talent. They currently have the Champions League top scorer in Robert Lewandowski and his 8 goals. Manuel Neuer isn’t quite the same goalkeeper he was when he was the undisputed #1 a couple years ago, but he’s still one of the best. Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich brings some much needed youth and dynamism to Bayern’s midfield. Still, mainstays like Mats Hummels, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben aren’t getting any younger and Bayern are not what they once were.
Liverpool on the other hand are an up and coming team, but they are also heavily engaged in the title fight in the Premier League. I’d imagine finally winning a Premier League title is the primary goal for Liverpool and if they keep their eye off the ball in the Champions League, Bayern can punish Salah & Co. This will be a tightly contested affair, but to use an old cliché, I can see Bayern wanting it more.
Kevin: Liverpool (3) vs Bayern (4)
Liverpool 2 – Bayern 2
Bayern 2 – Liverpool 1
When you have two of the European greats facing each other, expect a lot of goals and heartbreak as it’s both awesome and a shame that such good teams are already facing one another.
Bayern have not had a good season to say the least but will be wanting to go far in the Champions League as it could be the saving grace of their season whilst Liverpool could go out and just solely focus on the league. But of course, you can’t say anything against the formidable trio of Salah, Firmino and Mané and the force to be reckoned with that is Virgil Van Dijk, but there’s something about Robert Lewandowski that screams a special season awaits for Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
Atletico Madrid vs Juventus
Mathias: Atletico Madrid (2) (AG) vs Juventus (2)
Atletico Madrid 1 – Juventus 0
Juventus 2 – Atletico Madrid 1
When Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid comes up against Cristiano Ronaldo, I usually go with the former. Apart from two hat-tricks in the 16/17 season, when Atletico struggled and Real Madrid soared, Simeone has been able to neutralize Ronaldo. Stopping Ronaldo alone won’t make sure Atletico go through however, as Paulo Dybala is actually Juventus’ clear top scorer in the Champions league, with 5 goals so far compared to Ronaldo’s 1.
Atletico Madrid matches against top teams are always hard fought defensive battles and I expect the same here. Atletico will surely aim for a win in the first leg at home without conceding, giving them ample opportunity to counter in an all-important away goal at Juventus Stadium in the 2nd leg. Antoine Griezmann scores in almost every game at the moment and could very well prove to be the differential in this matchup, ruining Cristiano Ronaldo’s hopes of winning the Champions League yet another time.
Kevin: Atletico Madrid (2) vs Juventus (3)
Atletico Madrid 2 – Juventus 0
Juventus 2 – Atletico Madrid 1
Juventus are looking like favorites to win everything this season, breaking their European curse with a man who’s no stranger with Champions League glory. The thing about Cristiano Ronaldo is the fact that he usually doesn’t deliver the goods against Atletico Madrid, but in regards to facing them in Europe, he does!
I think Diego Simeone is just waiting to have a chance to spoil the fun for one of the greatest footballers we’ve ever seen play the game. How? By playing defensive football, having Godin neutralize CR7 and by having Antoine Griezmann and Saúl Ñíguez do their thing!
This is probably the most difficult one to predict as I can also see Atletico Madrid go through by having one of their classic defensive masterclasses, but I think Massimiliano Allegri will one up Diego Simeone if he sorts out his problems with one of his top talents, Paulo Dybala.
Schalke vs Man City
Mathias: Schalke (0) vs Man City (7)
Schalke 0 – Man City 4
Man City 3 – Schalke 0
This should be easy for Manchester City in the most lopsided Round of 16 tie in terms of pure talent. Schalke do have some up and comers you should take note of, namely Amine Harit, Breel Embolo and the American Weston McKennie, but they are still a few years away from competing with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Atmeric Laporte.
I can see Man City take an early lead like they usually do and never look back. Taking care of business in the first leg would be beneficial for Man City – who have a busy schedule of games – and I expect them to do just that. Even with a weakened XI in the second leg, they should be able to win comfortably, while giving playing time to Riyad Mahrez, Danilo and Nicolas Otamendi, who’d walk straight into Schalke’s first team. Easy match.
Kevin: Schalke (0) vs Man City (6)
Schalke 0 – Man City 4
Man City 2 – Schalke 0
There isn’t much that can be said right now about this tie. Schalke are playing horribly in the German League and are currently 14th whilst Manchester City are second and looking like the best team in Europe as of late. The trio of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Atmeric Laporte have been playing fantastic as of late and now with Kevin De Bruyne back in the squad…. I don’t see anything other than 2 Manchester City wins.