With the UEFA Champions League round of 16 fixtures around the corner, we at The VideoScope team will be taking an extensive look into the crazy knockout ties that lies ahead.
Editor’s Note: Co-written by @kevnissanka and @maefteda
All scores were predicted separately.
Champions League Round of 16:
Dortmund vs PSG
Kevin: Dortmund (3) vs PSG (5)
Dortmund 2 – PSG 2
PSG 3 – Dortmund 1
What a spectacular tie to open the return of the Champions League! Free-flowing Dortmund vs the attacking juggernaut that is PSG! I think this tie will have a lot of goals and that will be thanks to the various superstar talent on both teams, the only thing I could wish for this tie is that it isn’t one-sided.
Lucien Favre has continued to make Dortmund one of the must watch teams of Europe with their free flowing attack where literally every player contributes to their goals, but none quite as much as the super talented Haaland and Pep’s worst transfer, Jadon Sancho! It is fun to see these young superstars perform so well already, as they will be players to watch for several years to come. The only issue I can see with this side is that they struggle to defend properly, conceding goals that are very sloppy, reminding me of my own FC Barcelona. For that reason alone I have to give the edge to PSG who have a lot more experienced players in general and more European experience too.
PSG are very similar to Dortmund but have superstars in every position that have been to the greatest lengths a player can get to. May that be winning the treble (Neymar), winning the World Cup (Mbappé & Presnel Kimpembe) or just having played in the world stage for several years (Edinson Cavani & Thiago Silva). These players are walking away with the French league title yet again and have shown in the group stages that this is the first time PSG have really looked like teammates who would die for each other.
Thomas Tuchel has really turned things around for the Parisians and has a deep squad. Even though PSG have a lot of obvious stars, keep an eye out for the two Argentinians (Angel Di Maria & Mauro Icardi) as these two “differentials” who could play the biggest part for PSG!
It will be a thrilling encounter that will see plenty of twists and turns, but I think PSG will show the world exactly why they’re a force to be reckoned with this season and one of the favourites to win the Champions League.
Mathias: Dortmund (3) vs PSG (5)
Dortmund 2 – PSG 2
PSG 3 – Dortmund 1
This should be one of the most exciting Round of 16 ties this season. Dortmund, led by Jadon Sancho and my countryman Erling Braut Haaland, are better than most teams offensively, but struggle mightily when it comes to defending a lead. I can see them taking the lead several times against PSG, but in the end, the French champions should have the more complete squad and win over two legs.
The most interesting head to head battle will be between the aforementioned Haaland and Kylian Mbappé. Both are rapid, up and coming strikers who will dominate world football for years to come and I’d expect both to score.
I also can’t say enough about Sancho. Letting him go, only to buy Riyad Mahrez (who I love) for £60 million a year later, is the worst transfer decision Pep Guardiola has ever done. Even worse than buying Dmytro Anatoliyovych Chygrynskiy. Yes, that was a thing. Dortmund have a chance to surprise us all and knock out PSG and if they do, it’s because of the Jadon Sancho coming out party.
Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool
Mathias: Atletico Madrid (0) vs Liverpool (5)
Atletico Madrid 0 – Liverpool 2
Liverpool 3 – Atletico Madrid 0
Liverpool are having their best season ever, while Atletico are struggling more than they have ever done under Diego Simeone. I feel pretty confident in saying that Liverpool, who have conceded only 1 goal in 11 matches, won’t concede against an impotent Atletico attack.
This prediction comes down to how many goals Liverpool are able to score against a traditionally stingy Atletico defence. While Atletico usually keep it tight at the back against most of the opposition they face in La Liga, they have also showed that against the best teams in Europe, they can lose by several goals. Liverpool certainly qualifies, as the best team in Europe currently and reigning champions.
Liverpool have all but wrapped up the league title already and can turn their attention towards defending their Champions League victory from last season. The match-up with Atletico Madrid should be fairly easy to get through, even though I’m curious to see how Simeone’s Atletico can defend Jürgen Klopps overpowering system. I just wish it had happened when Simeone and Atletico were at the top of their games.
Kevin: Atletico Madrid (2) vs Liverpool (4)
Atletico Madrid 1 – Liverpool 1
Liverpool 3 – Atletico Madrid 1
Atletico Madrid just haven’t impressed anyone this season as they’re having a fairly poor domestic campaign. Alvaro Morata is Atletico Madrid’s top scorer with 9 goals, which is the opposite of what you need, considering Liverpool’s defence has been crazy secure these last couple of months. The only real shining light is the fact that despite their troubles they were able to secure a draw against Juventus at home in the group stage, which is why I predict them to get a draw in the first game. That however won’t be enough to stop Liverpool.
Liverpool have been dominating this season, having topped group E of the Champions League, leading the Premier League by 20+ points (where they are currently undefeated) and having gone through in the FA Cup too, it seems like it’s fair to say that Liverpool are the in-form team between the two.
Every single player is contributing to their success, ranging from their superstar front-trio of Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah & Roberto Firmino, even to squad players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi. It is remarkable to see these players perform so well and the sky is the limit for the current Champions League holder. It’s not far-fetched that Liverpool will be the first back-to-back Champions League winners since Real Madrid.
Tottenham vs RB Leipzig
Kevin: Tottenham (4) vs Leipzig (3)
Tottenham 3 – RB Leipzig 1
Leipzig 2 – Tottenham 1
Maaaaan. If Heung-min Son hadn’t been ruled out today, I would have said for sure that Spurs would be going through, but now it will be closer than ever.
Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t sleep on Leipzig. They have spectacular talent like Timo Werner, Marcel Sabitzer, Dayot Upamecano and of course my countrymen, Emil Forsberg. Leipzig play great football, have a spectacular scouting system and despite their Red Bull corporation sell-out aspect, they deserve a lot of credit for their strong values around recruitment and developing young talent. The young players is the only reason why I believe they will come up short, as Tottenham have a lot of great players but also have the experience of playing the latter stages and being in the bigger games.
I really am giving José Mourinho the benefit of the doubt, even if I think they couldn’t be more unlucky as Son will probably miss both games against Leipzig. It leaves the attack lacking as Harry Kane is already long-term injured. However, we can’t just call it quits already for last year’s finalist. Steven Bergwijn has come in and shown that he’s ready to light up the world and could be the player that Mourinho will hope to lead the line alongside Dele Alli and Lucas Moura.
I might be wrong when you compare the teams on paper, but I will stick with my guns and expect Mourinho (a two time treble winning coach) to take Spurs to the next stage of the Champions League.
Mathias: Tottenham (1) vs RB Leipzig (3)
Tottenham 1 – RB Leipzig 1
RB Leipzig 2 – Tottenham 0
Note: Written before Son’s injury news, prediction still stands
Time to be a bit bold with this one. I tend to underrate both English teams and Mourinho in knock-out competitions, but so be it. RB Leipzig deserves your respect. Or rather, Leipzig deserves your respect, Red Bull shouldn’t be in football.
Anyway, whoever is pulling the strings at RB Leipzig deserves a ton of credit. Investing in scouting and development of future superstars is a breath of fresh air in a modern football world centered around buying top players for inordinate amounts of money.
Leipzig are contending with Bayern München for the Bundesliga title and with future superstars like Dayot Upamecano, Konrad Laimer and Dani Olmo and current superstar Timo Werner, they should not be taken lightly. This will be a tough test for lovers of Mourinho and the Premier League, but I think Leipzig edges it.
Atalanta vs Valencia
Mathias: Atalanta (2) vs Valencia (3)
Atalanta 2 – Valencia 2
Valencia 1 – Atalanta 0
Two of the lesser teams in the round of 16, but it’s also one of the harder ties to predict. Atalanta have been incredibly inconsistent, as shown in the group stage where they looked dead and buried after 3 games and went through after 7 points in their final 3. Now they have Duván Zapata back up front as well, who is a force to be reckoned with all by himself.
Valencia are undefeated at home in La Liga and that’s what I think this match comes down to. If Atalanta can’t win at home, I think Valencia pull through. Ferran Torres has quickly become one of the more exciting attacking prospects in La Liga and could be the decider in this one. They also kept Rodrigo up front unless Barcelona swoop in to get him with their transfer exception.
I’m personally pulling for Atalanta with Zapata, Josip Iličić and Papu Gomez leading the line, but if they go through it’s because of a barrage of goals at home in the first leg.
Kevin: Atalanta (3) vs Valencia (4)
Atalanta 2 – Valencia 2
Valencia 2 – Atalanta 1
The “weakest” tie in the Champions League but potentially could be the most exciting as both teams are very similar! Atalanta are capable of winning their matches by several goals and Valencia can go toe-to-toe with the big teams in Europe. The only weird thing about these sides are how wildly inconsistent they both are.
Atalanta are a different side every time they go on the field while Valencia tend to struggle against lesser sides. Atalanta have the likes of Luis Muriel, Josip Iličić, Papu Gomez & Duván Zapata who have been scoring for fun and have shown several times why they shouldn’t be counted out. The only reason why I won’t predict them going through is because Valencia have more European experience and have an incredible home record in the league which could keep going against Atalanta.
Chelsea vs Bayern
Kevin: Chelsea (3) vs Bayern (5)
Chelsea 2 – Bayern 2
Bayern 3 – Chelsea 1
Chelsea vs Bayern will bring up a lot of great memories for several Chelsea fans as they remarkably beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final back in 2012 in Bayern’s own backyard. They won’t go through the same fairytale again however, as Bayern are too strong of a team to even be considered to lose to Chelsea. I think Chelsea will put up more of a fight and even get a draw in the first leg but that’s as far as the youngsters will go in the Champions League. Chelsea have too many blaring issues right now such as Kepa being replaced by Willy Caballero due to confidence issues, Tammy Abraham and N’Golo Kanté with more injuries and Chelsea generally not having that spark that they showed in the beginning of the season.
Bayern on the other hand look sloppy, but great! They are just narrowly first in the Bundesliga, despite the fact they should be should be walking away with it. The team have such crazy attacking options in Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman, the German talisman Thomas Muller and the first player to reach 40 goals for club and country, Robert Lewandowski. The Bavarians also have a set of former Barcelona disasterclass transfers, with Thiago Alcântara and Phil Coutinho. Coutinho hasn’t found his Liverpool form at Bayern, but he has done surprisingly well in the Champions League. THEY HAVE TOO MUCH TALENT and are going to beat Chelsea. Next!
Mathias: Chelsea (1) vs Bayern (5)
Chelsea 1 – Bayern 3
Bayern 2 – Chelsea 0
Once again, I am asking you to consider a Bundesliga team knocking out a Premier League team. Not for nothing, as German giants Bayern will play the current 4th placed team in England. I think they will go through with ease as well.
After a slow start, Bayern look like themselves again and scored 3 goals in 12 minutes just this weekend. Champions League top scorer Robert Lewandowski is sure to add a couple more to his tally, while Serge Gnabry will continue to show that he’s the best Arsenal youngster since Robin Van Persie.
Chelsea have struggled in big games this season and are too inconsistent to beat a machine like Bayern. They don’t even have a huge strength when it comes to offense vs defense, so it’s hard to picture a scenario where they can knock out Bayern. Maybe if they had Hakim Ziyech already.
Lampard has done a great job with bringing through youngsters, but Chelsea are still a couple of seasons and signings away from being a CL contender again.
Napoli vs Barcelona
Mathias: Napoli (1) vs Barcelona (4)
Napoli 0 – Barcelona 0
Barcelona 4 – Napoli 1
Barelona are dreadful away, but even in a poor season with not exactly encouraging performances as of late, they should still have enough quality to comfortably beat Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli. Still, I’ll give the Italians a good result at home, before Lionel Messi finally wakes up and starts dominating in the Champions League yet again.
For Barcelona, winning the Champions League is a different matter. Messi would have to find his goalscoring form again if Barcelona wants a chance to reclaim the trophy they haven’t won since 2015. Defensively they need Marc-André ter Stegen to keep up his fantastic play behind a shaky defence and Quique Setién needs to figure out his best midfield trio (Hint: It doesn’t involve Rakitic).
Napoli have finally started to get some good results after a rough start for Gattuso when he took over for Carlo Ancelotti and they obviously have some big names in their squad still. Their inconsistency is still showing however, with a poor 2-3 loss to lowly Leece. With little left to play for in the Serie A (top 4 already looks set), they’ll be up for it in the first leg, but when push comes to shove, Barcelona will prevail thanks to the best player in the world.
Kevin: Napoli (1) vs Barcelona (5)
Napoli 1 – Barcelona 2
Barcelona 3 – Napoli 0
When you have two of the European classics facing each other, expect some fireworks. FC Barcelona and Napoli are both in transition periods and are at weird places in their campaign.
Barcelona have several injuries as both Ousmane Dembélé and Luis Suárez are long term injured and Jordi Alba will be missing the first match too. Last season in the round of 16 predictions I wrote: “Ernesto Valverde stupidly caused Barca to go out last year by playing defensive football against Roma at the Stadio Olimpico”, AND THEN WE DO THE SAME THING AGAINST LIVERPOOL. With new coach Quique Setien, it’s all engines go against Napoli as Setién is the right man to set the course straight. Antoine Griezmann is ready to finally show what he’s all about!
Napoli have looked better despite their questionable sacking of Carlo Ancelotti (who is doing extremely well with Everton!) with a big win over Juventus. Dries Mertens is looking to continue breaking records in what looks like his final season with Napoli and Kalidou Koulibaly wants to prove himself as one of the best centre-backs in Europe. I still think that Messi will show everyone who have been doubting him why he is still the best player in Europe. While he has a goal-drought of 4 games (his worst in year), he got 6 assists in the same matches. It might finally be time to reach a Champions League final for the first time in 5 years!
Lyon vs Juventus
Kevin: Lyon (1) vs Juventus (5)
Lyon 0 – Juventus 2
Juventus 3 – Lyon 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 that he’s in great form in 2020 having scored 12 goals in 8 games. While you can argue that everyone else has scored less because of him, there’s no doubt that that Juventus are still doing well under Maurizio Sarri. The crazy thing though, is that Sarri will probably get sacked if they fail to go far in the Champions League, or not winning the most competitive Serie A campaign in several years.
Lyon have too many injuries and young players to face a veteran Juventus side who have gone the distance several times in the last 5 years including two finals and now having a player who won three CL titles in a row. Sorry Lyon fans, close your eyes and it will be over quickly.
Mathias: Lyon (1) vs Juventus (4)
Lyon 0 – Juventus 2
Juventus 2 – Lyon 1
This predicted score looks closer than the games actually should be. I can’t see any way Lyon can topple Juventus with Ronaldo in his best form in years. Still, Juve don’t score all that much apart from the couple goals Ronaldo provides, and I can see the reigning 8-time Serie A champions easing into two 2-0 wins before Lyon finally gets a consolation goal late in the 2nd leg.
Losing Memphis Depay to a terrible ACL injury took the life out of Lyon, who are not a Champions League team without him. He scored 5 goals in 5 starts in the group stage, but will be lost for the season, which means the season is probably lost for Lyon too.
Juventus could go all the way the final again to have a chance to get their first Champions League trophy since 1996, but now that they are finally being tested in the Serie A, I don’t think they’ll have the firepower to go all the way. Ronaldo be damned.
Real Madrid vs Man City
Mathias: Real Madrid (4) vs Manchester City (5)
Real Madrid 2 – Man City 2
Man City 3 – Real Madrid 2
Saved the best for last, as this is the match-up I’m the most excited about and that also features the most accumulative talent. I also expect this to be a nail-biter throughout, with a City-team with everything to lose and Zinedine Zidane wanting to defend his unmatched Champions League record.
I think City have the best players and clearly the best manager in Guardiola, but with everything on the line it won’t come easy, especially considering they start away at the Bernabeu. It might just be wishful thinking, but I imagine a tie where the score keeps shifting and City finally pull through and come out on top.
Aymeric Laporte has been a huge loss for City this season, but the Frenchman is back and should play all 180 minutes of this tie. Real Madrid still have the offensive firepower to punish City, but Sergio Aguero is on form and can be the decider once again in City’s quest for a long sought after title.
Kevin: Real Madrid (4) vs Manchester City (6)
Real Madrid 2 – Man City 3
Man City 3 – Real Madrid 2
Mouth-watering tie between one of the most classic teams in the Champions League versus the team that has it all to lose thanks to Financial Fair Play shenanigans. Pep Guardiola, also known as “Fraudiola” and “Baldiola”, will be looking to set the record straight by winning this clash against his former El Clásico rival and superstar Zinedine Zidane. Manchester City have not been playing well in the league so they might as well focus all their energy into winning the Champions League, the one thing Pep has failed to win since leaving FC Barcelona.
Zinedine Zidane on the other hand, wants to prove that his three times in a row Champions League winning campaigns weren’t a fluke and cement himself as one of the best managers in the world. During the beginning of the season I would have definitely ruled them out of going far in the Champions League, however, Karim Benzema and Thibaut Courtois are both playing out of their skin as they are among the top of the charts for most goals and most clean sheets in La Liga.
I still think that Manchester City will edge Real Madrid because they have a better squad and have players who are just in phenomenal form as Kevin De Bruyne looks like one of the best players in Europe right now. Advantage, the bald Catalan hero!