Champions League action begins in right earnest with the Round of 16 on Tuesday and Wednesday as we see three of the biggest title contenders feature – Chelsea, Bayern Munich and defending champions, Real Madrid.
The best of England, Germany and Spain in action this week, in the world’s greatest club football competition. As a football fan, you couldn’t really ask for more. Of the 3 big teams, we expect Chelsea to have the toughest opponents in PSG, but should come through, anyway. Here are our reviews and predictions for the first leg of the Round of 16 matches of the UEFA Champions League this week.
PSG vs Chelsea
Around this time last season we saw PSG bowing out to a much weaker Chelsea team. Manager Laurent Blanc of PSG is yet to get over that last minute defeat. Well, with additions such as Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas to the Chelsea line up, it seems highly unlikely that Blanc would be able to do much this year either. Chelsea have just become infinitely stronger. While it would take a very, very brave man to bet against Chelsea winning the English Premier League this year, the odds on Chelsea completing the double and winning the Champions League are quite low as well. We can’t see PSG knocking out Chelsea, but at home, PSG are likely to present a formidable challenge. A 1-1 draw is very much on the cards, and Jose Mourinho will be happy enough with a valuable away goal.
Prediction: PSG 1 – 1 Chelsea
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Bayern Munich
Bayern must win the Champions League this year. Pep Guardiola knows this very well, having experienced a fair amunt of friction with the Bayern fans. Winning the German Bundesliga is no big deal any more for the fans of Bayern Munich, the superstars of Germany. They want to win, and indeed, they expect to win the UEFA Champions League. Anything less than that, could well mean the end of Guardiola’s time as Bayern boss. Shakhtar are a very good team, the best in Ukraine, but that’s not much to boast about when facing Bayern. For Shakhtar, they have a prolific goal scorer in Luiz Adriano, but it’s unlikely they are capable of doing much against Bayern’s powerful defence. We expect a hard fought encounter, with Arjen Robben providing the cutting edge to Bayern Munich.
Prediction: Shakhtar Donetsk 0 – 1 Bayern Munich
Basel v FC Porto
Both Basel and Porto are the minnows in this round of 16 and they would be glad to have each other as opponents, and not any of the top sides. It’s difficult to predict who will come out of this round successfully, as they are both very equally matched teams in all departments. Both Basel and Porto are doing well domestically, while Porto would want to do better than their current no. 2 position in the Portuguese league. Both sides love Champions League and for their players, this represents their big chance to shine, to get noticed by the big European clubs. We expect a narrow win for Basel in the first leg because of the home advantage and also a valuable away goal for Porto.
Prediction: Basel 2 – 1 FC Porto
Schalke v Real Madrid
Real Madrid’s picture perfect season so far suffered a setback after the recent 4-0 defeat to bitter local rivals Atletico Madrid in the Spanish La Liga. Real Madrid fans are said to be seething at this, as any defeat to their poor cousins from across the city is seen as a complete humiliation, even worse than losing to Barcelona, who are after all, seen as equals. So manager Carlos Ancelotti is expected to go all out for a win here to cool matters at home. We expect the super attacking trio of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and the phenomenal Christiano Ronaldo to weave their magic around Schalke. Schalke are a good outfit, they are 3rd in the high quality German Bundesliga, but let’s face it – they really are no match for the Galacticos of Madrid. A comfortable away win for Real.
Prediction: Schalke 1 – 3 Real Madrid