It is getting closer to the knock-out stages of the UEFA Champions League and the excitement is building among football fans worldwide. There are many mouth-watering ties to look forward to. The stand out games has to be Arsenal versus Barcelona, Juventus vs Bayern Munich and Roma vs Real Madrid.
Can record title holder Real Madrid win it one more time to make it 11 in total? It was back in 2014 when they last won the cup and with new manager Zinedine Zidane in charge, they will be heavily backed. Over the last decade, Barcelona has been the dominant force in the competition. They have been crowned champions in 2006, 2009, 2011 and last season.
Below we preview the UEFA Champions League knockout stage stand out matches along with make predictions on the scores of the games:
Roma Vs Real Madrid
It has been a tough draw for Roma and they are going to have an uphill battle if they want to progress to the next round. They managed to get through a group containing Barcelona though so they will be positive going into the game.
Real have fallen off the pace set by Bayern and Barcelona in recent years. They did, however, manage to win the tournament a couple of years back. The manager at the time was Carlo Ancelotti, who was replaced by Rafael Benitez. The change in management did not work with his team playing in a rigid formation lacking creativity and excitement. He has since been replaced by one of the best players that have every played football in the world. Zinedine Zidane will help to inspire the world-class players and his magic could assist them to be champions again.
Key Real Madrid Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo was not a happy man under the management of Benitez and there are many rumours that it was the Portuguese that got him sacked. The former Ballon D’Or winner still manages to bang in the goals, though, no matter who is in charge. This season he has surpassed Raul, goalscoring record for his club and will be adding a lot more before the season ends. If he plays well, Madrid can beat any team in the world, that is how good he is.
It was a tough group that Roma were in but somehow they managed to get through it. They made things very tough on themselves though by throwing away late goals and drawing games they should have won. AS Roma is a top class team but they are facing a team that is world-class. They have not been on the best run of results on the Italian League and will need luck on their side again, to get through.
Key AS Roma Player: Radja Nainggolan
If Roma is going to progress, they will need Nainggolan to be on top form. The box-to-box Belgian international is vital as he plays a huge part in helping both defence and attack. He has not been consistent this season and had many games that have gone badly for him. He will need to play well and try to stop the supply to Ronaldo while offering an attacking threat.
AS Roma vs Real Madrid Champions League
Madrid will fancy their chances of getting through and if they play like they are capable, it should be a comfortable victory. Champions League round of 16 predictions 0 – 3
Arsenal Vs Barcelona
The draw always seems to be unkind to Arsenal. In the group stages, they were put in a group with Bayern Munich, who are ranked as the second best team in the world. Now in the knock-out stages, they have been put up against the world’s best team and defending champions Barcelona. It could end up being dreadful for the Gunners and they will have to improve their defending if they are to have any chance.
It is hard to see any team in the world-beating a Barcelona side with Neymar, Suarez and Messi up front. It could be the greatest forward line that has ever graced the game. With Andres Iniesta pulling the strings in midfield they are at times unstoppable. The only way that they will not be champions again, this time, is if their star men get injured or they have an extremely bad day at the office. They have been beaten twice in the league this season, so it shows it is possible. If they can retain the title again this season it will be the first time that any clubs has achieved back to back wins.
Key Barcelona Player: Andres Iniesta
It is hard not to choose Leo Messi is Barcelona’s key player. However, the Argentinian is not good if no one can get him the ball. It is down to Iniesta to find the passes to the front line and been able to cover his defence at the same time. If he is given time and space to lift his head and find a pass, he will destroy any opponent. Without him in the team, they lose the brain of the outfit and are easier to beat.
Arsenal has promised each season for over a decade that they will improve. They looked to have taken steps forward in the past only for them to take two going backwards the season after. They have an excellent chance of winning the Premier League this season if they hold their nerve. They are very lucky to get this far as they only just scraped through their group.
Key Arsenal Player: Mesut Özil
If Arsenal is going to have any chance, Özil will have to play at the very top of his game. So far this season he has shown why the Gunners paid so much to secure his services from Real Madrid. The German international is only four assists short from beating Thierry Henry’s record of 20 in a season. He has assisted way more than any other player in the Premier League with him now on 16, which is six more than anyone else.
Arsenal vs Barcelona Champions League
The only people who are going to be betting on Arsenal to win are Gunners fans. If Barcelona scores early in the first match, it could be a very long couple of games for Wenger’s side. Champions League picks 1 – 4
Juventus Vs Bayern Munich
It is going to be an epic battle between the Italian and German giants. They both played well in last year’s competition and were unlucky not to progress further. Bayern is many people’s favourites to win the competition this year. With it been Pep Guardiola’s last season in charge, he will want the best sending off possible by winning the title.
After a poor start to the season, Juventus has gathered a head of steam. They now sit two points off top place Napoli and are going through a long unbeaten streak. They will have to play at the top of their game though to beat Bayern and need some luck along the way. They are underdogs, but the Champions League does throw up surprises now and again.
Key Juventus Player: Paul Pogba
The key player for Juventus is without a doubt Paul Pogba. When he is playing well, he makes the team play better and he can dominate matches when on top form. It is why all the world’s best clubs are interested in signing the 80 million pounds-rated player.
All of the teams left in the Champions League will want to avoid Bayern Munich. Last season they got all the way to the semi-finals but did not play well and were comprehensively beaten by Barcelona. This year though they look even better. They are sitting top of the German League and have only been beaten once so far this season.
Check out our Predictions for Bayern Munich in round of 8.
Key Bayern Munich Player: Thiago Alcântara
The only player that Guardiola wanted to sign when he was appointed Bayern manager was Thiago Alcântara. He may not have the exceptional match-winning talents of the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller or Douglas Costa, but he is the player that makes the team tick. Without him they find it tougher implementing Guardiola gameplay and miss his passing ability.
Juventus Vs Bayern Munich Champions League
Bayern is on form this season and it’s hard seeing past either themselves or Barcelona taking this year’s Champions League title. Juventus are a good team that are going through a great run at present, but they are missing star players from last season. Without Carlos Tevez, Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal, they are not as much of an attacking threat. Champions League tips predictions 0 – 2
Benfica Vs Zenit St. Petersburg
Andre Villas-Boas will be looking forward to taking on a team he has faced in the past when he was manager at FC Porto. His teams have looked like on of the strongest in the Champions League so far and could be a surprise package. Benfica is going to find it difficult over the two legs to beat Zenit. The team that manages to score an away goal could be the one that progresses. Champions League final predictions 0 – 1
Paris Saint-Germain Vs Chelsea
It has been a strange season for Chelsea fans. Last season they were flying high in the Premier League on there was to securing the title and this languishing in 14th place. The player’s only chance of redemption is by winning the Champions League this season. Even with a new manager in place, though, they have not looked like world beaters. It is going to be a tough battle between the two clubs and it will all boil down to which team wants it most. Champions League final predictions 0 – 0
Gent Vs Wolfsburg
It is the first time in the history of Gent football club that they made the group stage and were not supposed to get through the test. They managed to play at the top of their abilities though and have a favourable draw against German side Wolfsburg. It will be an amazing achievement if Gent manages to win and book a place in the Champions League quarter-finals. Champions League round of 16 predictions 1 – 1
Dynamo Kyiv Vs Manchester City
Man City will have been pleased to have drawn Kyiv as they are one of the weaker teams left in the competition. The Kyiv fans will not be allowed to attend the home match either due to a ban in place. It will give City an advantage but be very strange for the players and will need them to keep their concentration throughout. Champions League picks 1 – 3
PSV Eindhoven Vs Atletico Madrid
Atlético Madrid is by far the most underrated team in the world. They are now top of the league and won their group in the Champions League. They are the favourites to progress and the sound money will be on them to meet this. Champions League Prediction 0 – 2