The knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League is finally here and there are a lot of mouth watering fixtures to look forward to. Let’s take a look at some of the games and the teams with best chances of making it to the quarter finals.
Paris Saint Germain vs Bayern Munich
This meeting is a replay of the 2021 quarter final and 2020 final which PSG and Bayern won respectively. PSG have been handed a boost as star players Mbappe and Messi could both feature on Tuesday. The pair picked up injuries earlier this month that casted doubt over their availability for the clash. However, PSG’s coach, Christophe Galtier, said that they are doing everything to get Mbappe ready for Bayern and Messi would be back in training by Sunday or Monday. On the other hand, Bayern Munich’s biggest injury concern, Sadio Mane, would not be available to feature on Tuesday. However the Senegalese star is very close to a return and would possibly be available for the second leg barring any setbacks.
Prediction: Bayern Munich
AC Milan vs Tottenham Hotspur
This game is not the most eye-catching of matchups but it still holds a high level of significance for both teams. The last time Milan played in a champions league knockout game was about nine years ago when they played Atletico in the round of 16 in 2014. Both teams are not in the greatest of form. Milan picked up just their second win of the year in all competitions after defeating Torino on friday. Spurs have been in better form than Milan this year, but they are still yet to find that consistency. They were not able to turn their three game win streak into four as they were beaten by Leicester city over the weekend. The match up is going to be a tight one, it could be a tie that’s separated by just one goal as well.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur
Club Brugge vs Benfica
These two teams were the surprises of the group stage. Club Brugge were on top of their group for a large part of the group stage but ultimately lost out to Porto. However, Club Brugge had the best defense of the group stage as they conceded just four goals. For Benfica, they were definitely the most exciting team of the group stage. In a group with PSG and Juventus, the Portuguese giants managed to top the group without losing any game. They will be without world cup star Enzo Fernandez who moved to Chelsea on deadline day of the winter transfer window. However, this Benfica side oozes quality and they should be able to get the job done over two legs.
Borussia Dortmund vs Chelsea
Another potentially exciting match, Dortmund go into this one as favorites. Dortmund are in incredible form as they have won all six games they have played this year. Chelsea on the other hand, can only boast of their transfer business as their form is not encouraging at all. They have only won one game out of the eight they have played this year. Although the new signings look exciting, the most important thing at a club like Chelsea are the results. And these results have not been produced. Dortmund have a relatively young squad but they have experience in players like Hummels, Reus, Can, Sule, and Guerreiro. This experience combined with the youth can be enough to see them through to the next round.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund
Liverpool vs Real Madrid
Another interesting game that is also the repeat of the 2022 champions league final. Real Madrid go into this one as overwhelming favorites not because they have been in blistering form, but because Liverpool have been extremely underwhelming. Liverpool are 10th on the premier league table and their only win this year came in an FA cup replay with Wolves. Many thought the world cup break would be a blessing for Liverpool as it would help turn their fortunes. However, it has been more of the same and probably even worse. Even though Madrid have not been playing at their high standards over the past few games, they go into this game coming off a victorious campaign in the club world cup.
Prediction: Real Madrid
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Napoli
Napoli are currently one of the best teams in Europe right now. They have won their last six Serie A games and they are also 16 points clear at the top of the table. Napoli is also home to one of the best duos in world football right now in Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Victor Osimhen. Kvaratskhelia has the highest assists in the Serie A and Osimhen has the highest goals. Eintracht Frankfurt go into this one as underdogs but they also have their own weapon in Randal Kolo Muani. The Frenchman who featured and scored at the world cup has been their best player this season. He has nine goals and ten assists in the Bundesliga this season. Those assist numbers put him on top of the assists table as well. The quality that Napoli have will most likely be too much for Frankfurt to handle and this will ultimately lead to Napoli making the next round.
RB Leipzig vs Manchester City
The trophy that keeps on eluding Manchester City is the champions league. They had an opportunity to win their first in 2021 but they lost out to Chelsea. Manchester City have had their problems on and off the pitch this season but knowing Pep Guardiola, the football would do the talking. Manchester City have played nine games this year and have won 6 and lost 3. This form in comparison to RB Leipzig is quite better. Leipzig have played six games this year and have won three, drawn two, and lost one. Marco Rose and Leipzig will be encouraged with the return of Christopher Nkunku to training and also encouraged at the possibility of the Frenchman facing City. Nkunku was a problem for City when they faced each other in the Etihad last season as they were in the same group. Nkunku scored a hattrick in a losing effort in that game. The 25 year old would definitely cause problems if he is involved. However, City’s quality is very evident and this quality will be enough to take them over the line.
Prediction: Manchester City
Inter Milan vs Porto
Inter Milan found themselves in a group of death with Barcelona and Bayern but they were able to navigate their way and finish second. Porto on the other hand, were able to top their group winning four games and losing two. This game could prove to be another tight game that could go any way. However, Milan could be going in as the team with the better chance of making it to the next round as a result of their experience and quality. Inter have been very good this year as they have played seven games and only lost one. They have also kept four clean sheets within this span of games. Porto have also been in blistering form this year. They have played 10 games this year and have only drawn one. They are currently on a 9 game win streak in all competitions. As stated earlier, this game could prove to be a tight matchup but Inter look far better on paper.
Prediction: Inter Milan
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