Our football pundit previews the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 matches which take place on Tuesday 13 March and Wednesday 14 March 2018.
The final four second leg matches of the Round of 16 take place this week, with some eye-catching fixtures to look forward to. Jose Mourinho will be looking to reach the quarter-finals in his first season playing in the UEFA Champions League as Manchester United boss, while Chelsea face a daunting task away to Barcelona, where they’ll be forced to attack the game and get a goal if they are to have any chance of qualifying.
We have another interesting matchup when Roma look to overturn their 2-1 deficit against Shakhtar, while Bayern Munich will feel that they’re surely home and dry after their emphatic 5-0 win over Besiktas in the first leg.
Tuesday 13 March
Manchester United 13/20
Manchester United will be looking to reach the final eight of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2013/14 when they host Sevilla. For Jose Mourinho, this is the tournament where it all began, making his name after winning the Champions League back with FC Porto in 2004. While in charge of Real Madrid, the ‘Special One’ won seven of his eight games against Sevilla.
The one positive factor that the visitors can take into this one is that they didn’t concede an away goal, meaning that they would put unwanted pressure on United, should they score at Old Trafford. United’s home record is up there with Europe’s best this season, and with David De Gea in goal, Sevilla will surely find it difficult to breach their rock-solid backline. My money is on the home win here at 7/10!
Shakhtar Donetsk 38/10
Roma will be aiming to turn their wretched run of form in the Last 16 around when they host Ukrainian giants, Shakhtar Donetsk. The Giallorossi have lost their last five games in this stage of the tournament, failing to advance to the quarter-finals since the last decade. Shakhtar were brilliant in the reverse fixture, testing goalkeeper, Alisson, throughout the entire 90 minutes. However, the Brazilian shot-stopper couldn’t deny Fred and Facundo Ferreyra, who gave the Ukrainian side the upper hand in the first leg. This should be a mouth-watering affair, but I’m expecting Roma to come out on top.
Wednesday 14 March
Bayern Munich 6/10
Besiktas will look to do what no side in the UEFA Champions League has done so far and overturn a 5-0 deficit. They’ll need to do so against a Bayern Munich team who are seeking their sixth successive win in the Champions League. The Bavarians have been ruthless since the reappointment of Jupp Heynckes and have suddenly been priced up as one of the tournament’s favourites.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that the Turkish giants are not the same after selling star-striker, Cenk Tosun, to Everton in January, and that will surely dent their chances of springing an upset here. Back Bayern to add to their five-goal lead at 6/10!
Barcelona will be eyeing a spot in the quarter-finals for an 11th consecutive time when they welcome English champions, Chelsea, to the Nou Camp. That record was almost put to shame last season, when they had to overturn a four-goal deficit to overcome the odds against Paris Saint-Germain, in a result which ended 6-5 in favour of the Catalans. Against Barca, Chelsea opted for a much more cautious approach, utilising Eden Hazard as a false nine, leaving the likes of Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud on the bench.
Now, though, the Blues need to at least get on the scoresheet if they are to have any chance of progressing to the next round – and for me, a proven goalscorer is what you need if you want to achieve that. Lionel Messi finally broke his duck against Chelsea after 11 attempts and recently popped up with his 600th career goal. There’s no stopping the little magician in this current form and I expect him to run rampant once again. Back Barcelona to produce the goods here at 4/10.
QUAD @ 5/1
Man United Win 13/20
Roma Win 13/20
Bayern Munich Win 6/10
Barcelona Win 4/10