Last-16 predictions: Only two English clubs will reach the Champions League quarters
The Champions last 16 is stacked full of high-level ties, so who will go through? Marcus Foley makes his predictions.
The draw for the last 16 of the Champions League threw up some exceptional ties on Monday.
DRAW IN FULL
- Borussia Dortmund v Paris Saint-Germain
- Real Madrid v Manchester City
- Atalanta v Valencia
- Atletico Madrid v Liverpool
- Chelsea v Bayern Munich
- Lyon v Juventus
- Tottenham v RB Leipzig
- Napoli v Barcelona
Jordan Henderson of Liverpool lifts the Champions League Trophy after after winning the UEFA Champions League Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on June 01, 2019 in Madrid, Spain.Getty Images
A STACKED DRAW
For the first-time ever the last-16 of the Champions League was made up solely of teams from Europe’s top 5 leagues.
The result was a stacked draw that included sides of the ilk of Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid in the unseeded side of the draw. The upshot were tough encounters for English clubs. Liverpool and Manchester City were handed arduous matches against Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid despite winning their groups, while Chelsea, in a repeat of the 2012 final, face off against Bayern Munich.
Tottenham Hotspur, finalists in 2019, were handed – on paper at least – the most favourable draw of the English teams, a fixture with Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig.
Elsewhere, Thomas Tuchel will take his Paris Saint-Germain side to face former charges Borussia Dortmund and Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli will look to get past Barcelona. Atalanta, who fought back from losing their first three group matches to reach the last 16 at their first bash at Champions League football, were rewarded with a tie against Valencia. Perennial Serie A winners Juventus face Lyon, who will be without talisman Memphis Depay after the Dutchman tore his ACL against Rennes on Sunday.
Borussia Dortmund v Paris Saint-Germain
KEY STAT: PSG have lost only one of their last eight matches to a German opponent in European competition (5 wins, 2 draws).
- Dortmund: Achraf Hakimi (4)
- PSG: Kylian Mbappé/Mauro Icardi (5)
- Dortmund: Julian Brandt (3)
- PSG: Ángel Di Maria/Kylian Mbappé (3)
- Dortmund: Jadon Sancho
- PSG: Kylian Mbappé
In recent years Neymar’s health has been inextricably linked to the success of PSG’s forays into the knockout stages of the Champions League but Mbappe has now surpassed the Brazilian as PSG’s totem. The 20-year-old forward is now the crucial cog to the PSG machine – a machine that should have enough to beat a Dortmund side whose form has been patchy both in Europe and at home.
PSG TO WIN
Real Madrid v Manchester City
KEY STAT: Pep Guardiola has faced Real Madrid 17 times as a coach, with the Spaniard winning nine, drawing four and losing four of his 17 previous meetings with them.
- Real: Karim Benzema/Rodrygo (4)
- City: Raheem Sterling (5)
- Real: Marcelo (3)
- City: Riyad Mahrez (4)
- Real: Karim Benzema
- City: Kevin de Bruyne
Focus could decide this tie. Both managers have an eye-watering wealth of talent at their disposal but City – with a third league title on the bounce presumably beyond them – can focus their energies on a Champions League charge. It is of little secret that Europe’s premier competition is an obsession of both the club and its manager. Real, by contrast, are currently neck-and-neck with old foes Barcelona at the top of Liga. Guardiola will expect to improve on his already impressive record against Real, who are still mid-rebuild under Zinedine Zidane.
MAN CITY TO WIN
Atalanta v Valencia
KEY STAT: Valencia have progressed from two of their three Champions League knockout ties against Italian sides, including the only one played in the round of 16 (vs Internazionale in 2007).
- Atalanta: Mario Pasalci (2)
- Valencia: Rodrigo Moreno (2)
- Atalanta: Ruslan Malinovskyi, Alejandro Gómez, Hans Hateboer (1)
- Valencia: Daniel Parejo/Rodrigo Moreno (2)
- Atalanta: Duván Zapata
- Valencia: Rodrigo Moreno
A remarkable turn in form and fortune saw Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta side emerge from a Group C that also contained Manchester City, Shaktar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb despite losing their opening three fixtures. However, Valencia, who held Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw in Liga on Sunday, emerged from a group that contained both Chelsea and Ajax, beating both away from home. Albert Celades' side sit seventh in Liga but have improved gradually as the season has worn on.
VALENCIA TO WIN
Atletico Madrid v Liverpool
KEY STAT: 2010 - Liverpool's only previous knockout stage meeting with Atletico Madrid came in the 2009-10 Europa League semi-final, with the Reds being eliminated on away goals (OPTA).
- Atleti: Álvaro Morata/João Félix (2)
- Liverpool: Mohamed Salah (4)
- Atleti: Thomas, José María Giménez, Diego Costa, Kieran Trippier, Renan Lodi, Koke (1)
- Liverpool: Roberto Firmino (3)
- Atleti: Kieran Trippier
- Liverpool: Roberto Firmino
Atleti spent big in the summer and have hardly reaped the expected rewards with reports suggesting that Diego Simeone could be close to the sack at the Wanda Metropolitano. Liverpool, by contrast, had a relatively quiet summer and have been in stunning domestic form but have stuttered a touch in Europe, claiming top spot in their group on the last matchday. However, a front three of Roberto Firmino, Mohamned Salah and Sadio Mane makes Jurgen Klopp’s men a devastating proposition in knockout football.
LIVERPOOL TO WIN
Chelsea v Bayern Munich
KEY STAT: Chelsea and Bayern Munich will meet in the Champions League for the first time since the 2012 final, which the Blues won 4-3 on penalties with Frank Lampard as captain.
- Chelsea: César Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Tammy Abraham (2)
- Bayern: Robert Lewandowski (10)
- Chelsea: Kurt Zouma (2)
- Bayern: Corentin Tolisso/Ivan Perisic (3)
- Chelsea: Tammy Abraham
- Bayern: Robert Lewandowski
Bayern have masked dubious domestic form with an imperious showing in Europe, and in Lewandowski are in possession of Europe’s premier marksman. Much of Chelsea’s stuttering form has been born of a porous defence so unless the Blues shore up ahead of February, the Bavarians must be favourites.
BAYERN MUNICH TO WIN
Lyon v Juventus
KEY STAT: Juventus are unbeaten in the four European club competitions games vs Lyon: 3 wins and 1 draw.
- Lyon: Memphis Depay (5)
- Juventus: Paulo Dybala (3)
- Lyon: Houssem Aouar/Léo Dubois (2)
- Juventus: Gonzalo Higuain/Paulo Dybala (2)
- Lyon: Memphis Depay
- Juventus: Cristiano Ronaldo
Lyon, shorn of their talisman Depay, should prove fodder for a still-finding-its-feet Juventus under Maurizio Sarri. Lyon are eighth in Ligue Un.
JUVENTUS TO WIN
Tottenham v RB Leipzig
- Tottenham: Harry Kane (6)
- RB Leipzig: Emil Forsberg/Timo Werner (3)
- Tottenham: Heung-Min Son, Serge Aurier, Erik Lamela, Tanguy Ndombélé (2)
- RB Leipzig: Marcel Sabitzer (2)
- Tottenham: Harry Kane
- RB Leipzig: Emil Forsberg
Looks a decent draw on paper for Spurs but it will prove anything but. Leipzig sit top of the Bundesliga and their high press could prove a stylistic nightmare for Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham. Should Spurs’ defensive travails persist under Mourinho – and the body of evidence they have served up thus far suggest they will – then they will come unstuck against Nagelsmann’s effervescent side.
RB LEIPZIG TO WIN
Napoli v Barcelona
KEY STAT: Barcelona have been eliminated from four of their last seven Champions League knockout stage ties against Italian sides, including their last two against Juventus in 2017 and Roma in 2018.
- Napoli: Dries Mertens (5)
- Barcelona: Luis Suárez (3)
- Napoli: Giovanni Di Lorenzo (2)
- Barcelona: Lionel Messi
- Napoli: Dries Mertens
- Barcelona: Lionel Messi
Napoli are a mess. At the time of writing they sit eighth in Serie A and have appointed a manager in Gennaro Gattuso, whose career to date has shown little acumen for elite-level management. They face off against a Barcelona side not without its own problems – Ernesto Valverde's dogmatic tactics, for example – but with Lionel Messi. Barcelona all day.
BARCELONA TO WIN
PREDICTED QUARTER-FINAL DRAW
- RB Leipzig
- Bayern Munich
- Manchester City
- Paris Saint-Germain