The Champions League round of 16 usually separates the contenders from the pretenders, with the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich routinely reaching the latter stages of the competition. Here, theScore predicts the results of the competition’s upcoming fixtures.
Roma vs. Porto
Despite all the ups and downs of Roma’s season, the Champions League has become a place of respite for the Giallorossi. Blowout wins against bottom-feeders CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen boosted their confidence early in the campaign, as should having players with European pedigrees like Edin Dzeko. Even Real Madrid had a tough time against Eusebio Di Francesco’s side.
The story is a bit less optimistic for Porto, who lost top scorer Moussa Marega to a long-term injury in the run-up to the round of 16. The Portuguese club has only made it past this stage of the competition once in the last eight seasons.
Prediction: Roma (4-2 on aggregate)
Manchester United vs. PSG
It was easy to dismiss United’s chances when the draw was announced in December. Jose Mourinho was sucking the life out of his players and results were predictably poor. But things have changed dramatically since then. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came in, liberated United’s star players, and inspired them to 11 matches unbeaten. Paul Pogba is enjoying some of the best football of his career and Marcus Rashford is scoring big goals.
PSG, on the other hand, is losing ground as the clear-cut favorite. With Neymar out several months and both Thomas Meunier and Edinson Cavani expected to miss Tuesday’s first leg, the Ligue 1 giants no longer look like indomitable juggernauts.
Prediction: Manchester United (3-2 on aggregate)
Tottenham vs. Borussia Dortmund
Long-term injuries to Harry Kane and Dele Alli threatened to derail Tottenham’s season, but recent evidence points to the contrary. Spurs have reeled off four consecutive Premier League wins since the pair dropped out, conceding no more than one goal in each of those matches. Heung-Min Son parachuted in from the Asian Cup at the perfect time to score massive goals for Tottenham.
Things seem a little less calm at Borussia Dortmund, who’ve allowed Bayern Munich back into the title race after dropping points to Eintracht Frankfurt and Hoffenheim. Dortmund have endured their own injury trouble, with Manuel Akanji leaving a void in defense and Marco Reus likely to miss the first leg of the last-16 tie. Considering he’s had a hand in 33 percent of Dortmund’s goals this season, the latter would be a huge loss.
Prediction: Tottenham (2-1 on aggregate)
Ajax vs. Real Madrid
The three-time defending European champions are looking more like their former selves. After a meandering few months, Real Madrid have won eight of their last 10 matches across all competitions and leapfrogged city rivals Atletico Madrid into second place in La Liga. Vinicius Junior also introduced himself to great effect, earning 11 straight starts under manager Santiago Solari.
It’s bad news for Ajax, who, despite reaching the round of 16 for the first time in more than a decade, are out of their element. Although they managed to keep talented youngsters Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong through the January window, Ajax remain an inferior side to Los Blancos. They’re not even the best team in the Netherlands right now after losing 6-2 to Feyenoord on Jan. 26.
Prediction: Real Madrid (5-2 on aggregate)
Lyon vs. Barcelona
Lyon have already upended Manchester City and PSG in recent months, showing they’re capable of producing an upset. Memphis Depay, Moussa Dembele, and Bertrand Traore can be devastating on the counterattack; more importantly, Les Gones can withstand the blows to land a knockout punch. They’re also in incredible form, winning five of their last six matches in all competitions.
Barcelona aren’t exactly going through a purple patch right now. Lionel Messi isn’t 100 percent fit and midfielder Arthur is likely to miss both legs through injury. But it’s difficult to envision Lyon bettering the Blaugrana over 180 minutes of football.
Prediction: Barcelona (4-2 on aggregate)
Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich
Liverpool should feel confident heading into the round of 16. They have the wingers to overrun Bayern and the players to dominate the midfield. Naby Keita is finally making a breakthrough and Georginio Wijnaldum’s thrusting runs continue to keep defenders on their toes. Left-back Andy Robertson is also capable of wreaking havoc.
Bayern are no pushovers, but they don’t match up well with Liverpool. The Bavarians don’t have a consistent style of play or the pace to go tit for tat with the Reds.
Prediction: Liverpool (4-1 on aggregate)
Atletico Madrid vs. Juventus
An early front-runner for the La Liga title, Atletico Madrid have faded away over the past few weeks. Antoine Griezmann’s goals are the only things keeping the team in the discussion. Atleti will have a tough time breaking down Juventus, who’ve developed just as much of a defensive reputation while dominating Serie A.
The Bianconeri didn’t play convincing football in the group stages, losing to both United and Young Boys, but no one can deny the talent in Massimiliano Allegri’s ranks. Cristiano Ronaldo has played so well off of Mario Mandzukic, and Miralem Pjanic has maintained Juve’s tempo with exceptional ease. The return of Giorgio Chiellini will only make Atletico’s task harder.
Prediction: Juventus (2-1 on aggregate)
Schalke vs. Manchester City
This is arguably the most straightforward of the fixtures. City can – and will – run rampant against virtually any opponent, and considering how poor Schalke have been this season, there’s no reason to believe they’ll resist the coming storm. City have already scored 42 goals in all competitions since the start of 2019 – an incredible but entirely realistic number for a team that creates as many chances as Pep Guardiola’s side. Schalke, meanwhile, are floundering in 13th place in the Bundesliga and incapable of producing more than one decent result in succession. This one could get ugly.
Prediction: Manchester City (7-1 on aggregate)