Part 1 gave you the preview of the first four Champions League matchups. This is the second part of the Champions League first knockout round preview, with my opinion on who’s going to progress to the next stage.
Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas
– In a group with Porto, Leipzig and Monaco, Besiktas came out on top. It wasn’t a testing group, but going undefeated in any Champions League group is worthy of admiration. It is the first time the Turkish reigning champions have qualified for the knockout stage of the competition. Playing a pedigree team such as Bayern Munich will not help calm their nerves when they step on the field on Wednesday. The Germans have resurrected under the guidance of the last manager who brought them Champions League glory – 72-year-old Jupp Heynckes. After finishing 2nd behind Paris Saint-Germain in Group B, the Germans must have been delighted to avoid the likes of Barcelona, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham. Besiktas does have a great squad, but Bayern’s is better. With the Bundesliga pretty much wrapped up, The Bavarians can turn their focus on this competition. With a manager and players who have lifted the trophy together before, Bayern will not only win this matchup, but could also go a long way after that.
Chelsea vs. Barcelona
– Conte faces the team who defeated his Juve in the 2015 CL final. Revenge is definitely on the cards, regardless of Chelsea’s recent form. These two have some controversial history, as Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo handed Barcelona a trip to the final (assisted by Iniesta’s last-gasp goal) with his mistakes in the 2009 semi-final. I doubt any Chelsea fan has forgotten that match. Barcelona’s main advantage, other than Messi of course, is the array of weapons at its disposal. Unlike Chelsea, who often has problems scoring, the addition of Coutinho and a healthy Dembele just adds to Barca’s already rich arsenal. With the rematch at Camp Nou, Chelsea’s chances are slim at best. It won’t be as simple as many predict it will be, but the Catalans will progress.
Sevilla vs. Manchester United
– Sevilla had the least amount of points (9) from all the teams that qualified for this round. Being in a group with Maribor and Spartak Moscow diminishes that accomplishment even further. Sitting 6th in Spain, they are far from a team that should challenge Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba. However, Sevilla has reached the Spanish Cup final, and has a recent history of doing extremely well in knockout competitions (three straight Europa League titles). Luckily for Manchester, it has Mourinho on the coach’s bench, and if there’s any coach who has been as successful as Sevilla, it’s him. The first leg should be fun, and The Andalusians might even get a good result. The second leg is where we’ll see Mourinho’s prudence at its finest. United is off to the quarter-finals.
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Roma
– The clashes between the titans (Tottenham – Juve, Real Madrid – PSG, Chelsea – Barcelona) have resulted in a clash of the underdogs. Roma’s matches against Chelsea in the group stage were amazing, and earned the Italians a 1st place finish. As a reward, they received Shakhtar Donetsk. On paper it looks like a good matchup for the Giallorossi. However, the Ukrainians are a team that never gives up, and will see the encounter versus Roma as a tremendous opportunity to repeat what happened in 2011, when they eliminated Roma at this same stage and reached the quarter-finals for the first time in their history. Roma’s poor form lately will give them a reason to hope, whereas Shakhtar’s lack of competitive fixtures (last league game back in December) will be seen as an advantage for La Lupa. This is not the same Roma team that beat Chelsea. Shakhtar is fresh and ready to go. There will be some rust, but Brazilians are always ready to play football, and they make up a third of Donetsk’s starting eleven. Therefore, I say Fred, Marlos and co. push Shakhtar through.
As for who’s going to win it all, check out this article.