2020 Champions League Round of 16 Preview

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First Legs

Last season brought us one of the more memorable Champions League knockout phases with every round featuring high drama, nail biting finishes, upsets galore and utter chaos.

It’s a lot to live up to for the 2019/2020 Champions League knockout stages to live up to but the Round of 16 draw has served up some enticing matchups right off the bat.

Manchester City and Liverpool are the two shortest priced teams in our outright Champions League winner market and the latter has a very tough first up assignment with Atletico Madrid.

We have five new teams into the knockout stages with plenty of potential for Cinderella stories similar to what we saw from Ajax last season.

The good news is we’re previewing every Champions League knockout match starting with the first legs here.

Borussia Dortmund Vs PSG

Wednesday 19 February, 7:00am, BVB Stadion Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund 2 – PSG 1

It’s a story as old as time… or at least recent memory as PSG cruises through its domestic campaigns while setting their sights on the ultimate prize… the UEFA Champions League.

Since their run of French dominance started in the 2012-2013 season, they have never failed to make it to the knockout stages of the Champions League, but that is where their troubles have begun.

Four straight quarter final exits preceded the current run of three straight Round of 16 defeats, with Manchester United the latest club to end their hopes of continental glory.

This Dortmund side will pose a unique challenge for PSG with plenty of young, up and coming talent ready to take on some of football’s biggest names.

Of course it’s not like Dortmund is entirely short of name players themselves with the likes of Marco Reus ready to return the club to the Champions League Final for the first time since 2013.

They will also be boosted by the addition of 19 year old striking sensation Erling Braut Haaland who scored a measly eight goals in the group stage for Red Bull Salzburg before his January transfer.

With Dortmund starting off their campaign at home, I like them to scrap their way into a narrow lead to take back to Paris and put all the pressure on their big budget opponents.

Back Dortmund to Win @ $2.90

Atletico Madrid Vs Liverpool

Wednesday 19 February, 7:00am, Estadio Metropolitano

Atletico Madrid 1 – Liverpool 0

Nobody in England has been able to stop Liverpool this season, but you have to like Atletico’s chances to spring an upset in this tie.

Diego Simeone’s side remains one for football’s purists with defence their primary focus as they look to frustrate opponents and for all intents and purposes batter them into the submission.

Jurgen Klopp will know his side has to win this game on Atletico’s terms and this first leg is all about survival, it won’t be the worst thing in the world if they have to take a 1-0 deficit back to Anfield next month.

It’s not the most aggressive bet but when you consider the Atletico form line, there’s not a whole lot of goals in any of these matches.

Back Under 2.5 Goals @ $1.67

Atalanta Vs Valencia

Thursday 20 February, 7:00am, Stadio San Siro

Atalanta 4 – Valencia 1

If you are looking for a side that will be looking to replicate Ajax’s run last season, these are two of the top contenders in the Champions League knockout stage.

Valencia is back in the Champions League knockout stages for the first time since 2013 where they were eliminated in the Round of 16 by PSG.

Atalanta on the other hand is the little battler (at least in this tournament) playing their Champions League fixtures in the San Siro because their stadium is being renovated to meet minimum UEFA standards and in this competition for the first time in their history.

In terms of progression, I do like Valencia outright but on this night, I just can’t bring myself to split the two teams.

Back the Draw @ $3.60

Tottenham Vs RB Leipzig

Thursday 20 February, 7:00am, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Tottenham 0 – RB Leipzig 1

It’s fair to say that last year’s Champions League run doesn’t mean a whole lot for Tottenham this time around considering how much things have changed at the club.

All things considered though, they would be pretty happy to have drawn Leipzig in this round considering some of the other opponents they could have received after finishing second in Group B.

Even with Harry Kane injured and some largely uneven form, Spurs still appear to have the overall quality to see off their German opponents at home here.

It won’t come easy though and they will need to find a way to score two if not three goals which could lead to a very entertaining second leg… at least we hope so anyway.

SGM: Tottenham to Win and Both Teams to Score @ $3.80

Napoli Vs Barcelona

Wednesday 26 February, 7:00am, Stadio San Paolo

The last time Barcelona didn’t get out of the Round of 16 was in the 2006-2007 edition of the Champions League and despite a “depleted” (& we use that term loosely) strike force.

While Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele are both unavailable for this fixture, the Catalan giants still have the likes of World Cup Winner Antoine Griezmann, breakthrough youngster Ansu Fati and six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi on hand so it’s not as if they have been left short of top quality options up front.

That being said Napoli will go into this game knowing they have to get something from this leg to have any hope going to the Nou Camp in a few weeks and they have the players to trouble Barcelona.

A brief glance at their attacking talent shows they have plenty of goalscoring options with the likes of Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente both proven at the top level.

Even with Barcelona having a rough season (by their standards) I think they should take a slender lead back home and be able to grind out the tie, they just have better difference makers and at over even money, the price is over where it should be.

Back Barcelona to Win @ $2.15

Chelsea Vs Bayern Munich

Wednesday 26 February, 7:00am, Stamford Bridge

It will take a Chelsea performance for the ages if they are going to be able to get anything out of this fixture, Bayern is every chance of killing off the tie with a big win in London.

The last time these sides met in the Champions League was that memorable 2012 final where Chelsea won on penalties and the last time they met over two legs was in April 2005 when the Blues won 6-5 on aggregate.

I just can’t see Chelsea having the attacking nous to get by what should be a very strong Bayern backline which should give them plenty of chances to get after a Chelsea defence that has struggled to keep clean sheets conceding 36 goals in just 26 Premier League matches (at the time of writing).

Not to mention Bayern went through the Group Stage scoring a ridiculous 24 goals in their six matches including seven away to Spurs and another six against Red Star Belgrade.

When they are on they are hard to stop and with a domestic title race still to worry about at home, the more they can kill off the tie here the better so don’t be surprised if they go for a big scoreline.

Back Bayern to Win @ $1.80

Real Madrid Vs Manchester City

Thursday 27 February, 7:00am, Estadio Santiago Bernabéu

This is the tie that we have been itching for since the Round of 16 draw was done, and the events of the last fortnight have made it even more appealing.

For Pep Guardiola, this might be his last chance to win the Champions League with City given the questions over his future and the whole two-year European ban thing City have hanging over their head as well.

From a footballing perspective this will be the most appealing tie of the round with two talent laden squads ready to face off.

We know City’s domestic form has been sketchy all season and I’m fully expecting Real Madrid to pounce on them early as they try and take a decent advantage back to the Etihad.

Working in their favour is that both competitive meetings between these sides at the Bernabéu have gone Real Madrid’s way and I’ll take them at a very healthy price to win outright.

Back Real Madrid to Win @ $2.60

Lyon Vs Juventus

Thursday 27 February, 7:00am, OL Stadium

Every so often certain teams find the fixture list throwing up a less than ideal run of opponents and this trip to France represents the start of one of those tough weeks for Juventus.

In the space of seven days they have this Champions League fixture, a league match against Inter Milan followed by the second leg of a Coppa Italia match against AC Milan.

Because of that I actually give Lyon a chance to get something from this game, or at least I’ve lowered my expectations of Juventus.

This will be one for the purists as an arm wrestle seems inevitable, much like the Barcelona match though, I’ll back the difference makers on Juventus to get them home in a low scoring contest.

SGM: Juventus to Win & Under 2.5 Goals @ $3.97

Second Legs

Valencia Vs Atalanta

Wednesday 11 March, 7:00am, Camp de Mestalla

Leipzig Vs Tottenham

Wednesday 11 March, 7:00am, RB Arena

Liverpool Vs Atletico Madrid

Thursday 12 March, 7:00am, Anfield

PSG Vs Borussia Dortmund

Thursday 12 March, 7:00am, Parc des Princes

Juventus Vs Lyon

Wednesday 18 March, 7:00am, Juventus Stadium

Manchester City Vs Real Madrid

Wednesday 18 March, 7:00am, City of Manchester Stadium

Bayern Munich Vs Chelsea

Thursday 19 March, 7:00am, Football Arena Munich

Barcelona Vs Napoli

Thursday 19 March, 7:00am, Camp Nou


2019

Here we go!

The big boys of European football get ready for the knockout stages of the world’s biggest club competition as they chase one of the two spots in June’s final at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid.

With the first legs in the books, some sides (Tottenham) find themselves in almost unassailable positions, taking massive leads into the return fixture, while other ties (Liverpool-Bayern) are very much in the balance.

One of the best parts of the second leg from a punting perspective is the “To Qualify” market becomes a potentially excellent value play, especially in the lower scoring matchups.

Head down to the Second Leg section for the rest of our previews and predictions for the rest of the Champions League Round of 16.

FIRST LEGS

Roma Vs Porto

Wednesday 13 February, 7:00am, Stadio Olimpico

Roma 2 – Porto 1

These two sides are not far removed from facing off in a qualifying tie for the Champions League.

Porto defeated Roma 4-1 on aggregate over two legs including a 3-0 win at the Stadio Olimpico in 2016 to seal that victory.

The Portuguese league leaders are bringing some strong form into this match, unbeaten in 90 minutes since October 7.

Roma on the other hand had an uneasy time in the group stage, winning three and losing three and will still have a 7-1 thumping from Fiorentina two weeks ago in the Coppa Italia fresh in their minds.

Even with that uneven form it is still very hard to back against Roma at home.

That squad showed last season they will show up on the biggest stage and should be able to head into the second leg with a lead.

Back Roma to Win @ $2.05

Manchester United Vs PSG

Wednesday 13 February, 7:00am, Old Trafford

Manchester United 0 – PSG 2

The French champions taking on perhaps the form side in England in what would be the pick of the ties most years but is just one of several now.

Under the stewardship of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United have won nine and drawn one, outscoring opponents 25-7 in that time and whatever shackles were holding the side back under Mourinho are well and truly gone.

This will be the biggest test for the Norwegian boss in his time with the club as they take on a star-studded PSG side that, even with Neymar out injured, is still an imposing opponent.

United will have to find a way to contain the likes of Kylian Mbappe and former club record signing Angel Di Maria.

PSG’s defence has kept 11 league clean sheets and two in the cup but has been breached in every Champions League match this season, so perhaps United’s best chance here is to turn this into a shootout and hope to take something back to Paris in three weeks.

Even so, PSG is just offering too much value to back against here and at that price have to be taken.

Back PSG to Win and Both Teams to Score @ 4.33

Tottenham Vs Dortmund

Thursday 14 February, 7:00am, Wembley Stadium

Tottenham 3 – Dortmund 0

If Tottenham want to play Champions Football in their new stadium this season, they will need to get by Dortmund in their Round of 16 clash.

That is no sure thing as two of Spurs’ key players look set to miss at least the first leg of this tie with Harry Kane and Dele Alli rehabbing from injuries.

They did survive a tough group with clashes against Barcelona and Inter Milan to just get to this point and Mauricio Pochettino can set his team up to get a result in big games like this.

A lot will fall on the shoulders of Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-Min to try and snatch a lead to take to Germany but that might just be a step too far.

Paco Alcacer has trailed off since his magnificent start to the season but will still be able to cause some trouble for the Spurs backline so overall this contest has the makings of a draw, which suits the German side very well.

Back the Draw @ $3.40

Ajax Vs Real Madrid

Thursday 14 February, 7:00am, Johan Cruijff Arena

Ajax 1 – Real Madrid 2

The Eredivisie side have been crushing opponents on the home front this season, dropping points in just four of their 20 matches thus far and compiling a ridiculous +54 goal difference.

In Europe they have been just as free scoring, finding the back of the net in every group stage game after going through three qualifying rounds just to get to that point.

Madrid on the other hand are having a rough year… at least by their ridiculously lofty standards, but at least appear to have righted the ship in the new year.

With the talent that Madrid are putting out on the pitch, you have to feel like Ajax might get put to the sword here and a statement win for Real is on the cards.

Back Real Madrid to Win @ $1.91

Lyon Vs Barcelona

Wednesday 20 February, 7:00am, OL Stadium

Lyon 0 – Barcelona 0

Lyon faces Barcelona for the first time since March 2009 when the French side held out for a 1-1 draw at home before the Catalan giants crushed their opponents 5-2 at the Nou Camp.

In short, a repeat of that first leg would be fine for Lyon giving them something to take to Barcelona.

Lyon have won six of their last seven and will want to carry that form over to this one and have form against big sides, beating PSG in Ligue 1 on February 4.

Barcelona travels strongly, winning two and drawing the other group stage game away from home but are carrying some uneven form into this tie with just one win in its last five matches.

That win came on the weekend with a closer than expected 1-0 win over Valladolid however they do have the squad to flick the switch and really turn it on.

Even so, you have to like the value on offer for Lyon to pick up a result at home especially with the form they are in right now.

Back Lyon to Win/Draw Double Chance @ $2.05

Liverpool Vs Bayern Munich

Wednesday 20 February, 7:00am, Anfield

Liverpool 0 – Bayern Munich 0

Since Bayern’s last outing in the Champions League (a 3-3 draw away to Ajax), Bayern has won eight of nine matches, scoring three or more in seven of those games.

That’s a big ask for a Liverpool defence to contain, especially when its leader Virgil Van Dijk will be missing from this game after picking up three yellow cards during the group stage.

The thing is, Liverpool have an attack more than capable of matching any output from Bayern here and this game has the makings of a real shootout.

The Both Teams to Score market has hit in six of Liverpool’s last eight and it would not be a surprise to see this game turn into a race to three goals to take back to Germany.

You would have to think the Reds will feel confident in their ability to keep a clean sheet in the second leg with their best defender here so back a high scoring encounter for this game as the Reds chase a win.

Back Over 3.5 Goals @ $2.45

Atletico Madrid Vs Juventus

Thursday 21 February, 7:00am, Estadio Metropolitano

Atletico Madrid 2 – Bayern Munich 0

One club had to draw the short straw of Atletico Madrid in the Round of 16 and that dubious honour fell to Juventus.

After battling for top spot in Group H, the Italian giants face another tough test travelling to the location of this year’s final for their first match since the 2014-2015 Group Stage.

Those two games were tense, low scoring encounters and it would not be at all surprising to see these legs play out in a similar fashion.

Both sides will bring some indifferent form into this game with some underwhelming performances, but it’s hard to look past Atletico’s unbeaten run at home in the group stage, winning every match by 2 goals.

One goal might be enough to win this tie but you have to like the value on offer for the Spanish side here.

Back Atletico to Win & Under 2.5 Goals @ $4.75

Schalke Vs Manchester City

Thursday 21 February, 7:00am, Arena AufSchalke

Schalke 2 – Manchester City 3

There’s a slight jump in class for Manchester City, playing at League Two side Newport in the weekend in the FA Cup before a Champions League knockout tie away to Schalke.

2019 has by and large been a great year for City so far with a number of massive wins and they would love to take the opportunity to blow this tie out of the water in the opening leg with a big away win.

This is the first time these teams have met since the 2008 Europa League Group Stage when City won 2-0 away to Schalke and a similar result is on the cards here.

Head to head there isn’t a lot of value on Manchester City so it’s worth having a deeper look into the markets to find a good value play.

In the Group Stage, City tallied 16 goals all up and they should be able to score at least 3 here to take a comfortable lead back to Manchester.

Back Manchester City to Score Over 2.5 Goals @ $2.05

SECOND LEGS

Dortmund Vs Tottenham

Wednesday 6 March, 7:00am, BVB Stadion

Dortmund 0 – Tottenham 1

FIRST LEG: Tottenham won 3-0

With no Harry Kane and no Dele Alli, Tottenham flew to a 3-0 lead in the first leg and are in prime position to go through to the Champions League Quarter Finals for the first time since 2010/2011 (and the second time since Arsenal last did it).

It was the final 10 minutes of that first leg that really blew this tie wide open with goals to Jan Vertonghen and Fernando Llorente giving Spurs a massive buffer to take back to Germany.

The thing about Dortmund though, they are leading the Bundesliga for many reasons, one of which is a phenomenal attack that has plenty of scoring potential, so this lead is far from safe.

With just one League loss all season and an average of 2.48 goals per game in the league, scoring three is not out of the question, after all they have done it in their last four home games.

There is every chance Dortmund win this tie and find a way to make Tottenham nervous but a three goal deficit is just too much to pull back here so expect Dortmund to win the 90 minutes and a few goals flying in but Tottenham to advance.

Back Dortmund to Win the Second Leg & Over 2.5 Goals @ $2.70

Real Madrid Vs Ajax

Wednesday 6 March, 7:00am, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu

Real Madrid 1 – Ajax 4

FIRST LEG: Real Madrid won 2-1

On the back of two Classicos in the last seven days, Real Madrid will be very happy to have an aggregate lead and two away goals to defend here.

Especially since their form since the first leg in Amsterdam not being great, while their discipline has been pretty poor as well with a more red cards coming up and with captain Sergio Ramos suspended for this match

All that means is that Ajax are a decent chance of springing an upset here, which would surely rank as one of the most famous wins in recent memory for the Dutch club.

Ajax’s form since then has been superb with three massive wins in the league and a full week to prepare for this game while Madrid faces another draining La Liga match.

Every Round of 16 sees one massive side dropping out and with the value on offer for an Ajax upset, it is worth backing as Real Madrid have not looked anything like themselves lately.

Back Ajax to Qualify @ $6.50

PSG Vs Manchester United

Thursday 7 March, 7:00am, Parc des Princes

PSG 1 – Manchester United 3

FIRST LEG: PSG won 2-0

This tie had so much potential and then PSG went and essentially killed it off with their second goal at Old Trafford.

With the Ligue 1 title just about wrapped up, PSG can turn their attention to the elusive Champions League title knowing full well they have a chance to make a statement here.

United will be missing Paul Pogba after the French midfielders red card in the first leg which will further hamper their hopes of a comeback.

The result markets don’t offer a whole lot of value here, nor do the total markets especially as an early goal could see the sides shut things down with the result beyond a reasonable doubt.

It’s almost worth steering clear of but if you want to have a play in this game (thus giving you a reason to watch), look for Kylian Mbappe to extend his lead at the top of PSG’s goalscorer list.

Back Kylian Mbappe as an Anytime Goalscorer

Porto Vs Roma

Thursday 7 March, 7:00am, Estadio do Dragao

Porto 3 – Roma 1 (Extra Time)

FIRST LEG: Roma won 2-1

The first leg in Rome went about as well as it could have while still ending in defeat for Porto.

A 2-1 margin to overturn back in Portugal is certainly doable with plenty of goals coming at the Estadio do Dragao.

In the Group Stage Porto scored seven goals in its last two home games against Lokomotiv Moscow and Schalke.

Roma’s defence has been more than leaky with just one clean sheet in six Serie A matches so if Porto can find a way to score first then this tie gets very, very interesting.

From a value perspective, taking a side traditionally strong at home with an away goal in the bank and plenty of scoring potential is about as good of a play as you can get.

Back Porto to Qualify @ $2.50

Juventus Vs Atletico Madrid

Wednesday 13 March, 7:00am, Allianz Stadium

Juventus 3 – Atletico Madrid 0

FIRST LEG: Atletico Madrid won 2-0

Not that it really needed another boost but there’s another test coming for Cristiano Ronaldo’s legacy here.

After joining the Italian giants to help them break their European drought they face a tough task to overturn a two goal deficit against Atletico Madrid.

Since losing the Madrid derby to Real, Atletico have now gone five games without conceding a goal, including the first leg of this tie.

If the visitors can get just one goal it makes Juventus’s task nearly impossible as they would then need to score four goals to advance.

There is no doubt there is plenty of attacking talent in the Italian side but four goals against a team that strong at the back is a massive ask.

For a value play, take Juventus to win the second leg and if you have confidence in their ability to keep a clean sheet then look for either the “Win to Nil” or “To Qualify” markets which offer a slightly higher price, but obviously takes on a higher risk.

Back Juventus to Win the Match @ $1.73

Manchester City Vs Schalke

Wednesday 13 March, 7:00am, Etihad Stadium

Manchester City 7 – Schalke 0

FIRST LEG: Manchester City won 3-2

At the moment City aren’t a lot of fun to bet on in the Premier League and in the case of this game against Schalke, there’s not a lot of joy to be found in the markets either.

The English side were given a real scare in the first leg conceding two penalties and seeing Nicolas Otamendi sent off with 20 minutes to go.

As City do though, they scored two late goals to take a lead back to the Etihad and are short priced favourites to win this match and go through to the quarter finals for the second straight season.

Schalke have not had a good run in the last five weeks, they are now winless in their last six games after losing to Werder Bremen on the weekend and have been kept scoreless on three occasions in that run.

That likely won’t happen here and City should win the match and the tie quite comfortable, the question is though, by how much?

To get any sort of value on Manchester City you have to back them at a sizeable handicap and while they could, I can’t bring myself to back them to win by three or more.

NO BETS

Barcelona Vs Lyon

Thursday 14 March, 7:00am, Camp Nou

Barcelona 5 – Lyon 1

FIRST LEG: Drew 0-0

A draining run for the La Liga leaders continues with a massive Champions League clash that, despite the odds, is still very much in the balance.

After the sides played out a fairly cagey draw in Lyon, the Catalan side needs a win here knowing a draw gets them to extra time at best (and only if this leg finishes 0-0).

It is highly unlikely that this game is going to be scoreless here although Lyon might have a tough time breaking down a Barcelona side that has conceded four goals in seven games since February 11.

From a value play perspective, as long as the odds for this stay above even money, it’s worth taking Barcelona to win to nil.

Back Barcelona to Win to Nil @ $2.10

Bayern Munich Vs Liverpool

Thursday 14 March, 7:00am, Allianz Arena

Bayern Munich 1 – Liverpool 3

FIRST LEG: Drew 0-0

Bayern is coming into this game full of confidence, fresh off a 6-0 thrashing of Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga.

Their domestic form has been nothing short of remarkable, winning six league games in a row with 11 goals in that time.

Liverpool’s form has been cause for plenty of concern with dropped points costing them their lead in the Premier League as their free flowing attack has been the definition of boom or bust.

Across all competitions Bayern has given up a grand total of one goal in its last four games so Liverpool will need to be firing in this one to have any chance of progressing.

It’s hard to look past Bayern and the rampant form they are in, although putting up another five or six here might not be realistic, instead just back them to win the game outright and book their spot in the final eight.

Back Bayern Munich to Win the Match @ $2.10