The Champions League is back and the second leg of the round of 16 kicks off today. There is plenty of action to cover so let’s start by going over one of the most exciting clubs.
Manchester City vs. FC Basel
Manchester City was on cruise control after thrashing 4 away goals vs. FC Basel in a game that also saw the return of Leroy Sané. City restated that they are more than capable of playing at the same level both domestically and internationally. Their attack completely annihilated Basel’s defense and gained significant confidence going forward to the quarterfinals.
Liverpool vs. FC Porto
Another Premier League team that dominated the headlines was Liverpool. They faced off against FC Porto in the Estádio do Dragao in a match that seemed to be a matched contest but proved otherwise. Liverpool fired 5 away goals past the Primeira Liga leaders with Salah and Firmino each netting one goal and Sané bringing home the hat trick ball after scoring 3 goals. Liverpool played an amazing game but despite their shining attacking trio, their defensive troubles may well get them into trouble in the quarterfinals.
Manchester United vs. Sevilla
Other Premier League teams battling in the Champions League were Manchester United and Chelsea. The red devils faced off against Sevilla and played out to a scoreless draw at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. United played a miserable game that could have ended in horror if it were not for David De Gea’s colossal performance against a Sevilla team that fired 25 shots past a defective Manchester defense. The next leg is set to be played at Old Trafford and the Red Devils must improve their defending if they want to secure a spot in the quarterfinals.
Chelsea vs FC Barcelona
Chelsea, on the other hand, played an exhilarating match against FC Barcelona. The game ended 1-1 with Messi stealing the headlines after finally ending his 8 match goal-less streak against Chelsea. Barcelona played a relatively decent match but they had luck on their side after Willian blasted the ball off the post on 2 separate occasions that could have changed the game to a completely different story. The 2nd leg is set to be played at the Camp Nou and while Barcelona is the clear favorites we cannot count Chelsea out just yet. With Chelsea sitting at 5th place and 25 points off the top of the table in the Premier League they can now totally shift their focus towards the Champions League and possibly provide the biggest upset of this season by defeating the almighty Barcelona who is still unbeaten in La Liga.
Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas
Now we will shift our focus over to the only German team left in the competition. Bayern Munich played at home against Turkish side Besiktas. There was never a doubt that Bayern would lose the game but Besiktas shot themselves in the foot early when their center back, Vida, received a red card after a foul on Robert Lewandowski. The Bavarians then went into avalanche mode and smashed 5 goals against the Turkish side with Müller and Lewandowski each bringing home a brace and Coman scoring the remaining goal. Bayern looks well on their way to securing their spot in the quarterfinals when their second leg is played at the Vodafone Arena in Turkey.
Shakhtar vs. Roma
The next match to cover is Shakhtar vs. Roma. The Ukrainian side defeated Roma 2-1 at home after a very contested match between the two sides. Shakhtar dominated most of the game and could have put the fixture to rest but Roma displayed some flashes of brilliance in defense that with their precious away goal have them still in contention to qualify for the quarterfinals. The two teams face off in Rome for the second leg and Roma will look for that valuable equalizing goal that will send them through on away goals to the next round.
Juventus vs. Tottenham
Juventus was another Italian team that struggled in the first leg. They faced Tottenham at home and the game ended 2-2 with Gonzalo Higuaín netting a brace but also missing a penalty that he may regret not scoring later on. Spurs look well to finish them off on the 2nd leg with Harry Kane in the form of his life hoping to add more goals to his personal tally on Wednesday when the two sides face each other at Wembley Stadium.
Real Madrid vs. PSG
Finally, we can take a look at Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint Germain. Their encounter proved to be thrilling with the first leg ending 3-1 to Madrid’s favor. The Spanish side played some of their best performances of the season considering how miserable they have been at a domestic level. Cristiano Ronaldo scored 2 goals and since then has been showing some flashes of his old self which Real Madrid clearly have been missing. I thought that the Parisians had a chance to turn the score around because they would be playing the second leg at home with an away goal that would take the weight off their shoulder heading towards that valuable second leg. However, that has changed since PSG will have to play without their record signing Brazilian superstar, Neymar. The Brazilian superstar provided the assist for their only goal against Madrid in the first leg. Neymar’s absence may prove to be costly for the Parisians in their quest of finally bringing home European silverware after years of domestic success and poor results on the international level.
Predictions for the 2nd leg:
- City vs. FC Basel: 4-0
- Liverpool vs. FC Porto: 3-1
- Utd vs. Sevilla: 2-1
- Roma vShakhtartar Donetsk: 2-0
- FC Barcelona vs. Chelsea: 3-1
- Besiktas vs. Bayern: 0-3
- Tottenham vs. Juventus: 2-1
- PSG vs. Real Madrid: 1-1
Will there be an upset? Who will be securing their spot on the quarter finals? Let us know over @TheUtilityman17 and in the comments below!