With the draw revealed for the next round of the UEFA Champions League, Alex Bonner casts his eye across the eight round of 16 matches and offers his thoughts as to who will progress to the quarter-finals.
Manchester City v Barcelona
A mouth-watering tie with both teams’s tipped as potential Champions League winners. Manchester City will look to utilise their power and height to unsettle the Barcelona defence, a tactic that has worked against Barcelona in previous Champions league matches. The Spanish side have continued to use their “tika–taka” style of play, so expect City to rely on the counter attack. If Pellegrini’s men can utilise their advantages well, they can be expected to progress.
Prediction – Manchester City to progress
Key Players – Agüero, Silva, Touré (Manchester City); Messi, Xavi, Iniesta (Barcelona)
Arsenal v Bayern Munich
A tie between the current Premier league leaders and the reigning Bundesliga and Champions League champions was always likely to gain an unprecedented amount of attention and hype. Expect an open match, with both teams likely to rely on their passing play to open up their opponent. Bayern Munich may just have too much firepower for Arsenal to deal with, and as such can be expected to go through and subsequently challenge in the tournament’s latter stages.
Prediction – Bayern Munich to progress
Key Players – Özil, Ramsey, Giroud (Arsenal); Martinez, Robben, Ribéry (Bayern Munich)
Galatasaray v Chelsea
Drogba’s return to Stamford Bidge is only one factor to look forward to with this tie, with the rivalry between Mourinho and Mancini likely to re-ignite following this match–up. Whilst there will be a spirited and well-organised Galatasaray side causing their opponents a degree of trouble, Chelsea, with the current array of talent on display in the likes of Hazard and Oscar, should be too much for the Turkish side’s defence.
Prediction – Chelsea to progress
Key Players – Hazard, Lampard, Torres (Chelsea); Drogba, Sneijder, Yilmaz (Galatasaray)
Olympiakos v Manchester United
United fans couldn’t have hoped for a better tie, with Olympiakos, despite boasting some dangerous players, likely to only provide a limited test for this current United team. With the likes of Rooney and Van Persie, assuming the Dutchman is fit, United boast a very strong forward line up, which should prove too much for this current Olympiakos defence. It’s this considerable attacking talent that will see the Red Devils progress.
Prediction – Manchester United to progress
Key Players – Rooney, Van Persie, Carrick (Manchester United); Papadopoulos, Domínguez, Maniatis (Olympiakos)
AC Milan v Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid, currently holding second spot in La Liga, will be supremely confident heading into this round of 16 match. AC Milan have lost some considerable talent in recent years, such as Thiago Silva and Ibrahimović, and have only scraped through this year’s group stage. Expect Atletico to dominate possession, their current crop of talent putting them in real contention in this tournament after disposing of Milan.
Prediction – Atletico Madrid to progress
Key Players –Mendes, Villa, Costa (Atletico Madrid); Balotelli, Robinho, El Shaarawy (AC Milan)
Bayer Leverkusen v Paris Saint-Germain
Bayer Leverkusen, currently placed in second in the Bundesliga, have had something of a resurgence in recent years under Sami Hyypiä, and will provide a stern test for Ligue 1 leaders Paris St. Germain. That said, the French side, who made it to the quarter-finals in last year’s tournament and will be eyeing a better result this time round, boast arguably one of the best strike forces around, in the form of Ibrahimović and Cavani, and thus should progress through this particular encounter.
Prediction – Paris Saint-Germain to progress
Key Players – Ibrahimović, Cavani, Silva (Paris Saint-Germain) Bender, Rolfes, Kießling (Bayer Leverkusen)
Schalke 04 v Real Madrid
Real Madrid, boasting arguably the most impressive squad in world football, should be expected to come through this tie in relative ease. Los Blancos, with both Bale and Ronaldo forming a devastating strike partnership, should have too much for this current crop of Schalke players. Expect the German side to play using their usual free flowing brand of football, which will likely be countered, and subsequently exploited, by Madrid’s wide players.
Prediction – Real Madrid to progress
Key Players – Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema (Real Madrid); Huntelaar, Boateng, Draxler (Schalke 04)
Zenit St Petersburg v Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund, as last year’s finalists, found themselves placed in a very difficult group in this season’s tournament, and therefore did well to subsequently progress. Despite losing Götze to Munich in the summer, Dortmund still boast an incredibly talented squad, as evidenced through the likes of Lewandowski and Reus, and should therefore be expected to progress further than the last 16. Zenit, despite having performed well in previous Champions league campaigns, are certainly the underdogs in this particular tie.
Prediction – Borussia Dortmund to progress
Key Players –Lewandowski, Reus, Hummels (Borussia Dortmund); Hulk, Danny, Witsel (Zenit St. Petersburg)bookmark me