Home Sport Champions league Last 16 – A Preview

Champions league Last 16 – A Preview

Writing his first piece for Exeposé, Will Fowler previews each of the eight Champions League last 16 ties

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FC Basel Vs Manchester City: 1st leg = Feb 13th, 2nd leg = Mar 7th

Swiss champions Basel face Premier League leaders Manchester City for a place in the quarter-final stages of this year’s Champions League.  Never reaching this stage before, Basel enter unchartered territory going into this tie against an in-form Manchester city side who sit 16 points clear at the summit of the premier league.  Having won 1-0 against City’s rivals Manchester United in the group stages, Raphaël Wicky’s side are not a team to underestimate despite their 500/1 odds to lift the trophy.

Juventus Vs Tottenham Hotspur: 1st leg = Feb 13th, 2nd leg = Mar 7th

Can Harry Kane add to his 6 goals from the group stage?

‘The Old Lady’ are one of two Italian clubs left in the competition and a looking to make a third final in four years after being denied by both Real Madrid and Barcelona.  Their opponents, Tottenham Hostpur, defeated Real in the group stages, accumulating the most points of any team in the group stages.  With Harry Kane leading the line, this game isn’t going to be short of chances. The only thing in his way is the resilient Juve defence, figure-headed by Azzurri goalkeeper Gigi Buffon. With a retirement decision in the balance, can the golden goalie lift the Champions league trophy at the fourth time of asking?

FC Porto Vs Liverpool: 1st leg = Feb 14th, 2nd leg = Mar 6th

The 2004 Champions League winners meet the 2005 winners in a tie that sees one of the five English sides to have progressed from the group stage.  Liverpool came out victorious in emphatic style after that dramatic comeback in Istanbul against AC Milan twelve years ago. Porto on the other hand, who were champions under Jose Mourinho, will have a tough job to keep out Liverpool’s troublesome trio in attack. The group G runners-up will be looking to re-create the jubilation of Gelsenkirchen in 2004, but will have to keep Firmino, Mane and Salah at bay to progress to the quarter-finals.

Real Madrid vs Paris St. Germain: 1st leg = Feb 14th, 2nd leg = Mar 6th

“This tie couldn’t have come at a better time for the Champions League all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, scoring seven in his last four games”

Two of Europe’s heavyweights go head to head at the Santiago Bernabeu in what promises to be a riveting encounter.  Playing six times before, both teams winning two apiece, there’s a place in the Quarter-Finals awaiting the victor of their 7th meeting.  This tie couldn’t have come at a better time for the Champions League all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, scoring seven in his last four games.  After a 5-match ban at the beginning of the season, it’s fair to say he hasn’t reached the steady heights he sets himself, but this may be the tie that turns his season around on route to a potential 13th title for the Galacticos.

Bayern Munich Vs Besiktas: 1st leg = Feb 20th, 2nd leg = Feb 14th

Since the return of manager Jupp Heynckes, there has been a rejuvenation in Bayern’s season both domestically and in Europe. Losing 3-0 to PSG before Heynckes’ appointment, tables were soon turned winning the reverse fixture 3-1 at the Allianz Arena. Besiktas’ bullish style of play saw them become the first Turkish side to win a Champions League group, winning group G with 14 points. Bayern will be looking to kill off this tie before a hostile return leg in the Turkish capital, Istanbul. It’ll be a physical battle between these two teams, however Bayern might just have the edge in terms of technical ability to overcome their opposition.

Chelsea Vs Barcelona: 1st leg = Feb 20th, 2nd leg = Mar 14th

Can Lionel Messi finally score against Chelsea?

With Antonio Conte’s managerial future uncertain with the Premier League champions, Chelsea go into this game with the confidence that Barcelona’s talisman Lionel Messi has failed to score against them in eight matches. The Blues have had the better of the two sides in Europe, winning four of the 12 previous matches, over Barca’s three wins. The most recent contest between these teams saw a dramatic Fernando Torres winner at the Nou Camp. Chelsea won the competition last time they beat the Catalan giants; can history repeat itself?

Sevilla Vs Manchester United: 1st leg = Feb 21st, 2nd leg = Mar 13th

Rather than the Champion’s League, it’s the success of these two teams’ Europa league history that will be talked about prior to this fixture. Between them they’ve won the last four finals, Sevilla with three consecutive titles and Manchester United winning last year’s final against Ajax. The introduction of Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez may well be the missing piece of the jigsaw to fire United towards their first quarter-final in three seasons. It won’t be easy though, with French striker Wissam Ben Yedder averaging a goal every 81 minutes; Mourinho’s men are going to have to be disciplined defensively so they aren’t punished by the tournament’s joint second top scorer.

Shakhtar Donetsk Vs Roma: 1st leg = Feb 21st, 2nd leg = Mar 13th

It’s the Ukrainian side that have bragging rights over Roma in the Champions League. In 2011, in the most recent meeting between the two sides at this stage, Shakhtar won convincingly over the two-legs with an aggregate score of 6-2.  Roma striker Edin Dzeko’s proposed return to England fell through during the transfer window, so he’ll be looking to get back into the swing of things with the Serie A team he called “home” after joining them in 2015.  It’ll be a feisty duel, with Shakhtar the slight favourites, but it’s still a tough one to call.

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