Champions League Round of 16 Previews

The Champions League returns this week with four Round of 16 second-leg ties still to play.

This Friday (7 August), Lyon take a 1-0 lead to Turin to face Juventus while Man City welcome Real Madrid to the Etihad after their 2-1 triumph at the Bernabeu.

The following night, Bayern take a 3-0 lead into their home fixture against Chelsea and Barcelona host Napoli with the tie level at 1-1.

UEFA Champions League trophy. Image courtesy of sportscafe.in.

Bayern (3) vs Chelsea (0)

After an emphatic 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge in February, Bayern will be confident of qualifying for the quarter-finals.

Please accept YouTube cookies to play this video. By accepting you will be accessing content from YouTube, a service provided by an external third party.

YouTube privacy policy

If you accept this notice, your choice will be saved and the page will refresh.

Chelsea 0-3 Bayern. Video courtesy of FC Bayern Munich.

Chelsea will be without new men Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner as per UEFA rules regarding the return. They will also be without the injured Christian Pulisic who has been ruled out for up to five weeks.

Bayern, on the other hand, are dealing with a few potential departures. Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has confirmed midfield maestro Thiago Alcantara wants to leave the club while rumours continue to swirl around the future of David Alaba.

It’s hard to see anything other than Bayern progressing to the next round. They ran riot in London earlier in the year. Alphonso Davies truly announced himself on the European stage with a sensational performance from left-back.

Alphonso Davies vs Chelsea. Image courtesy of bundesliga.com

Serge Gnabry continued his red-hot form in London. He added to his four goals at Spurs in the group stage with a brace at the Bridge.

In terms of match fitness and sharpness, Chelsea might have the edge on their opponents. The Premier League season came to an end last Sunday, and Chelsea’s domestic season ended with an FA Cup Final defeat to Arsenal on Saturday.

As for Bayern, their domestic season came to an end a month ago when they beat Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 in the DFB Pokal final. Hans-Dieter Flick’s men played Marseille in a friendly on Friday in an effort to get back into the swing of things before their return to competitive action, with Gnabry scoring the only goal in the game.

Please accept YouTube cookies to play this video. By accepting you will be accessing content from YouTube, a service provided by an external third party.

YouTube privacy policy

If you accept this notice, your choice will be saved and the page will refresh.

Bayern 1-0 Marseille. Video courtesy of FC Bayern Munich.

A Chelsea win on the night wouldn’t be a huge surprise. They ended their league season impressively, guaranteeing Champions League football again next season. They have recorded victories over Wolves, Man United, Leicester and Man City since the Premier League returned in June.

Bayern have the comfort of being able to play without pressure and with an added freedom. Robert Lewandowski will be targeting Radamel Falcao’s record of 17 goals in a Champions League campaign. The Polish striker has already netted 11 in the competition, with potentially six games left to play.

Robert Lewandowski. Image courtesy of 90min.com.

PREDICTION:

Chelsea have no choice but to come out and play on the night. The injury suffered by Christian Pulisic in the weekend’s FA Cup Final is the last thing they needed. I think Bayern will have too much threat on the counter-attack, with the pace of Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman complimented by Lewandowski’s poaching and finishing ability. Bayern will edge this one by a goal or two.

Man City (2) vs Real Madrid (1)

Gabriel Jesus and Kevin de Bruyne were on the scoresheet at the Bernabeu in February as Pep Guardiola’s side recorded an unexpected victory. Isco had given Real Madrid the lead but the game fell apart in the final 15 minutes as City scored twice before Sergio Ramos was sent off.

Please accept YouTube cookies to play this video. By accepting you will be accessing content from YouTube, a service provided by an external third party.

YouTube privacy policy

If you accept this notice, your choice will be saved and the page will refresh.

Real Madrid 1-2 Man City. Video courtesy of Man City.

These sides have had very different fortunes in the competition in recent years. Man City have suffered disappointment at the hands of Spurs, Liverpool and Barcelona in the last three seasons. Madrid, in stark contrast, have lifted the trophy four times in the last six years.

Guardiola admitted in July that he doesn’t expect Sergio Aguero to be fit for this tie. City will depend on the goal threat of Raheem Sterling and co to see this tie through.

Real Madrid will be out to prove a point. They bowed out of the competition at this round last season following a 4-1 home defeat (5-3 on aggregate) to Ajax.

Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax. Image courtesy of skysports.com.

Madrid’s preparations were thrown into disarray last week when Mariano Diaz tested positive for Covid-19. However, the club will be allowed to take part in the fixture while Mariano self-isolates.

This is definitely a difficult game to predict. Man City have been inconsistent in recent weeks. They have put five past Norwich, Brighton and Newcastle since early July, but they also suffered defeats to Southampton and Arsenal during the month. They will be more determined than ever to make a run at the UCL trophy this season, especially given their two-year European ban was overturned last month.

Real Madrid wrapped up the league title with narrow victories over their La Liga rivals. They finished the season five points clear of Barcelona but they will be keen to add another European trophy to their rapidly growing collection.

Real Madrid lift La Liga trophy 2020. Image courtesy of en.as.com.

PREDICTION:

I think the Spanish giants’ experience at this level will prevail in this tie. Guardiola has always struggled in this competition whereas it’s seemed, at times, a formality for Zinedine Zidane over the seasons. Karim Benzema has been on incredible form this season and could cause lots of trouble for City’s backline. I think Real Madrid will overturn the deficit with a 3-1 victory on the night.

Barcelona (1) vs Napoli (1)

Dries Mertens and Antoine Griezmann scored either side of half-time in the first leg back in February. This tie is well and truly on a knife edge going into this game at the Camp Nou.

Please accept YouTube cookies to play this video. By accepting you will be accessing content from YouTube, a service provided by an external third party.

YouTube privacy policy

If you accept this notice, your choice will be saved and the page will refresh.

Napoli 1-1 Barcelona. Video courtesy of FC Barcelona.

Barcelona missed out on the league title for the second time in four years. Napoli’s poor season saw them finish seventh and qualify for next season’s Europa League courtesy of their Coppa Italia triumph.

While there is some concern over whether this game can be held safely in Barcelona, it is going ahead as things stand.

Despite an iffy end to the season, and damning words from Lionel Messi about his team, Barcelona will be the favourites to progress to the quarter-finals.

Lionel Messi. Image courtesy of fcbarcelona.com.

Napoli’s defensive stalwart Kalidou Koulibaly seems set to leave the club imminently – they will miss him against Quique Setien’s attacking trio of Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Ansu Fati if he leaves before the game.

In this clash of two teams that favour a 4-3-3 system, the game could be won and lost in midfield. Barcelona have the luxury of controlling most games in the middle of the park with Sergio Busquets pulling the strings. I can’t see this game being any different.

Sergio Busquets. Image courtesy of givemesport.com.

PREDICTION:

I think it will be Barcelona heading through to face either Chelsea or Bayern on 14 August. I can’t see them breezing through this game – Napoli will definitely put up a fight. But ultimately, Barcelona are among the best in the world and they live for nights like these. They will edge it by a goal.

Juventus (0) vs Lyon (1)

Lucas Tousart’s goal just after the half-hour mark was enough for Lyon to take the lead into this second leg. Lyon were seventh when the Ligue 1 was called off while Juventus have won their ninth consecutive Serie A title.

Please accept YouTube cookies to play this video. By accepting you will be accessing content from YouTube, a service provided by an external third party.

YouTube privacy policy

If you accept this notice, your choice will be saved and the page will refresh.

Lyon 1-0 Juventus. Video courtesy of Olympique Lyonnais.

Juventus have at their disposal the competitions all-time greatest goalscorer – Cristiano Ronaldo with 128 goals. You can analyse games like this as much as you want but if Ronaldo is on form, Juventus will win. He has struggled to hit the ground running in this season’s tournament with just two goals in seven games.

Lyon, whose league season ended in March, lost the Coupe de la Ligue final to PSG on Friday.

Lyon 1-0 Juventus. Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au.

Juventus suffered a surprise exit from this competition last season when Ajax defeated them in the quarter-finals. They will be keen to make things right this season, starting with this clash.

PREDICTION:

I think this will be a straightforward win for Juve. Sarri rested Ronaldo and Dybala for the final game of the Serie A season and they will be rearing to go on the night. Lyon did well to keep PSG at bay in the cup final but I expect the Italian giants to have too much for them.

Social Sharing

Posted in

Limerick District League Premier Division Preview

There is a reduced schedule in the Limerick District League Premier Division this weekend with just three fixtures ...
Read More

FAI Junior Cup Champions Fairview add Quirke

Newly crowned FAI Junior Cup champions Fairview Rangers have signed winger Russell Quirke from St. Michaels for the ...
Read More

WATCH: Purcell Praises Players following FAI Success

Fairview Rangers manager Jason Purcell is a name synonymous with the FAI Junior Cup. He has won it ...
Read More

WATCH: Slattery Relieved Following FAI Success

Fairview Rangers have won the FAI Junior Cup for a record ninth time following a 1-0 victory over ...
Read More

Fairview Rangers Claim Ninth FAI Junior Cup Title

Fairview Rangers have become the first club to win the FAI Junior Cup 9 times following a 1-0 ...
Read More

Will the ten year wait be over for Fairview?

On what is a massive occasion for both Fairview Rangers and Usher Celtic on Saturday afternoon in the ...
Read More

Tuohy Cup Draw Announced

The draw for the first round of the Touhy Cup was made on Thursday night with four games ...
Read More

Pike Sign Conor Layng

Pike Rovers have completed the signing of former Galway United striker Conor Layng on Thursday evening. The striker ...
Read More