UEFA Champions league round of 16 preview

After 6 long months the most prestigious European club competition is back. The UEFA Champions League is one which every footballer dreams to win and 8 teams go head to head on 7/8 August to take their places in the Quarter Finals with the already qualified  Atalanta BC, Atletico Madrid, PSG and RB Leipzig.

Manchester City V/S Real Madrid (1st Leg: 2-1)

After a tight clash at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in the Spanish Capital, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will come into the game with a crucial 1 goal lead against Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid side. With the clash taking place at their home ground and 2 vital away goals the Manchester Blues are favourites coming into the game. However, only a fool would count the Galacticos out of the competition yet. Winning the competition thrice consecutively from 2016-2018, Los Blancos know very well how to defy the odds and shock the world. On the other side, Manchester City are desperate to win the coveted trophy for they have never won it in their entire history.

Form favors Real Madrid who have won all 11 matches they played since the return of football in June but the Cityzens hail the best home record in the top 4 European leagues since the return winning all 6 matches scoring 24 times and conceding only once. Another silver lining for City would be the absence of the Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos due to suspension. Although the result is undecided, the one thing that is for certain, is that this tie will be the one to watch out for.

Juventus FC V/S Olympique Lyonnais (1st Leg: 1-0)

About 6 months ago Olmypique Lyon surprised everyone by beating the Italian Champions: Juventus FC at home by 1-0. Coming into the game the French club will be feeling fairly optimistic of pulling off a major upset. The coronavirus break allowed their star striker Memphis Depay to return after injury but it also meant that this will be Lyon’s second official game in 5 months since the French League chose to not complete the season and rather ended the league back in March. In contrast to this, the Italian league was the last to finish in Europe only 4 days before the Champions League returned.

Since the return, the Bianconeri have been very inconsistent losing 6 games, drawing 3 games and winning 6. Given they lost their last 2 games, the momentum is against them but with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line the momentum and the form might not matter. Lyon has played 4 friendly games and won 3 of them losing 1 against Rangers. Their only official game was against PSG in the Coupe de la Ligue final which ended with PSG winning the game on penalties (6-5) after a 0-0 draw.

FC Barcelona V/S SSC Napoli (1st Leg: 1-1)

For the first time in 12 years FC Barcelona will be going trophyless in a season if they fail to win the Champions League. Given the inconsistent nature of the team in the past few years the odds are stacked against them but with the best player on the planet leading their ranks FC Barcelona are expected to give a fight for the title. This fight resumes on 8th August Napoli in the second leg of the Round of 16 at the Nou Camp, who have been fairly inconsistent themselves finishing 7th in the Italian League. The Catalan Giants are the favourites to win the tie coming into the game with a vital away goal.

Since the restart, Napoli have drawn 3, won 8 and lost 3 while their opponents coming into the game have won 7, drew 3 and lost only once. The matchup to watch in the tie would surely between the Argentinian maestro Lionel Messi and the Senegalese skipper Kalidou Koulibaly. The little magician in a recent interview demanded  more from his players and would be looking to lead the line in this change he demanded. With the loss of Lorenzo Insigne to injury to a Napoli side which was already lacking goals will be a really big concern for them.

FC Bayern Munich V/S Chelsea FC (1st Leg: 3-0)

Among all the remaining Round of 16 ties, this is perhaps the only that seems done and dusted. Hansi Flick’s army of red would be coming into the game with a comfortable 3 goal cushion. After winning the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal, the Bavarians would be looking to make history by winning a second treble, matching FC Barcelona’s record. Frank Lampard has a monumental task ahead of him to overturn a 3 goal deficit against a Bayern team who are perhaps the favourites to take the trophy home.

Although the odds are stacked against the Blues, the one thing they have against the German Champions is that Bayern played their last official game over a month ago. However, with a big lead like this Bayern can afford to start the game slow and get their groove back. All said and done, the London club will have to pull something truly special out of their hat if they want to pull off perhaps the greatest comeback of the competition’s history.

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