UEFA Champions League Tips, Predictions and Match Previews for the Round of 16

  • Places in the quarter-finals at stake
Lionel Messi of Barcelona

The UEFA Champions League knockout stages continue with four games this week as the last of the quarter-final spots are decided.

We preview all four games and give our best bets and predictions for the Round of 16 second leg matches.

Manchester United v Sevilla

This tie is evenly poised after the first leg ended in a 0-0 draw in Spain. The Red Devils will have been the happier of the two teams at full-time, and since that goalless stalemate they have reeled off three straight wins to maintain their grip on second place in the Premier League. Having come from behind to beat Chelsea and Crystal Palace, United recorded a big derby win over Liverpool at the weekend as they took a two-goal lead in the first half and then held on after the break to claim a 2-1 victory. That has set them up nicely for this return meeting with Sevilla, but can they now reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2014?

With two defeats in their last four games Sevilla go into the match in mixed form, and they also head to Old Trafford boasting a very hit-and-miss record on their travels this season. Vincenzo Montella’s side have won six and lost eight of their 14 away games in the Spanish top flight, and in this competition they have not won on their travels since the qualifying rounds of the competition, sandwiching a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Spartak Moscow with draws against Liverpool and Maribor.

This record does not bode well for a meeting with a Manchester United side that have lost just one competitive fixture at home this season, against runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City, so you have to expect we will see Mourinho’s men come out on top on Tuesday night. The match betting market does offer a decent, but short, price on United getting the job done by winning the second leg in 90 minutes, but I am looking for a bigger return and for that reason I am throwing total goals into my tip for backing the home side. Under 3.5 Total Goals has been a winning bet on 17 of United’s last 21 matches in all competitions, and when it comes to backing Manchester United to win & under 3.5 total goals that has been a successful bet on 19 of their 30 competitive wins this season and on four of their five previous wins in the Champions League.

Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk

If Roma want to be in the quarter-finals of the Champions League they have got some work to do. Shakhtar Donestk have developed quite the reputation for pulling off upsets at their temporary home in Kharkiv, having already beaten Napoli and Manchester City during the group stage, and they added Roma to that list when these two clubs met in the first leg of this last-16 tie a couple of weeks ago.

The Italian giants took a one-goal lead into the break, but Shakhtar turned the tie in their favour after the break to give the Ukrainian champions a 2-1 lead to take to the Italian capital, and now they will look to complete a famous victory by avoiding defeat in the second leg.

Roma go into this match on the back of a couple of big wins that have kept them in the top three of Serie A. A 4-2 win at league leaders Napoli was followed up by a comfortable 3-0 win over Torino last Friday, and with two victories in their last three home outings they appear to be rediscovering the good home form they showed throughout the first few months of the season. That will be vital if they are to not only seal a top-three finish in Serie A, but also move onto the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Shakhtar Donestk are no pushovers, but it must be pointed out that their form drops off considerably when they head away from home. The Ukrainian champions have lost six of their last seven away games in the Champions League and have won just three of their last 15, and when you look at the three teams they have beaten in this time the level of opposition has not been particularly strong.

Therefore you have to like Roma’s chances. They are going to need to score a few goals though, because I do expect the visitors to find the back of the net. Shakhtar need to score an away goal to cancel out the effectiveness of Under’s first-leg strike and they certainly have the firepower to do just that having netted 18 times in the five competitive games they have played since returning from the winter break. Roma, meanwhile, have managed only three clean sheets in their last 14 fixtures so we know that they are hardly rock-solid at the back. Shakhtar can get on the scoresheet on Tuesday night but it will not be enough times to avoid defeat.

Barcelona v Chelsea

Chelsea were left to kick themselves after the first leg of this last-16 tie. A 1-1 draw with Barcelona is hardly a terrible result, but the Blues could – and probably should – have secured a first-leg lead to take to the Camp Nou this week. 

Since that draw Chelsea have suffered back-to-back defeats away to the top two teams in England, and a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at the weekend is hardly going to instil confidence that they can get the better of Barca. They have now lost each of their last four away games in all competitions and have managed only one win in their last eight away from the Bridge, and when you compare that to Barcelona’s record it will not make Blues fans comfortable. 

Barca are unbeaten in their last 14 games in all competitions, have lost only once in their last 44 competitive fixtures and they have not been beaten in a competitive outing at the Camp Nou since a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup back in early August. Everything is pointing to the home team running out winners here and I expect them to be victorious by a couple of goals – Barcelona -1 has been a successful bet on all three of  their home games in the Champions League this season and it has been a winner on 26 of their 33 competitive victories this season.

Besiktas v Bayern Munich

The first leg could not have gone much better for Bayern Munich, who took firm control of the tie with a 5-0 rout of Besiktas. To say Besiktas now have a huge mountain to climb would be a massive understatement and there is absolutely no way we expect them to somehow dump out Bayern, so the question is can they at least salvage some pride on home soil? We have already seen a couple of dead-rubber second legs in this competition this season and both occasions the side trailing after the first leg did achieve a positive result in the return meeting – Porto drew at Liverpool and Basel won at Manchester City.

However, I expect to see Jupp Heynckes take no chances with his starting XI if the weekend win over Hamburg is anything to go by. Bayern blasted into the lead with three goals inside the first 20 minutes, but instead of resting on their laurels at 3-0 they were absolutely ruthless as they ran up a 6-0 scoreline to warm up for this trip to Turkey in the best possible fashion.

They will now look to book their place in the quarter-finals with another win – and who would bet against them? Bayern Munich are unbeaten in their last 17 games in all competitions, winning 16 of them, and they have now lost just one competitive fixture since the 3-0 defeat to Paris St Germain in the group stage of this competition. They are flying right now – racking up wins and rattling up goals – so I would not be remotely surprised to see Bayern win a match that sees at least three goals.

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UEFA Champions League Tips, Predictions and Match Previews for the Round of 16

The UEFA Champions League knockout stages continue with four games this week as the last of the quarter-final spots are decided.

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