Champions League 2015 Round of 16 – Part I

February 8, 2015 •

Our picks for the games on Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th Feb.

Paris SG – Chelsea

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Jose Mourinho

With these two teams safely through and drawing each other in the last 16, Chelsea coach Mourinho was happy with the matchup as he thought it would favourable logistically for the team and for fans alike. Both teams have great individual players who are hungry for a good show. This is a tough matchup to gauge. Chelsea has the better defensive line but PSG has better offensive players who are peaking. The teams also have some history with David Luiz’s defection from Chelsea to PSG, so that should be an interesting story to follow. The Blues are unbeaten in Europe this season, winning four and drawing two of their six matches taking top spot in Group G. PSG lost only one of their six games, on the last matchday against Barcelona, meaning they took second spot in Group F. They’re only one point behind Marseille at the top of Ligue 1.

We would’nt be surprised if both teams played strong defensive games and took less chances in this one, and opened up more offensively instead when they play in London, at Stamford Bridge 3 weeks later. Something to watch: Zlatan Ibrahimovic could live up to his name and be PSG’s golden boy carrying them through to the last eight. but it will be hard to know what else could tip the scales between these two well-matched squads, so a tie is the most likely outcome.

Our prediction: A draw at odds of 3.25

Shaktar – Bayern

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Manuel Neuer

Despite the ongoing conflict in the country, the Champions League match between Shakhtar Donetsk and Bayern Munich will take place in the Ukrainian city of Lviv on Feb. 17 which is considered safe neutral ground – meaning Bayern shouldn’t expect a tumultuous welcome on the night. The defending German champion is confident that they will take the match, one of the obvious favourites for winning the UEFA’s champions leangue this season, they fancy they can cruise through to last eight.

But these are unfamiliar opponents. Bayern and Shakhtar have no previous history playing head-to-head, so the Bundesliga champs will have to be cautious as they sail into uncharted waters. Donetsk, winners of five consecutive Ukrainian league titles, recently made history in a match against Belarusian side BATE as their key player, Luiz Adriano, became only the second player in Champions League history (after Lionel Messi) to score five in a single game.

Mircea Lucescu has created a successful side who has lots of experience in the Champions League. Overall, Shakhtar are a very dangerous side, but not threatening enough to pull off an upset.

Our prediction: Bayern wins odds at 1.33

Basel – Porto

jackson Martinez

Jackson Martinez

In the last few years, Basel has improved a lot. Every season they advance their standing. Beating Liverpool at home in dramatic fashion and getting a draw at Anfield ensured their progress into the knockout stages. On the other end of pitch, Porto manages to remain competitive every year despite selling off some impressive talent. They play an exciting style because they can create nightmarish matchup problems for their opponents due to their depth in talent. Both teams are happy to have made it to the Champions League knockout phase. No one really expected them to get this far. But this matchup now guarantees at least one of the tournament’s underdogs will reach the quarterfinal stage. Porto’s Jackson Martínez is a hard attacker to hold at bay, scoring 5 times in the group stage placed him at joint third in the Champions League scoring. With him, Porto might be the favourites, but this is definitely one of the more unpredictable matchups and it’s anyone’s game.

Basel is not one to be underestimated either. They like to play with the ball at their feet. Players like Marco Streller, Fabian Frei, Luca Zuffi and Taulant Xhaka all are offensive threats who are cooperative and creative on the pitch. It makes them stubborn opponents since they’re an ambitious young team with an ambitious manager.

Our prediction: Basel win or draw odds at 3.25

Schalke – Real Madrid

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Cristiano Ronaldo

This is another nightmarish draw for Schalke who will host the reigning European Champions. Real Madrid was probably quietly pleased with the Champions League draw, getting the Bundesliga side that has finished third, fourth and third in the German top flight over the past three seasons. The Galacticos simple steamrolled past Schalke last year and expects to do exactly the same, this time around. In defense of Schalke, they are not totally lacking individual talent, and have traditionally been a solid team.

The problem is, if recent performance is anything to go on: in the qualifying round for the knockout bracket out of Group G, Schalke gave up five more goals than they scored. That goal differential is a tough one to win with, as by far it was the worst among qualifying teams entering the knockout stage. It’s hard to make an argument for a team that only barely got in, on a second-half goal by Max Meyer against NK Maribor in the final match of the group stage; if they had finished that match with a tie, Sporting Lisbon would have advanced in their stead.

This is almost most definitely the end of the road for Schalke. Real Madrid, will simply show the world why they are the champions, and possibly why they’re the team to beat in this championship. Expect Real to kick past the Germans by a surplus of 2 goals.

Our prediction: Real Madrid wins odds at 1.36