UEFA Champions League Last 16: Spotkick’s Predictions
They say prediction is a fool’s game; and this lot at Spotkick, well aren’t they quite thick. Unfazed from making an arse of themselves at the World Cup, the quartet are back to call it on who goes through from the last 16 of this season’s Champions League:
Schalke v Manchester City
Trust Shawn Inonse: Given the impressive form of Pep’s side, scoring for fun and their menacing striker – Aguero scoring 6 goals in three matches, you don’t just see the Germans stopping City. If Schalke can battle for a draw at home, it can as well be regarded as success.
Ola Fadahunsi: Simply, City to qualify.
Shehu Idris: This should be fairly easy for the ‘Shark Team’. Devouring Schalke should be no task at all. City to progress.
Kunle Ajao: Come on! Manchester City of course.
Ajax v Real Madrid
TSI: Real Madrid would go into the Ajax tie all confident. After a confidence-boosting draw against Barcelona and a show of class against Atletico, it’s difficult not to see Real in the quarters. It won’t be a stroll in the park but they should do just enough.
OF: Real Madrid should see out this one. Real to go through.
SI: Ajax is a fish bone for Real Madrid. Looks soft and easy but could be dangerous when swallowed. And with the current fluctuating form of Real Madrid, this tie could prove tricky. But I expect Madrid to progress.
KA: Real Madrid have had an unconvincing season, but have found their feet of late. Ajax ran Bayern Munich close in the group stage, and could do the same here, but it’s hard to see beyond Real progressing.
Lyon v Barcelona
TSI: Barcelona haven’t been able to buy a win in the past three matches – all ending in stalemates – while Lyon winning two of their last three. Form thrown out of the window, Barcelona should wheel out the rod against Lyon.
SI: This should be fairly easy for Barcelona.
OF: Would be a surprise if Barcelona fail to qualify.
KA: This looks easy to call on paper, but Lyon have beaten Manchester City earlier this season, and PSG in the league. However, that’s the team’s only win in the Champions League so far this term, and Barcelona haven’t fallen at this stage in 12 years. I hope I’m wrong (for obvious reasons), but this tie has Barca written all over it.
Porto v Roma
TSI: This tie looks delicately poised. With Roma not having the time of their life in the league, I see them struggling against Porto but something in me whispers that Roma would do just enough.
OF: Roma had a fantastic run last year – and had they had five more minutes in the second leg of the semis against Liverpool, they might have been the one Real Madrid would have beaten to win their third straight UCL title. Porto have not been a side to reckon with recently in this competition. Roma to qualify.
SI: Roma haven’t looked convincing this term. Porto to progress.
KA: Roma haven’t been steady or consistent this season, but we forget that their neither of those things at this stage of last season either. Porto always have the look of a side that would trip over themselves. Roma to go through.
Tottenham v Borussia Dortmund
TSI: Dortmund are leading the Bundesliga and are playing some impressive football along the way, even if they drew against Hoffenheim of late. Spurs have also been impressive, maintaining close proximity to the Premier League summit, and getting by since losing Harry Kane and Dele Alli to injury – winning all matches thus far. Putting into cognisance the death trap they overcame in the group phase going away to Barcelona and picked up a point, I’ll have to rely on my guts again on this and say Spurs will find a way past Dortmund here.
OF: Spurs were unlucky not to have made it to the quarter-finals last term – inexperience costing them knocked out. Are Dortmund more experienced at this stage? Perhaps. But the anxiety of winning the league, which seems more realistic than winning the Champions League, might be their undoing in this game. Their 3-3 draw over the weekend would have put more pressure on them to focus more on the league. Spurs to qualify.
SI: I firmly back Dortmund to progress here.
KA: How Spurs have managed to stay in the Premier League title race despite everything is quite a feat. But they’ve looked stretched of late, managing to just about win games, and another competition will likely drain them even more. Good thing is, elimination is by no means a disaster for either side in this tie. Dortmund to go through.
Atletico Madrid v Juventus
TSI: This game has the prospects of a cracker, or at least an Atleti-Juve kind of cracker. With arguably best player in the world (Cristiano Ronaldo) quoted to have said that this stage of the competition is the real deal, you can hardly bet against Juve profiting from. Atletico are no pushovers but I expect Juventus to just about to do one over them.
OF: I may be exaggerating, but this current Atletico side look a shadow of what we know Cholo Simeone’s teams to be. The defensive discipline seems to be lacking recently and going forward they’ve not been fantastic. When you take Juventus’ pedigree in the competition and the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus have no reason not to edge the Spaniards. Juve to qualify
SI: Juventus will progress after two rather boring legs that produce just a goal, from, you know who, Cristiano Ronaldo.
KA: This has the look of a tactically fought, defensive-disciplined tie that eventually shows why Juventus brought in Cristiano Ronaldo. But this season’s final is at the Metropolitano, and something keeps telling me Atletico Madrid are destined to get there. Atletico to progress.
Manchester United v Paris St. Germain
TSI: PSG would be sweating over the decision of Manchester United’s hierarchy to let Jose Mourinho leave old Trafford. From then on it’s been nine wins and one draw in all competitions. But I expect Kylian Mbappe and company, in the absence of Neymar and Edinson Cavani, to just about shade it.
OF: Maybe people would have to pity PSG if they lost the tie – they’ve been handicapped with injuries to the likes of Neymar, Edinson Cavani, Thomas Meunier, and uncertainty over Marco Verratti’s fitness. United have gained huge momentum under Solskjaer, but at times perhaps one thinks they are not convincing enough, and there will come a time they will capitulate. PSG to go through
SI: PSG of course (This one looks to saving words)
KA: Two months ago, this looked a no-brainer. Now United are playing like a team not made up of horrible immature viruses, and PSG have lost Neymar, Edinson Cavani, and Thomas Meunier for this tie, or at least its first leg. But they’ve looked a lot more tactically sound under Thomas Tuchel, as they proved against Liverpool this season, and as for United, they’ve been very good of late, but the impact of Solskjaer doesn’t mean some of the problems Jose Mourinho talked about aren’t there, particularly at the back. PSG to go through.
Bayern Munich vs Liverpool
TSI: This one promises spectacle and a blinding ray of quality. The Reds have had something of a dip in form, but Bayern haven’t been all shades of quality themselves this season. I expect last season’s finalists to scale through.
OF: Life hasn’t been a bed of wins for the Bavarians since Pep Guardiola left the club. Previous post-Pep woes look to be compounded under Niko Kovac this season. So many factors would count against them against Liverpool – but most conspicuous should be their woeful defence. Liverpool to progress.
SI: Is it a surprise if Liverpool win this? If yes, Liverpool will surprise everyone then.
KA: Bayern have been anything but certain this season, and are in a rather unfamiliar league position of second place and chasing the leaders, while Liverpool look a much more controlled side this campaign. But Die Roten have started 2019 well, and, however we try to sugar-coat it, cracks are appearing in Liverpool’s Premier League title chase. Will they be distracted by thoughts of domestic success? Bayern to qualify.