Preview, predictions for this week’s Champions League last 16 matches

Preview, predictions for this week's Champions League last 16 matches
February 20, 2023

The Champions League continues this week, because the Spherical of 16 continues the competitors for Europe’s high golf equipment. Here is a breakdown of the 4 matches remaining within the first leg, together with anticipated outcomes.

Liverpool in opposition to Actual Madrid

  • Step one: February 21 (Anfield)
  • The second ceaseMarch 15 (Santiago BernabĂ©u)

“Match into the ultimate” is an overrated trope, however think about this actually He was Final season’s championship ultimate, it is an apt description right here. Towards the backdrop of Actual Madrid’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool final Might, the 2 golf equipment, who boast 20 Champions League titles, have renewed their enmity.

With the intention to obtain some measure of revenge for that defeat, Liverpool’s main activity will probably be, no less than defensively, just like that of 9 months in the past. However slowing down Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr. is, after all, simpler mentioned than carried out. The Ballon d’Or holder, who rested within the league on the weekend and ought to be recent for the journey to Anfield, has suffered a halt to his begin attributable to accidents, however nonetheless scored 11 La Liga targets in simply 13 appearances. .

When he is on the sphere, he is extra prolific than ever. Benzema is having fun with English opposition too, scoring 16 targets in 23 Champions League appearances. In the meantime, Vinicius may have fond reminiscences of when he performed in opposition to the Reds after scoring the one objective in final season’s ultimate.

Simon Stackpole / Offside / Offside / Getty

The Brazilian winger has advanced into one of the crucial devastating strikers in world soccer. Liverpool’s squad, he would slot in nicely with Jurgen Klopp’s facet. What scheme will Klopp make to provide Trent Alexander-Arnold the mandatory assist he must attempt to cease the explosive Brazilian, and the way a lot will Vinicius’ risk have an effect on Alexander-Arnold’s skill to contribute going ahead, the place his creativity from a nominally defensive place is so very important?

Liverpool appear to have put their rotten post-World Cup kind behind them, profitable their final two matches with out conceding a objective. The primary forwards are slowly regaining health, Darwin Nunez – suspected of getting a shoulder drawback – appears to be like extra snug, Cody Jacbo, the winter signing, has scored targets in back-to-back matches, and the membership’s basic vibe is on the rise. However not all the pieces has been cured but. Liverpool nonetheless look susceptible, and the large gaps in midfield nonetheless depart the protection uncovered.

Though Actual Madrid have not been fairly convincing this season – does it look acquainted? They’ve too many weapons to benefit from the alternatives that may absolutely come their approach on their toes. Till there may be definitive proof that Actual Madrid’s magic mud has worn off on this competitors, it is arduous to cope with.

predictionActual Madrid advances

Eintracht Frankfurt vs Napoli

  • Step oneFebruary 21: Walstadion
  • The second ceaseMarch 15: Diego Armando Maradona Stadium

That is often known as a “sneaky good” match of the tour, flying beneath the radar in opposition to another heavyweight bouts. However given how he has represented the very best crew in Europe this season, there may be nothing delicate about him. Naples is a juggernaut proper now. Down a full 15 factors up the Serie A desk, Luciano Spalletti’s high-quality facet is destroying all the pieces on its solution to what’s going to absolutely be the membership’s first scudetto since 1990.

They’ve solely misplaced three video games all yr in all competitions – in opposition to Liverpool, Inter Milan and, in a approach, Cremonese within the Coppa Italia – they’ve scored extra targets than any crew within the Champions League group stage, they usually boast the very best protection in Serie A. , only for good measure. All of the elements are there to make this season actually particular. Not solely on the native degree, however on the continent as nicely. By all potential requirements, Napoli’s profile is the very best crew within the match.

Led by the ruthless and irrepressible duo of Victor Osimhen and Georgian sensation Khvisha Kvaratskhelia, they assault in waves, at tempo, and rating as they please. With Korean mountain man Kim Min-jae in defence, they conceded comparatively few probabilities. Napoli have scored simply three league targets for the reason that calendar flipped to 2023.

Danilo Di Giovanni/Getty Photos Sport/Getty

They press arduous, have a tendency the sphere of their favour, transfer the ball rapidly and superbly and, when crucial, can rating “ugly” targets with set items if, for some cause, issues aren’t understanding in open play. Exterior of the massive recreation, one thing you’ll be able to’t get sufficient of even you Owns There are not any bugs with this crew for the time being.

However Europa League holders Eintracht Frankfurt, bolstered by a rising star in Randall Kolo Mwane, will provide stiff resistance. The French striker, 24, is the one participant within the Bundesliga to have double the targets and assists to date this season, with 10 targets in every class, and is among the few gamers with a penetrating marketing campaign that may rival Osimhen’s facet. .

He might want to outpace his Nigerian counterpart if Oliver Glassner’s facet are to have any probability of pulling off the upset. The German membership are gritty and difficult to play in opposition to – Frankfurt have misplaced simply as soon as in all competitions since November – however beating Napoli is a large activity for any membership on the earth proper now.

prediction: Advance Naples

Leipzig in opposition to Manchester Metropolis

  • Step oneFebruary 22: (Purple Bull Area)
  • The second ceaseMarch 14 (Etihad Stadium).

Manchester Metropolis’s quest for the one main trophy that has eluded the membership beneath Abu Dhabi possession begins in earnest on Wednesday. The group stage was only a formality. Now the championship actually begins for Pep Guardiola, who will as soon as once more be beneath the microscope as he appears to be like to ship the distinctive piece of silver that the membership hierarchy so desperately covets.

Erling Haaland was imagined to be the final piece to finish the Continental Metropolis puzzle. On a person degree, his signing was a surefire success; The imposing Norwegian has extra targets (32) than appearances (31) since becoming a member of the membership from Borussia Dortmund. He’s an inevitable drive of nature who, barring damage, will break a number of data this season. Nevertheless, his prowess in entrance of objective didn’t have the form of transformative impact one may count on.

Paradoxically, now that Metropolis have the bona fide quantity 9 that pundits mentioned was lacking – and one who finds the web with scary hesitation – it appears much less extra convincing than ever. there’s something unsuitable. There’s a feeling of malaise that’s tough to pin down. The league’s current struggles in all probability will not apply, as Metropolis seem susceptible – and typically disinterested – in Europe. Maybe this change will be flipped. Haaland, in any case, was primarily recruited for this match. They did not want him to win the league. They’ve already carried out so. That is the main target.

Jan Kruger/Getty Photos Sport/Getty

Earlier than they will even consider that final field, Metropolis face a troublesome check in opposition to a facet RB Leipzig that has the instruments to trigger upset. On the again, Josko Guardiol will relish the chance to conflict with Haaland in an thrilling battle. And up entrance, Leipzig have a number of thrilling attackers who’re greater than able to making the most of the openings Metropolis have to supply, one thing they’ve been doing with uncommon regularity these days.

Regardless of their territorial dominance, Metropolis are susceptible to assault rapidly, and in Timo Werner and the match once more Christopher Nkunku, Leipzig have precisely that. If budding star Dominic Zuboszlai can discover area mates, Metropolis will run into bother. Guardiola’s tenure at Manchester has clearly been an astonishing success, nevertheless it has additionally been punctuated by shock defeats within the Champions League, usually to inferior opposition. His tendency to overthink these matches can’t be ignored; If Bernardo Silva joins at left-back, as they did just lately after the departure of Joao Cancelo in January, Metropolis will battle.

Can Guardiola, an objectively good coach, get out of his approach? To win their first Champions League title since 2011, he might must.

predictionManchester Metropolis progress

Inter Milan vs FC Porto

  • Step one: February 22 (San Siro)
  • The second ceaseMarch 14: (Dragao Stadium)

Simone Inzaghi and Sergio Conceicao, teammates at Lazio throughout their enjoying days, reunite as managers of Inter Milan and Porto respectively.

These two groups haven’t met within the Champions League for the reason that 2005-06 season when the 22-year-old defender was simply starting to make his breakthrough on the Portuguese membership. Extremely, ageless surprise Pepe stays an integral a part of that equation.

Described by membership president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa as a “aggressive animal” who may play one other “5 or 6 years”, the 39-year-old will probably be tasked with shutting down reckless Inter striker Lautaro Martinez, who has scored eight targets. Within the final 10 matches in all competitions. Can Pepe upset Martinez along with his physique?

And the way will he divide his consideration between the Argentine and whomever Inzaghi decides to companion with, whether or not it’s Edin Dzeko or Romelu Lukaku? The Inter coach has choices after the latter’s return from damage. Each are massive our bodies that mix nicely with Martinez and play key roles in constructing Inter’s possession. Answering these questions will go a great distance in direction of figuring out who makes it to the quarter-finals.

Anadolu Company / Anadolu Company / Getty

Regardless of the benefit of excellent expertise, Inter have been flops this season, and their lack of consistency is trigger for concern. Which model of the Nerazzurri will seem on Wednesday on the San Siro? The one who dominated his metropolis rivals twice in three weeks after the World Cup ended, or who misplaced at residence to Empoli after which could not make a breakthrough in opposition to Sampdoria after these emotional derby victories?

Alternatively, Porto doesn’t face the identical query marks. Regardless of the various accidents – Conceicao will hope Otavio and Evanelson are again in time for the primary leg – Porto have gained 10 consecutive matches in all competitions, conceding solely two targets in that interval, together with two victories over Sporting Lisbon. Questioning the energy of Porto’s schedule is not unfair right here, however, frankly, given the final weak spot of Serie A this season, Inter’s record of current fixtures is not precisely unequalled.

It at all times looks as if the Champions League presents no less than one shock at this stage of the match. Porto, the creator of a few of these upsets in opposition to Italian opposition in recent times, may do it once more.

predictionPorto take the lead after additional time

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