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

Preview, predictions for this week's Champions League last 16 matches
February 14, 2023

The return of the Champions League! Lastly, the premier membership competitors in Europe returns with the Spherical of 16. Under is a breakdown of the 4 matches that will likely be proven this week, together with anticipated outcomes.

Paris Saint-Germain vs Bayern Munich

  • Step one: February 14 (Parc des Princes)
  • The second ceaseMarch 8 (Allianz Enviornment)

The Spherical of 16 resumes with the standout showdown of the spherical, the place an absurd array of attacking fortunes will meet because the continental heavyweights Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain face off in an anticipated repeat of the 2020 Champions League ultimate. There are variations with every group this time round. Some are delicate – Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has switched sides. Others are stark – Lionel Messi! No Robert Lewandowski! However the identical potential for fireworks stays.

Kylian Mbappe’s health can have a huge impact on the end result. The French star was dominated out for 3 weeks after choosing up a thigh damage on February 1, however is shortly again in coaching and will characteristic in Tuesday’s first leg.

Julian Nagelsmann, who has accused PSG of dishonest about Mbappe’s state of affairs, is making ready for precisely that. Even for a group that features Messi and Neymar, the leaders of the French League Want Mbappe to maintain up with the firepower of Bayern Munich. No person runs on the pitch just like the 24-year-old, who permits PSG to play vertically and out of the air in transition. His absence was evident in Paris Saint-Germain’s final two matches, with two losses, in opposition to Marseille and Monaco, respectively. With out it, Ligue 1 captains lose the form of one-punch knockout energy that makes them so devastating.

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PSG beat anticipated targets by a wider margin (7.1) than any group within the Champions League group stage this season. A lot of that’s all the way down to the elite’s means to complete the competitors with Mbappe, the event’s joint high scorer with seven targets. Sweep the explosive Frenchman away and, unsurprisingly, Christophe Galtier’s aspect look much less threatening with out anybody working behind defenders as Messi and Neymar decide up the ball and look to create.

Bayern Munich, in the meantime, appears to be like extra rounded.

In a gaggle that included Inter Milan and Barcelona, ​​Bayern received all six matches, scored 18 targets – second solely to Napoli within the group stage – and produced the third-best anticipated purpose (xG) distinction within the opening spherical. They had been sluggish to return out of their World Cup break, drawing three straight matches on the identical scoreline 1-1, however with the assistance of the shock deadline-day addition of Joao Cancelo, Bayern recovered their strong attacking type, scoring 11 targets. Final three matches (all wins).

In reality, we in all probability all overreacted to January’s tiebreaker streak. There could also be some behind-the-scenes turmoil – not unusual throughout Europe this season – however Bayern nonetheless have the best attacking ceiling of any group within the event and, in actual fact, on the earth. Throughout all competitions, they’ve 5 gamers who’ve scored not less than 10 targets in a yr, a listing that does not even embody Thomas Müller and Kingsley Coman. Bayern Munich has the weapons to make sure PSG’s agonizing watch for the Champions League title continues.

predictionBayern Munich lead after additional time

AC Milan vs Tottenham Hotspur

  • Step one: February 14 (San Siro)
  • The second ceaseMarch 8: (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium)

Of all of the engaging Spherical of 16 tilts, that is maybe the toughest to foretell.

Milan, the Italian champions, are in full disarray in the intervening time and do not appear to be the energetic and guaranteed group that received Serie A final season. Previous to Friday’s unconvincing 1-0 win over Torino, Milan had been winless in seven matches throughout all competitions, having conceded 18 targets in that interval. After struggling accidents to key gamers, the uptempo press crashed.

Stefano Pioli, coach below hearth, tried to stem the bleeding and create extra defensive solidity by transferring into completely different formations with three defenders, regardless of the apparent pitfalls; These methods don’t go well with his group, and extra importantly, he doesn’t get one of the best out of famous person Rafael Leao. Not fairly the best preparation to your membership’s first Champions League knockout recreation since 2014. The return of goalkeeper Mike Maignan, defender Fikayo Tomori and senior midfielder Ismael Bennacer could not come shut sufficient for the struggling Rossoneri.

Then there are the spurs. Oh, spurs. Spurs are nonetheless not fairly common. Simply whenever you assume a wonderful efficiency and consequence, just like the latest win in opposition to Manchester Metropolis, are a transparent signal of issues to return, they flip round and are stymied by Leicester Metropolis and have to start out the cycle yet again.

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No person, together with supervisor Antonio Conte, is aware of what to anticipate from this group on any given day. To make issues worse, they’re with out captain Hugo Lloris, influential midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur has simply been dropped for the season, and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg is suspended for the primary leg on the San Siro. Tottenham might must try to cross the midfield completely to succeed, which, paradoxically, might not be the worst factor for them.

Stylistically, Spurs’ unwavering willingness to sit down deep, soak up incessant spells with out the ball – to ‘endure’, as Conte likes to say – after which strike fast pictures on the break will run right into a Milan aspect missing sharpness in possession proper now. Tottenham ought to get probabilities to play direct and counter-attack over the legs, particularly if Milan proceed to neglect the ball.

With so many unknowns surrounding groups, the best factor to do is check with excellent expertise. With Dejan Kulusevski and Son Heung-Min supporting star striker Harry Kane – who’s having one other high quality season – Spurs, regardless of their shortcomings, have the benefit in opposition to a defensively weak aspect in the intervening time.

prediction: advance spurs

Membership Brugge vs Benfica

  • Step oneFebruary 15: (Jan Bridle Stadium)
  • The second ceaseMarch 7 (Estadio da Luz)

Greater than another assembly, this assembly of the underdogs highlights how drastically issues can change – and infrequently do – within the months between the tip of the group stage and the beginning of the knockout spherical.

Again in November, Membership Brugge had been driving a wave of euphoria after reaching the knockout levels of Europe’s preeminent event for the primary time within the Champions League period, knocking out perennial rivals Atletico Madrid within the course of. Quick ahead just a few months, and the supervisor who helped writer the historic milestone, Karl Hofkins, is gone and changed by Scott Parker after a tough run of performances on the home stage.

The England participant did not fare significantly better than his predecessor, regardless of profitable simply as soon as in seven league matches. Brugge dropped to fourth place within the Belgian Professional League, 20 factors behind Genk on the high. In the meantime, Benfica completed the group stage on the identical stage. Backed by one of many recreation’s most fun younger squads in midfield, the Portuguese aspect topped a quartet that included Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus. After all, Enzo Fernandes has since left for Chelsea within the richest switch in British soccer historical past. So yeah, every part can change within the blink of a watch.

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However Benfica appear higher ready to cope with the brand new actuality than their Belgian counterparts. Roger Schmidt hasn’t strayed from his intense, high-pressing type since Fernandez’s departure. And why is he? Benfica have solely misplaced as soon as in all competitions this season, in any case.

Their frenzied strain permits them to win the ball again shortly and in harmful areas up the courtroom; Solely RB Salzburg made extra tackles within the offensive third place through the group stage than Group Schmidt. This endless power and dedication permits the likes of Rafa Silva and Joao Mario to get the ball near the opposition penalty space, and from there they’ll both discover the web themselves or create probabilities for rising striker Goncalo Ramos.

For Brugge to proceed the Cinderella run, Simon Mignolet might want to stand on the helm. The 34-year-old Belgian was one of the best goalkeeper within the group stage. Sure significantly. His preliminary stats had been spectacular: he conceded simply 4 targets from 34 makes an attempt on purpose.

Mignolet’s base numbers had been higher. Use Targets expected after the strike (PSxG), which measures anticipated targets based mostly on how possible a goalkeeper is to avoid wasting a shot, Mignolet had no equal. With 4 targets allowed from PSxG 9.7, he simply had one of the best margin of any goalkeeper through the group stage. For Brugge to have an opportunity of reaching the quarter-finals, he should keep this superlative type.

predictionBenfica advances

Borussia Dortmund in opposition to Chelsea

  • Step oneFebruary 15: (Westfalenstadion)
  • The second ceaseMarch 7 (Stamford Bridge)

The conflict between Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea is a case examine in steadiness. One group, after years of looking, appears to have made it occur. The opposite, after spending recklessly to a level not seen earlier than within the January switch window, remains to be miles away from being discovered.

Dortmund, who’ve received all six of their matches after the World Cup break, are led by midfielder Judd Bellingham. The excelling English teenager, 19, is emblematic of the membership’s continued concentrate on figuring out, nurturing and relying closely on younger expertise. However when the insistence on fielding inexperienced line-ups has damage the squad up to now, Dortmund appear to have lastly discovered a steadiness between youthful exuberance and seasoned contributors.

Bellingham is the glowing star – he thrives in each space of ​​the pitch and is equally able to ending off assault as he breaks one on the different – however he’s surrounded by the likes of Marco Reus, Emre Can and Niklas Sule. Winter recruit Julian Ryerson has added a steely high quality to Edin Terzic’s squad, too. All items appear to suit the Westfalenstadion. The emotional enhance offered by Sebastien Haller’s wonderful comeback from testicular most cancers can’t be overstated. The Ivorian worldwide was again among the many targets and would play a key half within the equaliser.

Edith Guebert – GES Sportfoto/Getty Photographs Sport/Getty

Chelsea, alternatively, are a piece in progress after an aggressive recruitment technique has introduced in a number of contemporary faces to Stamford Bridge.

Some have settled in sooner than others – Fernandes, particularly, is already trying dwelling on the coronary heart of the Blues’ midfield – however, that being stated, issues have not fairly labored out but for Graham Potter. Chelsea have received simply two of their 9 matches since resuming play with the membership. They’ve scored six targets in that point, and could not discover the web greater than twice in a single match. Scoring remains to be an enormous downside, and the fixed chipping and altering of line-ups and ways – not completely Potter’s fault as he tries to determine his greatest line-up – would not assist.

This type of unpredictability Can Be optimistic Terzic and Dortmund cannot predict how Chelsea will line up on Wednesday. However ultimately, the shortage of continuity and rhythm is a much bigger downside for the England aspect. Maybe Potter will determine that out over the course of the season, however the turnaround right here could possibly be too quick for a group that is been in shambles all season.

prediction: Borussia Dortmund advances

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