Group of 16 Champions League predictions



Vasileios Michaelides

It’s finally February, the month of football because of the return of the biggest club tournament in the world of football: The UEFA Champions League.

The group stage of the tournament concluded in December and now it is time to usher into the knockout stages, the part of the tournament where mistakes cannot be made twice. The heavy hitters like Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Liverpool will be out for blood while some sneaky underdogs like Ajax will look to catch lightning in a bottle and go on a run.

Let’s take a look at the Round of 16 upcoming ties and who will be the teams and players to watch.


RB Salzburg vs Bayern Munich

The Austrian champions have a tough task against the mighty Bayern Munich who won the trophy just two years ago and are looking to make it two trophies in three years.

Coming off a surprising loss to Bochum  in the Bundesliga, 4-2, the Bavarians will look to return to their winning ways against the Austrians this week in the first leg of their matchup. Obviously, the man to look out for here is none other than the winner of the 2021 The Best FIFA Men’s Player award, Polish superstar striker, Robert Lewandowski.

He has 37 total goals across four different competitions this season, with Bayern Munich in just 30 appearances. He is a player that can, at times, carry the Germans but he will most likely than not face a tall  task.

As for the Austrians with their young forward Karim Adeyemi, who has been gathering interest from top European sides like Liverpool, will look to keep his good form going.

Prediction: Bayern Munich progress


Sporting CP vs Manchester City

Currently second in the Liga NOS, Sporting CP and their star man Pablo Sarabia, loaned from Paris Saint-Germain, will have to defend tightly and not allow Manchester City’s players to operate in the open space.

The latter should not take the Portuguese side lightly but if they play to their strengths, advancing to the next round should not be a problem for Pep Guardiola and his men. Guardiola is always an enigma with his lineups as his squad is deep enough for rotations. It is very likely that the man of the match will not even start in the second game.

Prediction: Manchester City progress


Benfica vs Ajax

One of, if not the most, underrated matchups  in this draw will be played between t the Liga NOS Benfica, and European royalty in the Dutch champions, Ajax. Benfica barely squeaked past a group with Bayern Munich and Barcelona to be here.

It was an impressive feat but they do not  have the quality or firepower to keep up with Ajax, which won all six of its games in the group stage and also has in its ranks Sebastian Haller, who is currently the top goalscorer in the tournament. Haller, in his new home, is blossoming into a killer in front of the net and with his prowess, Ajax should not have too much trouble.

Prediction: Ajax progress


Chelsea vs Lille

The current Champions League holders, Chelsea, seemingly have an easier road than most in this two-legged tie against the struggling Ligue 1 side LOSC Lille. Coming off victorious in the Club World Cup, Thomas Tuchel and his men will aim to make calculated work for the French side.

However, Lille should not be underestimated as their young and upcoming Canadian star, Jonathan David, is blossoming into an attractive young prospect. In the end though, the Blues should find themselves through to the  quarterfinals. .

Prediction: Chelsea progress


Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United

Another close matchup will see Atletico Madrid take on Manchester United. Both sides have not been at their best as of late but will provide a tight contest.

It will be a tactical battle between Atletico’s Diego Simeone and United’s Ralf Ragnick. Simeone  last season that he is capable of stifling attacks and frustrating opponents.

Prediction: Atletico Madrid progress


Villareal vs Juventus

The Yellow Submarines, currently Europa League champions, will face off against a European giant in the Old Lady Juventus led by Massimiliano Allegri.

Juve side that had not been up to par this season and finds itself on the outside of the Italian Serie A title race, looking in.

Still, Juve should have the firepower and discipline to overpower the Spaniards and book their ticket to the quarterfinals. Newly-signed Dusan Vlahovic will be a central figure

Villareal is in the midst of a mediocre season in Spain’s LaLiga, sitting  seventh in the league but within striking distance of European qualification. It is  no stranger to big European face-offs, so it should not be taken lightly.

Prediction: Juventus progress


Inter Milan vs Liverpool

The Italian champions are looking to play spoiler to Jurgen Klopp and his men who are in charge of their seventh European Cup. Liverpool has been in fine form as of late and  signed Colombian star Luis Diaz who, in his Premier League debut against Leicester, played like he had been at Liverpool for years.

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are back after international duty in the Africa Cup of Nations, making Liverpool’s starting 11 and bench depth even better.

The Reds have a good chance at making a run for the European Cup, so it would be best to believe that they will do everything in their power to overpower Inter.

However, Inter will nput up a fight. It is a strong compact side that plays together with its threatening attacker, the Argentine Lautaro Martinez.

Prediction: Liverpool progress


Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid

For many, this is the premier matchup of the entire round. PSG, a current European giant with its sights set on Champions League glory, plays against Real Madrid, the most successful club in the competition’s history. This surely has to be PSG’s year to win. The  team is stacked with Neymar Jr, Kylian Mbappe, who is destined to be on top for years to come, and arguably the best footballer of all time, Lionel Messi. A squad befitting of hoisting the European Cup.

But there’s more to winning than stars.

PSG has chased the Champions League title for years, splurging countless amounts of money on transfers, but this year might be the one. Standing in their way is a Real Madrid side managed by an all-time great, Carlo Ancelotti. Madrid is  not the Madrid of old but still boasts a formidable obstacle. It leads  the Spanish league and will rely upon their in-form captain Karim Benzema.

Prediction: Real Madrid progress