By Lucien Betancourt and Diego De Souza
The Round of 16 of the Champions League has come and gone, with 8 teams advancing: Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Porto, Bayern Munich, and Paris Saint-Germain. The two legs will take place on the weekend of April 5th and April 12th, respectively. Let’s break them down:
Manchester City vs Dortmund
This is a rematch of the 2020 Champions League final, making this the best and most unpredictable draw of the lot. Both teams breezed through their opponents, with Bayern beating Lazio 6-2 and Paris Saint-Germain beating FC Barcelona 5-2, though PSG’s victory was all the more impressive over a powerhouse like Barcelona. These teams have only played each other once in the past 3 years and have changed a lot since then, especially PSG’s hiring of new coach Mauricio Pochettino. The first leg will be played in Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany. My prediction is that Bayern Munich will get a 3-1 win over PSG at home, with a 2 goal advantage going away. PSG will have a lot of catching up to do and will score two goals but concede one in the final minutes, with Bayern Munich winning on a 4-3 aggregate. The winner of this draw will play the winner of Dortmund and Manchester City in the semifinals.
Manchester City vs Dortmund
Manchester City are on a roll right now, having won 24 of their last 25 games across all competitions. They are currently top of the Premier League by 14 points with 8 matches left to go, meaning they can now turn their attention fully to the Champions League. They are chasing a rare sweep of titles, looking to win the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Carabao Cup, and the Champions League in the span of a year. The Champions League is a competition that they have never won, despite having very quality teams in the last few years. They have lost in the quarterfinals in the past 4 seasons which gives hope to Dortmund. Still, they will be the strong favorites to advance from this and a failure to do so will be seen as a huge disappointment for them. Borussia Dortmund should not be overlooked though, as they have started to improve this season after a disappointing start. They are currently 5th in the Bundesliga, battling for a top 4 spot needed to return to the Champions League in 2022. Dortmund has the potential to beat anybody, even Manchester City, as on their day they are unstoppable. 2 players to watch out for on Dortmund are Erling Haaland, the current top scorer by far in the League, and Jadon Sancho, who has something to prove playing his former team which he left because he was given no playing time. At Dortmund, he has become one of the best wingers in the world. Both can make a difference and help Dortmund to the upset. My prediction is a 2-0 win for Manchester City at home and a 2-1 win for them away, helping them win on an aggregate score of 4-1. As mentioned, the winner of this matchup will take on the winner of Bayern Munich and PSG.
Real Madrid vs Liverpool
This draw should also be incredibly entertaining to watch. This is a rematch of the 2018 Champions League final, where Real Madrid won to take their 13th title. As for this draw, it will be pivotal for both teams’ seasons. Real Madrid currently sit 3rd in La Liga, 6 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid. While they can overcome that deficit, the Champions League is their competition and likely presents them with their best chance of winning a trophy this year. The Champions League is Liverpool’s only chance of winning a trophy, as they are currently sitting in eighth in the Premier League. If they can’t make the top 4 in the Premier League, they have to win this competition to be back in it next year. I expect a very close, tense battle in both legs, and it is very hard to pick a winner. My prediction is a 2-1 win for Real Madrid at home in the 1st leg and a 1-1 draw at Anfield in the 2nd leg, with Real Madrid going through with an aggregate score of 3-2. The winner of this draw will play the winner of Chelsea and Porto in the semifinals.
Chelsea vs Porto
Both are underdogs in this year’s Champions League. Chelsea came off of an easy win against Atletico Madrid, while Porto had to beat Italian giants Juventus, as well as playing against one of the greatest players of all time in Cristiano Ronaldo. The first leg will be played in the Estadio do Dragao in Porto, Portugal. As for our predictions, Porto will win 2-0 at home, with their strong and centralized defense holding strong. The second leg will be played in Stamford Bridge in London, England. Chelsea will win 2-1, but that away goal will be the key to Porto securing a 3-2 victory on aggregate and advancing to the semifinals.