I’ve mainly dedicated my blog lists to all things entertainment, whether that’s music, film or games, so it may come as a shock to you that I’m actually quite a big football fan.
The Champions league is the greatest club competition in the world, and the memories I have of fantastic goals and unbelievable comebacks have stayed with me throughout my whole life. It’s the stuff of dreams, for both players and fans, and when the quality of teams and their football is so good each year it’s no wonder people keep tuning in to watch the best sport on the planet.
Now, I’m not exactly a certified football genius, but I’d like to think I know a thing or two about the current state of world football. The Round Of 16 is fast approaching after the Christmas break, so what are my predictions for all eight ties?
Red Bull Salzburg vs Bayern Munich
My Prediction – BAYERN
Anyone that predicted RB Salzburg going through to the knockout stages instead of their Leipzig counterparts deserves a pat on the back, but unfortunately it looks like the Austrian team’s dreams are going to be squashed before they’ve even begun.
They have to face the unstoppable Bayern Munich in the RO16, and it would be down to pure luck rather than skill if they manage to scrape through. I get the feeling Lewandowski will be gunning for that top scorer trophy, and after coming 2nd in the Ballon D’Or he’ll be a man on a mission.
Bayern’s team are just way too good not to win this tie, and I’d be amazed if they didn’t leave their mark in both legs. I’ll say it’ll be a comfortable 3-1 win for the German giants in Austria, before absolutely battering Salzburg 4-0 at home to claim a tidy 7-1 aggregate victory.
Benfica vs Ajax
My Prediction – AJAX
Not exactly the most scintillating Champions League tie, and a couple of years ago this would have easily just been a Europa League RO16 match instead.
Fair play to Ajax, after losing the majority of their young talent they’ve seemed to bounce back into winning form once more, and Sebastian Haller is in the form of his life at the moment.
However, I don’t think Benfica will be the pushover that people expect. I’m predicting a 1-1 draw in Portugal, before Ajax do the job at home by winning 2-1 to put them 3-2 up on aggregate.
Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United
My Prediction – MAN UTD
Before I make my prediction, I have to make one thing very clear – I’m a Manchester United supporter, so you’ll have to take everything I say with a grain of salt.
While being a slightly easier tie than PSG, Atletico will still be a huge challenge for Man United (and especially their defence). It’s gonna take some serious work behind the scenes to get our squad up to scratch, but I think Rangnick can do it.
It’ll be a tense 0-0 in Spain, and when all hope seems lost I reckon Ronaldo is gonna do what he does best and sink Atletico hearts. He has a knack for big games, and Atletico is his speciality – it won’t be easy, but I’m predicting a late 2-0 victory at Old Trafford to send us through to the Quarter Finals.
Am I being biased towards my own team? Absolutely, and I’m sure they’ll do the classic Man United thing of letting me down when the big day arrives.
Inter Milan vs Liverpool
My Prediction – LIVERPOOL
It’s quite extraordinary how Klopp has managed to turn Liverpool, a team that hadn’t won anything since 2005, into one of the most fearsome teams in the world, and both their attack and defence has a shout at being the greatest on the planet.
As for Inter, their best days are already behind them (which is quite impressive as their best days were only happening a few months ago when they won the league). They’ve lost the best attributes of their team, and what’s left is a limp squad that’ll crash out before you know it.
Liverpool will completely overwhelm the Italians, so I’m predicting a 4-1 Liverpool win at the San Siro before a slightly less emphatic 2-0 victory in Merseyside.
Sporting Lisbon vs Manchester City
My Prediction – MAN CITY
Pep Guardiola and the rest of Man City must be desperate for some European silverware, and after coming so agonisingly close last year you can bet your bottom dollar that City will come out fighting.
This looks like quite a one-sided affair on the whole, as Sporting have done nothing to impress during the group stages. I think City will have a slight scare with a 2-2 in Lisbon, before sealing the deal back on home soil to take them through – let’s say 2-1 at home, making them 3-2 winners on aggregate.
Chelsea vs Lille
My Prediction – CHELSEA
I doubt many people predicted Chelsea to win last year’s edition of the competition, but against all odds their rigidity and bravery was enough to clinch the trophy.
Tuchel has crafted one of the most terrifying teams in world football, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they make it all the way to at least the Semis once more.
It’ll be two shut-out victories for the blues, with a 2-0 at home and a 1-0 in France. Lille fans must be shaking in their boots right about now.
Villarreal vs Juventus
My Prediction – VILLARREAL (away goals)
Most of the Champions League ties this season seem to be one-sided affairs at first glance, but I reckon Villarreal will provide the shock of the season by knocking out the mighty Juventus.
They’ll somehow snatch a 2-1 win in Spain, and all eyes will be on Juventus for their home leg – and I think they will falter. Juventus will win 3-2 to make it 4-4 on aggregate, but Villarreal’s away goals will be enough to send them through to the Quarters and cement Juventus’s misery.
PSG vs Real Madrid
My Prediction – REAL MADRID (away goals)
The tastiest tie of the bunch, and to be completely honest I went back and forth on my prediction for a while.
Real Madrid don’t have their unstoppable talisman anymore, but they’re in excellent form this season. PSG, on the other hand, have many individually talented players that could shift the tides of battle, but as a team they’re not gelling quite as well as people thought.
It’ll be two explosive games of football with lots of goals and Messi magic, but my gut instinct is telling me that team spirit beats individual talent. There’ll be two draws: a 2-2 in France and a 1-1 in Spain, making in 3-3 on aggregate. This would be enough to put Madrid through on away goals, and questions would inevitably be asked of Messi’s ability in big games. I do really hope that Messi can shock the world once more, but I find it unlikely.
Aaaand those are my predictions – let’s see how well they hold up! In the meantime, you can check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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