Hey all, Celsus here. Now with the second leg of these predictions. I give you the UCL Round of 16 predictions, presented by Clutch City Soccer.
Paris St. Germain v. Chelsea: Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Cashico. Both sides have a total of three losses between them, none of which have come at home. PSG has a solid defense consisting of the likes of Salvatore Sirigu, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, and Serge Aurier. Chelsea more than matches that defense with a strong line of their own, including Thibaut Courtois (who will easily become one of the best, if not the best, keeper in the world within the next 3 years), John Terry, Gary Cahill, and Branislav Ivanovic. Let’s look at midfield now. PSG has a solid midfield with the likes of Thiago Motta and Lucas. However, Chelsea blows them out of the water with the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, and Cesc Fabregas. And that’s not even all of their midfielders. Striking may be the only spot where PSG outplays Chelsea, with the likes of Cavani, Zlatan, and Lavezzi up front. Chelsea is no slouch either, with people like Drogba, Diego Costa, and Andre Schurrle up front. We give this to Chelsea, as they field a somewhat stronger team with much more depth.
Prediction: Chelsea def. PSG, 3-1 on aggregate.
Manchester City v. FC Barcelona: Both these teams are very strong. But I’m going to defer to history here. This same matchup happened last season. Barcelona dominated. With an even stronger strike team than before, expect the result to be more or less the same.
Prediction: FC Barcelona def. Manchester City, 4-1 on aggregate.
Bayer Leverkusen v. Atletico Madrid: Both of these teams are surprisingly equal, except in two cases: strikers and managers. First, let me say that I don’t expect this to be a high-scoring affair; with Bernd Leno on one side and Jan Oblak on the other, goals are going to be few and far between. Both teams have strong midfields (Lars Bender and Simon Rolfes for Leverkusen; Arda Turan, Gabi, and Koke for Atletico). However, when you look at strikers, you see Stefan Kiessling going up against Antoine Griezmann, Mario Mandzukic, and Raul Jimenez. Add the fact that Atletico are led by one of the top managers in the world today, Diego Simeone. Expect a good match with Atletico coming out on top.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid def. Bayer Leverkusen, 2-1 on aggregate.
Juventus v. Borussia Dortmund: DO NOT under any circumstances let Borussia Dortmund’s domestic form fool you. If anything, let it frighten you. Nothing is scarier than a Borussia Dortmund with something to prove, especially with Jurgen Klopp at the helm. But Juventus isn’t going to take it lying down. Let’s look at the “tale of the tape”, if you will. Both have strong goalkeepers in Gianluigi Buffon and Roman Weidenfeller. Their defenses are just as solid, with Juventus having the likes of Chiellini, Evra, and Lichtsteiner; while Dortmund field the likes of Neven Subotic (the asshole who should be playing for the USA, not Serbia), a hopefully fit Mats Hummels, Sokratis, and Lukasz Piszczek. Juventus has a very strong midfield with the likes of Paul Pogba (he f**ks your b***h, then wrecks you), Claudio Marchisio, and Italian legend Andrea Pirlo. Dortmund has more than an answer to that; they have more of a successful counterattack, with players like Ilkay Gundogan, Sebastian Kehl, Sven Bender, and Jakub Blaszczykowski (and there are several others; Dortmund simply has more depth in midfield than does Juventus). Juventus has a solid attacking force, with the likes of Carlos Tevez, Sebastian Giovinco (aka “The Atomic Ant”), Alvaro Morata, and Fernando Llorente (yes he scores goals too). Dortmund again matches Juventus with a hopefully fit Marco Reus, along with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, new signing Ciro Immobile, and Adrian Ramos. I think this will be a war of midfields, and although Juventus may win a few battles, Dortmund will be the team to reach the quarterfinals.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund def. Juventus, 3-2 on aggregate.
Schalke 04 v. Real Madrid: I’m sorry, but this isn’t much of a contest. Schalke is a very solid team, but often times we see their domestic form, which is currently below their usual standard, translate into European form. Real Madrid, on the other hand is on a hot streak no matter which way you look at it. With a streak of 21 straight wins (a club record), the defending champions are showing no signs of slowing down, even without star players Angel di Maria and Xabi Alonso. Love them, hate them, or even have no opinion on them, it cannot be denied that the Merengues are likely to continue their streak in a dominant fashion.
Prediction: Real Madrid def. Schalke 04, 5-0 on aggregate.
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Bayern Munich: This is a matchup I hate to have to call. As a Dynamo Kyiv fan, I normally hate Shkahtar Donetsk, but in light of recent events, there is more a feeling of solidarity for the other great Ukrainian club. Bayern is a powerhouse, however. Bayern is strong in everything; usually, the team that beats Bayern becomes the new favorite to win. Shakhtar’s odds are very small. Despite Shakhtar having a very strong midfield containing the likes of Bernard, Wellington Nem, and Douglas Costa, a back lie led by veteran Darijo Srna, and Luiz Adriano (a.k.a. the goal machine of this tournament) up front, expect Bayern to earn a hard-fought, but convincing, victory.
Prediction: Bayern Munich def. Shakhtar Donetsk, 4-2 on aggregate.
Arsenal v. Monaco: Honestly, I was surprised at this matchup, mostly because it wasn’t Bayern Munich. Monaco is not a team one would expect to be at this stage, especially after their financial backer bailed on them. But they still have a balanced team, with players like Joao Moutinho and Dimitar Berbatov up front, Bernardo Silva (on loan from Benfica) and Lucas Ocampos in midfield, and Stekelenburg in goal. A team with surprisingly good chemistry, they can pull the upset over a favored Arsenal. But Arsenal aren’t the favored team for no reason. With David Ospina in goal, a strong midfield containing the likes of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, and Santi Cazorla, and a strike team that includes Yaya Sanogo, Olivier Giroud, Joel Campbell, and former Barcelona player Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal not only have a strong team, they have the depth that can see them to the next round of the knockout phase.
Prediction: Arsenal def. Monaco, 3-1 on aggregate.
Basel v. Porto: Basel, despite still topping the Swiss Super League, have lost a fair number of star players over the past couple of years, including keeper Yann Sommer and midfielder Mohamed Salah. However, with longtime striker Marco Streller providing a strong leadership role, and newcomer Shkelzen Gashi having a superb eye for goal, Basel, despite not having many strong names in terms of talent, has proven it can still contend with the best. However, Porto, as is the case with any of Os Tres Grandes, knows how to make any team successful, regardless of how young or unknown. However, this is one of the years where the word “unknown” may only suit possibly their goalkeeper Fabiano, who’s been named as the new starter for the season. Porto also boasts a strong back line with vice-captains Maicon Roque and Danilo, newcomer Bruno Martins Indi, and Alex Sandro. In their midfield you can find the likes of Mexico regular Hector Herrera, Colombian youngster Juan Quintero, and youth product Ruben Neves. Up front, there is no question about the talent present. They have young talent on loan from La Liga, including Barcelona’s Cristian Tello and Atletico Madrid’s Oliver Torres, both of whom are very likely to make it big within the next few years if they keep up what they’re doing now. Their front line also includes returning club veteran Ricardo Quaresma, who returns to the club after leaving in 2008. This attacking side, and the team as a whole, is led by captain Jackson Martinez, who, despite it being only his third season with Porto, has shown an absurd amount of dedication to the club. And he isn’t captain solely because of his loyalty; he’s been the Portuguese Liga’s top scorer for the past 2 seasons, earning a fair number of Player of the Month awards along the way. Expect Basel to fight hard. However, you should also expect them to be outmatched by the Dragoes.
Prediction: Porto def. Basel, 3-2 on aggregate.
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