After the first four games were played last week, it’s time for the second half of the first half of the last 16 of the Champions League…confused? It’s not like the good old days where we used to get four games a night whilst at this stage; no UEFA saw the money and decided that it was a better idea to spread them out as thinly as possible. I’m sure it won’t be long until we have two games a week, because reasons and things.
Arsenal v Barcelona
A really good tie, not a competitive tie, but a really good one anyway. One of these sides have the best front three in world football, the other got excited when Danny Welbeck returned from injury…
Barcelona currently look like the best team in Europe, and to be honest it doesn’t look like anyone is even close. Every should be tipping them to win the Champions League, however it is hard to ignore the fact that no team has ever retained the Champions League. I struggle to see Barcelona not making at least the semi-finals, although it will really depend on the draw. If they can keep their first eleven mainly fit then I have no doubt that they will be a serious threat.
Arsenal don’t get lucky with the draw again, however you have to create your own luck and when you can’t win your group you, deserve to get a tough draw. The only way I can see Arsenal winning this tie is if they are somehow able to sit deep and hit Barca on the counter, because there is no doubting that Barca’s defence can be got at, the question is more whether you are able to get the ball off of them and possibly even more so if you are still in the game once you do.
Juventus vs Bayern Munich
The best tie of the round and by quite some distance if you ask me. Last year’s finalists against Guardiola’s Bayern (probably the best squad in the world), it really is a battle of two European juggernauts.
Juventus started the season very inconsistently and their play in the group stages followed that exact pattern, that however has changed over the recent months as they have sorted their form out in Italy and are on the kind of form that you want coming into a game like this. Juve showed last season that they have the ability and also the mentality to beat more favoured teams, and they gave Barca a good game in last year’s final, ultimately coming up short.
Bayern are in an odd position, they know that their manager won’t be there next season and there are questions over how popular Guardiola is with his players, who really knows if they’ll be up for this. Saying all of that, we all know what happened when Bayern knew their manager wouldn’t be at the club come the end of the season, and when you look at this team it is excellent. Bayern under Guardiola in my opinion have regressed, they don’t seem as cut throat, instead of playing to their players strength, they play to the system and as has been shown in the last two years it can get them caught out.
Both teams will be looking to make a deep run in the competition, and both teams have a good chance, especially if the draw falls kinder. This tie is really too close to call, but if I have to choose then I think that Juventus will just sneak it in typical Italian fashion.
Dynamo Kiev vs Man City
When you look at the two ties in this quarter of games, it is hard to wonder how we ended up with the super quarter above, very bad organisation. It should be uncompetitive but City have a tendency to be shit. Kiev got through a weak group and everything from here on out is a bonus, City are there for the taking but Kiev’s arms are probably too short.
Can City win the Champions League? Not a chance in hell. Their record against the big teams in both the Premier League and more so in the Champions League tells you that they don’t have a big club mentality and are more likely to piss their pants than make a final. If the draw falls kindly they could make the semis, eventually they will hit a big team though and will ultimately be dispatched with ease.
PSV vs Atletico Madrid
Another fairly uncompetitive match up…What can you say? The last 16 has many ties which are just meh. Atletico will obviously win against one of the worst teams left in the competition. Atletico will be taking a serious look at winning it all and why shouldn’t they? Bayern have questions, Barca will look to do something which hasn’t been done before, Real look very fragile, all the English teams are gash, PSG are over rated and Juventus aren’t better than them. Atletico may not be a glamorous team, but they know how to win, a true dark horse and my pick for the title.
So we shall see Barca, Juve, Atletico and City through to the quarter finals, where they will be joining Chelsea, Benfica, Wolfsburg and Real.