UEFA Champions League round of 16: Who’ll go ahead?

The battle lines are drawn. It’ll now be a do or die for the European football clubs. The knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) are here. The round of 16 will see eight teams go through to the quarterfinals. We preview the games and predict the winners. 

1. Roma vs FC Porto, Rome

Roma is having a roller coaster season. They suffered a 7-1 drubbing by Fiorentina in late January in the Coppa Italia. They managed to finish a respectable second in the UCL group stages, behind European giants Real Madrid. Porto is also not having a super season and wasn’t convincing despite topping Group D in the UCL. They are leading in the Primeira Liga, but only marginally. It seems to be a match between two under-performing clubs. However, Roma’s experience at the big stage may see them through.
Prediction: Roma 
Players to watch out for: 
Roma: Edin Dzeko, Cengiz Ünder
Porto: Moussa Marega
 

Roma-vs-Porto
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2. Manchester United vs Paris Saint-Germain, Old Trafford

Man U has overcome a shaky start to the season and is in good form coming into the UCL knockouts. They have recovered after Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer took over the reins from Coach Jose Mourinho. They are undefeated in their last five games in the English Premier League (EPL). French club Paris St Germain (PSG), meanwhile has covered all bases this season. They were beaten only once in Ligue 1 and topped Group C in the UCL group stages. Although Neymar is out with a career-threatening injury, PSG has Edinson Cavani, who is known to feast on English clubs. Will Man U spring a surprise on a marauding PSG?
Prediction: PSG 
Players to watch out for: 
Man U: Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku
PSG: Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani
 

Manchester-United-vs-Paris-Saint-Germain
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3. Tottenham Hotspurs vs Borussia Dortmund, London

The German titan, Borussia Dortmund, has lost just one game in their last six matches. It has conceded only 20 goals in the Bundesliga. They seem to be head and shoulders above the rest in the competition. They also had a fantastic outing in the UCL group stages. Tottenham have a tough one in their backyard, given their inconsistent form this season. The Spurs barely managed to squeeze into the knockouts with just two wins in six games. They would be hoping for Harry Kane to be fit for the match. In his absence, South Korean Heung-Min Son needs to provide the scoring blows.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund     
Players to watch out for: 
Tottenham Hotspurs: Heung-Min Son, Christian Eriksen 
Borussia Dortmund: Marco Reus, Jadon Soncho, Raphael Guerreiro
 

Tottenham-Hotspurs-vs-Borussia-Dortmund
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4. Ajax FC vs Real Madrid, Amsterdam

Real Madrid is gunning for a fourth straight UCL title, and their first hurdle will be the Dutch team Ajax. Notwithstanding a miserable start, the Spanish giant is in the throes of a mid-season recovery. Ajax, meanwhile, has been relentless in the midfield and up front, something which seems to have exposed their defence. In a four-match streak this season, they scored 15 goals and let in 11. It’s going to be a high-scoring and evenly-matched contest.
Prediction: A draw    
Players to watch out for: 
Ajax: Frenkie De Jong, David Neres
Real Madrid: Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema
 

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5. Lyon vs Barcelona, Decines

French club Lyon managed to scrape into the last 16 with just one win in the UCL group stage. Spanish champion club Barcelona, on the other hand, topped their group and qualified with two games to spare. In Spanish La Liga, Barca is on top with their genius player Lionel Messi being the leading goal scorer. This seems to be a mismatch. 
Prediction: Barcelona
Players to watch out for: 
Lyon: Nabil Fekir, Moussa Dembele
Barcelona: Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique
 

Lyon-vs-Barcelona
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6. Liverpool vs Bayern Munich, Anfield

English club Liverpool is having a strange season. They are doing well at home in Anfield, but struggling in away games. They will be hosting the German giant Bayern in the first leg. Bayern is in the midst of an inconsistent run this season. However, Robert Lewandowski is having a good UCL campaign, being the leading goal scorer with eight goals. Him aside, Bayern has looked indifferent. 
Prediction: Liverpool
Players to watch out for: 
Liverpool: Mohammed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri
Bayern Munich: Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben
 

Liverpool-vs-Bayern-Munich
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7. Atlético Madrid vs Juventus, Madrid

Atletico is just behind league toppers Barcelona in the Spanish La Liga standings. They have had a middling season thus far. They suffered their biggest drubbing this season (4-0) at the hands of a rampaging Borussia Dortmund in the UCL. They will be up against the Italian side Juventus, which isn’t having a great UCL campaign, either. Although Juventus leads Seria A by a good margin, it’s yet to hit top form. However, it boasts of the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo, who may just be the difference.
Prediction: Juventus
Players to watch out for: 
Atlético Madrid: Antoine Griezmann, Diego Godin
Juventus: Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Mandzukic
 

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8. Schalke FC vs Manchester City, Gelsenkirchen

Man City is facing hiccups in their EPL campaign. But as far as UCL goes, they could not have asked for an easier contest. Schalke are number 12 in the Bundesliga and qualified for the knockouts in UCL, only courtesy of a weak group. Expect a close repeat of Man City’s 6-0 rout of Shakhtar Donetsk in the UCL group stage!
Prediction: Manchester City
Players to watch out for: 
Schalke FC: Breel Embolo, Daniel Caligiuri
Manchester City: David Silva, Sergio Aguero
 

Schalke-FC-vs-Manchester-City