Sports Writer Kit Shepard gives his predictions for the upcoming Champions League ties
The Champions League knockout stages begin next week, a sign that the business end of the season is drawing closer. With four Premier League sides in action, what can we expect from a quartet of very different ties?
Schalke v Manchester City: The easiest of the four to predict. Despite some head-scratching losses recently, City have arguably the best squad in Europe and German side Schalke, who are languishing in the bottom half of the Bundesliga, should be no match for them.
Prediction: Schalke 1-5 Manchester City
Liverpool v Bayern Munich: Perennial contenders Bayern have underachieved in Germany this year, and could therefore put all their eggs in the Champions League basket after half a decade of European shortcomings. In contrast, the Reds, who have struggled on the continent this season, would surely prefer an inaugural Premier League title over another deep run in Europe. Jürgen Klopp’s men will undoubtedly do their utmost to compete on both fronts, but this tie is probably more important for Bayern, and that could give them the edge in this evenly-matched contest.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-4 Bayern Munich
Tottenham v Borussia Dortmund: A third Anglo-German encounter.A red-hot Dortmund team, which includes exciting English teenager Jadon Sancho, lead the Bundesliga by seven points. While they may view the league as their top priority like Liverpool, they will benefit from the absence of Tottenham’s injured talisman Harry Kane and midfielder Dele All, meaning a depleted Spurs team face an uphill battle thwarting the Dortmund renaissance.
Prediction: Tottenham 1-3 Borussia Dortmund
Manchester United v PSG: Perhaps the most intriguing tie of the round. Manchester United have been transformed under new manager and club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, winning nine out of ten games since he replaced Jose Mourinho in December. They will be underdogs against PSG’s collection of superstars, but the French outfit will be missing the injured Neymar. This, combined with the eerie similarities between the Red Devils’ turbulent season and that of Chelsea’s Champions League winning side of 2012, indicates that an upset might just be on the cards.
Prediction: Man United 3-3 PSG (United win on away goals).
Last 16 Fixtures in Full:
(First leg 12th/13th February, second leg 5th/6th March):
· Manchester United v PSG
· Roma v Porto
· Tottenham v Borussia Dortmund
· Ajax v Real Madrid
(First leg 19th/20th February, second leg 12th/13th March):
· Lyon v Barcelona
· Liverpool v Bayern Munich
· Schalke v Manchester City
· Atlético Madrid v Juventus