After the final 16 teams have been decided and paired, here are three bold predictions for the 2018-2019 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 matches.
Only 16 teams remain in the 2018-2019 UEFA Champions League campaign.
After the draw earlier this week, each of the top European football clubs still in the competition has finally discovered the team that they need to beat in order to reach the Final in Madrid.
Spectacular. The round of 16 draw ?
— #UCLdraw (@ChampionsLeague) December 17, 2018
Who will go through? Who will crash out? Here are three bold predictions for the Champions League Round of 16.
1| Messi Will Net a Hat Trick
Despite missing a whole month because of a broken arm, FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is still leading the charts in Spain with 14 goals to his name. He also bagged six in the Champions League while playing in only four games.
1 – Lionel Messi is the first player to reach double figures for both goals (14) and assists (10) in the top five European leagues this season. Celestial. pic.twitter.com/CGebViSpXy
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 16, 2018
He is going to face an exciting Olympique Lyonnais side, who are quite suspect in their defense—conceding the third most goals in the top eight of the French Ligue 1.
Presented with a porous adversary in Lyon, Messi—record-holder for the most hat-tricks in the competition—will most likely accept the invitation to score three.
Similarly, Barça is expected in online sportsbooks to trash Lyon. William Hill has Barça to qualify at 1/10, while Lyon’s odds are at 11/2.
2| Ronaldo Will Get Eliminated
After three successive seasons of winning the entire competition with Real Madrid, Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will wave goodbye to Ol’ Big Ears.
Who will stop the Italian champions? The defensively gritty Atletico de Madrid. In a tightly contested La Liga, Atleti has conceded only 12—joint-lowest in the entire Spanish league.
What makes this prediction bolder is the fact that Atleti is Ronaldo’s third-favorite victim, scoring 22 against the Spanish outfit in all competitions. However, it should be noted that he got those goals while playing for Los Blancos.
22 – @Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 22 goals against Atlético de Madrid in all competitions, the third most against an opponent in his career after Sevilla (27) & Getafe (23), except penaly shootouts. Nightmare pic.twitter.com/O74cj7mLY2
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 17, 2018
Now in Bianconeri colors, Ronaldo and his Juventus have failed to impress. They managed to win games by just an inch recently in an Italian league they have demolished, with no competition whatsoever, for the last seven years.
Nevertheless, this two-legged tie will be closely fought between the two. Betway has Juventus the favorites at 2/5, while Atleti trail behind at 2/1.
3| Manchester United Will Concede 5
How lucky can the oil-rich and perennial European underperformers Paris Saint-Germain be to draw an easy opponent in the form of a struggling Manchester United?
Once the pride of England, the Red Devils currently sit at sixth place, 19 points behind the top spot in the Premier League table. The supposed super-defensive tactics of then-manager Jose Mourinho did them nothing, conceding 29 goals—fifth worst—in the league.
26 – Manchester United have picked up 26 points after their first 17 league games this season under Jose Mourinho; their worst points haul in the top-flight at this stage since 1990-91 (also 26 points). Dip. pic.twitter.com/I9iHo1uqVQ
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 18, 2018
The superstars at PSG will be licking their tongues in anticipation of meeting the broken English side. Les Parisiens have scored 49 goals in the league, the highest among the top five European leagues.
Unless some miracle happens inside two months, United would be helpless in the face of PSG’s fangs, and the team from Manchester could lose by as much as five goals.
Meanwhile, here are the odds for the other ties, courtesy of bet365:
AS Roma evens – FC Porto 3/4
Real Madrid CF 1/5 – AFC Ajax 10/3
Borussia Dortmund 4/5 – Tottenham Hotspur 19/20
Liverpool FC 4/5 – FC Bayern Munich 19/20
Manchester City 1/25 – FC Schalke 04 12/1
Catch the first leg matches of Champions League Round of 16 on February 12, 13, 19, and 20.