CL Best Bets – Round of 16UEFA Champions League Round of 16 - First Legs
There are 27 matches left in this year’s Champions League out of a grand total of 217 - but this is where the tournament really gets interesting. The 16 teams that have qualified from the group stage now play knockout football until the final in Kiev.
Manchester City, fifth favourites when the tournament started, are now rated as the team most likely to win the competition at 10/3 odds. However this is a slightly false position. Real Madrid drew PSG, and the winner of that tie would likely go back to favouritism for the quarter-finals. PSG and Bayern Munich are given equal chances - both 5/1, with Barcelona victims of a tough draw at Chelsea and as a result are priced at 11/2. Real Madrid are out at 8/1 after a poor season.
Next come Manchester United and Liverpool at 14/1, Juventus 16/1, Tottenham 25/1, Chelsea 28/1, Roma 33/1 and everyone else 100/1 or longer, with Basel the rank outsiders at 400/1.
Tuesday, Feb. 12
Games scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET on FS1 & FS2
Basel vs. Manchester City
Manchester City have failed to make enough of an impact in Europe since becoming one of the world’s richest clubs, with a meek semi-final defeat to Real Madrid their best effort to date. However they are perhaps the best team the Premier League has ever seen, and their draw against Basel must give them confidence that they can get close to winning the continent’s biggest prize this season.
City are not quite at the level they were earlier in the season, but their 5-1 win against Leicester showed that they are still comfortably England’s best team. The scorer of four of those goals was Sergio Aguero, who has notched an 197 goals in 285 - figures that would be astonishing if we did not live in the era of Messi and Ronaldo.
The Argentine is on red-hot form and should be too sharp for the Basel defence.
Best Bet: Sergio Aguero to score first at 5/2
Juventus vs. Tottenham Hotspur
One of the most interesting draws in the round of 16 sees the Italian champions Juventus face last year’s Premier League runners-up Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs had a stunning group stage, getting the better of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund to win their group, while Juventus had to settle for second behind Barcelona.
Juventus had their struggles earlier in the season, but Serie A is a fast improving league. Although they still lie a point off Napoli at the top, they have won 20 of their 24 games. Perhaps even more menacingly, they have conceded just once in their last 19 games.
Tottenham have come through a tough Premier League spell with flying colours, picking up seven points against Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool. This should be an extremely close game, but Juventus have the greater European experience and should be able to keep Tottenham out on home turf.
Best Bet: Juventus to win 1-0 at 11/2
Wednesday, Feb. 12
Games scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET on FS1 & FS2
FC Porto vs. Liverpool
The 2004 winners face the 2005 winners at the Estadio Dragão in a tie that both FC Porto and Liverpool would have been reasonably pleased to see drawn out of the hat. Porto are one of the weaker teams left in the competition, and although Liverpool are brilliant on their day, they remain inconsistent and riddled with defensive weaknesses.
Porto are top of the Portuguese league with a mightily impressive 55 points from 21 games - they are still unbeaten. But they come into this match with terrible injuries. Fabiano is a long-term absentee with a cruciate ligament injury. Felipe Monteiro is suspended. Andre Andre will miss out, while Danilo Pereira and leading scorer Vincent Aboubakar all doubtful.
Liverpool, meanwhile, are only without Emre Can, and their front four have not yet experienced the fatigue that often hits Jurgen Klopp’s teams later in the season. Liverpool should win.
Best Bet: Liverpool to win at 11/8
Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain
The two pre-tournament favourites face off in what is undoubtedly the tie of the round: Real Madrid meet Paris Saint-Germain. PSG have lived up to their pre-season billing, but Real Madrid have not. They lie an incredible 17 points behind Barcelona in the league and could not even top their Champions League group.
So PSG go into this tie as the superior team, according to [...]s, although home advantage makes Real 6/4 favourites with PSG 9/5.
The fact that this is a first leg tends means a draw is more likely. But with two free-scoring teams and with so many punters eager to get involved, the draw is attractively priced at 14/5. Anything PSG can take back to the Parc Des Princes will be seen as a bonus and although Real have been prone to the some terrible results this season, it would take a brave man to back them losing at home in a competition they have dominated in recent years.
Best Bet: Draw at 14/5