UEFA Champions League: Predicting the Outcome of This Week's Ties
The UEFA Champions League clicks into gear in a big way this week with the culmination of the round of 16 ties, featuring four huge matches.
Some of the pre-tournament favourites are going to fall away at this stage, as we discover who joins Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus in the quarterfinals.
Two of this week's four ties are rather finely poised, with the other two looking good for the first leg victors, though a comeback certainly shouldn't be ruled out in at least one.
Here are the predictions for this week's games.
Barcelona vs. AC Milan
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First leg score: Barcelona 0-2 AC Milan
Barcelona need a big, big performance in the second leg if they are to overcome AC Milan in the Camp Nou.
A resolute and well-drilled defensive display from the Italians provided the platform for the 2-0 win in the first leg for Milan, and you'd suspect they'll need the same again to keep Barça at bay once more.
Leo Messi, Alexis Sanchez and Pedro are likely to get the job of breaking down the Milan display, and the first two warmed up by putting goals past Deportivo La Coruña at the weekend.
This could be one which goes the distance.
Prediction: Barcelona 2-0 AC Milan. Take your pick after extra time or penalties.
Schalke vs. Galatasaray
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First leg score: Galatasaray 1-1 Schalke
Schalke haven't been terrific domestically, but it's been another matter in European competition.
The first leg score of 1-1 in Turkey was a good one for the Germans, who took an away goal with them—even a 0-0 draw would see them through to the quarterfinals.
Galatasaray are largely reliant on Burak Yilmaz for goals, though they will hope to see a pretty instant return from big-name signings Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder.
It's a tough one to call, but we'll go for an away win this time.
Prediction: Galatasaray 2-1 Schalke
Bayern Munich vs. Arsenal
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First leg score: Arsenal 1-3 Bayern Munich
This is arguably the tie which looks most dead and buried.
Bayern were simply far, far better than Arsenal in the first leg and deserved their two-goal advantage. Arsenal have no choice but to come out with an attacking mentality for the second leg and hope they can get the first goal to put pressure on the Germans.
In truth, though, since there are few better teams than Bayern who can exploit sides on the counter-attack, they could easily bury Arsenal in this second leg.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-2 Bayern Munich
Malaga vs. Porto
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First leg score: Porto 1-0 Malaga
This may be the tightest game of all after the first leg, with home side Porto doing just enough to beat Malaga through a disputed goal.
At home, the Spanish side should be far more inclined to attack Porto, and they will need their main men in attack to be firing.
Porto will no doubt try to keep things tight as they look to preserve their slender lead, but they also know that an away goal for themselves would make things very difficult for Malaga, who would then have to score three times to go through.
Prediction: Porto 1-2 Malaga. Porto to progress on away goals.