Champions League 2014: Latest Predictions for Upcoming Fixtures

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2014

FILE PHOTO - EDITORS NOTE: COMPOSITE OF TWO IMAGES - Image Numbers 180546404 (L) and 178918536) In this composite image a comparison has been made between Head coach Gerardo Martino of FC Barcelona (L) and Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini . Manchester City and Barcelona meet in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match 1st leg on February 18,2014 with the 2nd leg on March 12 ,2014.   ***LEFT IMAGE*** BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 14: Head coach Gerardo 'Tata' Martino of FC Barcelona reacts during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC at Camp Nou on September 14, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 31: Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Hull City at the Etihad Stadium on August 31, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

The Champions League returns to the football calendar, with four big matches to kick the tournament back off.

Tuesday sees German hopefuls Bayer Leverkusen host the newest super club on the block Paris Saint-Germain of France, and arguably the glamour tie of the knockout stages as Manchester City welcome Barcelona to the Etihad Stadium. 

On Wednesday we see two more huge games as champions Bayern Munich travel to London to face one of the season's form teams Arsenal, and AC Milan welcome the surprise package of Spanish football this year Atletico Madrid.

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg
FixtureDateTimeTv InfoPrediction
Bayer Leverkusen v Paris Saint-GermainFeb. 187:45 p.m.ITV1-3
Manchester City v BarcelonaFeb. 187:45 p.m.Sky Sports 12-1
Arsenal v Bayern MunichFeb. 197:45 p.m.Sky Sports 12-2
AC Milan v Atletico MadridFeb. 197:45 p.m.Sky Sports 31-2


Manchester City v Barcelona

Rui Vieira/Associated Press

Once upon a time, not that long ago, this would have been the biggest mismatch in European football as the might of Barcelona rolled up into town to play a team from Manchester in sky blue.

But times have changed, and arguably they are second favourites in this matchup of two of the cash-rich giants in the game. 

City take on a Barcelona team with a depth of experience but might not well be the force they previously were. 

Barcelona have performed well in La Liga as usual scoring 69 times in 24 matches, per Squawka, and they sit at the top of the table, joint on points with both Madrid teams. 

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 15:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona reacts during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid at Camp Nou on February 15, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

But a visit to City, who have destroyed virtually every team who have faced them in their own backyard, will concern manager Gerardo Martino.

After losing to Chelsea, the Manchester club gained revenge by knocking out their Premier League rival from the FA Cup with a dominant display, and Barcelona would have studied this closely.

Can Barcelona really stop City if they are in the mood for an all-out fight? On this occasion that answer would be no. 

When the smell of blood has been in the nostrils of the players, this City side can be the most destructive team in Europe. Barcelona are famed for closing down their opposition, but they will not be able to do it in the fashion of Jose Mourinho's side who shut down their opponents by nullifying Yaya Toure. 

Toure will have a big say in this match and he will cause his former club a host of issues. A victory for the English side is on the cards and they will need to take an advantage with them to Spain to have a chance of advancing to the quarter-finals. 

Prediction: 2-1


Arsenal v Bayern Munich

Sang Tan/Associated Press

The current champions of the competition face a difficult challenge as they take on a rejuvenated Arsenal team, equipped with the German talent of Mesut Ozil.

Arsenal have been a revelation this year and appear capable of mounting a title challenge until the end of the season for the first time in many seasons.

The Gunners exacted some revenge on Liverpool at the weekend, knocking the English league's form side out of the FA Cup, per BBC Sport.

Munich once again look like an unstoppable machine domestically and now lead the German domestic league by 16 points, per BBC Sport.

It is a huge lead, and there is no doubt that there is no side from their homeland who can currently compete with them. 

Michael Sohn/Associated Press

But Arsenal will fancy their chances on Wednesday night. 

Away from home the Gunners have looked weak and exposed at times, especially when visiting Manchester City and Liverpool, but at home they are a different kind of animal.

They will feel they have the tools to take on Bayern Munich and force the second leg to be a competitive affair.

Clubs know how Munich set up, and Arsenal will try and exploit their game. The German side does indeed have the variation to beat any team in the world but Arsene Wenger has added some real quality to his side with the purchase of Ozil.

The German international should revel in this opportunity against his nation's biggest team.

Will Arsenal win? That is difficult to call. However, they will score and force a result to take with them when they visit Bavaria for the second leg. 

Prediction 2-2