Sixteen teams stood idly by, awaiting the results of the draw that would pit the eight group winners versus the eight group runner-ups. In a tournament as prestigious as the UEFA Champions League, every matchup will be hotly contested. Some teams are weaker on paper than the others, but every team that has made it to this stage has one thing in common—they can all play some damn good football.
Previews and predictions below
Most will just blindly pick United to progress here, but there is no doubt that no team wanted to draw AC Milan. It seems no matter what team AC throws on the field, no matter how they're doing domestically, there going to give any team a run for their money come come CL time.
I fully expect this matchup to come down to the wire, and I wouldn't be surprised to see this draw be decided on penalties. United are the better team on paper, but like previously stated never count Milan out when it comes to the Champions League.
Prediction: I think Milan will frustrate United's attack and play a good defensive style to squeeze out a win at home, and doing the same to earn a draw at Old Trafford.
The Return of Benzema
Lyon had one of the best defenses in the Group Stages only conceding three goals in six games and while I think they will do their best to try and contain the new Galacticos I don't think they quite have the team to do so. I'm not counting out Lyon though. In the summer to address their horrid defense Real Madrid went out and purchased C.Ronaldo , Kaka and Xabi Alonso . Yes, that was a joke—something Real Madrids defense was last year. If Lyon can absorb Real's attacks and play a sound counter attacking game they can definitely pull the upset here.
A player to watch in this one is young left back Aly Cissokho . Last year Cissokho's Porto did well against Ronaldo's United and Cissokho really made a name for himself in that series, which led to his transfer to Lyon. And really, what more motivation do you need to beat a team other than the fact they spent in excess of $268 million on transfers.
Real Madrid take the win in this one in my opinion. I doubt they'll roll through Lyon but I think Real will be able to get a favorable result in France and then finish the job at the Bernabéu.
This should be a matchup for the eyes. I think this should be a contest that will not only produce an interesting result, but a contest where you will regret not catching both legs. I like how these teams matchup, and while Bayern is the favorite there is no reason Fiorentina can't go through to the quarters. Ribery and Schweinsteiger will cause problems on the flanks for Fiorentina but Bayern's back-line will have problems containing the very creative Stevan Jovetic .
Relatively unknown, Fiorentinas manager Cesare Prandelli let him get valuable experience last season—even when he wasn't performing his best, and now he is one of Europe's best youngsters at age 20.
I think this one comes down to the form of Fiorentina Goalkeeper Sebastian Frey . When he's on, he's one of the best keepers in the world. If Fiorentina can play solid defense against a talented offensive team in Bayern Munich they can pull the win. But I think a better way to predict this one would be to flip a coin.
Arsenal's trophy cabinet has been very bare of recent, and I don't know if they have the team to win the Champions League but they do have potential. Arsenal are always a treat to watch, but they don't always get the result, but they should be able to get it here. Two players for Porto that will be huge (besides captain Bruno Alves ) will be DMF Fernando and Forward Hulk.
Last year versus Manchester United, United actually had to start utilizing the flanks more than they wanted, just to avoid Fernando in central midfield. While Fabregas' form has sort of been a rollercoaster, he should be a big factor in this one. And Hulk at age 23 has established himself as one of Europe's best forwards, a real goal threat.
Porto will have their hands full with Arshavin and co. but to be honest I see Porto pulling the upset in this one. I think this could be a draw-draw and we get to see some extra time and maybe penalties at the Emirates on March 9th.
Bordeaux looked really good in qualifying, finishing ahead of Juventus and Bayern Munich. Olympiakos showed some signs of brilliance, but Bordeaux rolled in the group stages and are rolling domestically with a huge point gap on second placed Marseille . I can confidently say I think Bordeaux have the potential for a good run this year, and I think they got a favorable matchup here.
Yohann Gourcuff will be instrumental for Bordeaux and I see little chance of an upset in this one. Cinderella, put away one slipper because Olympiakos is done.
Stuttgart have been absolute trash domestically, sitting well in the bottom half of the Bundesliga table. Really, I think there the product of a weaker Champions League group (which included a Rangers team that looked off the whole tournament, Sevilla, and Champions League newcomers Romanian side Unirea Urziceni) and will be in tough—very tough trying to contain the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and Ibrahimovic.
The reigning champs have no problem progressing here. No chance at the upset, Barcelona have too good of a squad and are on good form. Maybe if their form drops drastically before the first leg on February 23rd there would be a chance, but the champs are too good and too hot to consider any fairy tale runs for Stuttgart here.
No way, Jose
I'm sure this matchup has been over-analyzed the second these two teams got drawn together so I'm going to try to keep this short and sweet. Chelsea's form has dipped a bit lately, but Ancelotti is a great manager and Chelsea are always to be feared. John Terry probably still has nightmares of that penalty two years ago , and I know this Chelsea team is motivated to go all the way. Mourinho practically needs this win. A great manager, but Inter have gained a reputation for Champions League fails. The great one will probably find himself jobless this summer without progression to the quarters, but if he is he will find a job soon—the man is too good of a Manager.
If Sneijder can stay healthy Inter have an alright chance, but I have to go with history and say Inter will get eliminated. I could very well see Inter playing very defensive at home during leg one and maybe earning a 0-0 draw, but then slipping up at Stamford Bride.
CSKA Moscow V Sevilla
CSKA were a surprise to finish ahead of Wolfsburg, but I think there run ends here. Luis Fabiano and Fred Kanouté will be too much for the Moscow defence, and I don't see a lot of players on CSKA that will be able to continually pressure Sevilla .
I'll take Sevilla nine times out of ten here. Only way I see CSKA pulling it out is if young Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev (rumored transfer target of Manchester United) can stand on his head. Akinfeev is very good, and is capable of standing on his head, but I don't see the team effort of CSKA being enough to over come Sevilla.
Well there you have it.
Now I await you to bookmark this article, wait three months and laugh at my predictions when there all wrong.