Missing football on TV after the Super Bowl? Worry no more! As the Champions League gets back into action this week, ensuring that you can still get your football fix (of the European variety, that is). Here’s a preview of what’s to come:
Last year’s champions Barcelona get into the thick of things with a tough match against Arsenal FC. The Catalonians are favoured, with Barcelona’s ridiculous Suarez-Messi-Neymar power trio sure to cause a plethora of problems for the Gunners. Arsenal might make it competitive in their home leg, but I expect Barcelona to take the London side apart at the Nou Camp.
Prediction: Barcelona wins 6–1 on aggregate
Another London based side taking part in the second round is Chelsea, who’ll be feeling a bit of déjà vu this year, as they’ll be playing the French champions Paris St. Germain. These two sides also played each other in the second round a year ago, with PSG coming out on top due to away goals. With Chelsea’s struggles in the EPL this season, PSG’s total domination of Ligue 1, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic being the unstoppable beast that he is, it looks like the French side will come out on top once again.
Prediction: PSG wins 3–2 on aggregate
The final English side taking part is Manchester City, who will be up against Ukraine’s Dynamo Kyiv. While City will be heavy favourites, they have an impressive history of choking in European competition, so this game is truly up in the air; however, I expect that they do have enough talent to make it to the next round.
Prediction: Manchester City wins 5–2 on aggregate
The final this year is taking place at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy. While no Milan teams feature in this year’s Champions League, two Italian teams still have a chance to win on home soil. One of those teams is Roma, who will be heavily outgunned against Real Madrid. While the likes of Edin Dzeko and Francesco Totti will probably nab a couple goals, Real’s Ronaldo, Benzema, Modric, Rodriguez, Bale, etc. will prove to be too big of a challenge.
Prediction: Real Madrid wins 7–3 on aggregate
The other match with an Italian side is arguably the juiciest of the bunch, Juventus vs Bayern Munich. Juventus will heavily rely on their solid defensive skills, but I suspect that Munich’s Muller-Lewandowski tandem will be too much for Juventus to handle.
Prediction: Bayern Munich wins 3–0 on aggregate
Zenit St. Petersburg vs Benfica might not have the glamor of other matches, but this fixture does give you a great chance to accumulate Air Miles. The distance between the two clubs is 3600 km, so the team with best in flight movies will come out on top — that being Zenit, after being inspired by Eisenstein’s classic “Battleship Potemkin.”
Prediciton: Zenit St. Petersburg wins 4–3 on aggregate
PSV Eindhoven vs Atletico Madrid is bound to also be a fantastic series. It’s only two years ago that Atletico was runner up, and they’ll be looking to go one step further this time around. PSV will be a tough hurdle to climb though as they knocked out Manchester United in this year’s competition, but Atletico should be able to navigate this Dutch challenge.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid wins 1–0 on aggregate
Finally, we have Wolfsburg vs Gent. Gent is the first Belgian team since 2001 to make the second round, and I think they’ll continue their impressive run by surprising the Wolves of Germany. While they don’t have any household names on their roster, their strong showing in the group stages and in the Belgian Jupiler League makes me think that they’re more than capable of punching above their weight.
Prediction: Gent wins 2–2 on away goals