Champions League back in town

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published

The long wait is finally over and the Champions League is back in town. This week there are four games and unfortunately for Beşiktaş fans, they will have to wait a little longer to see their team in action against Bayern Munich. However, with enticing ties like Real Madrid versus Paris Saint Germain and Juventus versus Tottenham, I would say we are in for anything but a boring week.

Here are my predictions ahead of this week's Champions League Round of 16 action. First, let's start with the relatively humble but still very exciting Porto-Liverpool tie tomorrow. The reason why I find this tie very exciting is that both teams have great potential in attacking and are equally unstable in defending. Liverpool is already known for its scoring potential and weakness for conceding goals, but the real meat here is Porto.

Unlike its more or less stable performance in the domestic league, Porto's journey in group G of Champions League was total chaos. They scored 15 goals and conceded 10 in just six games. Given Liverpool is not a mediocre Portuguese side, be prepared to see a lot of goals.

Next up is Basel versus Manchester City, since I want to spare the bigger, more important ties for the end. To be honest, after losing defender Manuel Akanji and winger Renato Steffen in the January transfer window, Basel's chances against the City machine have dropped significantly.

Though it was able to beat a relaxed, already qualified Manchester United in the group stages, but that was all. It neither possesses quality nor firepower to upset Manchester City. Guardiola's men, on the other hand, will be looking to finish it off early in the first leg and will be pushing for a clear win.

That leaves us with two of the trickiest ties this round and we will start with the Juventus-Tottenham tie tonight. It will be very interesting since Juventus relies heavily on its defense while Tottenham, in comparison, only knows how to play attacking. It is now a matter of which team will be able to dominate the other. In my opinion, since the first leg is in Turin, Juventus will use the home comfort and play it safe. They might try to go for the odd goal but will put everything behind to not concede against a Spurs attack that features someone like Harry Kane.

Finally, we have the biggest tie in the Round of 16, Real Madrid versus Real Madrid. Paris Saint Germain's last two Champions League Round of 16 draws have been unfortunate but Real Madrid's current form is far from satisfactory. It has already surrendered the league to Barcelona and Zinedine Zidane's team seems unable to create chances. Its defense is not in the best of shape either. Nevertheless, it is still Real Madrid and the fact that it only has to focus on the Champions League now makes it even more dangerous. As for Paris Saint Germain, it is clear that the club's offensive game is nearly unstoppable but as Bayern Munich showed, if someone can nip the build-up plays in the bud, the Parisians can become very vulnerable in the back. I would say both teams are likely to score more than two apiece since anything can happen very quickly in this tie.

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