Champions League Round of 16 Preview

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

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The first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 will be played next week in stadiums across Europe. In some of these matches, heavy underdogs will look to play giant killer, while in others top teams will clash too early in the tournament with one of the two having to take an early exit.

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Juventus vs. Tottenham

Date and Time: February 13, 2018, 2:45 p.m. ET

Location: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy

US Television Coverage: FS1

Betting Line: Juventus -0.5, O/U 2, 2.5

This will be a battle of two teams that play totally different styles of soccer. Juventus has prided itself on its defense more than perhaps any other club team in the world. They have arguably the best goalkeeper of the modern era in Gianluigi Buffon, who is still going strong at the age of 40, and a talented, physical backline. However, they will not have one of their best players available for this match as midfielder Juan Cuadrado has already been ruled out.

Tottenham is going to rely heavily on its two young Englishmen to try to notch a crucial away goal. Harry Kane has already proven himself to be one of the top forwards in the world at the age of 24, having recently notched his 100th goal for the Spurs. Dele Alli has been in his shadow somewhat, but is a talented player in his own right too.

Basel vs. Manchester City

Date and Time: February 13, 2018, 2:45 p.m. ET

Location: St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland

US Television Coverage: FS2

Betting Line: Manchester City -1.5, O/U 3

Even though this game is in Switzerland, Manchester City are heavy road favorites based on what they have done so far this season. Man City has dominated in the Premier League and wiped the floor with its competition in the Group Stage too, only dropping their final match which meant absolutely nothing. The Blues have a bevy of talent in the midfield and will use that to try to control possession against Basel.

There’s no doubt that this will be an uphill battle for Basel. This team does have some young, extremely talented players though, giving them a shot at pulling off the upset. Dimitri Oberlin has drawn interest from some of the biggest clubs in the world and knows this is his chance to shine. Look for him to create one or two chances for himself in this one.

Porto vs. Liverpool

Date and Time: February 14, 2018, 2:45 p.m. ET

Location: Estadio de Dragao, Porto, Portugal

US Television Coverage: FS2

Betting Line: Liverpool PK, -0.5 -121, O/U 2.5, 3

Jurgen Klopp has Liverpool back in the Champions League for the first time in nearly a decade and is looking to make the most of it. Liverpool has a favorable draw for this one, but most avoid the inconsistency that has plagued the club in England. This team seems to get up against its best opponents, but also plays down to its competition far too often for a club so talented.

Porto is no pushover. This is the top team in Portugal by a wide margin. Few teams are as good at developing young players as Porto is and some of them will be on display in this one. Yacine Brahimi and Jesus Corona have admirers across the continent and will look to put on a show.

Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain

Date and Time: February 14, 2018, 2:45 p.m. ET

Location: Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid, Spain

US Television Coverage: FS1

Betting Line: Real Madrid PK, -0.5 -104, O/U 3, 3.5

There is no doubt that this is the most highly anticipated matchup in the Round of 16. It’s a shame that one of these teams will be making an early exit as they are both among the top five club teams in the world.

This is the moment PSG has been building towards. The club paid a king’s ransom for Neymar in the offseason and then added Kylian Mbappe into the mix as well. They have to be wondering what they have done to upset the schedule makers with their recent draws though, as this team continually draws the toughest opponents far too early.

As for Real Madrid, this is all they have to play for at this point. They have uncharacteristically struggled in La Liga and are 19 points behind Barcelona in the table. Real are still as talented as ever, but it seems something is missing from the side this season. Isco has not played well this season, and this club has not had the creativity it has had in years past.

Champions League Free Picks

Home field usually provides a massive benefit to teams, but I only see one home team winning this week. I expect Juventus to get by Tottenham and that’s it. In the other games, I have Porto drawing with Liverpool, while Basel and Real Madrid lose at home and are put on the back foot going into the second leg.

Champions League Picks: Juventus and PSG

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