Real Madrid and their master tactician Jose Mourinho will pay a trip to England to take on Manchester United. United has led the Premier League for most of this season despite not playing very well. Madrid hasn’t played very well in La Liga. They finished second to Dortmund in their Champions League group. However, Madrid seems to look stronger on paper.
They have the most expensive player in the world in their ranks in Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo was brilliant in Manchester United. He carried the team through some matches. His exceptional goals are yet to be forgotten. However United has a new hero now in Robin Van Persie. The former Arsenal man has been playing very well.
United on their best day can be a match for Real Madrid. However, despite the presence of Van Persie, they are definitely not the favourites against Mourinho’s men. It will be very difficult for them to overcome Real Madrid.
Celtic has shown an uncanny ability to score goals with as little as 16 percent possession in their matches. They take on Juventus in the Round of 16. Juventus has had minor blips this season but they played very well to top a tough Champions League group, beating Chelsea and Shaktar on the way. Celtic came into this round ahead of a good Benfica side. Neil Lennon’s side somehow managed to beat Barcelona too.
Juventus will be extremely difficult to beat, especially over two legs. However, considering they beat Barcelona, Juventus will certainly not underestimate them. An upset is possible but is highly unlikely.
Arsene Wenger seemed slightly clueless in his press interviews following the draw. His side plays one of the best sides in the history of this competition. He talked about the ‘up and coming’ German sides in the competition. He seems to not know that Bayern made two of the past three Champions League finals and battered Chelsea in every area of the pitch despite unluckily going down.
Bayern is extremely strong in every area of the pitch. They are amongst the sides which can play a team off the park any day. However, last season, Bayern allowed complacency to get in the way against Basel and Chelsea. This season, they needed to be woken up by BATE Borisov.
This tie shouldn’t be too difficult for Bayern. However, if Bayern underestimates Arsenal, they could be in for a shocking exit.
Two of the most adventurous sides in this season’s competition come up against each other. Shaktar topped their group until the final match-day in the group stages while Borussia Dortmund finished as winners in the Group of Death containing Real Madrid, Ajax and Manchester City.
Dortmund plays a brand of football which focuses on pressing and scoring goals. They can pass the ball very quickly and can counter attack brilliantly. Shaktar’s back-line will be tested a lot in this one. This could turn out to be a scoring feast with both sides scoring for fun leading to perhaps two exciting matches with numerous goals. On the other hand, Dortmund’s strong defence could be the key to this tie.
These two sides met last season. AC Milan did not manage to get the job done against their opponents. Milan has been improving in Serie A. However, they did play very well in the group stages. Barcelona will want to do well especially for their cancer-stricken coach Tito Vilanova.
AC Milan had a chance to cause an upset last season. However, this season it does not seem that they are strong enough to take on a Barcelona side which is running away with La Liga. FC Barcelona should take this one without too much trouble. They will definitely not underestimate Milan though.
A quick glance of the squads will tell you that Schalke has the edge over Galatasaray. They are certainly more experienced considering that they reached the semi-finals in the 2010-11 season of this competition. However, Schalke has shot themselves in the foot. They sacked Huub Stevens. There are presumably disputes going on behind the scenes. They have fallen from second place in the league to seventh spot.
The Turkish fans will cheer on their team vociferously. It is Schalke who should be doing the talking on the pitch though. However, Galatasaray fans will hope Schalke’s situation doesn’t improve soon. They have a good chance of progressing if Jens Keller does not turn out to be a good manager in his time at Schalke.
In hindsight, Valencia had a good group stage. They finished second on thirteen points in their group and held Bayern to a draw in the Mestalla despite playing with ten men for the majority of the match. However, their poor league form lead to the dismissal of Mauricio Pellegrino. Valencia has plenty of catching up to do in the league. Meanwhile, PSG is the leader in the French Ligue 1, sailing along smoothly.
They topped their group and won’t look at Valencia CF as much of a challenge despite the history of the club. It will be up to Valencia to do their homework prior to this tie and to make sure that they do not get too caught up in trying to improve their situation in La Liga.
Despite finishing second in their group, Porto sailed into this round. They have won this competition before and they are an experienced side. They are playing a Malaga side which topped their group. This is Malaga’s first trip to this stage of the competition. Porto has been here several times before.
Malaga plays eye catching football. Porto will hope to win this evenly balanced tie. The task they have been handed is difficult but not unmanageable. They will hope that their extra experience in all stages of European competition sees them through to yet another quarter-final.
|Germany U21||Mar 28|
|Ireland Rep…||Mar 28|