Saturday, February 25, 2017

Champions League Returns: Four Last-16 Fixtures Previewed

Milos Markovic in Editorial, UEFA Champions League 14 Feb 2017

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Real Madrid winning their 11th European title / Image via instagram.com

Europe’s elite club competition returns with some sizzling matches on Tuesday and Wednesday and SoccerNews.com have them all previewed for you.

Last-16 matches are eagerly anticipated as fans all over Europe can’t wait for the best football action to return under the spotlight. Defending champions Real Madrid sit in the centre of attention as their fierce rivals Barcelona are also in action this week.

Benfica vs Dortmund

Group stage of the competition was a walk in the park for the Bundesliga side who scored 21 goals to top the group in front of reigning champions Real Madrid. Borussia Dortmund were given a favourable group and the first match away at Benfica, but little did they know that things would turn out dramatically since the turn of the year.

Thomas Tuchel’s men are struggling and their most recent slump against the rock-bottom Darmstadt is the biggest proof, which is why the Portuguese Eagles will have great chance of upsetting the stuttering BVB.

In addition to weak form, Tuchel is fighting the biggest demon of them all as his team’s biggest star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has announced his desire to leave the club, so it remains to be seen if this detail could be of detriment in the forthcoming clash.

Paris Saint-Germain vs Barcelona

There are no secrets between two teams, who had their fair share of matches over the last couple of years.

Last time Barcelona won the tournament in 2015, the French giants were those who stood in their way, but this year’s encounter is expected to be less of a one-sided affair. Lead by in-form Leo Messi and Luis Suarez, the Catalans are looking to finish their job in the first leg already, but their job will not be easy.

For those of you who are keen to back the Catalans to win there is a great 25/1 offer right through this link, even though the PSG fans would like to argue otherwise.

Unai Emery is handed a simple task of getting PSG to the European top and the forthcoming clash is the big challenge for the former Sevilla manager who is coming off from successive Europa League titles.

Champions League is a completely different story and we will see if the French side will be up to it at this stage with new faces like Julian Draxler around to help the team go forward.

Bayern Munich vs Arsenal

There can hardly be a worse moment for Champions League to resume than now as far as Arsenal are concerned.

Do not let their 2-0 win over Hull fool you, Gunners are in dire straits as their form continues to suffer. Individual efforts from Alexis Sanchez were the only thing to keep them afloat against the Tigers, but much more will be needed if the Gunners are to survive the next challenge.

Arsene Wenger will need all of his first-team stars – and most of all Mesut Ozil – on top of their game, but given the fact Gunners lost two of their last three matches, there is hardly any promise.

With their sights set on the quarter-finals of the competition, Arsenal will be looking to overcome Bayern Munich yet again and avoid the same scenario that has been repeating itself since 2010, which is when Arsenal last managed to go through the last-16 round.

Bayern, on their own part are looking for an improvement to their group stage efforts and two defeats which were recorded in the first part of the competition. Carlo Ancelotti struggled a bit, but his team is ready to hit the ground running against their old customers.

Real Madrid vs Napoli

Defending champions head into the knockouts in a subordinate position. Having progressed to the last-16 from the second spot in the group stage, Real Madrid got pitted against the high-flying Napoli in a tie that seems like a rather straightforward matchup on paper.

However, the Partenopei are here to repeat the glory days of Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi, and build on their famous predecessors in the Champions League.

Serie A side are flying high in the league, thriving even without their top scorer from last season Gonzalo Higuain, who left for Juventus last summer. Dries Mertens as a false nine is doing a wonderful job, the host of other attack-minded players are offering great support and Napoli are simply a joy to watch this season.

Real Madrid are not so bad themselves as they sit on top of La Liga, seemingly cruising towards the title.

Zinedine Zidane is actually doing a brilliant job and his tactical masterstrokes are evident in Real Madrid’s play. Cristiano Ronaldo as the true leader will be of particular importance in the Wednesday’s matchup and you can all support him at 25/1 to score a goal at Santiago Bernabeu right on this link.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Milos Markovic


Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia Sportske.net, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently Soccernews.com and Futbolgrad.com. His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.

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