This is part 2 of my Champions League predictions. The first part can be found here. Let’s get right to it.
FC Schalke 04 vs. Real Madrid: This fixture is a rematch from last year, when Real Madrid powered through to the quarterfinals by thrashing Schalke 9-2. Unfortunately for the German side, there is no indication this year will go any better, as Real Madrid currently are on top of La Liga and have won 22 straight matches, and star Cristiano Ronaldo (who will most likely win the Ballon d’or), has 25 goals in only 17 league matches this year, an almost impossibly good goalscoring record. Schalke can try to make the series closer than last year’s seven goal margin, but they won’t be coming out on top.
Winner: Real Madrid
FC Shaktar vs. Bayern Munich: Time to feel sorry for Shaktar, who hoped they could be matched up with somebody not named Bayern. But seriously, I think Bayern is the best team in the world. Robben, Ribery, Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Muller, Gotze, Alonso…these are all players just in Bayern’s midfield. Add Lewandowski in front, the best keeper in the world, Manuel Neuer, in goal, and an impenetrable defense and you have a team that should go into every single game expecting a win. FC Shaktar isn’t a bad team, though. I think a lot of people write them off because they play in Ukraine. However, they are by far the best team in Ukraine, and definitely deserve to have made it this far (the results speak for themselves). Plus, over half their team is Brazilian, so there’s definitely a lot of skill in that team. But not near enough to keep up with Bayern.
Winner: FC Bayern
Arsenal vs. AS Monaco: What a difference the loss of two players makes. In the past year, Monaco has lost their attack, which was once composed of Falcao and James Rodriguez, who have now moved to Manchester United and Real Madrid respectively. The team that had a firm grip on second in Ligue 1 is now struggling to maintain fifth. Arsenal, on the other hand, is also having a less than desirable league season, currently sitting sixth in the Premier League. However, they have a much better all around team, led by the quick Chilean winger/striker Alexis Sanchez who recently arrived from FC Barcelona, and a lot of depth, especially in the midfield. This will be an interesting matchup, but one Arsenal should win nonetheless.
FC Basel vs. FC Porto: This is one of the more intriguing match-ups, because I think both teams definitely surprised some people by making it this far. Neither side appeared in this round last year, but both have definitely earned their position. Basel survived a group that contained Real Madrid and Liverpool, ousting Liverpool, while Porto won their group (albeit a very favorable group whose next best team was Shaktar). Porto currently sits second in the Primera Liga behind Benfica, and have a very good team which includes league leading goalscorer Jackson Martinez and skillful Portuguese international Quaresma. FC Basel have dominated the Swiss Super League and have won the league six years in a row. However, the level of competition in the Champions League is miles above what they face normally, and Porto should be able to continue their great run to the quarterfinals.
Winner: FC Porto
Well, those are my predictions for the Champions League round of 16. We will have to wait a while to see if my predictions hold true, but for now, Happy Holidays!