AC Milan vs. Barcelona:
One of the marquee match-ups of the round of 16. Milan and Barcelona are two of Europe’s most storied clubs. Milan has the playmakers up front to make things interesting, but Barcelona has too much firepower for an overmatched Milan back-line. Milan will miss Nigel de Jong in the defensive third and will have a difficult time containing Messi.
Celtic vs. Juventus:
Cetlic produced one of the most shocking results of the group stages with a victory over Barcelona. With that being said, nothing will surprise me in this fixture. Celtic is a very disciplined side that keeps their shape well, which could create problems for Juventus. However, Juventus is eager to assert themselves as one of Europe’s best and have a vastly talented and experienced side led by the likes of Andrea Pirlo and the ageless wonder in goal, Gianluigi Buffon.
Manchester United Vs. Real Madrid:
Easily the most anticipated match-up of the Round of 16. Both of these teams have what it takes to win the competition. The key to this match-up will be the midfield, which side’s midfield will control the game and provide better service to the strikers up front. Mesut Özil and Luka Modrić will outplay Manchester United’s midfield and will make sure Real advances. While Roooney and Van Persie are a better striker tandem than what Real has to offer, I just don’t see Manchester producing enough chances and being able to overcome Real’s counter-attack.
Prediction: Real Madrid.
Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich
This is a tough draw for Arsenal. Bayern is the deepest teams in the competition, along with being one of the most talented. Arsenal’s back-line has an extremely difficult task: stopping the Bayern attack. Santi Cazorla could keep Arsenal in it with his creativity and knack for creating chances and Podolski will be out for revenge against his former team. However, Arsenal just does not have enough to stop Bayern’s vast array of attacking players.
Prediction: Bayern Munich
Schalke vs. Galatasaray
Schalke is a team that flies largely under the radar in Europe. They possess one of the best finishers in all of Europe with Klass -Jan Hunterlaar. Huntelaar is flanked by another talented Dutchman in Ibrahim Afellay. Yet even with their attacking prowess Schalke is in somewhat disarray of late, dropping their last three matches and sacking their manager Huub Stevens. Even with the chaos surrounding Schalke they should get past Galatasaray. Galatasaray has experience on their side with veterans like Felipe Melo, Fernando Muslera, and Milan Baroš. This is a very even fixture that could go either way.
Dortmund vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Neither of these teams should be sneaking up on opponents anymore, yet neither gets the respect they deserve. Shakhtar Donetsk has taken home the last three Ukrainian titles while Dortmund has taken home the last two Bundesliga titles. Unfortunately for Shakhtar Donetsk, they are simply outmatched in this one. Dortmund is very talented with the likes of Marco Reus and Mario Götze. They also boast one of the best mangers in the competition Jürgen Klopp who is a tactical mastermind. Shakhtar Donetsk will need a good home result to advance, because Dortmund is one of the toughest places to play in all of Europe.
Porto vs. Málaga
Porto is one of the few small market clubs that can still compete with the European elites. Porto has had success at the European level in the past and is eager to get back to their success of the early 2000’s. Both have young talent that they will try to hold onto for as long as possible. As far as the match-up goes, Porto should advance, I like Moutinho and James Rodríguez to carry Porto to the next round.
Valencia vs. PSG
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it is never wise to pick against PSG. With that being said, I still believe Valencia will pull off the upset and knock PSG out of the competition. Valencia boasts a quality manager in Ernesto Valverde and a team that has, for the most part, been together for a while. For Valencia,Roberto Soldado is an under-appreciated player who has a knack for finding the goal. PSG is a talented side, but it looks like Carlo Ancelotti is still a year or two away from finding success on the European level.