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Thursday, March 17, 2011

2010/2011 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Predictions by Chris Behrens

by Chris Behrens for World Football Commentaries

Editor's Note

Chris correctly predicted all 16 teams from the group round phase.

Please choose from a wide variety of UEFA Champions League kits/shirts online at SoccerPro.

AS Roma vs Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakhtar surprised the world by topping a group that included Arsenal, especially after getting hammered 5-1 at the Emirates. The Ukranian side is full of confidence and tend to dictate the flow and pace of the game. However, the glaring red mark on Shakhtar will be their form away from home. Roma play well in front of their home crowd and will look to pounce on Shakhtar at the Stadio Olimpico. Marco Borriello will be the key in securing a comfortable home win to set the Italian side up for success in a trip to the Donbass Arena. Interesting tie, but I’m giving the nod to Roma.

At Stadio Olimpico: Roma win 4-1 (2 x 3: wrong)

At Donbass Arena: Shakhtar win 2-0 (3 x 0: correct on winning team)

Roma advance 4-3 on aggregate. (Wrong: Skakhtar Donetsk advances 6 - 2 on aggregate.)

AC Milan vs Tottenham Hotspur

This match-up has goals written all over it and I couldn’t be more excited. Milan sit at the top of the Serie A table while Tottenham amazingly won their group after qualifying for the Champions League group stage for the first time in club history. Gareth Bale will be the difference in this one, as he has been terrorizing outside backs for the tournament thus far, the men in AC Milan’s jerseys clear weak point in the squad. However, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been on fire and Alexandre Pato should be hitting his stride after returning from injury by the time these fixtures roll around. As much as I want to pick Spurs for their exciting play, I think Milan’s veterans will grind out enough of a result to push on into the quarterfinals.

At White Hart Lane: 2-2 draw (0 x 0: correct on draw result)

At San Siro: AC Milan win 3-2 (0 x 1: wrong)

AC Milan advance 5-4 on aggregate. (Wrong: Tottenham advances 1 x 0 on aggregate.)

Valencia vs Schalke 04

An interesting match-up to say the least. Many things have changed since these two squads last squared off in the Champions League back in the 2007-08 group stage. David Villa and David Silva are far removed from the technical Spanish squad while Schalke added experienced Raul and Huntelaar to the strike force (who both have performed to their ability on occasion). Despite the added firepower, the German side have been bumbling through league play, sitting in 10th position and honestly should be farther down the table than that. However, Felix Magath somehow led the squad to top their group. This is one of the hardest match-ups to get a read on, but I’m thinking Raul will be the difference in this tie. Two boring games, with possession dominated by Valencia, ultimately lead to Schalke somehow squeaking by.

At Mestalla: 1-1 Draw (1 x 1: correct on score also)

At Veltins-Arena: 0-0 Draw (wrong: 3 x 1)

Schalke 04 advance on away goals rule. (Correct: Schalke 04 advance 4 x 2 on aggregate.)

Internazionale Milano vs Bayern Munich

On paper (and without knowing anything about the current state of these squads), one would pick this to be the most interesting match-up of all the round of 16. Both squads are shells of their team’s from last season, which both reached the final of the Champions League. Inter looked lost without the chosen one but have done well under the new reign of Leonardo. But they are beginning to show their age. The only thing the team has to really celebrate is the meaningless trophy in the Club World Cup. Bayern aren’t doing much better, already well off the pace in the Bundesliga and searching for answers. However, Munich will be out for revenge in this tie following the master class Inter performance seven months ago. I see Ribery, Muller, and Gomez all firing through the frail Inter defense with ease and getting a much needed boost of confidence heading into the home stretch of league play.

At San Siro: 2-2 Draw (0 x 1: wrong)

At Allianz Arena: Bayern win 4-1 (2 x 3: wrong)

Bayern advance 6-3 on aggregate. (Wrong: Inter Milan advance on away goals 3 x 3.)

Lyon vs Real Madrid

The round of 16 has been a problem for Los Galaticos in the past six seasons and an all too familiar match-up for Madrid will not see them excited. Lyon knocked Madrid out of the competition last season at the same stage in un-emphatic fashion, but both squads have changed drastically in less than a year’s time. Mourinho has made the squad disciplined and organized in just a short time and strolled the team through arguably the toughest group in the Champions League (included AC Milan and Ajax) with five wins and one draw to their name. Lyon play a relatively similar game but rely on physicality over organization. Mourinho’s men have one loss to their name in the entire season thus far and with Ronaldo’s incredible form in those crazy Nike superflys as of late, I don’t see the squad fumbling at this point in tournament.

At Stade Gerland: 1-1 Draw (1 x 1: correct on score also)

At Santiago Bernabeu: Madrid win 2-0 (3 x 0: correct on outcome)

Real Madrid advance 3-1 on aggregate. (Correct: Real Madrid advance 3 x 1 on aggregate).

Arsenal vs FC Barcelona

The Gunners could not have asked for any match-up worse than this. Cesc Fabregas will get another shot at his former club and what could have been if he had transferred to the Nou Camp this summer, and he probably won’t be happy. Arsenal’s defensive frailties and disappearing act in big games are all too familiar of a story for the Emirates faithful and Barca will be dying to prove how dominant they can be. Messi is virtually unstoppable at the moment and Sergio Busquets has proven to be a huge asset in winning balls in the midfield. Expect an absolute clinic from the Blaugrana.

At Emirates: Barcelona win 1-2 (2 x 1: wrong)

At Nou Camp: Barcelona win 5-1 (3 x 1: correct on winning team)

Barcelona advance 7-2 on aggregate. (Correct: Barcelona advance 3 x 2 on aggregate).

Marseille vs Manchester United

With only one loss in league play and in Champions league matches thus far, Sir Alex’s men should be pleased with their progress thus far and the draw they received. United’s defense has been a point of question this season, however Marseille’s lack of firepower shouldn’t really threaten the weak defense. Sure the French squad knocked seven past Zilina but that squad is one of the worst ever to grace the Champions League group stage. With no “in-form” forward available, expect this to be a low scoring, dull affair pointed toward United advancing onward.

At Stade Velodrome: Manchester United win 1-0 (0 x 0: wrong)

At Old Trafford: Manchester United win 3-1 (2 x 1: correct)

Manchester United advance 4-1 on aggregate. (Correct: Manchester United advance 2 x 1 on aggregate.)

FC Copenhagen vs Chelsea

A collective sigh of relief was breathed when Chelsea discovered they’d play Copenhagen. The Blues erratic and torrid form as of late needed to see the squad to get a draw like this. Copenhagen won’t be a pushover, however. Dame N’Doye leads the Danish Superliga in scoring, but in reality, that’s due to the squad being over reliant on the Senegalese striker. Copenhagen will be determined and organized throughout the fixtures but the power of Didier Drogba and Nicholas Anelka should see the West London side comfortably satisfied heading into the quarterfinals.

At Parken: Chelsea win 1-2 (0 x 2: correct on win)

At Stamford Bridge: Chelsea win 3-1 (0 x 0: wrong)

Chelsea advance 5-2 on aggregate. (Correct: Chelsea advance 2 x 0 on aggregate.)

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About the Author

Chris Behrens, Champions League Correspondent, soccerpro.com

Chris gets his all of his licensed soccer equipment at soccerpro.com.

Please check out SoccerProse: A soccer blog for soccer players, fans, parents and coaches.

Do you agree or disagree with Chris? Please let us know your own selections in the comments section.

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Steve Amoia said...

Chris, thank you for another excellent commentary.

Steve Amoia said...

Chris was correct on five out of eight selections in the round of 16.

Overall, he has picked 21 out of 24 correct teams in the UCL.

Stay tuned for his quarterfinal round choices.

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