Updated: February 22, 2021.
The 2020-21 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 is upon us.
That means it’s time to bring back our distinguished to come back with their latest round of picks.
Here’s how they did on their group stage predictions:
- Chops: 14 of 16
- Tyler: 15 of 16
- Uttiyo: 14 of 16
- Alex: 13 of 16
RB Leipzig vs Liverpool Prediction
Chops: F*ckina with Liverpool this season I’m over it. It was so much more fun when we won every match. RBL advance on a 47-2 aggregate.
Tyler: I was wondering (but was afraid to ask) how Chops was doing with Liverpool doing whatever it is they’ve been doing lately. We have our answer!
RB Leipzig was great in group play, tying with PSG with 12 points in a group that also included ManU. They’re also in-form domestically, with wins in three of their last four and 41 points through 20 Bundesliga games on the season.
With that meltdown against Man City on February 7 (was Alisson drunk??) still fresh in my mind, I can’t see Liverpool advancing, but I do think it will be close. I like RB Leizpig, but barely, as Liverpool will surely pull whatever Mentality Monsters (™) shit it takes to make it interesting.
Also, am I the only who thinks it’s unreal that RBL is +250 to Liverpool’s -315?? The opportunity to bet on the Bundesliga side at that price seems like the clear gift of the round of 16.
Uttiyo: As bad as Liverpool have been in recent games, at least they’ve looked (mostly) good against strong oppositions. Leipzig were kinda lucky to even progress to this stage and despite all their heroics in Bundesliga, they’re defensively very vulnerable.
This tie should have A LOT OF GOALS. Think it’ll be a bit of a rollercoaster, but Liverpool to win it 4-3 on aggregate.
Alex: Jurgen Klopp’s team selection will play a big part. He has to take a chance with Ozan Kabak or Ben Davies at CB and move Jordan Henderson back into the center of the pitch. I think Julian Nagelsmann will pack the midfield and Liverpool need their captain setting the tone and organizing alongside Thiago and Georginio Wijnaldum
I also think the battle down Liverpool’s right and Leipzig’s left will be an important one. Trent Alexander-Arnold is in a bad run of form whilst Angelinó is having the best season of his career.
With the game days away I doubt Klopp will gamble or TAA can turn it around. I’m backing RB Leipzig and collecting a sweet +250 payday with Tyler.
Barcelona vs PSG Prediction
UPDATE: No Neymar! The Brazilian will be out four weeks with a hip injury he suffered during PSG’s win over Caen on February 10. He’ll definitely be unavailable for Leg 1, but it looks like there’s a chance he could return for Leg 2 in Paris.
On a related note, the line on who advances has moved from PSG (-143)-Barcelona (+116) to dead even at PSG (-112)-Barcelona (-112).
Chops: As big of a giant turd as this season has been for Liverpool…at least I’m not a Barcelona fan!
Imagine being worse than Liverpool, with decidedly less talent, AND with 50 billion in debt. That’s Barcelona. This PSG match-up is a nightmare for them. Adding salt to the wound is that Barca’s single target who would’ve made Messi happy – Neymar – just signed an extension with PSG (though he’s injured and will likely not play).
Tyler: I won’t argue, for even a second, that Barcelona’s debt is staggering, and unbelievably baffling, discouraging, etc. I also can’t say a ton in defense of their back line, which sorely misses Gerard Pique and is not nearly consistent enough for me to back this team to make major noise in knockout play.
It’s not all bad, though, I swear! Sunday’s win over Real Betis was No. 6 in a row in La Liga, and made it back-to-back games that they won after trailing. Yes, the opponents were Granada and Real Betis, but considering their recent history, any signs of resilience from this team are welcome.
HOWEVER, that Barca listless 2-0 loss to Sevilla in Wednesday’s first leg of the Copa del Rey semis was bad. It had been a while since Barca had faced any really strong opponents (all due respect to Supercopa champ Athletic Club). The sight of Barcelona getting pushed around by a Sevilla team missing three first-choice starters was not encouraging.
All things considered, Mbappe + Neymar vs. whatever Barcelona will have in front of Marc-Andre ter Stegen — other than Jordi Alba at left back, it’s hard to say who we’ll see back there — makes PSG the smart pick here. And yes, I’m well aware how well Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong have played lately. With that in mind, expect a close one, but PSG will eliminate Barcelona, sending them into an absolute tailspin amid everything else going wrong off the pitch for the Catalans.
Uttiyo: Barcelona’s defence is an absolute mess and can’t keep clean sheets to save their lives right now. PSG’s attack rank among the very best in the world. To make it worse, the likes of Neymar & Mbappe look even more recharged under Mauricio Pochettino.
I think Messi will do Messi things over the course of the two legs, but his heroics won’t be enough to save Barca. PSG should eventually dominate them and expect their front-3 to run riot. Going for a PSG win over the two legs.
Alex: It’s brilliant seeing Pochettino back in management and a lot of clubs missed a trick not hiring him. He operates with so much class and dignity. It’s exciting to see what he does with this PSG squad and Neymar looks to be 100% onboard
Barcelona is on the opposite end of the spectrum. It seems Ronald Koeman is keeping the seat warm for Xavi and I believe someone at the club wants Messi out after leaking his contract details.
Bayern embarrassed them last season and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw something similar here with Barca’s backline issues.
PSG move on to the next round.
Porto vs Juventus Prediction
Chops: Porto is better than you think and also not good enough. They won’t even finish atop Portugal’s top division this season (that will be Sporting, who are experiencing a Bruno Fernandes-driven Ewing Theory season).
Ronaldo will be as detestable as ever, preening and peacocking his way to a 3-4 goal performance and Juve win.
Tyler: I like Cristiano Ronaldo and (USMNT/Serie A superstar Weston McKennie!!) a hell of a lot more than I like anyone for Porto. How the hell did they get here again? Oh yea, by handling Marseille and Olympiacos in group play. I don’t think they’ll fare quite as well in this one. There’s a reason Juve are -500 and Porto are +375.
Is what happened the last time Juventus faced a massive long shot in the Champions League (they lost to Lyon in last year’s round of 16) going to inspire me to pick the upset? Nope. Juventus gets it done this time, advancing comfortably.
Uttiyo: Juve aren’t good enough yet to absolutely trample over this Porto team. But they’re still good enough to advance past this stage. Going for a 3-1 win on aggregate for the Serie A giants.
Alex: I’m more interested in the contest between 37-year-old Pepe and 36-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo. Former Real Madrid and Portugal teammates who have won everything together and it will be an intriguing watch.
Back to the game, it’s clearly Juve who progress here.
Sevilla vs Borussia Dortmund Prediction
Chops: Listen, I’m not going to lie. While filling out our Google Doc on this, I intentionally left this match blank. I then skimmed down to read what our resident Bundesliga expert (Alex) wrote about this one. Then I read what our La Liga stan, Tyler, had to say about a Sevilla squad he’s been verbally ejaculating about all year.
If this were the Europa League, Sevilla all day every day. BUT THIS IS THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE. I’m going to cast recent form aside and say BVB gets their collective shit together and advances on away goals.
Tyler: They’re no spring ‘19 Ajax or spring ‘20 Getafe, but I’m pretty damn into this year’s Sevilla squad. Julen Lopetegui is an extremely underrated manager, and these guys have a number of things going for them, including:
- They’re playing the best defense in Spain of anyone besides Atleti, surrendering just 16 goals in 21 La Liga games this season.
- They have a knack for playing their best against top opponents (see last year’s Europa League final win over Inter Milan and their good showing vs. Bayern Munich in September, not to mention an impressive effort this week against Barcelona in the Copa).
They’re going to be missing their best player, Lucas Ocampos, in this one, though. The Argentine midfielder suffered an ankle injury on a nasty tackle last weekend and will be out a month or more. That’s a huge blow for a team that’s already not quite high-powered enough offensively to inspire a ton of confidence in match-ups against elite opponents.
And if a Chelsea squad that was so up-and-down all fall could blow them out 4-0 in December, how do these guys keep up with Erling Haaland and Co?? As much as I’d love to pick Sevilla … screw it, I’m going with my gut here and showing a little faith in the grit of Lopetegui and Co. — and if you haven’t gotten to know Jules Kounde yet, keep your eye out for him in this one.
The 22-year-old is filthy, and has an outstanding opportunity to turn heads against Haaland, Sancho and the rest of BVB’s talented attacking pieces.
JULES KOUNDE BY HIMSELF 🤯🔥 pic.twitter.com/4cS367hmuN
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 10, 2021
Uttiyo: This could end up being the closest game in the RO16. Dortmund have a ridiculously talented attacking like ft ERLING BRAUT Haaland, Jadon Sancho and Gio Reyna. But, on the other hand, they’re horribly devoid of confidence and are just not good defensively.
Sevilla are a weird specimen. They seem to turn on their mojo during European games. They’re set-up well enough to counter Dortmund’s attacking threat and have enough talent to make em pay going forward. I thnk both the games will be tight affairs, but going for Sevilla to progress with a 3-2 win on aggregate.
Alex: Dortmund’s biggest shortcoming this season is their reliance on individual brilliance rather than a defined playing style to win matches. Their inexperienced caretaker manager Edin Terzič is looking out of his depth and has failed to address any of the issues that cost Lucien Favre his job.
Sevilla is the opposite with Julen Lopetegu in his second season. The former Spain and Real Madrid manager won the Europa League last season and has them well-drilled and organized. January signing Papu Gómez from Atalanta is a great addition who will elevate them in the final third with his creativity and ability to find space.
BVB is miles away from the side that almost knocked PSG out last season and it will be Sevilla progressing to the Quarterfinals.
Lazio vs Bayern Munich Prediction
Chops: There’s very few things in this world I believe in. Death. Taxes. QAnon (kidding). And Lazio (also kidding).
Ok ok Lazio are a fine team.
But they’re not Bayern Munich.
Bayern schuhplattler all over the Italians.
Tyler: This one is not complicated. Bayern (at an absurd, but also kinda understandable, -835) is a no-brainer.
Uttiyo: I really like Lazio. They have some great attacking players. But a match-up against Bayern is perhaps too overwhelming for them right now. A 5-1 win over Bayern over the two legs.
Alex: Bayern advance comfortably. There’s no way their defense of the title ends here.
Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea Prediction
Chops: I’m not as high on this match-up as others. Atleti are having a legit fantastic season. With each match their confidence grows like the bald spot atop Diego Simeone’s head.
Could Chelsea pull an upset off here? Sure. Will they? No. Atleti advance on a 3-1-ish aggregate.
Tyler: I’ll mix it up and write less than 1,000 words here. Atleti at full strength would be my pick, but I want to know about the status of Joao Felix, Yannick Carrasco and the four other Atleti players who have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks.
The defense has been amazing for these guys this summer — shocking, I know. But are the four goals allowed over the last two matches in La Liga (against, and this is the worrying part, Cadiz and Celta Vigo) cause for concern?? I don’t really think so, but Chelsea will test them in a way few, if any, Spanish clubs can.
I’d really like to go with a talented Chelsea squad playing well under Tuchel, and I’m even more tempted since Atleti’s “home leg” will be played in Bucharest. But if the worst Atleti team in a while could shock Liverpool a year ago, I can’t quite pick against them when they’re on pace for a 100-point season in Spain. While I’d feel better if I knew who Diego Simeone would have available, I’ll go out on a limb and take the underdogs (interestingly, Atleti is -105 to Chelsea’s -118).
Uttiyo: Now this will be a very interesting battle. Chelsea seem to have adapted a ‘keep the possession at all costs’ style under Tuchel and Simeone’s Atletico Madrid are more than happy to let their opponents keep the ball.
Even despite their decent start under the German boss, Chelsea still seem to be lacking that ruthlessness in attack and look like a dangerous attacking line can carve them apart. Luis Suarez should have fun against his former rivals and Atletico’s insane defence will be too difficult for Chelsea to get past. Predicting a 3-1 win for the Anti-Football brigade at Atleti.
Alex: I find myself a little torn here. On one hand, Thomas Tuchel is my new favorite manager who is making a real impact at Chelsea. On the other hand, I got Atlético Madrid at +2500 to win the Champions League back in early November.
That payday would be a lovely end to the season so I’m backing Diego Simeone to grind out a 1-1 or 2-2 away goals victory.
Borussia Monchengladbach vs Man City Prediction
Chops: Man City won’t bottle until the NEXT round. City advance. Then bottle in the next round.
Tyler: Nothing to see here. With my luck, that won’t bode well for City, but Guardiola’s team is -1,250 (!!) for a reason.
Uttiyo: Yeah they might be bottlers in this, but as Chops said, City aren’t bottling it yet. Think Gladbach will at least manage to score 1 goal over the two legs, but going for a 4-1 win for City on aggregate.
Alex: I think Gladbach will be more difficult for Manchester City than many people think. I’m a fan of Marco Rose who is a very good manager and excited to see him go up against Pep Guardiola’s side who is the best in the world right now.
City advance 3-2 on aggregate.
Atalanta vs Real Madrid Prediction
Chops: This one is the toughest call for me. Real Madrid have pedigree. They also have serious mileage on those old legs. And they don’t have Sergio Ramos.
This year’s Atalanta is not last year’s Atalanta. They’re just as likely to paste RM 5-0 one leg as they are to give up some weak set piece goal in the closing minute that sends Los Blancos through.
Flip a coin. I’m going with the funner side to root for here. Atalanta advance.
Tyler: Little-known fact about Real Madrid: they’re not nearly the same without Sergio Ramos, who was expected to undergo knee surgery this week that could sideline him for 6-10 weeks.
No Ramos, and too little scoring (39 goals in 22 La Liga matches this year) will surely doom Los Blancos against high-flying Atalanta, right? I phrase that as a question because no matter how closely I follow them, I’m almost always wrong about these guys.
Despite Real Madrid’s tendency this season to respond really well when things look the worst for them, I don’t see them shutting down Atalanta without Ramos. And while they often manufacture goals despite no one other than Benzema posing a major threat, I don’t think they’ll produce enough offense here. Atalanta at +200 seems like a great idea, and odds aside, I’m going with the Italians.
Uttiyo: I love Atalanta. Love watching them whenever I do watch the Serie A. But they might be punching above their weight against Real Madrid. Sure, Zidane’s side might be plagued with injuries and inconsistency right now. But this competition’s almost like his playchild. Madrid won’t have it easy, but should scrape their way into the next rounds with a win over the two legs.
Alex: I look at Real Madrid’s aging squad, and it’s clear to me “The Last Dance” was last season’s La Liga triumph. We should be seeing a different side now but, Zidane has decided to keep faith with the old guard. His first eleven is almost the same as the one that exited at this stage last season to Manchester City.
Atalanta is a dangerous team that can tear any side apart. Their energy, pressing, and movement will be too much for Real’s aging midfield. Gasperini will be taking his side to the quarter-finals.
WHERE TO BET THE 2020-21 UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE IN THE US
In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in New Jersey, Indiana and Pennsylvania.