Typically, our Champions League watchability rankings come out every round, not before and after the first leg. After the results of the round of 16 leg 1 match-ups, though, leg 2 has some match-ups that are substantially more interesting* given where the teams stand after the first 90 minutes.
Below is the list of the Round of 16 leg 2 games, with the home teams listed first.
- Tuesday, March 9, 3 p.m. Eastern: Juventus-Porto, Borussia Dortmund-Sevilla
- Wednesday, March 10, 3 p.m.: PSG-Barcelona, Liverpool-RB Leipzig
- Tuesday, March 16, 4 p.m.: Real Madrid-Atalanta, Man City-Monchengladbach
- Wednesday, March 17, 4 p.m.: Bayern Munich-Lazio, Chelsea-Atlético Madrid
While PSG-Barcelona remains interesting because of the dominos that will fall if (we should probably be saying when) Barcelona is eliminated, that’s unfortunately one of a number of games that appear pretty out of reach.
*Barcelona-PSG, on the other hand, has lost quite a bit of the intrigue.
Now for the rankings (the odds listed are to advance).
1. Chelsea (-360) vs. Atlético Madrid (+275)
(Chelsea leads 1-0)
While this one is certainly there for the taking for Thomas Tuchel’s team, I expect them to have a tougher time at Stamford Bridge than oddsmakers expect. Until this year, chasing goals has not exactly been Atleti’s bread and butter, but maybe in a game that requires an offensive approach, we’ll see “good, watchable Atleti.” It also helps that Los Rojiblancos will have Kieran Trippier and Yannick Carrasco, a pair of difference-makers this season who were sorely missed in leg 1.
The bad news for Diego Simeone is that he’s traveling to meet one of the best teams in Europe over the past couple months. Chelsea might lack experience, but they’re yet to drop a match through 10 under Thomas Tuchel. A defense as solid as what we’ve seen from Chelsea in recent weeks should hold Atleti off. This nevertheless feels like the game that is the most likely to go down to the wire.
2. Real Madrid (-455) vs. Atalanta (+335)
(Real Madrid leads 1-0)
Real Madrid nearly had to settle for a 0-0 draw in leg 1 against an Atalanta team that was down to 10 men for more than 70 minutes after an extremely questionable red card saw Remo Freuler sent off in the 17th. With 11 men on the pitch in leg 2 on the road, Atalanta has to like its chances of erasing the 1-0 advantage RM snatched with a shocking goal from Ferland Mendy in the 86th minute.
It will also help Atalanta that Real Madrid will be missing Casemiro due to his third yellow card of the Champions League in the first leg. Few players have been better than the Brazilian for RM this year, and he’s arguably been Zinedine Zidane’s most valuable piece in recent weeks. Real Madrid has (remarkably) found a way time and time again this season, but Atalanta is great value at +335.
3. Juventus (-175) vs. Porto (+140)
(Porto leads 2-1)
As far as oddsmakers are concerned, this is by far the most up-for-grabs battle of the next two weeks. A year after being shocked by Lyon in the round of 16, Juve is serious danger of going home early again. Their leg 1 loss seemed to cause little concern, and that one almost ended 2-0, as Juve did not score until the 82nd minute. I was as guilty as anyone of writing off Porto prior to leg 1, so I guess I understand the love for CR7 and Juventus.
Still, it feels disrespectful to price Porto at +140 when they have a 2-1 lead. It’s also hard to trust Juventus after their Champions League losses to underdogs Ajax (’19) and Lyon (’20) in recent years. And I haven’t even gotten to the Italians’ play overall in their first season under Manager Andrea Pirlo – the team that has won Serie A over and over again currently has a record of 15-7-3 domestically and sits in third place in Italy, seven points behind leaders Inter Milan.
4. Liverpool (-1,000) vs. RB Leipzig (+600)
(Liverpool leads 2-0)
Somehow, Liverpool is in much worse shape than they were a few weeks ago in the EPL, as the wheels have fallen all the way off domestically. Yet there they were in leg 1 against a good Leipzig team, earning a 2-0 win to remind us they’re still Liverpool. Based on their recent woes, it’s hard to feel totally confident in Jurgen Klopp’s team here, but I can’t see them blowing a 2-0 lead.
5. Borussia Dortmund (-715) vs. Sevilla (+475)
(Borussia Dortmund leads 3-2)
Sevilla is another team that has been humbled, if not humiliated, in recent weeks. The La Liga side was blown out twice by Barcelona last week (once in La Liga and once in a brutal Copa del Rey semifinal second leg meltdown). Things got even worse over the weekend, as they lost to relegation candidate Elche 2-1. In their last three games, Monchi’s team has scored just once, and that came in the 90th against Elche while trailing 2-0.
6. PSG (-10,000) vs. Barcelona (+1,400)
(PSG leads 4-1)
Apparently, my concerns about Barcelona’s back line were justified, as Kylian Mbappe feasted in Leg 1. Barcelona has played well the last few weeks, and shown some grit in this year’s Copa del Rey, but they won’t pull another miracle at the Parisians’ expense. They will, however, have my undivided attention if they can get an early (first 30 minutes) goal or two in Leg 2.
7. Manchester City (-10,000) vs. Monchengladbach (+2,700)
(Man City leads 2-0)
Pep Guardiola’s team is in total control here, as expected.
8. Bayern Munich (off the board!) vs. Lazio (+5,000)
(Bayern leads 4-1)
Bayern has appeared vulnerable at times this season, but they reminded us in leg 1 that their best beats anyone else’s.