The Champions League Round of 16 resumes play with Leg 2 matches this week and next.
On the docket Tuesday are Borussia Dortmund vs. Tottenham Hotspur, and Real Madrid vs. Ajax.
On Wednesday, Paris Saint-Germain host Manchester United, and FC Porto welcome AS Roma.
Can Any Leg 1 Losers Still Advance?
Of the four who lost their Leg 1 matches, let’s rule Manchester United out now. They failed to score at home, need a 3-0 way win to advance, and PSG simply have too much firepower. PSG are now second favorite (over Barcelona no less!) to win the Champions League according to FiveThirtyEight and 97% to advance, and they’ve even moved to co-second favorite in betting markets, listed at +550 (along with Barcelona) on FanDuel NJ. They’re the one lock this week.
It’s also safe to rule out Borussia Dortmund. They got absolutely shellacked by Tottenham, losing their Leg 1 away match 3-0. Their recent run of form would make any Liverpool fan actually feel good about themselves. BVB have been poor. The only things that keep this from being a mortal lock are 1) Dortmund are home, and 2) you never know when Spurs are gonna Spurs.
It would be very Spursian for them to collapse 5-1 here. Still, it’s unlikely. The Spurs will hang on.
That leaves Porto vs. Roma and Real Madrid vs. Ajax.
How Porto and Ajax Can Advance
First, FiveThirtyEight has Porto at 44% to advance and Ajax at 25%. One of these two will likely find their way into the Champions League Quarterfinals.
Porto is at home, and are only down 2-1 aggregate. Ajax are away, also down 2-1.
A case can be made that Ajax was overall the better team vs. Real Madrid in Leg 1. Possession was equal, and they outshot Los Blancos 19 (7) to 13 (8). They did not appear to be out of their depth. While Real Madrid has struggled with form, Ajax have a 13-1 goal differential over their last three games (caveat: it’s in the Eredivisie, where the average team is MLS quality). They’re rested. They’re young. They have a better chance than you’d think.
Despite this, Ajax find themselves a heavy underdog, priced at +410 just to win the game. Mikky Kiemeney (above), wife of Frenkie de Jong (soon to be of Barcelona fame) clearly do not care about your odds.
As for Porto, they are simply a better team right now than Roma. They’re at home. They’re favored to win at +100. It would be more surprising if they didn’t advance.
Expect either Porto or Ajax to make their way into the Quarterfinals. Ajax is the better team, but Porto has the more favorable match-up.