The Champions League is once again upon us, with the 2nd leg of last 16 phase being played midweek. The teams that featured on Wednesday will now play on Tuesday and vice versa. In the 1st leg a lot of tactics were used as teams were trying to get the best possible outcome to take in front of their fans. This time around, we are expecting more football as teams should take a more attacking based approach. On Tuesday, we get to watch Valencia as they try to overcome a massive deficit against a motivated Atalanta. The other match covers the Spurs traveling to Germany to face Leipzig as they try to get back in the game and reach the quarter-finals.
Wednesday, on the other hand, has 2 fantastic fixtures. First, Liverpool will try to fight back against Simeone’s Atletico Madrid. The other fixture involves the French Champions, as they hope to defeat Dortmund and finally progress further in the UCL. However, more about the fixtures below in our predictions.
Valencia vs Atalanta
The Spanish side is considered out of the tournament by a lot of experts. Not only did they lose 4:1 in the first leg, Valencia were outplayed by Atalanta in all aspects. They can consider themselves lucky to have scored a single goal. However, that goal is their lifeline before the 2nd leg. Spanish sides have been able to overturn even larger deficits in the past. As a matter of fact, it’s a well known fact that a Spanish side can beat anyone on home soil. Barcelona and the Madrid sides have proven this over and over again. Additionally, so have Sevilla, Deportivo la Coruna, Malaga, and even Getafe who managed to defeat Ajax 3:0 this year in the Europa League. Nevertheless, scoring 3 goals without a response from Atalanta seems impossible, especially with all the injuries Valencia have right now.
Earlier this week, Atalanta were offended by Juventus’s owner who claimed that teams like them who had just 1 good year in the league, shouldn’t feature in the Champions League. However, the truth is far from that since Atalanta have been building their squad over the last couple of years. They have had several good seasons in Serie A and now it’s time for them to prove themselves in the Champions League. As a matter of fact, they lost their first 2 matches in the group stage and people already had them out of the tournament due to lack of experience. They managed to fight back and get positive results in the following fixtures, including a draw against Manchester City. Ultimately, they finished 2nd in the group and definitely earned their spot in the last 16 round. At the moment, they are on their way to the quarter-finals.
Statistics around Spanish teams suggest that Valencia should be able to win the match. However, will they be able to score 3 or more goals without conceding? The answer is probably not. Atalanta are a highly attacking side and they have scored the most goals in Serie A even though they are 4th on the table. With that in mind, we are backing a 1X Double Chance outcome.
RB Leipzig vs Tottenham Hotspur
The Red Bull side were considered huge underdogs before the 1st match. The Spurs are last year’s finalists and they were playing at home. However, Leipzig managed to use all that pressure in their favor. They held on and waited for their chance. At the end, Werner scored and Leipzig went back home with a 0:1 victory which is a major advantage. Since then, the German side started going through a rough period. They have played 2 uneventful draws in the Bundesliga which caused Bayern to take their 1st position on the table. Leipzig need to find their form because the 2nd leg of the UCL is upon them. While the away goal they scored is a huge advantage, Tottenham are more than capable of scoring in Germany. Leipzig need to play another perfect match like back in London if they expect a positive result.
The Spurs have been on a downward facing spiral since their star player Harry Kane got injured. Son stepped up in his absence but then he got injured as well. Since their match with Leipzig, the Spurs haven’t won a match in the Premier League. Additionally, they dropped out of the FA Cup in a penalty shootout against Norwich. All of this is causing Tottenham to drop out of the race for a Champions League spot. If they don’t improve in the following week, Leipzig will find a way to defeat them once again. The Spurs have a problem up front since their main strikers are out due to injury. Mourinho needs to find the right person who can trouble Leipzig if they are to fight back and reach the quarter-finals. Their German opponents are not at their best as well and maybe Tottenham can take advantage of that.
If we look at squad quality and UCL experience, Tottenham are considered absolute favorites. However, this was true in the 1st leg as well and Leipzig completely outplayed their London opponents. Now they play are home so we have to give the advantage to them. Nevertheless, the Spurs are not going to roll over and lose as they should be able to at least score a goal. That’s why we are backing a Both Teams to Score outcome.
Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid
The loss the Reds suffered against Atletico in the 1st round brought bad times for the whole squad. It followed with a narrow victory over the Hammers and then a devastating 3:0 loss against Watford. It was the first loss of the season in the EPL for Liverpool as they lost their opportunity to lift a title without a single loss. Following the loss to Watford, Liverpool also crushed out of the FA Cup by losing to Chelsea. Nevertheless, they finally got back to winning ways against Bournemouth this weekend. It was a hard fought win which needed a last gasp goal clearance from Milner in the dying seconds of the match. Liverpool have lost their form at the worst possible time. The 2nd leg of the last 16 round is already here and they have a mountain to climb. However, the Reds have previously overturned much bigger deficits.
Simeone’s men are losing the title race in La Liga. As a matter of fact, finishing in the TOP 4 is questionable at the moment, as they dropped points once again against a motivated Sevilla side. Injuries have plagued the squad for a long time which is definitely affecting their performances. Two of their injured attackers returned as substitutes in the match against Sevilla. This is good news for Atletico because they will be fully fit to face Liverpool. Champions League glory might be the only thing that Atletico can manage this season and they will surely hold on to it. Defeating Liverpool 1:0 in the 1st leg was a massive accomplishment. However, they still have to travel to Anfield where stronger teams have crashed and burn. Barcelona had a 3:0 advantage last year and we all know how that turned out in the end.
Liverpool have more quality and the home turf advantage. However, Atletico Madrid are the masters of protecting advantages. Simeone will surely go with a highly defensive approach and strike back with deadly counter attacks. Nevertheless, it’s hard to believe that the holding Champions will leave the tournament in the last 16 phase. To play it safe, we will back an Over 2.75 Goals outcome.
PSG vs Borussia Dortmund
Last but not least, we have an amazing fixture that should have goals scored on both sides of the court. PSG were considered favorites in the 1st match but Dortmund were the ones who took the victory. However, it was a narrow victory and PSG did manage to score an away goal. That goal could be what decides this match-up because the French Champions have been very strong at home this season. They are scoring from all parts of the field and with Neymar back in the line-up, their attack is unstoppable. Still, what will decided this fixture is the defense because Dortmund have a very powerful attacking force as well. It’s hard to believe that they won’t be able to score.
We expect a high scoring affair in which PSG will outscore their opponents and move to the next round. However, they need to play a perfect match if that’s to happen on Wednesday.
Since the 2nd part of the season started, Dortmund have been on fire. The whole squad has improved but it’s new signing Halland who is making the biggest difference. In the Bundesliga, they managed to defeat a very strong opponent away from home and that victory saw them move in 2nd place, just below Bayern Munich. When it comes to the UCL, Dortmund have an advantage over PSG since they defeated them in the 1st leg 2:1. Additionally, Dortmund have more experience in the UCL since they even played in the final several years ago. With all their home accolades, PSG haven’t been able to go all the way in the Champions League. They have so many star players and yet not enough character to reach the finals. Dortmund will try to take advantage of that fact and once again kick PSG out of the tournament in the early stages.
Performance wise, both teams are playing excellent football at the moment. They are getting amazing results and are ready to prove it in the Champions League. However, while PSG might not progress forward, we are fully expecting them to win the match. For that reason, we are backing a Home Side Victory.