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Champions League Round of 16 Preview – Week 2

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The Champions League continues as the second week of the Round of 16 matches arrives. I’ve covered week two of the knockouts in this Champions League preview below.

The headlines will be on the repeat of last year’s final with the holders Real Madrid travelling to Anfield. Elsewhere, we’ve got the favourites Manchester City taking on Leipzig in their first leg in Germany. The Serie A top two; Napoli and Inter Milan; are also in action. They face Europa League winners Frankfurt and 2004 Champions League winners Porto respectively.

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Frankfurt vs Napoli

I imagine that most eyes will be on Liverpool vs Real Madrid on Tuesday evening, but don’t write this game off completely, it’s more than capable of being a cracker.

You’ve got last season’s Europa League winners taking on arguably the best side in Europe right now in Napoli. They’re playing some amazing stuff.

How are they faring this season?

Frankfurt are having a decent season domestically and its an improvement based on the last campaign, purely from a league perspective. Frankfurt have already won 11 league matches which has surpassed last season’s tally of ten wins.

The German side have been hard to beat of late, they’ve only lost one of their last 11 matches in all competitions since October.

Napoli are flying right now and they’re a joy to watch. They’ve won a whopping 20 of their 23 matches played in Serie A, and they also boast having the league’s best attack, as well as the best defence. They’re 15 points clear at the top and look destined for the Scudetto.

How did they reach this stage?

Frankfurt came second in a group which featured Tottenham, Sporting and Marseille. You could call it a group of death since all four sides are at a very similar ability.

Frankfurt won three of their six matches and they finished the group stage campaign with a couple of huge 2-1 victories over both Sporting and Marseille. Spurs were the only side they failed to beat.

Napoli breezed through the group stages and even managed to pip Liverpool to the top spot. The Italian side won five of the six matches played and they outscored the three other sides in Group A.

Who will advance?

Napoli are the best side in Europe right now and they should be targeting the semi-finals at least. Now that they’ve built up a 15 point lead at the top of Serie A, it should allow them to switch focus and go all out in the Champions League.

The side from Naples come into the first leg against Frankfurt having won their last seven matches on the spin in the league. Napoli have won 12 of their last 13 at home and they’ve suffered just one defeat at home since March 2022.

Napoli having the concluding tie on home turf is a huge advantage.

Predicted outcome: Napoli to advance

Liverpool vs Real Madrid

It’s becoming a bit of a rivalry this one with the two clubs meeting a handful of times in the Champions League in recent years, including in finals, with Real Madrid continuously getting the upper hand.

Remember Karius’ and Bale’s iconic moments?

How are they faring this season?

Liverpool’s domestic campaign was starting to look disastrous with them floating around midtable in the Premier League and having several first team players pick-up long-term injuries.

With that said, they’ve really picked up in recent weeks. So much so, that the weekend’s win at Newcastle has put them in contention to challenge for the top four. They’re now just seven points behind 4th with two games in hand over Tottenham, and one over Newcastle.

Real Madrid are having a strong season despite being second and eight points behind their rivals Barcelona who lead the way. Real have scored more La Liga goals than any other side and they’ve suffered just three defeats. However, they’re chasing Barca who’ve almost been flawless with 19 wins from 22.

How did they reach this stage?

Liverpool shared the group with Napoli and they were unfortunate not to top it. Both sides had very strong campaigns.

The Reds lost their opening group match, the heavy 4-1 defeat against Napoli, and then went on to win five matches on the spin. The defeat in Naples was embarrassing at the time, but all things considered, it clearly wasn’t.

Straight forward for Real Madrid. They won four group matches from six and edged out the likes of RB Leipzig, Shakhtar and Celtic, three sides who are inferior in stature and quality.

Who will advance?

Liverpool will be buoyed by the fact that things have started to go for them in the lead up to this knockout tie against Madrid.

Madrid though, have a mental edge over Liverpool having beaten the English club in two recent Champions League finals in 2018 with the Bale cameo and then the smash and grab last year.

In between those finals, Real Madrid knocked Liverpool out of the UCL in the quarter-finals stage back in 2021. Liverpool haven’t beaten Madrid in their last six attempts, so it’s not unfair to expect the 14 times winners to get the job done again here.  

Predicted outcome: Real Madrid to advance

Inter vs Porto

It’s difficult to gauge how much interest there’ll be in this tie, especially in the UK, given that there’ll be RB Leipzig taking on Man City simultaneously across both legs. Don’t discount it though as it could be great viewing, and it has cards written all over it.

How are they faring this season?

Inter Milan are second in Serie A which sounds like a normal situation, but they’re a large 15 points behind Napoli already so things aren’t that great.

It’s a mixture of Inter Milan being off the boil and Napoli being amazing. Inter have lost six league matches already (Compared to just four throughout the entirety of last season), so they’re dropping points in far too many matches.

There’s an amazing title race taking place in Portugal with just four points separating Benfica at the top of the table, Porto in second, and chasing Braga in third. Porto are winning matches and doing all they can, they’ve won 10 successive matches in all competitions and they’re unbeaten since October.

How did they reach this stage?

Inter shared a group with Bayern Munich and Barcelona, so getting to this stage is an achievement, as it was a coin flip between them and Barca for second. Inter took four points from Barcelona which ultimately was the difference.

Impressively, Porto topped a group featuring Atletico Madrid, Leverkusen, and Club Brugge. Three tough clubs to get past but they came through the group with four wins from six.

Who will advance?

Inter are the odds-on favourites to reach the quarterfinals, and they should, but they won’t have it all their own way.

The first leg is huge for them. A win at the San Siro would put them in a fantastic position, however the opposite would be worrying. Travelling to the Estadio do Dragao in need of a big result would be a tricky proposition.

Predicted outcome: Inter Milan to advance

RB Leipzig vs Man City

This is an interesting tie. Man City are heavy odds-on favourites to edge past their German opponents, however they have shown vulnerabilities in recent weeks against the likes of Tottenham and Nottingham Forest.

Leipzig are not a side that you can afford an off day against, they’ve got several players who can hurt you. Including familiar names in Christopher Nkunku returning and Timo Werner, but also Andre Silva and Dominik Szoboszlai.

How are they faring this season?

Leipzig are 5th in the Bundesliga, likely around where you’d expect them to be, and there won’t be much to separate their last campaign and this. They did secure the 4th spot last time around though, and they’ll be hoping to do the same again as it’ll keep them in the Champions League.

Man City are in a huge title race with Arsenal in the Premier League. A two-horse race? Man United fans might argue against that. City looked like they’d taken charge with that huge win at the Emirates, but then they fluffed their lines at Forest which was damaging given Arsenal’s dramatic win over Villa.

How did they reach this stage?

Leipzig finished second in their group behind Real Madrid. The impressive thing is that they lost their opening two matches before going on a run of four successive wins which included a huge 3-2 home win over Real Madrid.

Man City breezed through their group. Granted it was expected, but to avoid defeat and concede just two goals in a Champions League group featuring Dortmund, Sevilla and Copenhagen is impressive no matter who you are.

Who will advance?

RB Leipzig are no pushovers, but City should advance. This competition is the be-all and end-all for that club, and it’s the reason they went all out for Haaland. His goals could take them all the way this year.

City should be careful. If they fail to take their chances like they did at Forest, then Leipzig are an attacking outfit capable of punishing them.

Predicted outcome: Man City to advance

That’s all for this Champions League preview. You can also check out my Bet Builder Stats Packs for each of the games if you’re picking a bet builder.

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