Sportsnet’s Champions League predictions for Round of 16


Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo. (Francisco Seco/AP)

The 2016-17 UEFA Champions League resumes this week with start of the Round of 16.

Sportsnet’s soccer panel of broadcasters, writers and pundits offer their picks and predictions below…


Peter Galindo, Barcelona has only lost one of its last six Champions League meetings against PSG. The lone defeat came in the group stage. The Parisians are unbeaten in 2017, but Barca has suffered one blemish in the calendar year and are in scintillating form compared to the French champions.
Los Cules also have a healthier squad at their disposal with the recent returns of Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta. However, Unai Emery’s PSG has coped without Grzegorz Krychowiak and Javier Pastore. 
The major key to this game is Edinson Cavani’s finishing. The Uruguayan has converted 27 percent of his shots, but he’s missed several sitters in the Champions League. With Barcelona’s “MSN” trio heating up at the right time, Cavani cannot be wasteful again.

Prediction: A 2-2 draw


John Molinaro, Dortmund’s form has faltered since December, with the Bundesliga outfit winning just two of nine games in all competitions ahead of Tuesday’s showdown in Portugal.

Dortmund is also coming off a loss to last-place Darmstadt 98 on the weekend, and will be without the injured midfielder Mario Gotze for the first leg. The German side is mired in a genuine funk, and pressure is mounting on manager Thomas Tuchel.

“It is a big task playing a knockout game against a great and proud club like Benfica. They are very fluent going forwards but keep it compact at the back,” Tuchel said in the build-up to the first leg.

Prediction: Benfica wins 1-0.



James Sharman, Sportsnet: Arsenal and Bayern Munich have history together in the Champions League, but despite the Gunners earning some decent results, when push comes to shove the Germans have their number. 

Both clubs are in a bit of tumult this season, despite both sitting where they generally sit—Bayern at the top of the Bundesliga and Arsenal in the Premier Leagues top four. Bayern are trying to adjust to the post Pep Guardiola era. Carlo Ancelotti is navigating a strange time at the club where Uli Hoeness’s return has caused political upheaval in the boardroom, and with legendary captain Philipp Lahm announcing last week his plans to retire at the end of this season.

Arsenal, on the other hand, are in the midst of their annual self-examination when they wonder if they really should be striving for more than just the top four in the Premier League, and whether Arsene Wenger should return as manager. Both teams are coming off wins, but Bayern seem more balanced, and have that added grit that Arsenal is sorely lacking.

Prediction: Bayern Munich wins 2-0


John Molinaro, This could be the sleeper match of the week—Napoli is one of the hottest clubs (and most fun teams to watch) in Europe right now, as they enter Wednesday’s affair riding an 18-game unbeaten run. Meanwhile, Real is, well, Real.

A lot of people wrote off Napoli when Arkadiusz Milik suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his left knee in early October. However, the Italians have thrived without the Polish striker, with Dries Mertens picking up the slack—the Belgian has managed 16 goals in Serie A this season.

Real has won 28 of their last 33 matches in Europe at the Bernabeu, so history is certainly on their side. But Napoli has been in such solid form that I think the Champions League holders are ripe for an upset.

Prediction: Napoli wins 1-0.


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