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Champions League Previews for Matchdays I and II

Updated on February 17, 2014

With the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League kickoff, there is reason to review and gain an understanding of each matchup.

The most anticipated tie will feature Manchester City at home against Barcelona. The absence of Sergio Aguero will remain an interesting note to follow through the course of the game. Additionally, Barcelona expect a full-strength squad.

Arsenal's hosting of defending champs Bayern Munich should also provide an entertaining viewing. Bayern are favored to advance through this round and continue the defense of its title. Arsenal fans can enjoy a glimmer of hope knowing that Franck Ribery will miss the match.

AC Milan have played this deep in the tournament more recently than Atletico Madrid and this experience will be one of its few advantages going into the match. Atletico have the ability to play at high levels and have maintained incredible form since the season began.

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) have taken last season's scoring proficiency and added a vastly improved possession rate. Bayer Leverkusen have dropped form since the winter break and face a high-grade, uphill battle toward the next round.

Yaya Toure
Yaya Toure | Source
Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi | Source

Manchester City vs. Barcelona

Why Manchester City will win:

  • Star-studded starting XI
  • Physicality
  • Success in a difficult league
  • Ability of Yaya Toure to score
  • Superior set-pieces

Why Barcelona will in:

  • Sergio Aguero out
  • Lionel Messi in
  • Superior passing and possession
  • Depth built for an abundance of tournaments
  • Experience

Prediction:
Barcelona win. Compared to the rest of Europe's elite teams, Manchester City's home pitch advantage is exaggerated and inflated following a few lopsided results. For example, City's shots conceded at home are 9.6 while Barcelona have conceded only 6.7. For shots on target per home match, Manchester City also trail Barcelona by a rate of 7.8 to 6.9. In both categories, Manchester City do not even lead their own domestic league. It is a rare match that City face a team so stingy with the ball as Barcelona. One may safely assume the preparedness of City to be lacking.

What will be the result?

See results
Sidney Sam
Sidney Sam | Source
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic | Source

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Paris Saint-Germain

Why Bayer Leverkusen will win:

  • Productive attackers
  • Consistent service
  • Counter-attacks
  • Experience from a more talented domestic league

Why Paris Saint-Germain will win:

  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic dominace
  • World-class defense
  • Improved possession and passing
  • Solidification of midfield

Prediction:
PSG win. The Parisian's most noticeable improvements over last year come from passing and possession. Last season, it was not uncommon for PSG to finish a match with less than 50% possession. This season, PSG trail only Bayern and Barcelona in average possession (66.4%), and are second to Barcelona in passing success rate (89.7%). Currently, Leverkusen are in poor form, scoring only six goals over its past six matches, leading to losses in four of them. It is safe to ascertain the promise generated in the first half of the season is being forgotten. Look for PSG to dictate flow and win comfortably.

What will be the result?

See results
Thomas Mueller
Thomas Mueller | Source
Santi Cazorla
Santi Cazorla | Source

Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich

Why Arsenal will win:

  • Creativity
  • Brilliant coaching
  • Preparation
  • Quality schematics

Why Bayern Munich will win:

  • Overwhelming work-rate
  • Pitch coverage
  • Speed on the flanks
  • Oscillating triangles
  • Maintaining possession

Prediction:
Bayern Munich win. Die Roten have not lost a step with the arrival of a new coach. Arguments stating Pep Guardiola's creative formations improve upon the squad that set records in 2013 can readily be made. Bayern lead the world in possession percentage (70.4), shots per game (19.2), and shots on target per game (8). They are top five in the world in passing success (88.5 %) and shots conceded (9). While Arsenal display a wealth of talent and top-flight coaching, it seems near impossible that the Gunners will knockout the defending champions. Additionally, the injuries to Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott are crippling.

What will be the result?

See results
Diego Costa
Diego Costa | Source
Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli | Source

AC Milan vs. Atletico Madrid

Why AC Milan will win:

  • Potential of Mario Balotelli
  • Percentage of possession
  • Quality passing
  • Shot-creation
  • Home pitch advantage

Why Atletico will win:

  • Fantastic form since start of season
  • Set-piece proficiency
  • Experienced forwards
  • Organization
  • Counter-attacking

Prediction:
Atletico win. This matchup is truly a tale of two opposite fortunes. Atletico are in a three-way draw atop La Liga along with Barcelona and Real Madrid. They boast only two league losses all season and a goal difference of +43, allowing a mere 16 goals during this campaign. Although AC Milan have not lost at home during the Champions League this season, a win is improbable. An unfortunate number of injuries to key players have led to a mediocre season; players, such as Stephan El Shaaraway and Robinho, will miss this match as well.

What will be the result?

See results

Recap

The quality of Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, and Atletico should result in expected wins. The match between Manchester City and Barcelona will be the premier tie in this week's games. Each team are on equal footing in terms of superstars and affinities for scoring. Both sides are goal-juggernauts and possess creative midfields which easily process scoring chances.


Predictions:

Barcelona over Manchester City

PSG over Bayer Leverkusen

Bayern Munich over Arsenal

Atletico over AC Milan

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