Manchester City‘s relentless winning form and a favourable last-16 draw against Basel means they have been installed as 11/4 favourites to win the Champions League this season, but are Pep Guardiola’s side good enough to conquer Europe?
City have never won the continent’s top competition but this could represent their best chance after they were paired with rank outsiders Basel (250/1 – Champions League Outright) in the first knockout round.
It was a dream draw for the Premier League leaders and made even sweeter when several of their expected challengers for the trophy were drawn against each other, meaning plenty of heavyweight sides will not be in the hat for the last eight.
Barcelona (7/1 – Outright) take on Chelsea (28/1 – Outright), Juventus face Spurs and Paris Saint-Germain will meet holders Real Madrid so, in theory, the road to Kiev may just be opening up for Guardiola’s men.
Certainly, City shouldn’t have too many problems disposing of Basel. The Swiss outfit are arguably the weakest side left in the competition and a free-scoring Citizens team are expected to see them off comfortably over two legs.
Guardiola will hope to get the job done in the first leg so an away win is predicted at St Jakob Park on February 13, with 0-2, on offer at 7/1, or 0-3 (37/4) both attractive in the correct score market.
The standout tie of the round is Real Madrid (7/1 – Champions League Outright) going up against a PSG outfit who are many people’s fancies to win the Champions League this season.
It’s a clash that would have graced the final but, instead, one of the big guns will be heading out at the last-16 stage.
It’s PSG’s big dream to be crowned European champions (9/2) and it’s for that reason they have recruited Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and the rest to get the job done, but coming up against Real so early was not part of the plan.
It’s a match-up that really could go either way although PSG’s desire to prove they are the best around may just carry them through, even though Real are unlikely to go quietly and surrender their grasp on the trophy they’ve won for the last two years without a fight.
Spurs sailed through a tough group, finishing ahead of both Real and Borussia Dortmund, and now they face another tough examination against experienced European campaigners Juve (Juve 10/11, Spurs 33/10, draw 47/20 – First-Leg Match Odds).
In recent years, Juve have progressed to the latter stages, with Tottenham now determined to prove they also belong at this level, and a narrow aggregate win for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, available at 6/5, is predicted.
Barca were not the opponents Chelsea wanted, but Ernesto Valverde’s side are not quite the force of previous years, and a Blues outfit with the likes of Eden Hazard, Alvaro Morata and Cesc Fabregas on board, and all desperate to impress watchers in Spain, will be difficult to see off.
Antonio Conte’s men can prevail (9/4 – To Qualify) although it’s likely to be tight across two games.
In the other four ties, Bayern Munich (5/1 – Champions League Outright) will not fear Turkish side Besiktas and should comfortably take their place in the last eight.
Premier League giants Liverpool (16/1 – Outright) and Manchester United (14/1 – Outright) are expected to battle past Porto and Sevilla respectively, with Roma tipped to end Shakhtar Donetsk’s involvement.
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