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City favourites for Euro success in Madrid

City favourites for Euro success in Madrid

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The draw for the first knockout stage of the Champions League took place in Nyon this weekend, with some fascinating ties in the last 16.

Manchester City to win Champions League @ 3/1

After winning their group and receiving a favourable draw, Manchester City are currently favourites to lift the trophy in Madrid in May.

Pep Guardiola’s men have been given the task of facing German Bundesliga outfit Schalke in the next round. The last time they met was in the UEFA Cup back in the 2008/09 campaign, when City won 2-0 in Germany.

The Premier League champions are away in the opening leg on February 20 and are 2/5 favourites to win the clash in Gelsenkirchen.

Having lost some key players in the summer, Schalke have struggled and currently sit 13th in the German top flight. They finished behind Porto in Group D and are as big as 9/1 to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Barcelona will also be privately pleased with their last-16 task, with the Blaugrana drawn to face Lyon in the first knockout phase.

The Catalan giants have never lost to Lyon in six previous meetings in the Champions League – the latest coming in March 2009 when Barca won 5-2 at the Nou Camp.

Performances in the group stage suggest the Ligue 1 side could prove to be a tricky test for Ernesto Valverde’s squad, with Lyon taking four points from their two meetings with Manchester City.

Liverpool to qualify @ 4/5

Having edged through their group, Liverpool will now face Bayern Munich for the first time in the Champions League era.

The Reds are Evens to win the first leg at Anfield and there is the likelihood of goals across both games, with the teams scoring 69 goals between them so far in their domestic leagues.

The European experience of Jurgen Klopp could have a big impact on the tie, with Niko Kovac not only in his first season as Bayern boss, but also his first campaign in the Champions League.

Tottenham to win Champions League @ 25/1

There is a third Premier League v Bundesliga clash in the last 16, with Tottenham drawn to face Borussia Dortmund.

Spurs came back from the brink in the group stages and might feel this is their chance to go deep in the tournament.

But Mauricio Pochettino’s men (11/10 to win first leg) face arguably the most in-form side in Europe, with Dortmund currently unbeaten in the Bundesliga and winning a group that also included Atletico Madrid.

Lucien Favre’s side are 12/5 to win the away leg on February 13 and odds-on at 4/5 to qualify for the last eight.

The two teams did meet in the group stages last season, with Tottenham winning both matches – 2-1 in Germany and 3-1 at Wembley.

Manchester United to win Champions League @ 50/1

Meanwhile, Manchester United’s reward for qualifying from Group H is a tie against the top scorers in the tournament so far, Paris Saint-Germain.

This is the first time these two sides have met in Europe and given the recent turmoil at Old Trafford, it’s not a surprise to see that PSG are as short as 4/19 to qualify for the next round.

But having parted company with Jose Mourinho, United could be worth siding with – especially as PSG didn’t look that impressive during the group stage.

The Red Devils are a big price 5/2 to win the home leg on February 12, while the Premier League club can be backed at a massive 50/1 to lift the trophy.

Another standout fixture will see Atletico Madrid go toe-to-toe with Juventus, two teams that have reached the final twice in the last five years.

This game is likely to be billed as a clash of two of Europe’s big attacking stars – Antoine Griezmann and Cristiano Ronaldo – but it is more likely to be an epic war of attrition between two well-organised backlines.

When the two teams met in group stages of the 2014-15 campaign, there was only one goal scored, with Atletico winning 1-0 at the Vicente Calderon thanks to Arda Turan.

It is so hard to call a winner in this tie (First Leg – Atletico 33/20, draw 41/20, Juventus 19/10), but if Atletico can take a lead to Turin then there is every chance Diego Simeone will be celebrating another quarter-final.

Defending champions Real Madrid have endured a turbulent season to date and won’t relish taking on an ever-improving Ajax (First Leg – Ajax 57/20, draw 53/20, Real Madrid 20/21).

The head-to-head stats certainly favour Real, who have won the last six meetings between the sides, including two 4-1 wins in the 2012-13 campaign.

The Dutch giants should have taken top spot in Group E but were pipped by Bayern Munich. With a good mix of youth and experience, Ajax will fancy their chances of causing an upset given Real’s recent run of form.

The remaining last-16 clash sees last year’s semi-finalists Roma facing 2004 winners Porto in what looks like an evenly-matched encounter.

It’s the Portuguese team that are slight favourites to qualify from the two-legged clash, with Porto 20/27 and Roma available at Evens.

The only previous European meetings came in Champions League qualifying in August 2016. On that occasion it was Porto who came out on the top. The first leg in Portugal ended 0-0 before Porto secured a 3-0 away win at the Stadio Olympico.

Lewandowski to be top goalscorer @ 11/4

Heading into the last 16, Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski leads the goal charts with eight and can be backed at 11/4 to finish the tournament as top goalscorer.

Lionel Messi, currently two behind the Polish striker, is the current 7/4 favourite, while Neymar, who has five goals to date, can be backed at 8/1.

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Warren Ashurst Warren has been a sports journalist for over 25 years, both written and broadcast. Having worked as a radio commentator, he has a wealth of experience of seeing top-level sport first hand and specialises in football, golf and cricket.