The return of Champions League football last week was nothing short of scintillating with goals aplenty in the first four fixtures. Predictions of cagey, tactical first leg battles were wide of the mark as teams like Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid went for the jugular.
This week’s fixtures promise to be just as exciting with some tasty matchups on offer. Here are this week’s Round of 16 First Leg Fixtures:
Tuesday 20th February, 2018
Bayern Munich vs Besiktas
Wednesday 21st February, 2018
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Roma
What to Expect?
As an avid Chelsea fan, the tie with European arch rival Barcelona evokes a wave of emotions and memories of legendary matchups in the recent past.
There is absolutely no predicting this tie as form goes out the window giving way to raw and bitter rivalry. If the prior meetings between these two teams are anything to go by, expect lots of nailbiting action and controversy. I’m simply hoping that the tie isn’t officiated by dodgy Norwegian referees.
In fantasy terms, the big question is whether Leo Messi can end his Chelsea drought. I’m staying out of this one as I don’t see too many points on the table in what should be an evenly matched fixture.
Bayern Munich tackle Besiktas in Tuesday’s other match and will want to stamp their authority on the tie before heading off to a raucous Besiktas home stadium in the second leg. Robert Lewandowski is the best bet for goals, but Arjen Robben saves his best for the UCL knockout phase. Elsewhere, there may be value to be found with in form Kingsley Coman and Corentin Tolisso.
Besiktas will be underdogs here, but they are not to be taken for granted. They ran riot in the group stages and will be well up for this match with the likes of Ricardo Quaresma, Anderson Talisca and Ryan Babel providing some decent options.
On Wednesday, Manchester United will travel to Sevilla seeking a positive result. I’m expecting a low scoreline in this one as Mourinho will set up his team to be solid and defensive, trying to sneak the away goal on the counter. The United defense provides some good value, but with uncertainty around several players, Antonio Valencia is the pick of the lot. In attack, Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba are good options, with Alexis Sanchez also likely to be hungry for his first taste of UCL action this season.
Sevilla should attack their guests here and would be expected to see much more of the ball in the first leg. Wisam Ben Yedder and Pablo Sarabia warmed up for this game with goals in their weekend domestic league fixture and will be good options.
The last tie of the round sees Shakhtar Donetsk welcome Roma to their Ukraine redoubt. This is a difficult one to call as Ukraine is a notoriously difficult place to go to. Midfield trio Marlos, Bernard and Taison are great affordable fantasy options that can likely reap the rewards of home comforts. Facundo Ferreyra in attack is also a plausible option.
Roma will set up to stifle their opposition in anticipation of the second leg game. Aleksandar Kolarov in defense is the key option, but Roma boasts some strong options in midfield with Radja Naingoolan and Diego Perotti the pick of the lot. Nevertheless, the single best Roman option is the prolific Edin Dzeko with young Cengiz Under offering an outside of the box choice.
Here is my Team:
- Christensen / Alves / Sule
- Talisca / De Bruyne / Marlos / Sterling
- Salah / Ronaldo (c) / Neymar
- Bench: Fabri / Lingard / Rui / Jorge
Will Chelsea get all of their cylinders firing so they can trounce arch rivals Barcelona at home? Will Messi finally break the Chelsea curse? Will Bayern take care of business in the first leg, and what can we expect from Manchester United? Will Shakhtar grab the initiative against visiting Roma?
Let’s chat and discuss this week’s exciting UCL fixtures.