The Champions League is back with a full slate of second leg fixtures set to kick off this week.
The first leg of the Champions League Knockout Phase provided us with some scintillating matches. Some ties are all but decided while others are thinly poised. Nothing is decided however, and there will definitely be some twists and turns as Europe’s best strive to advance to the quarterfinals.
In the first leg, we saw Atletico Madrid and Tottenham exploit their home field advantages to record strong victories over Juventus and Borussia Dortmund respectively.
A supposedly weakened Paris St. Germain team stamped their authority on their tie with a 2-0 win over Manchester United. Similarly, Real Madrid and Manchester City scored crucial away wins (with the added bonus of away goals). Lastly, Liverpool vs Bayern Munich and Lyon vs Barcelona ended in goalless stalemates.
There’s all to play for in the return legs, and I just have a feeling we may see some classics.
Here are the fixtures for the Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg:
Tuesday 5th March
Wednesday 6th March
Tuesday 12th March
Wednesday 13th March
Without further ado, here are the Players Picks for the UCL Second Leg:
Marc Andre Ter Stegen (€6.0m, Barcelona vs Lyon)
Barcelona’s keeper has been in beastly form, earning points for his team with crucial saves, On current performances, it’s only a matter of time before usurps Manuel Neuer to become the Germany #1. With home comforts at the Nou Camp, a clean sheet could well be on the cards.
Ederson (€5.5m, Manchester City vs Schalke)
The first leg match-up in Germany proved to be a banana skin for the English champions, but the Brazilian goalkeeper can expect less action at home in the Etihad.
Gianluigi Buffon( €5.8m, PSG vs Manchester United)
Manchester United face a daunting trip to France to try to do the unthinkable. Down 2 away goals and without the services of suspended Paul Pogba, this could be a formality which would suit Buffon owners nicely.
Hugo Lloris (€5.7m, Borussia Dortmund vs Tottenham)
Having done the business in the first leg and with domestic silverware now out of their reach, Spurs will be aiming to sew up qualification. Dortmund seems to have lost their way since the first leg defeat and their scoring issues bode well for the French #1.
Iker Casillas (€5.7m, FC Porto vs Roma)
The Spanish shot stopper will relish the opportunity to build on his Champions League pedigree when Porto aim to reverse their tie with Roma. I’m backing Saint Iker to keep the Romans quiet in the second leg.
Gerard Pique (€6.0m, Barcelona vs Lyon)
Fresh off of back to back victories against Real Madrid, Barcelona are in fine fettle to welcome Lyon to the Camp Nou. After a goalless first leg, Pique will marshll the defense from the back and is also a good shout for attacking points.
Alex Telles (€5.4m, Porto vs Roma)
The penalty kicking wing back is the standout defensive option for Porto when they welcome Roma to the Estadio Dragao.
Vincent Kompany (€4.7m, Manchester City vs Schalke)
Manchester City suffered a scare in Germany, but they should be able to take care of business at the Etihad. Captain Kompany should lead his team with Nicolas Otamendi suspended and John Stones just coming back from injury.
Alex Sandro (€5.9m, Juventus vs Atletico Madrid)
The Brazilian full back will need to contribute at both ends of the pitch if Juve are to stand any chance of turning this tie around.
Raphael Varane (€5.3m, Real Madrid vs Ajax)
With Sergio Ramos now suspended for intentionally getting booked in the 1st leg, it's left to the French stopper to carry the brunt of defensive responsibility for the defending champions.
Raheem Sterling (€9.6m, Manchester City vs Schalke)
The England attacker should be heavily involved in the attacking phase for City against a plucky but unfancied Schalke team.
Kingsley Coman (€7.0m, Bayern Munich vs PSG)
The exuberant and positive French winger will be given license to attack Liverpool's flanks and could be in for some points.
Sadio Mane (€9.0m, Bayern Munich vs Liverpool)
The enigmatic Senegalese winger has rediscovered his form and will be key if Pool are to progress to the next round.
Yacine Brahimi (€7.0m, Porto vs Roma)
A weekend loss to arch rivals Benfica may suggest that Porto have one eye on the Champions League. The Algerian attacking midfielder could chip in with goals/assists here.
Jadon Sancho (€4.9m, Borussia Dortmund vs Tottenham Hotspur
If Dortmund are to stand any chance of turning this tie around, they will have to attack Spurs from the start and get on the front foot early. The young English winger should be heavily involved in the Dortmund press in front the fans at the Signal Iduna Park.
Luis Suarez (€11.6m, Barcelona vs Lyon)
He's got his mojo back! After an indifferent start to the season, the Uruguayan has been in white hot form in recent weeks. I'm going for him as a differential to the all popular Messi as the Barca striker of choice in this matchday.
Kylian Mbappe (€10.0m, PSG vs Manchester United)
No Neymar, no problem! The dynamite French striker is virtually unstoppable at the moment, underlined by his two goals against Caen. His pace and guile were simply too much for the United defense in the first leg and they can expect more of the same at the Parc Des Princes.
Cristiano Ronaldo (€12.0m, Juventus vs Atlético Madrid)
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. In the wake of Juve's 1st leg defeat, Ronaldo was quick to remind the baying Atlético fans of his credentials, signalling his 5 UCL titles. It will take a performance of the ages to turn this tie around, but only a brave man would bet against the Champions League G.O.A.T.
Antoine Griezmann (€10.6m, Juventus vs Atlético Madrid)
The Frenchman was all over the pitch in the first leg, tormenting the Juve back line. He'll be hungry to finish the job in what should be an epic battle in Turin.
Moussa Marega (€8.0m, Porto vs Roma)
The powerhouse Malian striker returned from injury at the weekend and should slot right back into the Porto lineup. He’s an important focal point, good for goals and assists.
Karim Benzema (€9.8m, Real Madrid vs Ajax)
Real Madrid are wobbling again, but surely they will turn in a performance of merit at the Bernabeu. The French striker is currently in the best goal-scoring form of his career and will try to add to his tally here.
Robert Lewandowski (€11.3m, Liverpool vs Bayern Munich)
The tournament top-scorer will take center stage for Liverpool’s visit. If Bayern are to advance, he'll likely be the one featuring on the highlight reel.
Where are you currently in your mini leagues? Do you plan to use any of your chips in the Round of 16? Which players are on your radar for this round of matches? And which matches will you watch as a fan? Please let us know in the comments below!