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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 1 March 2021

Champions League last-16 predictions: Barca to beat Neymar-less PSG, Leipzig to add to Liverpool's woes

We look ahead to the first-leg matches taking place on February 16-17

The Champions League resumes this week at the last-16 stage with some truly mouthwatering ties.

Lionel Messi's Barcelona take on Paris Saint-Germain in the pick of the round, while prolific Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo must find a way past a stubborn Porto defence to reach the quarter-finals.

Here is all you need to know.

Tuesday, February 16, 8pm GMT (midnight UAE), matches on BeIN Sports

Barcelona v PSG

There will be no reunion between Messi and former Barcelona teammate Neymar, at least for the first leg, with the Brazilian forward ruled out of Tuesday's match at Camp Nou through injury.

Mauricio Pochettino, who takes charge of his first European game with the French champions, still has a wealth of talent to call on though.

Julian Draxler and Moise Kean were on target in the 2-1 win over Nice, while Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe are also sure to feature.

Four-time Champions League winners Barca warmed up for the first leg with a thumping 5-1 win over Alaves on Sunday, with Messi the scorer of two scorching goals.

Messi and his teammates will want to banish the memory of their last knockout match in this competition - a humiliating 8-2 defeat to eventual winners Bayern Munich - and call on the spirit of 2016/17 when they retrieved a 4-0 loss at Paris with a sensational 6-1 home win in the 2016/17 round of 16.

Prediction: Barcelona 3, PSG 1

RB Leipzig v Liverpool

Liverpool look like a club in free-fall at the moment, confounded by a calamitous seven minutes in the defeat to Leicester City at the weekend.

Jurgen Klopp conceded the Premier League title following the 3-1 reverse at the King Power Stadium, their third successive defeat. The problems at centre-back that have blighted their campaign were highlighted by a mix up between Alisson and Ozan Kabak for Leicester's second goal.

The Champions League has provided Klopp with some of his best memories in charge of Liverpool, not least when guiding the Merseysiders to a sixth European Cup in 2019 with victory over Tottenham.

They face a Leipzig side in a hot run of form on the back of four consecutive wins under a manager who has been labelled 'the new Klopp' by German media.

Julian Naglesmann's side are second in the Bundesliga and have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in Europe's premier competition in recent seasons, reaching the semi-finals in 2019/20.

Due to travel restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the first leg match has been switched from Germany to the Puskás Aréna in Budapest.

Prediction: Leipzig 2, Liverpool 0

Wednesday, February 17, 8pm GMT (midnight UAE), matches on BeIN Sports

Sevilla v Borussia Dortmund

It says something of the form of Erling Braut Haaland's on the biggest stage that he is this season's joint top scorer (6) despite sitting out Borussia Dortmund's last two group matches.

But Dortmund look a team on the brink at present. Haaland's late equaliser against Hoffenheim on Saturday meant they avoided a fourth defeat in five games as interim coach Edin Terzic struggles to turn around BVB's fortunes.

Sevilla, by contrast, are riding high domestically, sitting fourth in La Liga and with one foot in the Copa del Rey final after a 2-0 win over Barcelona in the semi-final first leg.

In Youssef En-Nesyri they have one of Europe's form marksman, with the Moroccan scoring 17 goals across competitions including four in the Champions League group stages.

Prediction: Sevilla 3, Dortmund 1

Porto v Juventus

It’s close to eight hours since Porto conceded a Champions League goal. The kings of the clean sheet now confront the most successful Portuguese goalscorer of all time, although one who is less prolific against his countrymen than he is against other nations.

Cristiano Ronaldo has four goals against Portuguese clubs in 12 Champions League ties for Manchester United and Real Madrid.

The Juventus striker averaged a goal a match in the group phase and even at the grand old age of 36 shows no signs of slowing down: he has 23 goals in 26 matches for Andrea Pirlo's side this campaign.

Prediction: Porto 0, Juventus 0

Updated: February 14, 2021 02:22 PM

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