Champions League predictions: Lewandowski, Suarez and Immobile all up, Manchester City to keep winning
A look ahead to the last-16 ties taking place on February 23-24
This week's Champions League last-16 matches sees prolific strikers Robert Lewandowski and Luis Suarez, as well as an injury-ravaged Real Madrid and a Manchester City' team who can't stop winning all in action.
Tuesday, February 23, 8pm GMT (midnight UAE), matches on BeIN Sports
Atletico Madrid v Chelsea
Thomas Tuchel takes charge of his first Champions League match as Chelsea boss having successfully guided Paris Saint-Germain through the group stages before being sacked in December.
The Blues are unbeaten in the German's first seven games, winning five on the spin before the recent 1-1 Premier League draw at home to Southampton to get their domestic campaign back on track.
Atletico Madrid were riding high at the top of La Liga but enter the tie on the back of a shock home defeat to Levante. They remain, however, virtually impregnable at home in European competition; Diego Simeone's side have lost only one of their last 29 European home games – though that was against Chelsea, in the 2017/18 group stage.
Luis Suarez has been a revelation since joining from Barcelona at the start of the season, but while the Uruguayan leads the domestic scoring charts with 16 Liga goals, he is yet to net for his new club in Europe.
Prediction: Atletico 2, Chelsea 1
Lazio v Bayern Munich
Bayern swept all before them in 2020, winning every competition they took part in, including a sixth European Cup by beating PSG in last August's final.
The man doing most of the cleaning up was striker Robert Lewandowski, who ended the year by winning the Fifa Best Men's Player award after another fruitful season yielded 55 goals. He has carried on in much the same vein this term, scoring 31 goals across competitions while most recently helping the German champions win the Fifa Club World Cup in Qatar.
One title the prolific Pole didn't win, however, was the European Golden Shoe, awarded to the top scorer in Europe's domestic leagues.
That gong went to Lazio's Ciro Immobile, who netted 36 times to help his side finish fourth in Serie A and secure a Champions League berth.
The Italian is struggling to keep up with Lewandowski in league terms this season, but outscored him 5–3 in the Champions League group stage.
Prediction: Lazio 0, Bayern 2
Wednesday, February 24, 8pm GMT (midnight UAE), matches on BeIN Sports
Atalanta v Real Madrid
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane faces an injury crisis ahead of the trip to Italy, with 12 players sidelined for the recent La Liga win over Real Valladolid.
Among those crocked are wide forwards Eden Hazard and Rodrygo, but Zidane's biggest concern is over the fitness of top scorer Karim Benzema.
The Frenchman, 33, has hit the target 17 times this season and is one of the most decorated players in European Cup history with four winner's medals.
Zidane has hailed his compatriot as they greatest French striker of all time, but said after Saturday's win at Valladolid that he will not risk Benzema's fitness for the trip to Atalanta with so much of the season left to play.
The 13-time champions face an Atalanta side competing in only their second campaign in Europe's premier competition. However, Gian Piero Gasperini's side excel in causing bigger sides problems: they won 2-0 at Liverpool in the group stage, and eliminated another Spanish side, Valencia, in last season's last-16.
Prediction: Atalanta 1, Real Madrid 0
Borussia Monchengladbach v Manchester City
Manchester City just can't stop winning.
The last time City failed to win a game was on December 15, when they were held to a 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion.
Most of that astonishing run has been achieved without the creativity of Kevin de Bruyne. So the Belgian playmaker's return in the win over the Gunners has only made the task of halting the City juggernaut even harder.
The Champions League remains the Holy Grail for City, a tournament they have never won. Guardiola, a two-time winning manager during his time at Barcelona, guided City through the group stage with an almost perfect record, winning five and drawing one. The feeling is with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus all struggling, there could be a new name on the trophy this season, with City favourites alongside PSG to join the elite list of winners.
Gladbach failed to win in four group stage meetings with City in recent seasons (drawing one, losing three) but did triumph in their only previous knockout game. Back in 1978/79, the Germans eliminated City en route to winning the Uefa Cup.
Prediction: Gladbach 0, Manchester City 2
Updated: February 22, 2021 10:24 AM