PSG beat Real Madrid and Chelsea overcome by Barcelona: Uefa Champions League predictions

Following the European Cup last-16 draw, Ian Hawkey takes a look at all eight ties and predicts the outcomes

epa06369804 Paris's Neymar (R) and Edinson Cavani (L) react during the UEFA Champions League group B soccer match between FC Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain in Munich, Germany, 5 December 2017.  EPA/CHRISTIAN BRUNA
Powered by automated translation

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain

PSG might just be feeling the weight of the record 25 goals they struck in the group stage. Those goals helped propel them to the top of their mini-league, ahead of Bayern Munich.

The advantage of being seeded? It now looks a little hazy. PSG must face the holders in what is certainly the glamour tie of the round.

Besides the principal peacocks – Cristiano Ronaldo against Neymar – there is the intriguing trip to their native France for Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane and Karim Benzema, the striker marginalised by the French national team.

PSG’s Spanish tactician Unai Emery faces a decisive test. He is charged with establishing the Ligue 1 leaders as a European power.

Fail and he will likely be asked to make way for someone else.

Forecast PSG to come of age, and edge past the champions.

epa06380182 Players of Juventus FC react at the end of the Italian Serie A soccer match Juventus FC vs Inter FC at Allianz Stadium in Turin, Italy, 09 December 2017.  EPA/ALESSANDRO DI MARCO
Juventus are not the side they once were, but they are still good enough to beat Tottenham. Alessandro di Marco / EPA

Juventus v Tottenham Hotspur

Having beaten the holders already, Spurs now face last season’s finalists. Tottenham are certainly the member of the competition’s English quintet who have been granted fewest favours.

Mauricio Pochettino’s squad will feel emboldened by evidence the Juventus are less dominant in Serie A than they have been for most of the last five seasons. Spurs can also dig through the memory bank for some stirring nights the last time they made the knockout phase against Italian clubs AC Milan and Inter Milan.

The idea of taking on the likes of Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini should stimulate Harry Kane.

Expect, though, Juve’s experience at this level of competition to count for something.

Forecast Juventus, by a narrow margin.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Villarreal vs FC Barcelona - Estadio de la Ceramica, Villarreal, Spain - December 10, 2017   Barcelona’s Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their second goal with team mates         REUTERS/Heino Kalis
Barcelona will get the better of Chelsea as the two bitter rivals face off. Heino Kalis / Reuters

Chelsea v Barcelona

Few European Cup fixtures are freighted with as much 21st-century grudge as this one.

But it will be revisited with less of the Pragmatists-versus-Purists caricature that it assumed when Jose Mourinho’s 2004-2007 version of Chelsea were taking on Frank Rijkaard and Ronaldinho’s dashing Barca.

There are still simmering resentments, notably about the negative posture of the Chelsea who came to Camp Nou six seasons ago and snatched an aggregate semi-final win on the way to the club’s sole Champions League trophy.

Barcelona, champions four times in the past 12 years, are leading the Primera Liga, conceded just one goal in the group phase. They hope to have winger Ousmane Dembele and defender Samuel Umtiti back and fit by February.


They hope most of all to have Eden Hazard in the sort of form that lets him be compared with Lionel Messi.

Forecast Barcelona to overcome an old rival.

epa06381908 Manchester City's David Silva (L) celebrates scoring with teammates during the English premier league soccer match between Manchester united and Manchester City at Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, Britain, 10 December 2017.  EPA/Nigel Roddis EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications
Manchester City are overwhelming favourites to beat Basel, and perhaps even the Champions League title. Nigel Roddis / EPA

Basel v Manchester City

It is hard to avoid the impression that everything is smiling on Manchester City right now.

By the time they have to make the relatively short trip to Switzerland in February they should, on current unbeatable domestic form, have extended their lead at the head of the Premier League still further than the 11-point cushion they enjoy at the moment.

Basel must envy that: They are not even at the top of the more modest Swiss championship.

Basel did beat Manchester United last month but it is hard to see they have the tools to trouble Pep Guardiola's high flyers.

City are the club that leave Sergio Aguero – 131 Premier League goals – on the bench for some of its bigger games.

Basel are the club who have Ricky van Wolfswinkel – whose one goal in a season at Norwich City made him a watchword for Premier League ineffectiveness – at centre-forward.


Forecast City to canter through.


Read more

Champions League talking points: Is finishing first a mixed blessing?

WATCH: Fonseca dons mask of Zorro after Shakhtar leave mark


LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates scoring the first Liverpool goal with Sadio Mane of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on December 10, 2017 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Mohamed Salah, left, has the ability to break Porto's defence. Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

Porto v Liverpool

The atmosphere for both legs should be terrific, the Dragao and Anfield being two of the most rousing theatres of continental football.

There was a time when these two club were passing the Champions League trophy between them: Porto the champions in 2004 and Liverpool the next year. Neither have the look of finalists now.

However, Porto’s more recent knowhow at this level – this their third arrival in the knockout phase in the past four years – gives them something today’s Liverpool lack.

There should be plenty of goals. Porto, top of the Portuguese league, have run into potent form lately, with Cameroonian striker Vincent Aboubakar irrepressible. So have Liverpool, also a happy home for African forwards, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Forecast Liverpool to outscore Porto.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United writes in his notepad during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on December 10, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Jose Mourinho has plenty of good memories at Porto. Michael Regan / Getty Images

Sevilla v Manchester United

Seville is a city with fond memories for Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

It was there he won the first of his major European prizes, the 2003 Uefa Cup, in which he triumphed with Porto. There have been two Champions League titles for Mourinho since. At last season’s Europa League, United succeeded Sevilla as holders after the Spanish club had won three of them on the trot.

That sequence bears witness to Sevilla’s knack in knockouts, although the squad has altered a great deal since.

United will be wary of the resilient Sevilla who were thrashed in the Primera Liga by Real Madrid at the weekend. They have been able to raise their game in the Champions League, where they came from 3-0 down to draw with Liverpool.

Forecast United to secure a last-eight place.

Soccer Football - Bundesliga - Eintracht Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich - Commerzbank-Arena, Frankfurt, Germany - December 9, 2017   Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes before the match    REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski    DFL RULES TO LIMIT THE ONLINE USAGE DURING MATCH TIME TO 15 PICTURES PER GAME. IMAGE SEQUENCES TO SIMULATE VIDEO IS NOT ALLOWED AT ANY TIME. FOR FURTHER QUERIES PLEASE CONTACT DFL DIRECTLY AT + 49 69 650050
Jupp Heynckes was manager when Bayern Munich last won the Champions League title. Ralph Orlowski / Reuters

Bayern Munich v Besiktas

The outcome could conceivably have been worse for Besiktas, who defied many expectations in not only making it through a tricky group but rushing to the top of it in style.

But it could have been much, much better for Turkish champions, too. Bayern have to come regard a place in at least the last eight as almost an entitlement.

After a change of manager – Jupp Heynckes for Carlo Ancelotti – Bayern have recovered authority lately.

As Thomas Muller, the striker who won the Champions League final under Heynckes in 2013, put it: “We have national pride at stake in the competition now, because we are the only German club left.”

That is partly because RB Leipzig fell short, losing twice to Besiktas, who can guarantee Bayern a raucous reception for the second leg in Istanbul.

Forecast Bayern to make the last eight. As usual.

epa06369739 Roma's sports director Francesco Totti (C) attends the UEFA Champions League group C soccer match between AS Roma and Qarabag Agdam at the Olimpico stadium in Rome, Italy, 05 December 2017.  EPA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
Roma's sports director Francesco Totti was the captain when his team last lost to Shakhtar Donetsk. Alessandro di Meo / EPA

Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma

An alarming image appeared in Roma’s rear-view mirror when they drew Shakhtar. It made Francesco Totti, who was in the Uefa auditorium in his role as a Roma director, to smile wryly.

Back in 2010/11, the same tie left the Italian club – then captained by Totti – outside the quarter-finals and nursing a bruised ego. They had lost 6-2 on aggregate, defeated in both legs against a Shakhtar galvanised by their several Brazilian players.

Shakhtar are a different entity now, unable to play in their home city because of political upheaval, but impressive in reaching the last 16.

They beat Manchester City – they are unique for that, this season – to secure their place in the next phase. They also effectively knocked out Napoli, who look down on Roma in Serie A.

Forecast Roma to end Shakhtar's dream of reaching the Kiev final.