Monday, December 14, 2015

Champions League Draw: Arsenal has it tough, PSG get Chelsea again

In the wee hours of this morning, the draw was made for the Champions League round of 16. There isn't really a dull match in the bunch either.

Arsenal vs. Barcelona
This was probably worst case scenario for the Gunners. They had their sights set on perhaps a trip to Russia to play St. Petersburg, or perhaps a date with Wolfsburg, but instead they are hit with the defending champions. Barcelona are certainly one of the best of the round 16 and would be favored over anyone they could possibly play. This isn't a death sentence for Arsenal, though. The squad is a little beat up right now, but by the end of February they will be much healthier. They did beat Bayern Munich at home to rescue their Champions League season, so if they replicate that performance against Barcelona they could be fine. They would just need to avoid getting hammered in Spain.

PREDICTION: Barcelona gets an away goal at the Emirates and rolls back at home to take the tie.

Paris St. Germain vs. Chelsea
PSG was hoping to avoid Chelsea for no other reason than bad history against them. Chelsea have been the source of their demise too many times in this competition to desire to play them, even in their sad state. Chelsea had similar aspirations to Arsenal as to who they wanted to play, and they kind of got the short end of the stick too. They can win, but it would mean putting aside all of their struggles for the year and playing like they did all of last season.

PREDICTION: Chelsea get outclassed by the est team in France and we all get more reasons to crap on Jose Mourinho (if he's still around by then).

Dynamo Kiev vs. Manchester City
Manchester City gets the best draw of all the England teams. Dynamo Kiev can be tough on the road, but I expect City to make their fortune through a rout at home,

PREDICTION: Manchester City plays it close to the belt in the first leg, but then steps on the gas and leaves Dynamo far behind when they come to Etihad Stadium.

Gent vs. Wolfsburg
Gent are the most unexpected of the 16 teams to be here and they got probably the best they could ask for in the round of 16. They are still going to be big underdogs against Wolfsburg, but they can at least put up a fight. Keeping a clean sheet in the home leg and stealing an away goal in Germany should be their mission.

PREDICTION: Wolfsburg win a close one thanks to a strong showing at home.

PSV Eindhoven vs. Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid got a pretty tame draw here, but Eindhoven has been known to pull some upsets. They beat Manchester United at home and are going to look to channel that performance in the first leg here. Atletico should still cruise through on a strong showing at home.

PREDICTION: Atletico Madrid scores an away goal on the road, but steamrolls the Dutch back in the Spanish capital.

Roma vs. Real Madrid
The other side from Madrid has a trickier draw, but still quite winnable. Roma is a stronger side than Eindhoven, but Real also has the talent to get the job done at this stage. They might falter in the away leg, but once the second leg at the San Bernabeo come along. it will be all Real.

PREDICTION: Roma will gut out a draw or close win at home, but Real will rule the second leg.

Juventus vs. Bayern Munich
This is probably the most intriguing match of the bunch. Last year's finalists are having a rough season domestically, but have really turned things around by wining six straight. Bayern Munich are still Bayern Munich and can win against anyone. I think this will be  a cagey affair from start to finish and could come down to which side gets a crucial away goal.

PREDICTION: Bayern Munich squeaks through, possibly after extra time.

Benfica vs. Zenit St. Petersburg
Benfica will have to travel across the continent to cold Russia to face a team that almost went perfect in the group stage. That's not how they pictured their round of 16, but it certainly could be worse. Zenit have been one of the better teams in the tournament so far, and get a decent chance to move on to the quarter finals.

PREDICTION: Away goals will rule the day, Zenit gets one in Portugal and keeps a clean sheet at home to move along.

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