The Champions League is only a week a way and as it falls into the last 16 it at last becomes interesting.
Manchester City and Chelsea were biffed out with barely a whimper joining Ajax and Benfica as the only real “big team” eliminated.
This leaves a very healthy looking draw with all of the big guns and some exceptional ties.
I’m going to go through them one by one and give a forecast/guess/punt:
1. Galatasaray A.S. (TUR) – FC Schalke 04 (GER)
Schalke have put their dreadful league form behind them and upped their game in this year’s CL.However Galatasaray did well to edge out Cluj to claim a last 16 spot, beating Man Utd on the process.
Much will depend on the 1st Leg and how the Germans can handle “hell”.
My pick : Galatasaray to progress through on away goals.
2. Celtic FC (SCO) – Juventus (ITA)
Celtic have been amazing so far and have proved to be a match for anyone at Celtic Park. If they can keep a clean sheet in Glasgow and protect a lead in Turin they could edge past a strong Juve. However I feel their midfield is too week to withstand the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio.
My pick: Juventus overpower Celtic in Turin.
3. Arsenal FC (ENG) – FC Bayern München (GER)
Bayern are simply too strong for a limited Arsenal. The Germans are running away with the Bundesliga thanks in main to the free scoring Mandzukic, Shaquiri and Muller (Gomez is injured).
The Arsenal defence looks porous with Mertesacker still to find his feet and goalkeeper Szczesny mercurial at best. Giroud and Walcott are impressing in EPL but that won’t be enough to overcome Bayern.
My tip: Bayern safely through by an aggregate of at least 3.
4. FC Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) – Borussia Dortmund (GER)
Despite falling 12 points behind Bayern in the Bundesliga, Dortmund have played well in season’s CL topping the Group of Death.In Lewandowski and Marco Reus they genuine class and a top manager in Jurgen Klopp.
Shaktar are no mugs and have a mix a Brazilians( Luis Adriano) and leading Russian players. That being said Dortmund should progress.
My tip: Dortmund to close the show in Germany.
5. AC Milan (ITA) – FC Barcelona (ESP)
Despite their purchase of Mario Balotelli the Italian giants will simply not have enough to beat Barcelona over two legs. Serie A has weakened drastically in recent years and Milan even more so.
Expect a Messi hat-trick and another Iniesta/Xavi show.
My Pick: Barcelona to breeze through.
6. Real Madrid CF (ESP) – Manchester United FC (ENG)
The tie of the round sees Ronaldo return to Old Trafford and Mourinho back in his element. Real trail Barca in the league but I feel they still have too much for Ferguson’s reds.
Man United have chanced their luck in the EPL and benefited from a weak EPL. Ronaldo and Ozil will run rings round Johnny Evans and embarrass De Gea.
My tip: Real Madrid rout in Madrid
7. Valencia CF (ESP) – Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
Free spending PSG have the tax dodging Beckham and a host of international stars in their squad. They should have enough to eliminate Valencia , but i hope not.
The French giants have a bottomless pocket of wealth while the Valencianistas are broke as a joke.
My tip : Ibra is sent off in first leg and Valencia prevail.
8. FC Porto (POR) – Málaga CF (ESP)
The 8th tie is perhaps the weakest but the most evenly matched. Both teams did well to progress and at the expense of better funded Eastern European giants.
Porto currently top their domestic league while Malaga lie in 4th in the stronger La Liga.
My tip : Porto to progress by the odd goal.