Atletico Madrid (12/5) vs (3/10) Liverpool
Liverpool will be the main talking point heading into the tie given their extraordinary run in the Premier League this season, and the fact that there is a realistic double, or even treble, in the works. They have been sensational all season long, and rightly topped their Champions League group according to expected goals, but you can never underestimate Atletico Madrid, this season in particular.
Atletico’s recent form has been extremely poor, and has drawn a lot of criticism to the team and manager Diego Simeone, but according to expected goals Atleti have been extremely impressive this season. Not only do they sit top of Infogol’s La Liga xG table this season, but they were actually unfortunate to finish second in the Champions League group behind Juventus, as they were the only team to post a positive expected goal difference through six games (+7.6 xGD).
However, their main issue heading into this tie is injuries to key players, with it likely that all of; Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata and Joao Felix will be missing – their three main attacking options. We know their defensive solidity will remain, so this won’t be easy, but the Premier League champions-elect should progress.
Pick: Liverpool to qualify – 3/10
Dortmund (9/4) vs (1/3) PSG
A mouth-watering tie, and one which everyone will look at just think: goals.
Lucien Favre’s Dortmund side added firepower in January with the signing of Erling Braut Håland, a player who has already scored eight times in the Champions League for Salzburg, and possess an excellent attacking unit in general. They create plenty of chances on a regular basis, and since the German winter break, they have scored 18 times in four games, so will fully test PSG’s backline over two legs, and given PSG’s firepower, BVB will need to score plenty to advance.
Europe’s laughing stock of the last decade, PSG, will be hoping that this is the season that they can finally shake of their Quarter Final hoodoo. In fact, they have been knocked out at this stage in the last three seasons, picking up some serious mental scars on the way (‘La Remontada’ – THE Comeback) against Barcelona, defeat to Manchester United – yes Ole’s Manchester United).
The fact that they play in arguably the weakest of the ‘big five’ leagues is always seen as a hindrance when playing in this competition, and there could well be something in that, as the difference in standard is so vast. PSG are very short to progress in this tie, but given everything we have discussed, I’m happy to chance Dortmund to cause an upset in this tie at a big price.
Pick: Dortmund to qualify – 9/4
Atalanta (3/4) vs (21/20) Valencia
Not one of the most eye-catching ties of the Last 16, but an interesting one nonetheless.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side had zero points after three games in the Group C, but picked up seven points from the remaining matches to squeeze through – a remarkable achievement, and one that made it a clean sweep in my Group Stage betting selections. Over the past few seasons, Atalanta have made Europe take notice of them with their attacking style, and they actually sit top of the Serie A xG table this season, so Infogol rates them highly.
Valencia have been underwhelming this season in La Liga, sitting 13th in Infogol’s xG table, and they were fortunate to get through their Champions League group, ranking as only the third best team according to xPoints after some fortunate points.
They are a very vulnerable defensive unit, allowing 1.80 xGA per game in La Liga and 2.08 xGA per game in the Champions League Group Stage, so Atalanta could have their way with them over two legs, and Infogol is siding with them to progress.
Pick: Atalanta to qualify 3/4
Tottenham (EVS) vs (4/5) RB Leipzig
Another fascinating tie, as the ‘winner’ Jose Mourinho is now the manager of the team that finished runner-up last season in the Champions League, and they face an impressive RB Leipzig side. Spurs rightly qualified for this stage, albeit in a weak group, but have since lost top scorer and talisman Harry Kane to injury, which has had a huge impact on them in the Premier League.
That has affected them in attack, but defensively they have been alarmingly porous according to xG, allowing an average of 2.05 xGA per game in their last five league matches (prior to vs Aston Villa), and they have ‘won the xG battle’ in only two of their last nine league games – both against bottom side Norwich – which is a poor return.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side are heavily involved in a title race with Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, and rightly so according to xG, so good has their process been this season. Their high-intensity pressing style hits teams like a whirlwind, and I think they can blow Spurs over, with their attacking process in both the league (2.40 xGF per game) and the Champions League (2.30 xGF per game) frightening.
The market is having some trouble deciding which of these teams should be favourite to progress, and so given the model makes RB Leipzig favourites, we can take advantage and get a decent price.
Pick: RB Leipzig to qualify – 4/5
- Back Liverpool to qualify @ 3/10
- Back Dortmund to qualify @ 9/4
- Back Atalanta to qualify @ 3/4
- Back RB Leipzig to qualify @ 4/5
A £1/€1 acca on these selections returns £/€13.31 including stake on pp.com. Odds correct at time of posting but may change.Find a full range of Champions League odds over on paddypower.com