My 2019/20 Champions League knockout stage predictions previewing Atletico vs Liverpool and Real vs Man City as well as the other 6 games. This season’s Uefa Champions League round of 16 games look exciting and here’s how I think it will go.
Let’s start off with what will arguably be the tie of the knockout stages, Borussia Dortmund vs Paris Saint-Germain. Before the January transfer window we could have said the same, but the signing of Erling Braut Håland brings an even bigger hype to this Champions League tie. With the tie already having some of the best attacking players in Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Jadon Sancho – the Norwegian’s addition to Lucien Favre’s Dortmund setup has already brought goals and will have everyone looking forward to what the young superstar will have in the locker against Thomas Tuchel’s PSG.
Moving over to the two English and German ties, we have Julian Nagelsmann’s RB Leipzig facing Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur and Frank Lampard’s Chelsea facing Hans-Dieter Flick Bayern Munich.
RB Leipzig have been in fine form this season and you would be crazy to write them off here. However, it’s hard to bet against Jose Mourinho when it comes to knockout games. The man is an absolute master of the dark arts and he has already made his Spurs side incredibly difficult to beat. Leipzig are also going through something of a defensive crisis with 21 year old Dayot Upamecano – the only senior centre back available until mid March.
Bayern Munich have taken more shots and scored more goals than any other team in the Champions League so far this season and I think they’ll be too much for Chelsea in Frank Lampard’s first ever Round of 16 game as a manager. Robert Lewandowski is currently the competition’s top scorer having bagged a frankly outrageous 10 goals in just five games.
Chelsea do have their own in-form centre forward in the form of Tammy Abraham, who has adapted to life at the top level incredibly well. Abraham has taken a really impressive 2.5 penalty area shots in the UCL this season, but Bayern are clearly later in their cycle as a squad than Chelsea are at the moment and I can’t look past them for this tie.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City & Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will be taking on the Madrid sides in the first round of the knockout stages. Whilst Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have been very much dominant in English football, Klopp would want to guide his Liverpool side to back to back Champions League trophies. As for Pep Guardiola’s Man City, the Champions League title is still the missing piece of the puzzle in Manchester City’s mission to establish themselves amongst Europe’s elite since their financial backing.
Whilst Man City have Laporte back from injury, he’s still without a proper partner, with both John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi ticking timebombs.
Zidane has got Madrid playing as an organised unit this season that look to either dominate or compact the centre of the pitch for his opposition, exactly where City look to operate this season where 71% of their Champions League shots have come from, a competition high. City have also struggled sides that have the defensive capacity to stand strong without the ball before exploiting City on the counter, with City already losing to Liverpool, Manchester United, Wolves twice and Mourinho’s Spurs in the league alone.
Personally, I can see Zinedine Zidane ending Pep & Man City’s season in March.
Moving on, Liverpool are the best team in the world at this moment in time and so it’s incredibly hard to look past them here. However, Diego Simeone’s Atleti are an awkward match. Napoli’s flat 4-4-2 is the only shape that has beaten Jurgen Klopp’s side this season and this is a formation that Atletico are very comfortable in playing.
We saw in that Napoli game that this Liverpool side can struggle defending against two strikers as they go man to man with Liverpool’s centre backs and this is something that I would expect Simeone to look to exploit.
Who do you think will progress to the quarter-finals of this year’s Champions League?