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Previewing the 2021 Champions League Round of 16
Following a two-month lay-off, the UEFA Champions League returns in mid-February, with the Round of 16 signaling the long-awaited resumption of Europe’s premier club competition.
As always, the group stage produced plenty of drama. European powerhouses such as Manchester United and Inter Milan failed to qualify for the knockout stages, while record UCL winner Real Madrid scraped through at the eleventh hour.
So, what can we expect from the Round of 16?
Below, I take a look at the latest 2020/21 Champions League outright winner odds. I then share my thoughts on every Round of 16 tie, as well as assessing each teams’ odds for advancing to the quarter-finals.
Latest Champions League Winner Odds
As we approach the Round of 16, the top online betting sites have updated their odds for the 2020/21 Champions League winner.
Let’s kick things off by looking at the latest prices.
Having taken 16 points from a possible 18 in Group A, Bayern Munich (3.75) is the bookmakers’ favorite to go all the way this year and secure back-to-back UCL triumphs.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City (4.50) isn’t too far behind the defending champions, while 2018/19 winner Liverpool (7.50) is the third and final obvious frontrunner.
After that, Juventus (13.00), PSG (13.00), Atletico Madrid (15.00), and Real Madrid (17.00) are all relatively evenly priced, while Barcelona (21.00), Chelsea (23.00), and Borussia Dortmund (26.00) complete the bookies’ top ten.
Previewing Each Round of 16 Tie
In this section, I preview all eight Round of 16 ties, looking at the odds for each team to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Barcelona vs. PSG
- First leg: Tuesday, February 16 (Barcelona)
- Second leg: Wednesday, March 10 (Paris)
Barcelona’s below-part start to the 2020/21 campaign was well documented, with the Catalans losing four of their opening ten league matches. However, a recent nine-game unbeaten streak – seven wins, two draws – has seen Ronaldo Koeman’s men make their way back up the La Liga table.
Granted, Barca is still a long way behind Atletico Madrid in the La Liga title race. But with Lionel Messi rediscovering some form and Marc-Andre ter Stegen achieving multiple shutouts lately, the five-time UCL winner appears to be on the mend.
By their own high standards, the Parisians are also enduring a tricky season, so much so that Thomas Tuchel was sacked on Christmas Eve. With Lyon and Lille keeping the pressure on Mauricio Pochettino’s men, PSG isn’t the only Ligue 1 title contender this term.
This is undoubtedly one of the toughest Round of 16 ties to call this season – and the bookies’ odds reflect that. I’m expecting plenty of goals when these two sides clash, but I can see PSG edging Barcelona.
The Parisians have upped their game following Pochettino’s arrival, while last term’s run to the final stands them in good stead to repeat.
RB Leipzig vs. Liverpool
- First leg: Tuesday, February 16 (Leipzig)
- Second leg: Wednesday, March 10 (Liverpool)
Once again, the Red Bulls find themselves playing second fiddle to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga this season. Leipzig started the campaign strongly, yet recent defeats to Dortmund and Mainz have seen Julian Nagelsmann’s team drop off the pace.
Still, having qualified from a tricky group alongside PSG – and at the expense of Man Utd – in the previous round, Leipzig is more than capable of upsetting the odds against off-form Liverpool.
Indeed, Jurgen Klopp’s men seem to have lost their way a bit recently. A five-match winless run in the Premier League has seen the English champions fall by the wayside in the EPL title race, with the team struggling for goals.
But by the time the Round of 16 rolls around, Liverpool could easily be in a much stronger position.
I’m expecting Leipzig to push the Reds all the way, but I’m confident that Liverpool will progress to the quarter-finals. Remember – form is temporary; class is permanent.
Porto vs. Juventus
- First leg: Wednesday, February 17 (Porto)
- Second leg: Tuesday, March 9 (Turin)
The Primeira Liga title race looks set to go down to the wire this season, although a run of seven straight wins for Porto between November and January suggests that Segio Conceicao’s men could go all the way.
The Portuguese side only lost one of their six games in Group C and even managed to hold Man City to a goalless draw back in December. Porto can take huge confidence from their group-stage campaign.
Meanwhile, Juventus cruised through the previous round without any problems, capping off their Group G triumph with a 3-0 victory over Barcelona on Matchday 6.
The Old Lady is still getting to grips with novice head coach Andrea Pirlo. But with Cristiano Ronaldo still scoring goals at a freakish rate, you can’t write off the Italian giant.
Porto could cause Juventus a few issues at the Estadio do Dragao in the first leg. However, Pirlo’s team should be able to get past the Portuguese champions over two legs.
That said, the high odds for Porto to qualify for the quarter-finals are bound to attract plenty of attention, especially when you consider that Juventus struggling somewhat in Serie A this term.
Sevilla vs. Borussia Dortmund
- First leg: Wednesday, February 17 (Seville)
- Second leg: Tuesday, March 9 (Dortmund)
Sevilla knows what it takes to go deep into European competitions. Of course, the Spaniards are the reigning Europa League champions, although the club hasn’t exactly replicated their achievements in the Champions League before.
Borussia Dortmund’s decision to sack Lucien Favre in December seems to have backfired on the team. The perennial underachievers are already miles behind Bayern in the Bundesliga title race, with defeats to Bayer Leverkusen and Gladbach coming since the turn of the year.
Edin Terzic is in temporary charge of BVB, while Erling Haaland remains a serious threat in attack. But Dortmund isn’t expected to challenge the UCL frontrunners this season.
Quite frankly, it is difficult to predict which way this tie will go. We all know that Dortmund’s squad is packed with young stars, yet the team just isn’t gelling at the moment.
With Sevilla in steady form, backing the Spaniards to advance could be the way to go here.
Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea
- First leg: Tuesday, February 23 (Madrid)
- Second leg: Wednesday, March 17 (London)
Many believed that Diego Simeone had taken Atletico Madrid as far as he could. However, the Argentine head coach has proved his doubters wrong this season, with Los Colchoneros flying high at the summit of the La Liga table.
Not only do Simeone’s men boast the best defensive record in the Spanish top-flight by some distance, but they are also scoring bags of goals. Chelsea will know all about ex-Liverpool forward Luis Suarez, that’s for sure.
Like several Round of 16 contenders, Chelsea has decided to switch managers midway through the campaign. Frank Lampard was recently relieved of his duties, with former PSG head coach Thomas Tuchel replacing the club legend.
Tuchel certainly boasts trophy-winning pedigree, although he can’t be expected to guide the Blues to silverware this season.
I’m surprised that the bookmakers view Atletico as the outsider to progress from this tier, even if the odds gap is extremely narrow. I’m backing Simeone’s in-form side to get the better of Chelsea over two legs.
Luis Suarez is ridiculous ?— Goal (@goal) January 24, 2021
12 goals in his first 15 La Liga games for Atletico Madrid ?? pic.twitter.com/PfOuXRaKSg
Lazio vs. Bayern Munich
- First leg: Tuesday, February 23 (Rome)
- Second leg: Wednesday, March 17 (Munich)
It’s fair to say that Lazio made an underwhelming start to 2020/21. The Eagles drew four of their six group games earlier in the campaign and only managed to win six of their 14 Serie A matches before Christmas.
An upturn in form since the turn of the year has seen the Italians notch up an eye-catching winning streak, but they are likely to struggle against the reigning UCL champs in the Round of 16.
Unsurprisingly, Bayern Munich already holds a sizeable lead over the rest of the Bundesliga. Hansi Flick’s men scored 18 goals while conceding just five on their way to finishing seven points clear at the top of Group A in December, making it difficult to make a case for Lazio upsetting the odds here.
The odds for this matchup suggest that Bayern will advance with ease – and you can’t really argue with the bookmakers’ viewpoint.
Atalanta vs. Real Madrid
- First leg: Wednesday, February 24 (Bergamo)
- Second leg: Tuesday, March 16 (Madrid)
Atalanta stunned everyone by reaching the last eight in 2019/20, only to be eliminated by PSG in a single-leg quarter-final. This time around, the Italians have two legs to get past an out-of-sorts Real Madrid side.
In fairness, Zinedine Zidane’s men have turned things around since suffering not one, but two shock defeats to Shakhtar Donetsk during the group stage.
Los Blancos only scraped into the Round of 16 thanks to a Matchday 6 win over Gladbach, although a lengthy unbeaten streak across December and January has since made things look slightly brighter in Madrid.
Zidane will be hoping that his players can carry their recent domestic form onto the European stage.
It felt like Atalanta could be anyone last season, yet Gian Pierro Gasperini’s men haven’t been at their free-flowing, high-scoring best this term.
I don’t think it would be a massive shock if the Italians outscored Real Madrid over two legs. Having said that, I am expecting Zidane’s side to get the job done.
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Manchester City
- First leg: Wednesday, February 24 (Monchengladbach)
- Second leg: Tuesday, March 16 (Manchester)
Is anyone really giving Gladbach a chance here?
Granted, the Germans drew with Inter Milan and Real Madrid to finish second in Group B, as well as racking up a 10-0 aggregate scoreline against Shakhtar. However, getting the better of Man City over legs is a completely different challenge altogether.
Following an ambling start to the season, Pep Guardiola’s men are suddenly looking like one of the deadliest teams in Europe right now.
Since losing to Tottenham back in November, an 18-game unbeaten streak – 15 wins, 3 draws – has seen the Cityzens excel in every competition they are in. Needless to say, the EPL giant looks destined to excel in the Champions League in the coming months.
Marco Rose’s men have continuously picked up positive results this season, but I can’t see them upsetting the odds in this tie. I’m confident that Man City will reach the quarter-finals without any major hiccups.
Round of 16 Wrap-Up
The 2020/21 UEFA Champions League returns on Tuesday, February 16, with Barcelona hosting PSG and Liverpool visiting Leipzig. The Round of 16 concludes on Wednesday, March 17, before the quarter-finals commence in early April.
It’s been a long wait, hasn’t it? But after nearly two months, Champions League soccer is just around the corner!
Make sure you keep up to date with all the latest UCL developments in our soccer blog. And if you’re planning to wager on the Champions League knockout stages, check out our soccer picks section for free betting tips and predictions.