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UEFA CL Round of 16 First Leg Rundown

The first leg of the Round of 16 for the UEFA Champions League concluded on Wednesday. Here is every match-up, their results, and predictions on how they will close out in the second leg.

Paris Saint-German 0-1 Bayern Munich

The match week kicked off with a clash of two giants in European football. The French Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-German hosted their German Bundesliga equivalent Bayern Munich. The two star-studded clubs are no strangers to each other, as this is their 3rd meeting in the last 4 years. PSG being the most recent winners in this match-up, as they eliminated Bayern in the quarter-finals of the 2021 season, they will feel as if Bayern have one over them, as it was them who robbed them of their club’s first Champions League in their first ever finals appearance back in 2020.

Bayern was the dominant team in this game. They led in almost every key stat, with saves being the one exception. This was apparent, as it was Donnarumma’s impressive performance keeping PSG in the game. He recorded 6 saves and shut out Bayern completely in the first half. It wasn’t until the 53rd minute that the Italian goalkeeper was beaten, as Kingsley Coman put away a cross to the back post by Alphonso Davies to score the only goal in the game. Bayern will be taking that as well as a red card to Benjamin Pavard for a hard tackle on Messi into the Second leg

Prediction: Bayern advance (3-2 agg.)

Bayern showed to be the dominant team. With Neymar out, PSG will be missing a key player to help both create and put away chances. However, if there is a silver lining on this team, it’s got to be Kylian Mbappe. In his 33 minutes on the field, PSG’s expected goals (xG) went from a .04 to a .88, they created 4 chances compared to their 1 before Mbappe subbed on, and they recorded all of their 5 shots with 4 on target. He’s done it on a bigger stage before, scoring three goals against his teammate’s Argentina in the World Cup final. A player with the ability to put his team on his back, when Mbappe is on the field, you can never rule him out.

But Bayern will be hoping to keep them out. They haven’t lost a home game all season and they’ve won all of their Champions League fixtures so far. I believe that neither of these trends will break, and Bayern will be moving on after a 2-2 draw at home.

AC Milan 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur

Defending champions of Italian soccer, the now 4th place AC Milan hosted their Premier League counterpart in 4th Place Tottenham Hotspur in their game of the knockout stage. This game tells the opposite story that the first game told, as the statistically dominant Spurs fall short to an early Brahim Diaz goal in the 7th minute of the game. This again was a one-goal game.

Numbers don’t tell the whole story of this game. Although Tottenham recorded an advantage in possession, shots, and every other key stat, it was a fairly even game with big chances created on both sides. I’d even go as far as to say that Milan will be upset that they aren’t taking an even bigger goal difference into London for their second leg.

Prediction: Milan advance (2-1 agg.)

Milan showed to be the better team, despite the match stats. Although Tottenham will be playing in home-field advantage, I don’t see them topping this Milan team. I’m predicting a 1-1 draw will send Milan through on aggregate into the Quarter Finals.

Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Chelsea

The trend of the one-nil scoreline continues into game 3, as Borussia Dortmund hosted Chelsea in a 1-0 home win. The one-nil trend wasn’t the only pattern shown that day, as Chelsea failed to win their fourth game in a row. Chelsea showing a poor run of form in 2023, despite spending over $200 million on transfers in January alone. Including the Premier League record signing Enzo Fernandez from Benfica for 107 million Euros.

Enzo catching slack, as he was the defender beat by Dortmund’s Adeyemi on an amazing solo run from his own half to put Dortmund up in the only goal scored in the game. The record-breaking signing is yet to score a goal for Chelsea, which is a bit more understandable when you take into account that Chelsea has only netted 2 since his signing as a team.

Prediction: Chelsea advance (3-1 on agg.)

Chelsea will be playing this return leg with a lot to lose. Graham Potter, their manager, is being called by fans around to get fired. He’s won only 9, games since being appointed as manager back in September of 2022, and only one of those wins came this calendar year. Since Chelsea’s first leg loss, they’ve had two Premier League fixtures in which they lost both, one being to their city rivals Tottenham. They have one more game in the lead-up to their champions league rematch against Leeds and if they don’t figure something out in that game, there would be no better time to than that second leg match. It’s do or die for Chelsea, and I think we’ll see them find a way to overcome all the obstacles they’ve had.

Club Brugge 0-2 Benfica

Benfica came into Belgium and showed that their system will not collapse on the loss of their young superstar, Enzo Fernandez. A Joao Mario penalty in the 51st minute puts them 1-0 up before David Neres puts the game away for Brugge in the 88th.

Club Brugge struggled on their home turf. They put up only 4 total shots to Benfica’s 14, with only one on target to Benfica’s 7. The Portuguese league leaders came in and dominated in all major stats against the Belgian side.

Prediction: Benfica advance (5-0 on agg.)

Going into the match week, this game was overlooked as a mismatch. Benfica proved that to be right in their dominant 2-0 away win. I expect the Portuguese side to keep this momentum back on home soil with a convincing 3-0 win.

Eintracht Frankfurt 0-2 Napoli

Telling a similar story to the last, the Italian league leaders come into Germany to hand Frankfurt a very convincing 2-0 loss. While telling a similar story as the Brugge-Benfica game in terms of shots, 5-17 in shots with 1-10 on target, the most impressive stat to come out of this game is Napoli holding the reigning Europa League champs to only 36% of possession. Complete domination from start to finish.

This result came as a surprise. Both of these teams being young and promising, viewers around expected more of a fight from Frankfurt. The score was opened in the 40th minute when the Italian League scoring leader did what he’s done better than most all season put one away for Napoli to put them 1-0 up. Bad goes to worse for Frankfurt as promising young striker Randal Kolo Muani sees red in the 58th minute. Randal Kolo Muani was on the wrong side of history in the World Cup, as his last-minute shot in the final produces THAT Emiliano Martinez save. And as if it couldn’t get any worse for the Geman side, Giovanni Di Lorenzo puts away the game with Napoli’s second.

Prediction: Napoli advances (4-2 on agg.)

While the loss maybe wasn’t as surprising, as Napoli were the favorites, the way Frankfurt were stepped over by the Italian side was a bit out of character. It shows that Napoli are more than just leaders in their own league, but a force to be reckoned with across all of Europe. I expect Napoli to advance into the next round in a second leg that will see a bit of a better fight out of Frankfurt. They’ll have to do it without their top goal scorer in Kolo Muani.

Liverpool 2-5 Real Madrid

Match of the week comes in Real Madrid’s away game thrashing over Liverpool. A tale of two halves, Liverpool open the scoring 4 minutes in as Darwin Nuñez gets on the end of a Salah cross with an impressive backheel. Salah will then go on to score one of his own when Madrid’s goalkeeper makes a huge mistake to practically put the ball at Salah’s feet. From there on it was all Madrid, as they go on to score 5 unanswered. 2 of those in the first half, both by Vinicius Jr. The second half saw Eder Militão grab himself one, and the Balon D’or winner Benzema get 2 of his own.

Despite the one-sided scoreline, the score doesn’t tell the full story. Statistically, Liverpool was even if not ahead in most major stats. Each team both 9 shots on each other’s goals, with Real slightly ahead in shots on target. Liverpool held possession of the ball 52% of the game, with an even 87% pass accuracy from both sides. A fairly even game with a very lopsided scoreline.

Prediction: Real Madrid advance (7-3 on agg.)

In a game that was so even, the scoreline does put Real at a huge advantage. Liverpool would have to win their return game with a goal difference of at least four, in a season where they’ve only scored four or more on two occasions, against a Real Madrid side who are averaging less than a goal conceded a game. In a season where Jurgen Klopp’s men are sat at 7th in the Premier League, this is an obstacle too big for Liverpool.

Inter Milan 1-0 Porto

The penultimate match of this matchweek, the last day of the matchweek kicked off with Italian side Inter Milan hosting Portugal’s Porto in a 1-0 home win for i Nerazzurri. A shootout, the game recorded a total of 28 shots, with Inter shooting 18 of those. Despite the high shot total, Inter only won by the minimum, when Lukaku put away the game’s only goal in the 86th minute. Not before Porto’s Otavio saw red 8 minutes beforehand.

Inter showed to be the dominant team on the stat sheet, leading in every major stat. The only exception being shots on target, where Porto puts up an equal 4 shots to Inter, despite the total shot difference. The first major event of the game came in the 78th minute when Otavio’s too-high challenge on Çalhanoğlu warranted a second yellow. The only goal of the game came in the 86th when Lukaku had to follow up on his own shot after initially hitting the post.

Each Italian team won their first-leg fixture

Prediction: Porto advances (2-1 on agg.)

Porto shows that they have the likes to keep up with the big teams. Although getting edged out on most major stats, I expect a shift when the game is taken back to Portugal. To hold Inter to a 1-0 isn’t anything insurmountable, but they’ll have to do it without a key player in Otavio. I’m predicting Porto to top inter in a 2-0 win at home.

RB Leipzig 1-1 Manchester City

In a game that was dominated by one side, Leipzig hold the English giants to a 1-1 draw at home. Man City, who held Leipzig to 38% possession and doubled their total attempts, was only able to put one past the German side. A goal that was later matched by Leipzig. Man City is going into this fixture as the favorite to win the tournament.

Mahrez put the English side in front after center-back Gvardiol lets a ball in by Bernardo Silva through his legs, leaving the Algerian with a clear shot at goal. The Croatian would later make up for his mistake, rising above City’s Ruben Dias to get a goal of his own and tie the English Champions. Erling Haaland failed to score for City, an uncommon occurrence as the Norwegian superstar has 33 goals in 33 games all season in all competitions.

No English team won their first-leg fixture.

Prediction: Man City advances (4-2 on agg.)

Manchester City will be going into this second leg knowing they should’ve come out with a better result. The English side came off that rather disappointing result to beat Bournemouth 4-1 in the Premier League. A game that saw Haaland break the Man City single-season goal record in just 24 games. They have three more games in the lead-up to their rematch with the German side, which is the time needed to sort out tactical issues they’ve been having in their recent form of bad games. I believe the home-field advantage will play a big role in this Champions League fixture for Man City, and they’ll put away more of their chances against Leipzig in a 3-1 win.

The second leg of fixtures will kick off Tuesday, March 7th, at 3:00 PM Easter Time. With Benfica looking to hold off Club Brugge, and Chelsea looking for a win they so desperately need over the leading Borussia Dortmund.

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