The Champions League resumes in mid-February. It is the last-16 stage, and there are three English clubs in action. While Arsenal will take on German giants Bayern Munich, Manchester City will face French side AS Monaco and defending Premier League champions Leicester City will kick horns with Spanish outfit Sevilla.
Below we look at the first-leg ties of Arsenal, Manchester City and Leicester City and predict who will have the advantage heading into the return legs.
Bayern Munich v Arsenal (February 15, 2017)
Betway has rated Arsenal’s chances of winning against Bayern at the Allianz Arena as 11/2. The Gunners may have some top players such as Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, but Bayern will head into the tie as favourites. In Carlo Ancelotti, the Bundesliga club have a manager who knows the Champions League inside out.
Arsenal are perennial underachievers in the Champions League. True, the North London outfit reached the final in 2006, but they have not progressed to the quarterfinals of Europe’s prestigious club competition since 2009-10. Moreover, Bayern defeated Arsene Wenger’s side at this stage in 2013 and 2014.
An early goal for Arsenal could create some problems for Bayern, but the home team should still have enough to stage a successful comeback. Bayern have some great match-winners, such as Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller, and it would be a massive surprise if they lose.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-0 Arsenal
Manchester City v AS Monaco (February 21, 2017)
Manchester City have a truly brilliant squad, but they are underperforming at the moment. City’s chances of winning the Premier League title look slim, and there is a small chance that they could even miss out on a place in the top four.
Pep Guardiola’s record in Europe, though, means that City fans should be optimistic about a successful Champions League campaign. The Spaniard won the competition thrice when he was in charge of Barcelona, and perhaps he could guide the Citizens to success this term.
Playing the first leg at home is not necessarily an advantage in a tie, but City have a great chance of securing their place in the quarter-finals after the first 90 minutes. If David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne are at the top of their game, then there is a very good chance that the home team could score three or four goals.
Monaco, though, should be given respect. After all, the French outfit finished above Bayer Leverkusen and Tottenham Hotspur in the group stage. Leonardo Jardim’s side are also going strong in Ligue 1 and could take the title away from Paris Saint-Germain.
Given the fact that City are looking vulnerable at the back and conceded 10 goals in six matches in the group stage, one should not be surprised if they ship in one.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 AS Monaco
Sevilla v Leicester City (February 22, 2017)
Leicester City are struggling in the Premier League and are unlikely to finish in the top 10. In fact, Claudio Ranieri’s side could even get relegated to the Championship at the end of the season.
In the Champions League, though, the Foxes are doing well. Leicester finished above FC Porto, FC Copenhagen and Club Brugge in the group and will face Sevilla in the last-16 stage.
Ranieri’s side will head into the tie without any pressure. Sevilla, who won the Europa League in each of the last three seasons, play exciting and entertaining football and will consider themselves as favourites.
The Spanish club do leave themselves open at the back – they conceded four goals against Espnayol in August, two against Leganes in October and seven goals in three competitive matches against Real Madrid in January – Leicester will be looking to capitalise on this.
Prediction: Sevilla 1-1 Leicester City