UEFA Europa League Round of 16 Breakdown and Predictions

The final 16 teams in the Europa League get set to face off on ties that will straddle the weekend playing today and then next Thursday as well. As of yet, none of the title favorites have hit each other, but Eintracht Frankfurt and Inter could have the most interesting draw. The teams that advance from this round will likely face a stern test from some of Europe’s elite in the quarterfinal stage.

March 7/March 14

Dinamo Zagreb vs. Benfica

Dinamo Zagreb into this match having overturned a first leg deficit where they grabbed a crucial away goal against Viktoria Plzen. Domestically, they are soaring, and with their league match against second-place Rijeka on a Sunday, the Croatian side will have an extra day of rest which could give them an edge in the second leg away from home. Benfica are a side who historically put on a decent showing in Europe and they secured a 2-1 aggregate victory by shutting up shop at home in the second leg against Galatasary. Domestically, the title race is on with Porto, and with a game on Monday, the Portuguese giants will hope to bag an away goal or two before returning home for the second leg.

Prediction: Benfica advancing 3-2 on aggregate

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Inter

Eintracht Frankfurt got through what ended up being a nervy away tie against Shakhtar Donestk thanks in large part to the two away goals they bagged before smashing their Ukrainian opposition 4-1 in the second leg to secure a comfortable progression to the next round. If they can keep Inter off the scoresheet in the first leg, that will go a long way in making life easier in the second leg. Inter easily dispatched of Rapid Wien 5-0 in the Round of 32, but they have found things difficult since then. Their talisman Mauro Icardi has held himself out of training following his removal as Inter’s captain, but he is expected to rejoin training meaning he could feature in the second leg.

Prediction: Eintracht Frankfurt advance 4-2 on aggregate

Stade Rennes vs. Arsenal

Stade Rennes are yet to play this month which is a huge advantage for them over their English opponents. Everything thus far for Rennes has exceeded all expectations for a team currently sitting in the middle of the Ligue 1 table, and advancing in the competition would only add to the excitement around the team. Arsenal have been in the position of being doubted after struggling against inferior opposition, namely Ostersunds in last year’s knockout stages. They will have played a tough tie against Manchester United this weekend before the home leg, but squad rotation may be key along with the ability to create an away goal advantage.

Prediction: Arsenal advance 4-1 on aggregate

Sevilla vs. Slavia Prague

Sevilla dispatched of Lazio in the prior round of the competition 3-0 on aggregate in a result that was somewhat shocking considering the consistency Lazio have displayed. Domestically, things aren’t going as well for the Spanish side, but they still have hope of securing an European place. Slavia Prague were held to a goalless draw against Genk in the past round before they defeated their opponents 4-1 on the road. Domestically, they are still king, and will likely focus their efforts on this tie.

Prediction: Sevilla advance 3-1 on aggregate

Zenit St. Petersburg vs. Villarreal

Zenit narrowly escaped the last round against Fenerbahce needing to win 3-1 at home to progress 3-2 on aggregate. They are currently in first place in the Russian Premier League with second place FC Krasnodar also in the Round of 16. Villarreal are struggling in La Liga at the moment as they sit in the relegation zone with the matches dwindling away. They have so far cruised in Europe with their 2-1 aggregate victory being their sternest test to date.

Prediction: Zenit advance 2-2 on aggregate (away goals rule)

Chelsea vs. Dynamo Kyiv

Chelsea advanced 5-1 on aggregate in what has been a stress-free campaign in Europe so far this term. Their bigger test is the race for Champions League qualification with a top-four finish or winning this competition, but being in the middle of both, they can’t write the league off quite yet. Dynamo Kyiv have historically fared well in Europe and they scraped past Olympiacos 3-2 on aggregate, but had two important away goals to ease their troubles. Domestically, they remain a top contender in Ukraine and will likely secure berth either in this competition or the Champions League next term.

Prediction: Chelsea advance 4-1 on aggregate

Napoli vs. Salzburg

Napoli eased through the past round 5-1 on aggregate and the Champions League drop-downs have a chance for European glory now that they are one of the big fish in this competition. With the Serie A title race all but over, and a top four finish relatively likely, they will probably continue fielding strong squads in Europe aiming to win this competition. Salzburg advanced 5-2 on aggregate following their 4-0 drubbing of Club Brugge in the last round. They are also comfortably atop the Austrian Bundesliga, so Europe will also be a main focus.

Prediction: Napoli advance 4-3 on aggregate

Valencia vs. FC Krasnodar

Valencia negotiated their way past Celtic 3-0 on aggregate where they were easily the superior team. In Spain, they have clawed their way back into the hunt for a European place, but with a two-sided fight on their hands, it could impact their European campaign. FC Krasnodar were the beneficiaries of the away goals rule to get to this point, but they are still a formidable threat to Valencia. They are vying for the Russian Premier League title, and will hope to continue going strong at home and abroad.

Prediction: FC Krasnodar advance 1-1 on aggregate (away goals rule)

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Premier League Predictions Matchday 28

With the final stretch of fixtures getting ready to kick in, the title race has narrowed following last weekend’s results with Liverpool and Manchester City having the best chances to win the Premier League. Fulham and Huddersfield Town look like two sides who will likely drop down to the Championship as they languish several points from safety, and needing wins, not draws in order to survive. This midweek slate of fixtures proceeds some big name clashes this weekend, and comes a week before European competitions resume their knockout phases.

Tuesday February 26, 2019

Cardiff City vs. Everton

Cardiff were thrashed by Watford 5-1 in their last home match, and Neil Warnock’s men will hope to turn things around in this match. However, Cardiff have had some recent success in the league with a couple of wins in their last five, but they have historically struggled against Everton. Everton have by-and-large disappointed once again this season which can be attributed to the carousel at their manager post since the team sacked Roberto Martinez. Everton have only won one of their last four and in those they have scored five goals while allowing nine. Both of these sides don’t typically draw, and I think Everton will have enough to see this one out.

Prediction: Cardiff City 1-3 Everton

Huddersfield Town vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Huddersfield haven’t won a match since November 25 when they beat Wolves in the reverse fixture, and since then, they have only secured one point in their last fourteen matches since November 25. Huddersfield may feel like they can get a win in this match as they have fared well against Wolverhampton in the past. Wolverhampton are flying high in the table as they currently sit eighth in the league, and have been one of the best success stories for a newly promoted team in recent memory, at least in terms of performance. They will likely bring their fluid attacking play to this match, and hope that their defense can keep Huddersfield from scoring. I think Huddersfield will manage to nick Wolverhampton in what could be a surprising result.

Prediction: Huddersfield Town 1-0 Wolverhampton

Leicester City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion

Leicester City have had their fair share of problems over the last year which culminated with the sacking of manager Claude Puel following a 4-1 defeat by Crystal Palace. Still, Leicester are a quality side, and last weekend’s scoreline is not indicative of the team that is clearly still trying to find its identity following the departures of N’Golo Kanté and Riyad Mahrez. Brighton have been another fantastic story of a resolute team that continues to scrap its way to positive results. Chris Hughton has created a team that is defensively stable, and has plenty of quality to stay in the Premier League. I think a draw is on the cards here as I don’t see either team with a clear advantage, and Brighton should be the happier of the two sides on the day.

Prediction: Leicester City 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

Newcastle United vs. Burnley

Newcastle United uncharacteristically spent big in the winter window, but it has not done enough to alleviate the questions surrounding Newcastle and the relegation battle. Rafa Benitez has done a remarkable job with this side, and they have become one of my favorite sides to watch led by their captain Jamaal Lascelles. Burnley are another one of my favorites with their defensive solidarity and team pressing. Recently, they have rediscovered the form that catapulted them to seventh last term, and that was on full display against Tottenham over the weekend. I think this could be a very entertaining match with both sides have plenty of attacking quality to produce goals, but it will ultimately be won by the high pressing of Burnley.

Prediction: Newcastle United 1-2 Burnley

Wednesday February 27, 2019

Arsenal vs. AFC Bournemouth

Arsenal come into this match having kept two consecutive clean sheets, a welcome sight for a club that has conceded some really poor goals this season. They easily dispatched of Southampton 2-0 this past weekend, but they did give Southampton a few chances to get back in the game, both at the start and for parts of the second half. Bournemouth will feel aggrieved following their controversial 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton this past weekend, but Eddie Howe’s men have found the second half of the Premier League season quite tough. They are also suffering from a mounting injury crisis, but possess enough attacking prowess to potentially grab a goal. I think the gulf in quality will be too much for Bournemouth, and Arsenal will win comfortably at home.

Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 AFC Bournemouth

Southampton vs. Fulham

This match will be one that Southampton will have to win if they hope to clear the relegation battle. They have played better lately, but they have still looked disjointed in a season that has seen them change managers and rotate defenders. Fulham possess the worst defensive record in Europe, and things are starting to look dire for newly promoted Londoners. They suffered a humbling defeat last time out against West Ham, and the losing ways could continue in this away match. I think Southampton will have enough to get things done at home against relegation rivals.

Prediction: Southampton 2-1 Fulham

Liverpool vs. Watford

Liverpool have found goals hard to come by recently in a rut of form that has seen them let Manchester City back into the hunt for the Premier League title. They had a disappointing 0-0 draw with Manchester United last time out that saw their vaunted attack scuffle for most of the match as Roberto Firmino (injury) and Mo Salah (tactical) were both subbed off. Watford hammered Cardiff City 5-1 last time out, and they will feel confident in their ability to score a goal in this match. They have been a solid, if unspectacular, team this term and are in the hunt for potential Europa League qualification. Liverpool simply have too much quality for Watford in this one.

Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Watford

Manchester City vs. West Ham United

Manchester City have clawed their way back into the title hunt and are beginning to look like the reigning champions once again. They won the Carabao Cup final on penalties in their match on Sunday in a match that was overshadowed by Kepa’s demonstration against Mauricio Sarri. West Ham United have been a mixed bag this season, but hover around the middle of the pack which should be considered a solid showing for Mauricio Pellegrini’s men. They dispatched of Fulham 3-1 at home last time out in a match that they were never in question of losing. I think the reigning champions have sufficient quality to win this match, but that doesn’t mean that West Ham won’t provide a scare to City in the match.

Prediction: Manchester City 1-0 West Ham United

Chelsea vs. Tottenham

Chelsea are currently a club in turmoil despite being in the hunt for a Champions League place and in the Round of 16 in the Europa League. They lost to Manchester City on penalties last time out, but their embattled manager, Mauricio Sarri, looks like a coach whose system has not worked, and whose time may be coming to a close at Stamford Bridge. Tottenham will almost certainly be looking forward to the North London Derby this Saturday, and they currently sit third in the Premier League. They lost last time out to Burnley, 2-1, and will be hoping to consolidate their hold on third ahead of Saturday’s big match. I think the competing narratives for each side, Tottenham’s lack of a trophy-winning mentality, and Sarri’s benching of Kepa will overshadow what could have been an interesting match.

Prediction: Chelsea 0-0 Tottenham

Crystal Palace vs. Manchester United

Crystal Palace beat Leicester City 4-1 in their last match, but the scoreline is a bit flattering for today’s hosts. Roy Hodgson has done a solid job with his team this term, but they still find themselves in the relegation scrap, in large part due to their defensive frailties. Manchester United have been a revolution under Ole Gunnar Skolsjaer as they have yet to lose since his appointment as interim manager. They did draw last time out against Liverpool, and will need a win if they hope to stay in the hunt for a Champions League place. I think the attacking injuries will be too much for Manchester United to overcome away from home, and the match will end in a draw.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Manchester United

UEFA Europa League Round of 32 Predictions

If you have already gotten a chance to check out the Champions League predictions, I appreciate you looking at them. Unfortunately, my familiarity with many of the teams in the Europa League is limited, and with 16 ties, it would be difficult to give you quality breakdowns. Therefore, you’ll have to wait until the Round of 16 for the Europa League to get breakdowns.

February 12/February 21

Fenerbahce vs. Zenit St. Petersburg

Prediction: Zenit St. Petersburg through 4-2 on aggregate

February 14/February 20

Lazio vs. Sevilla

Prediction: Lazio through 4-1 on aggregate

February 14/February 21

Rapid Wien vs. Inter

Prediction: Inter through 5-1 on aggregate

Slavia Prague vs. Genk

Prediction: Genk through 3-2 on aggregate

FC Krasnodar vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Prediction: FC Krasnodar through 4-2 on aggregate

Rennes vs. Real Betis

Prediction: Real Betis through 2-1 on aggregate

Olympiacos vs. Dynamo Kyiv

Prediction: Dynamo Kyiv through 1-0 on aggregate

BATE Borisov vs. Arsenal

Prediction: Arsenal through 6-1 on aggregate (Did you really expect me to pick BATE Borisov?)

Galatasaray vs. Benfica

Prediction: Galatasaray through 3-2 on aggregate

Viktoria Plzen vs. Dinamo Zagreb

Prediction: Dinamo Zagreb through 4-2 on aggregate

Club Brugge vs. Salzburg

Prediction: Salzburg through 2-2 on aggregate (away goals)

FC Zürich vs. Napoli

Prediction: Napoli through 5-0 on aggregate

Malmo FF vs. Chelsea

Prediction: Chelsea through 6-0 on aggregate

Shakhtar Donestk vs. Eintracht Frankfurt

Prediction: Shakhtar Donestk through 3-3 on aggregate (away goals)

Celtic vs. Valencia

Prediction: Valencia through 3-2 on aggregate

Sporting CP vs. Villarreal

Prediction: Sporting CP through 3-1 on aggregate

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Predictions

Today marks the return of the UEFA Champions League, and I will be breaking down each tie and giving my prediction for the aggregate score.

February 12/March 6

Manchester United vs. Paris Saint-Germain

A month and a half ago, this looked like a very different tie. Manchester United were a club that were struggling against the “negative tactics” of José Mourinho (who would later be sacked), and PSG were in top form. Today, Manchester United have their mojo back, and are a team that are brushing aside just about any team they face. This will be a massive test for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men, but PSG are missing two key pieces in Neymar and Edinson Cavani. I still think PSG have sufficient quality to compete with Manchester United, but they may have to grab a crucial away goal or two.

Prediction: Manchester United through 4-3 on aggregate

AS Roma vs. FC Porto

I would like to think that there is no such thing as a straightforward knockout round tie, but Roma would have been pleased to learn that they drew Porto when they could have drawn the likes of PSG, Juventus, or Bayern Munich. Still, FC Porto have a good deal of quality about them, and have Iker Casillas leading them as their goalkeeper, and his experience should never be counted against. However, I still think that Roma have too much quality for Porto to contain throughout the tie. I believe Roma will advance, but their inconsistency could make it less straightforward.

Prediction: AS Roma through 5-1 on aggregate

February 13/March 5

Ajax vs. Real Madrid

Ajax are probably one of my favorite stories on the continent of Europe. A club that truly embraces developing its own youth to the point, where they have a standardized program for all of their youth academy players from the time they are about 8-year-olds until they become a part of the senior training setup. Sadly, their reward for making it out of the group stage is one of the toughest possible ties that they could get. Real Madrid should relish their chances in this tie, but that does not mean that they can underestimate the Dutch side who took a point from an exciting 3-3 draw. Real Madrid are loaded with quality and have put themselves together, but this still isn’t a foregone conclusion that they are through.

Prediction: Real Madrid through 6-2 on aggregate

Tottenham vs. Borussia Dortmund

Tottenham managed to barely get out of their tough group after getting some help from PSV Eindhoven on the final matchday that saw them clinch a spot in the knockout stages. Domestically, Tottenham have been getting the necessary results, but the absences of Dele Alli and Harry Kane should cause panic among Tottenham supporters. Dortmund fans may be happier because their opponents don’t have their top-class goalscorers, but they have had a leaky defense at times this season. They possess plenty of quality from the likes of Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus, but Dortmund will have to play 90 tough minutes twice if they hope to get the better of their English counterparts. If Dortmund can secure an away goal or two, it will go a long way to punching a ticket into the next round.

February 19/March 13

Lyon vs. Barcelona

Lyon present an interesting opponent to Barcelona as they have gone toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in Europe, Manchester City. While they haven’t been convincing domestically this season, Lyon are still a quality side and possess sufficient attacking quality to hurt Barcelona with the likes of Nabil Fekir and Memphis Depay. Barcelona have been far from convincing lately, and head into the match following a 1-0 victory over Real Valladolid this past weekend. They have been better in Europe, but their defensive fragilities could be exposed if they are unable to get off to a fast start against Lyon.

Prediction: Barcelona through 3-2 on aggregate

Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich

Liverpool look like a side who have rediscovered themselves following a series of disappointing draws in the Premier League. Their European form has been a little more mixed, but this tie could be the most intriguing of all the matchups in the last 16 of the Champions League. Bayern Munich have surged up the Bundesliga table, and sit only three points behind Borussia Dortmund. They cruised in the group stage of the competition, but Liverpool has the quality to hurt a Bayern defense that has looked exposed at times throughout the season.

Prediction: Liverpool through 2-2 on aggregate (away goals rule)

February 20/March 12

Atlético Madrid vs. Juventus

Atlético Madrid are one of the most interesting cases in the Champions League as they have a degree of team spirit about them, but they find ways to advance despite their lack of goalscoring ability at times. I don’t doubt their quality in this kind of tie, but they are not facing a team that possesses a flowing attack, and therefore is a team that they can frustrate until they nick a goal or two. Juventus are a prototypical Italian team: solid defensively with enough attacking prowess to bag the goals when needed. They have dominated Serie A for years now, and this represents another major hurdle for the team now led by the masterful Cristiano Ronaldo

Prediction: Juventus through 3-2 on aggregate

Schalke 04 vs. Manchester City

Schalke represent an interesting opponent because their domestic struggles have seemed like an alternate reality in Europe’s top competition. They certainly have the skills to give Manchester City plenty of problems, but may not have enough to overcome the gap in quality during the away leg. Manchester City would be happy with this draw as they avoided the likes of Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich by virtue of topping their group. City should be able to navigate this tie, but they will want to bag an away goal or two so that they won’t have to sweat out a nervy home leg.

Prediction: Manchester City through 5-2 on aggregate

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Premier League Predictions Matchday 25

Liverpool sit five points clear of reigning champions Manchester City following an interesting set of results in the middle of the week as Tottenham and Arsenal round out the top four. Huddersfield appear to be in dire straights as they look listless at the bottom of the table along with Fulham and Cardiff who also find themselves in relegation trouble.

February 2, 2019

Tottenham vs. Newcastle United

Prediction: Tottenham 1-0 Newcastle United

Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Watford

Prediction: Brighton & Hove Albion 1-2 Watford

Everton vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Prediction: Everton 2-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Crystal Palace vs. Fulham

Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-0 Fulham

Chelsea vs. Huddersfield Town

Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Huddersfield Town

Burnley vs. Southampton

Prediction: Burnley 2-0 Southampton

Cardiff City vs. Bournemouth

Prediction: Cardiff City 2-3 Bournemouth

February 3, 2019

Leicester CIty vs. Manchester United

Prediction: Leicester City 1-1 Manchester United

Manchester City vs. Arsenal

Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 Arsenal

February 4, 2019

West Ham United vs. Liverpool

Prediction: West Ham United 0-3 Liverpool

Serie A Predictions Matchday 22

Juventus are once again running away with Serie A leaving the likes of Napoli, Inter, AC Milan, and Roma to fight it out for the remaining Champions League place. At the bottom of the table, Chievo Verona and Frosinone are in the two worst positions, but Bologna and Empoli find themselves in jeopardy of relegation as well.

February 2, 2019

Empoli vs. Chievo Verona

Prediction: Empoli 2-1 Chievo Verona

Napoli vs. Sampdoria

Prediction: Napoli 3-1 Sampdoria

Juventus vs. Parma

Prediction: Juventus 3-0 Parma

February 3, 2019

SPAL 2013 vs. Torino

Prediction: SPAL 2013 0-2 Torino

Genoa vs. Sassuolo

Prediction: Genoa 0-1 Sassuolo

Udinese vs. Fiorentina

Prediction: Udinese 0-3 Fiorentina

Inter vs. Bologna

Prediction: Inter 2-0 Bologna

Roma vs. AC Milan

Prediction: Roma 4-2 AC Milan

February 4, 2019

Frosinone vs. Lazio

Prediction: Frosinone 0-1 Lazio

Cagliari vs. Atalanta

Prediction: Cagliari 1-4 Atalanta

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La Liga BBVA Predictions Matchday 22

The usual suspects are all in the top four places in the league, but Deportivo Alavés and Getafe have been two sides that have displaced the likes of Valencia and Villarreal in the quest for Europa League football next season. At the bottom, there are currently two sides that usually perform better in Celta Vigo and Villarreal who are really finding life difficult in La Liga this term.

February 1, 2019

SD Huesca vs. Real Valladolid

If there has been a team that has looked completely out of its depths at times, it’s Huesca. They only have 12 points from 21 matches and boast the league’s worst defense. Valladolid haven’t been great this season either, but they have been able to get the job done when it has been needed. I think Valladolid get a solid win here and the misery for Huesca continues to mount.

Prediction: SD Huesca 0-1 Real Valladolid

February 2, 2019

Levante vs. Getafe

Prediction: Levante 1-3 Getafe

Real Sociedad vs. Athletic Club

Prediction: Real Sociedad 2-0 Athletic Club

Barcelona vs. Valencia

Prediction: Barcelona 3-0 Valencia

Celta Vigo vs. Sevilla

Prediction: Celta Vigo 0-2 Sevilla

February 3, 2019

Villarreal vs. Espanyol

Prediction: Villarreal 1-2 Espanyol

Real Betis vs. Atlético Madrid

Prediction: Real Betis 0-1 Atlético Madrid

Eibar vs. Girona

Prediction: Eibar 3-3 Girona

Real Madrid vs. Deportivo Alavés

Prediction: Real Madrid 3-1 Deportivo Alavés

February 4, 2019

Rayo Vallecano vs. Leganes

Prediction: Real Vallecano 1-1 Leganes