It’s been a long, long wait, but finally, the Champions League is back in all its unpredictable and nail-biting glory. 

The most elite footballing tournament in Europe, Champions League is set to kick-start its knockout stage from tonight, and we can’t wait for the ball to roll. Round-of-16 matches may not have the intensity of the semi-finals, but they gave us the first true taste of nerve-wracking end-to-end action.

This week, UEFA Champions League has four fixtures in store. The first leg doesn’t necessarily have the same stakes, but they are just as crucial. So, without further ado, let’s take a brief look at this week’s matches. 

AS Roma vs FC Porto

Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Both Roma and Porto will fancy themselves to get into the final-8 of the Champions League this season.

The Italians, who famously knocked Barcelona out of the quarter-finals, last season, qualified second behind Real Madrid in Group G to reach the last-16, this term. Porto, on the other hand, picked out 16 points out of a possible 18 to top Group D.

The two teams aren’t as decorated as many of their fellow round-of-16 participants, but they, most definitely, are just as determined. Porto have a better group stage record this season, but they probably won’t find much joy playing at the ever-intimidating Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday.

Prediction: Roma 3-1 Porto

Manchester United vs Paris Saint-Germain

Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester 
Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Premier League giants, Manchester United, will welcome Paris Saint-Germain to Old Trafford for the first leg of their round-of-16 tie on Tuesday night.

When the tie was announced in December, most followers considered it to be a walk in the park for the Ligue 1 outfit. In many ways, the assumption, especially considering United’s form at the time, was spot on. But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment has single-handedly turned the tie on its head. United are currently enjoying an 11-game unbeaten run — 10 wins — and look capable of beating any team on their day. 

Paris Saint-Germain, on the other hand, have lost Neymar and Edinson Cavani to injuries and will be forced to rely only on Kylian Mbappe up top. The Frenchman is undoubtedly capable of producing something special but has his work cut out for him against an in-form Manchester United.

Prediction: Manchester United 2-2 PSG

Also Read: Manchester United next Superstar – Marcus Rashford

Tottenham Hotspur vs Borussia Dortmund

Venue: Wembley, London
Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham will look to topple the odds when they host Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night.

The Wembley boys have done superbly well to cope with the absences of Harry Kane and Dele Alli. They are only five points behind Liverpool in the Premier League table and will look to carry their domestic form into Europe. Spurs ousted Inter Milan to get into the final-16, and they most certainly won’t let all that effort go to waste so early in the tournament. 

Borussia Dortmund haven’t won any of their last three matches and will look for a response at Wembley. They have been one of the most impressive teams in Europe this season and will need to be at their best to get something out of their trip to London.

Prediction: Spurs 2-1 Dortmund

Ajax vs Real Madrid

Venue: Johan Cruijff Arena, Amsterdam
Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Defending champions, Real Madrid, will look to keep the 2018/19 knockouts in style when they make the trip to Ajax on Wednesday.

Santiago Solari’s men haven’t had the best of seasons so far. A poor start to La Liga has left them six points behind leaders Barcelona. However, their recent form has been quite encouraging. Most of their star players are back to their best, allowing Los Blancos to almost toy with their opponents. Winning the tournament for a fourth straight season seems like a distant dream, but the 13-time winners have never been too fond of normalcy.

Ajax’s young brigade are excited to play the European champions, but they won’t probably fancy getting much out of Wednesdays’ lop-sided contest.

Prediction: Ajax 1-3 Real Madrid

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