Expert Analysis and Predictions for UEFA Champions League 1st Knockout Round
It is time once again to set our sights down the road and make some bold predictions on UEFA Champions League playoffs starting tonight. Group stage already proved that there is a little bit of change in the air, as such domestic league powerhouses as Atletico Madrid and Napoli were kicked down to Europa League. The reign of big money clubs seems to be in the books at least according to the odds, with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain being made favorites to capture the trophy.
Always intriguing first round draw drew together a couple of the giants, PSG with Real Madrid and Chelsea with Barcelona. On the other hand, pairing of Shaktar Donetsk of Ukraine and AS Roma means there’ll be at least one surprise inclusion in top-8 this time around.AccuScore provides predictions and analysis for each and every Champions League Knockout Stage Game, all the way to the Final in June!
After simulating each matchup 10 000 times, we have a clear view on how the 1st knockout round is most likely to finish. There are, of course, plenty of variables that can change before the kick-off and especially the result of the first leg will influence a lot how the second one will play out. With all the scenarios accounted for, here is how the simulation engine predicts the 1st knockout round to go:
Expert Analysis – Part 1/2
Juventus – Tottenham
The Italians went all the way to the final last year, only to lose heavily to Real Madrid. This season they’ve not been as impressive and are actually only 2nd in Serie A, one point behind Napoli. The team is aging rapidly, but the defense is still top-notch even if offensively Juventus tends to stagnate and lack both speed and flair. Yet Juventus will be hard to break down and it’s the first big test for inexperienced Spurs team. Albeit playing creative and dynamic football, Spurs might lack the overall quality to challenge Juventus – but we’ve seen bigger surprises. In simulations Juventus goes to top-8 with 61% probability.
FC Basel – Manchester City
Basel provided the first surprise in the group staged, by upending CSKA Moscow and Benfica to reach 2nd seeding after Manchester United – who they also beat along the way. Despite impressive results in group stage, unlucky draw in the first round ends their dream run. Manchester City seems unstoppable at the moment in Premier League and with plenty of experience from tough situations, Pep Guardiola knows exactly how to avoid any complacency. No chance for Basel according to simulations, in which City progresses with 78% likelihood.
FC Porto – Liverpool
Portuguese teams Porto and Benfica seem to take turns in appearing in UCL knockout rounds. This season Porto is yet to lose in their domestic league, but they needed a bit of luck to reach 2nd place in the UCL group as Leipzig lost to leaders Besiktas to giftwrap Porto with the seeding. Porto played well though and were especially efficient offensively. But so are their opponents Liverpool, coached by Jürgen Klopp who has a proven track record of taking an underdog all the way by scoring more goals than the opponent. Porto is likely to lose a scoring competition, but goals we are likely to see. Liverpool heads to top-8 with 72% probability.
Real Madrid – PSG
The dreaded matchup for both teams if there ever was one. The reigning champions have had a deplorable season so far, having succumbed to 4th in La Liga a staggering 17 points behind Barcelona. With all hope lost domestically, then the UCL draw pits them against PSG, who are itching to set the record straight after last season’s mind-boggling loss to Real’s compatriots (thus far) Barcelona. PSG’s arms race has continued and they’ve once again ruled the domestic league, so it is all-in for Champions League. Real would need to man up in order to match the hungry PSG and it definitely hasn’t looked that way. In simulations, PSG is a clear favorite to progress with 62% probability.
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