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Champions League 1/16 Final: Preview. Asking questions

During a vast period of time European football has been dominated by several football clubs, while some others are boosting among the mass and showing excellent football for a couple of seasons. Champions League is the right league to measure the domination among European clubs and is meant to reveal the best among the best. Moreover, it can be both fascinating and surprising. As the day for the 1/16 final kick off approaches, we have gathered some questions, the answers of which will be revealed after the end of the round, before 1/8 final.

Benfica – Zenit Petersburg
One of the key factors in current success of Zenit Petersburg, is the strong defense and the small number of conceded goals. Only 6 goals were conceded in the group stage, two of which during the last match, when nothing was being decided. Javi Garcia was one of the main elements in the chain of defenders. Being a tenacious defensive midfielder, Garcia broke down the majority of the counterattacks of the opponents, often receiving yellow cards for rough play. Not everyone remembers that before entering the English football industry in Manchester City shirt, J. Garcia had three successful seasons in Benfica FC, Portugal. Is the Portuguese team ready to face the rude beast it has created?

Paris SG – Chelsea
If you constantly review the European football news, you have probably noticed that Pars SG has been ‘destroying’ teams in League 1 lately and achieved +21 points breakaway from its closest pursuer. Chelsea, on contrast has failed the first round of the season, being the 14th in Premiere League, having won only six games out of 22. Relying on these numbers, one may conclude, that Paris SG is the obvious favorite in this duel. However, if you take a look on head to head statistics of the teams, you will see that the chances are almost equal. The 6 official matches in last Champions League seasons have finished with three draws, one PSG victory and two Chelsea victories. Moreover, Chelsea has obviously improved its game after Guus Hiddink restarted coaching Chelsea. So at the end a question comes out: which team is the preliminary favorite of the duel Pars SG – Chelsea?

AS Roma – Real Madrid
According to the rules set by UEFA, the teams that were the second in their groups face the leaders of other groups. This brings to subconscious assumption, that the duels in 1/16 final are automatically unequable. For this duel in particular, this presumption seems to be true. The idea is that the teams with most scoring and conceding patterns are to meet: Real Madrid scored 19 goals and shares the first place with Bayern Munich on this indicator. AS Roma, in turn, conceded 16 goals, being the biggest number among the teams, which made their road to 1/16 final. So, how many times AS ‘Roma’ players will restart the game from the center spot?

Gent – Wolfsburg
These teams made their ways to 1/16 final in a brilliant way: one left Valencia and Lyon behind, another led the group with PSV’s and Manchester United’s membership. Moreover, both of the teams reached this stage for the first time in their history. Not a single forecast presumed their pair in the 1/16 final. However, the presence of this pair brings up the fact that one of these new-comers is going to be among the 8 best European teams. Nevertheless, is any of these teams physically and psychologically ready to face the European grands?

Arsenal – Barcelona
During the last several years, Barcelona and Arsenal faced each other many times in Champions league Play-Off stages. The football world has already analyzed every single aspect of this duel. During the last years, Barcelona has always been passing through Arsenal to further stages. However, this time Arsenal has one major advantage: now they have Peter Chech protecting the goal of the “Gunners”. This goalkeeper managed not to concede any single goal from one of the best goal scorer of the 21st century: Lionel Messi. Yes, the five time Ballon D’Or winner has never scored a goal against Peter Chech, even while facing him during multiple matches against Chelsea. So, has Arsenal found the clue to success against Barca’s beast?

Juventus – Bayern Munich

In 2014 Bayern Munich sold one of the best strikers in its squad at that moment: Mario Mandzukic. In attempt to continue chasing after its main competitor’s superstars, Bayern waved good-bye to Mario, acquiring Robert Lewandowski from Borussia Dortmund. The letter shows super football, and Bayern has no room to regret. Mario, in turn, put on Atletico Madrid’ shirt, having a somewhat successful season, and then was acquired by Juventus. Mario’s goals pulled Juventus out from the abyss the team threw itself in at the start of the season. On the other hand, Arturo Vidal and Kingsley Coman left Juventus joining the German club. While the French youngster can hardly play a key role in the duel, Vidal will probably be one of the main characters. Mandzukic, Coman, Vidal… Will the directors of of the clubs regret or will they be proud of their transfer policy by the end of this duel?

By: Inga Voskerchian