Champions League Round of 16: All you need to know
It’s been a long wait but finally the Champions League is back. To help you find the best bets, we’ve gone beyond the usual form guides and head-to-heads and pushed ourselves to deliver a different take on the stats you’ll need to inform your betting as the eight two-legged ties play themselves out over the next month.
For each fixture in the Round of 16 we’ve identified each club’s three main goal threats, based on how frequently they’ve found the net this season, measured the Champions League experience of each squad by round, broken down their average age by position and finally looked back over each club’s record to work out which of the two legs will be more pivotal.
Tottenham v Juventus
If Juventus are to recover from their disappointing draw in the home leg, then they need to find a way to keep Harry Kane quiet. England’s star striker has netted almost exactly a goal per 90 minutes across the Premier League and Champions League this season, which far exceeds what either Paulo Dybala or Gonzalo Higuain have managed for the Italian champions. Massimiliano Allegri’s side do have the advantage of experience, however, with Spurs’ squad having made just 26 Champions League knockout appearances between them prior to this year’s tournament while Juventus have 142 at the Round of 16 stage alone. The tie may be settled in the latter stages as the away defence has an average age of over 30, making it almost five years older than their visitors’ back line and therefore the likelier to run out of steam as the game unfolds.
Man City v Basel
Basel’s inexperience showed in the first leg as they were put to the sword by Pep Guardiola’s star-studded team. The Swiss side have the youngest defence and attack in the competition, with an average age of around 25 and 23 respectively. They also have scant experience at this level, with just five knockout appearances between them in previous iterations of the competition, and look to have missed their best chance of progression. The visitors have an incredibly poor away record in Champions League games, winning just 22% of their matches on the road – the lowest of the 16 teams left in the tournament.
Liverpool v Porto
Porto’s chances of recovering from their first-leg hammering are every bit as slim as Basel’s and if they don’t keep tabs on their hosts’ free-scoring African stars then the aggregate score could be embarrassing. Sadio Mane demonstrated the Reds’ diversity of attacking threats with aplomb in Portugal, so it’s not just Mohamed Salah who should be feared at Anfield. The prospect of a face-saving away win will surely depend on whether the free-scoring Vincent Aboubakar can recover in time for the return trip, and the relative lack of experience in Jurgen Klopp’s side suggests they could be vulnerable. The Primeira Liga leaders have accrued over twice as many Round of 16 appearances as the current Liverpool squad in previous seasons: 53 to 25.
PSG v Real Madrid
The first leg of this tie certainly didn’t disappoint and PSG will surely feel capable of overturning their two-goal deficit. Neymar and Edinson Cavani have netted over a goal per game this season so it would be naive to expect an inconsistent Real defence to withstand them for 90 minutes. While both squads have plenty of knockout experience to draw upon, the Spanish side have the edge, particularly when it comes to going deep in the competition. Ronaldo alone has as many Champions League final appearances as the entire PSG squad combined (five – two with Manchester United and a further three with Real). The French champions have also made less productive use of home advantage than their opponents, winning just 63% of games in Paris under the current format, although many of those results pre-date the arrival of their current crop of stars.
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