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Now that the UEFA Champions League round of 16 parings have been announced, it is time for football fans all to begin debating them. With the ties not set to occur until mid-February, there is ample time for fans and analysts alike to pick them apart and predict the outcomes. And, of course, this is a particularly exciting process for those who will be placing bets.
Online gambling has become increasingly popular in recent years, and while much of the industry is focused on casino sites like partypoker.com, there is also a great deal of focus on sports betting. For fans, this means that once you’ve made up your mind on the round of 16, you can place a few bets, and really have something on the line during the matches. So without further ado, here are brief analyses and picks for each tie.
Galatasaray A.S. vs. FC Schalke
While Galatasaray looks like the underdog on paper, they may actually be the safer bet. Schalke is capable and dangerous, but has struggled in Bundesliga as of late, and is also going through a coaching transition (with Jens Keller replacing Huub Stevens).
Galatasaray, on the other hand, just wrapped up group play with a trio of wins, and few are as hot scoring goals as forward Burak Yilmaz. Schalke remains the oddsmakers’ favourite, but this one is tight. Galatasaray is the pick, against the odds.
Celtic FC vs. Juventus
The leg in Scotland won’t be easy, but Andrea Pirlo and Juventus made it through the group stage in relatively dominant fashion, and look to be among the favourites moving forward. A victory for Celtic would be rather shocking here, and Juventus is the smart pick.
Arsenal FC vs. FC Bayern Munchen
Having scored 15 goals in the group stage, Bayern is a true powerhouse in this round of 16. Arsenal is never a pushover, but struggled to some extent on both ends of the field during the group stage, and doesn’t seem to have the firepower to stop Bayern. Last year’s runner up, Bayern, will advance.
FC Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Borussia Dortmund
Shakhtar impressed during the group stage, defeating Chelsea and earning a draw at Juventus. But, perhaps no team was stronger in the group stage than Dortmund. Currently Germany’s best, Dortmund navigated the group of death with near perfection, and is the pick to move forward in what should be a thrilling tie.
AC Milan vs. FC Barcelona
Milan managed only 7 goals in the group stage, and finished with the lowest point total of any team to advance. There isn’t much more to say about this tie – Messi and Barcelona will almost certainly be too much for Milan to handle.
Real Madrid CF vs. Manchester United FC
A tie between two historic powers looking to return to the top, this is inarguably the most intriguing of the match-ups. Madrid advanced through the group of death, but has been less than emphatic in recent play, and is essentially out of the running in La Liga.
Meanwhile, the forward combination of newcomer Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney has Manchester United looking quite strong of late. This is a near toss-up and should be a thrilling tie. Madrid remains the oddsmakers’ favourite, but given recent play, Manchester is the pick here, against the odds.
Valencia CF vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Despite a strong showing – only one loss, at Bayern – in the group stage, Valencia has looked weak of late, and sits at 11th in La Liga standings. Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic leads a scintillating attack for Paris Saint-Germain – one that should carry them through the round of 16 over the Spanish side.
FC Porto vs. Malaga CF
This looks to be a closely contested tie between two teams playing fairly well in recent matches. Having earned the first place spot in Group C, and sitting at 4th place in La Liga, Malaga probably looks just a bit stronger right now, and also gets to play at home for the second league. Because of this, Malaga is the pick – but it’s a near toss-up.
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