Champions League Round of 16 Preview: Part 3

I hope you all enjoyed parts one and two of my Champions League previews. As promised, here’s part 3:

AC Milan vs. Barcelona

Lionel Messi and Jordi AlbaMilan have not been enjoying domestic football this year, only racking up 37 points in 22 games as they currently lie at a disappointing fifth place. Barcelona on the other hand seem to be running away with the league, with an impressive 58 points (15 adrift of Real Madrid) and a scary goal difference of 47. The La Liga title looks set to be heading to Catalonia.

This is not the first time these clubs have met in Europe. In fact, they will be very familiar with one other having played against each other on five separate occasions in only two years. Milan failed to beat Barcelona in all five games, managing only two draws. Will this statistic prove to motivate AC Milan, or will it create a sense of nervousness? But only time can answer that question.

Key players

I see Stephan El Shaarawy, or better  known to his fans as Il Faraone (The Pharoah), as AC Milan’s key player.  El Shaarawy has made a name for himself in Italy. In this current season, he has been a part of 18 goals, having scored 15 and assisting 3. El Shaarawy will be a relatively unknown threat to Barca due to his young age. If  he can turn up for Milan in such a vital game, I believe he will be a handful for the Barcelona defense.

But does Barcelona’s key man really need an introduction? Lionel Messi has continued to stun spectators with his talent and abilities. Breaking many records year after year, he still continues to amaze. Having scored 33 goals already in La Liga, surely no player can stop him (and lets not forget Barca have Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas and co. Unlucky Milan).

Prediction

Barcelona will advance, no doubt about it. Perhaps a nervy game leading to a draw at the San Siro will occur, but Barca are just too good to not advance in to the quarter finals. AC Milan will be praying to the football Gods (as did Chelsea!).

1st Leg: AC Milan 1-2 Barcelona
2nd Leg: Barcelona 3-1 AC Milan

Valencia vs. Paris Saint-Germain

Zlatan IbrahimovicArguably the quietest of ties. Yes, perhaps the other more extravagant fixtures have over shadowed this tie, but do not be mistaken, this game has the makings to be one of the most exciting.

Valencia have not been enjoying the best of years in La Liga. With only 33 points in 21 games, the Valencia of today seem a far distance from the consecutive Champions League runners up  in the 1999/00 and 2000/01 seasons.

PSG on the other hand have been enjoying their best run of form since 1994! The affluent Parisian club have asserted their financial dominance in Europe with the mega money signings of Ibrahimovic and Lucas Moura. They certainly have the quality to go far in this tournament.

Key Players

Ibrahimovic, the man, the myth, the verb? (Yes, ‘To Zlatan’ is a recognized verb in Sweden). Ibra has been relishing his time in France, having scored 19 goals in 19 games! He hasn’t lost his eye for a goal has he? Valencia will most certainly have to nullify the threat Zlatan imposes.

Meanwhile, Valencia have an attacking threat of their own. Roberto Soldado has been the key man for Valencia, stacking up 11 goals already this season. For Valencia to have any chance of progressing, Soldado has to rise to the occasion.

Prediction

PSG are too hot to handle at the minute, and the pace, skill, and power they posses are far too much for Valencia to handle. I’m going to predict a win in both legs for Paris Saint-Germain.

1st Leg: Valencia 0-1 Paris Saint-Germain
2nd Leg: Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 Valencia

Written by TheFootballSupplement