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Champions League: Who will progress to the Quarter-Finals?

Wednesday 8th February 2017
With the return of the Champions League on 14th February, here's a look at which teams could be advancing to the quarter-finals stage of the competition.

Robert Wiltshire casts his critical eye over the upcoming matches in the Champions League.

PSG v Barcelona

Over the two legs, I feel Barcelona will be too strong for the French champions. Both sides are struggling a little in their domestic leagues and I think the games will be tight. The obvious problem for PSG will be containing the unstoppable trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suàrez and Neymar. Julian Draxler, who signed for PSG in January, has made a good start to life in France and could actually play a pivotal part in the games.

Benfica v Borussia Dortmund

Although Benfica is currently top of the Primeira Liga, I believe Dortmund will progress to the next stage. The heavily sought after striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of the fastest strikers in the world and is the top goalscorer in the Bundesliga so far this season. Behind him, Marco Reus and Mario Götze will help create a lot of chances for Dortmund and be a real handful for Benfica. The Portuguese side must try to frustrate and nullify these three if they want any chance of beating the German club.

Real Madrid v Napoli

On paper, this should be the easiest game to call. Despite experiencing a dip in form lately and missing Gareth Bale, Real Madrid is a truly formidable team under Zinedine Zidane and I fully expect them to beat their Italian opponents. For Napoli, the challenge will be to stay in the tie after the first leg and they will need big performances from their star men, Dries Mertens and Marek Hamŝik. Both scored a hat-trick at the weekend in a 7-1 away to Bologna and will try to grab a precious away goal at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Bayern Munich v Arsenal

Yet again, the Gunners face the German champions in the last 16. This is a harsh draw for Arsenal who topped their Champions League group, ahead of PSG. Bayern will be a tough team to beat across two games, partly because of their incredible strength in depth. Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry and Thomas Müller are all match winners who will try and capitalise on Arsenal's small domestic slump. The Gunners must also be wary of youngsters Kingsley Coman and Renato Sanches who often come on as substitutes and offer a lot of energy to the team.

Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid

This is probably the most difficult decision but I think Diego Simeone's team will just about edge it. Atletico Madrid have been underachieving this season and are well off the pace in La Liga. Arguably, rumours that Antoine Griezmann is seeking a transfer to Manchester United have rattled the club and Simeone has also been linked with a move away. In saying this, Bayern Leverkusen has been even more inconsistent and are mid-table in the Bundesliga. News that Hakan Çalhanoğlu will have to serve a four-month suspension is a massive blow for the German side. The Turkish midfielder will be unable to play for the rest of the season because of a breach of contract with Trabzonspor a number of years ago.

Manchester City v Monaco

Again, this could go either way but I'm backing Monaco to knock Pep Guardiola's side out of the competition. This may surprise some people but the French side are top of Ligue 1 and have a devastating offence, scoring 65 goals in just 22 games They have already achieved a win in England this season, beating Tottenham 2-1 at Wembley in a group stage match. Bernardo Silva was fantastic in that game and City will need to keep him quiet if they want to reach the quarter-finals. With the immense attacking potential of both teams, I can see two high-scoring games between these two and it may come down to which team can outscore the other.

Porto v Juventus

It's hard to see anything other than a win for Juventus here. The Italian champions have a well-balanced squad with a lot of experience. Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci are all veterans at the back and will make it incredibly difficult for Porto to score. At the other end of the pitch, the Argentine duo of Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala are a fatal strike-force. The positive for Porto is that they have not lost a league game at home this season and they will look to carry on this form when they host Juventus in the first leg.

Sevilla v Leicester

Although Leicester have had a brilliant Champions League campaign so far, it will be a tall order for them to defeat this strong Spanish side over two legs. The Foxes have come crashing down to earth since their fairytale last season and are battling to stay in the top flight. Sevilla, on the other hand, has gone from strength to strength after winning three consecutive Europa League titles and they currently sit third in La Liga. I hope Claudio Ranieri's men somehow recreate their form of last season and pull off a real upset because if they play as they have done recently, it will be a comfortable two games for Sevilla.
Robert Wiltshire
I am a Creative Writing MA graduate with a love for playing, watching and writing about football.

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