Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.
We picked out eight sides to progress from the Champions League last 16 back in December and those picks are all looking strong right now.
With the next month set to play out with some of Europe’s best sides going head to head, take a look at who we’ve backed to make it through this round.
Champions League last 16 draw
- Red Bull Salzburg v Bayern Munich
- Sporting Lisbon v Manchester City
- Benfica v Ajax
- Chelsea v Lille
- Atletico Madrid v Manchester United
- Villarreal v Juventus
- Inter Milan v Liverpool
- PSG v Real Madrid
Latest Champions League winner odds
- Man City – 11/4
- Bayern Munich – 7/2
- Liverpool – 5/1
- Chelsea – 7/1
- PSG – 10/1
- Ajax – 14/1
Champions League last 16 draw reaction & tips
Red Bull Salzburg v Bayern Munich
Bayern will be happy with this draw, while Salzburg have already made history by making the last 16. These two sides met in this competition a year ago at the group stage, with the German side winning 9-3 across the two clashes. Bayern are looking strong under Julian Nagelsmann and they’re unlikely to have many issues here.
Verdict: Bayern to qualify
Sporting Lisbon v Manchester City
Sporting were able to sneak in ahead of Erling Haaland and Borussia Dortmund in the group stage, so they aren’t to be underestimated. However, they face a daunting step up against Man City in the next round, with last season’s beaten-finalists on a mission to finally triumph in Europe. City finished top with a game to spare, so back them to win this tie.
Verdict: Man City to qualify
Benfica v Ajax
Ajax finished their group with a 100% record, which included handing out two heavy defeats to Dortmund along the way. The Dutch side play excellent football and they were able to see off Sporting in the last round too, so they should be able to handle another Portuguese side.
Verdict: Ajax to qualify
Chelsea v Lille
Chelsea fans must have had a rollercoaster day, handing the plum draw of Lille before the redraw took place. The do-over brought the prospect of them facing Bayern Munich or Real Madrid after they slipped up in their final group game to finish second, but luck stayed with Thomas Tuchel’s side who are favourites to see off a Lille side who are ninth in Ligue 1.
Verdict: Chelsea to qualify
Atletico Madrid v Manchester United
We were denied a meeting of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the original draw but we do get a new European clash. United haven’t met Atletico during the Simeone era, but they aren’t meeting a classic Simeone side. Atleti are conceding too many goals and there’s no player who has troubled them quite like Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese has scored more goals against Atleti than any other side.
Verdict: United to qualify
Villarreal v Juventus
If you’re looking for a Champions League shock, this may be the tie for you. The last three seasons have seen Juve dumped out by Ajax, Lyon and Porto so they’re by no means a side for Villarreal to fear. The hosts have great European pedigree after winning the Europa League last season and they dumped out Atalanta in the group stage.
Verdict: Villarreal to qualify
Inter Milan v Liverpool
Liverpool fans will be a bit annoyed that they are facing Inter rather than Salzburg, their opponents in the scrapped draw. However, the Nerazzurri aren’t up to much in Europe having struggled to make it through the Champions League group stages in their recent attempts. Inter got out of a generous group this time around but their European record suggests they’re no match for a Liverpool side who had a 100% record in the toughest group.
Verdict: Liverpool to qualify
PSG v Real Madrid
Real Madrid were the side hardest hit by the redraw, despite their tie being drawn before the errors happened. Reports suggested Real appealed to UEFA to keep their clash with Benfica intact, but the Spanish side have landed a meeting with PSG.
However, the French side are yet to click and Mauricio Pochettino hasn’t been able to unite his superstar side with his style of play. While PSG remain an incredible side they are facing a Real outfit who have raced clear in La Liga with what appears to be a well-functioning unit. Given how the Ligue 1 side have consistently fallen short in Europe, Real are worth backing here.
Verdict: Real Madrid to qualify
Champions League last 16 accumulator tip
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