The UEFA Champions League round of 16 second legs began on Tuesday, as the first two of four teams punched their tickets to the quarterfinals this week. Liverpool and Bayern Munich moved through and on Wednesday Manchester City will also likely join the last eight, while an enticing tie between PSG and Real Madrid will be decided at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Here’s what to know and our picks for the matches:
Here are our staff picks for the four big clashes:
Wednesday’s broadcast schedule
Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Featured Game | Real Madrid vs. PSG
One matchup to watch: PSG attack vs. Marcelo. Kylian Mbappe’s fitness will now be key, but PSG will feel that they can get at Real on either side after Dani Carvajal’s torrid evening in Paris recently and Marcelo’s deterioration in recent years. Ferland Mendy’s suspension could make the right side PSG’s priority with Achraf Hakimi likely to push on behind Angel Di Maria which will make for a very difficult pairing to face when you a 33-year-old full-back of any description. — Jonathan Johnson
Most likely to score a goal: Karim Benzema. It feels inevitable that Benzema will score at some point in this tie and his fitness was a major factor in Real’s first leg struggles. If he gets the opportunity here, he is unlikely to waste it and could be Carlo Ancelotti’s best hope at progressing. — Jonathan Johnson
Man of the Match pick: Neymar. It feels like we are owed our dose of the Brazilian in this Champions League edition and it would be a shame if this season passed him by completely. Whether it is a goal, an assist or his trickery and creativity, he will want to leave his mark on this one. — Jonathan Johnson
Match prediction: Real Madrid 1, PSG 1. This one should be tighter than the Paris leg but the visitors should have just enough to sneak through. With the final now in the French capital, there is no better motivation for these players to not finish the job — Mbappe or no Mbappe. — Jonathan Johnson
Manchester City vs. Sporting CP
Date: Wednesday, March 9 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Live stream: Paramount+
Odds: Man City -700 ; Draw +675; Sporting +1900 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Featured Game | Manchester City vs. Sporting CP
One matchup to watch: Matheus Reis vs. Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian is as close to a sure starter as City have in their star-studded frontline and he has certainly done his case no harm in recent weeks, a brace against Manchester United taking him over the 20-goal mark for the first season in his career. Sporting had no answer to him in Lisbon, where Mahrez created four chances and scored, and Reis will be severely tested at the Etihad. — James Benge
Most likely to keep a clean sheet: Ederson. My colleagues really erred in giving me the clean sheet option here. City have kept five clean sheets in their last seven games and are certain to dominate possession, shots and territory. This Sporting side, shorn of so many key players, will do well to even test the Brazilian in the Etihad goal. — James Benge
Man of the Match pick: Jack Grealish. City’s record signing has been showing signs of heading in the right direction in a difficult debut season. He was devastating against United and could be even more effective on Wednesday if he starts. If Raheem Sterling takes his place, he wouldn’t be a bad bet for the man of the match award either. — James Benge
Match prediction: Man City 2, Sporting 0. I’d expect the hosts to crush any semblance of Sporting resistance early on and then cruise through this game with one eye on the weekend’s trip to Crystal Palace. — James Benge
Liverpool vs. Inter Milan
Featured Game | Liverpool vs. Inter Milan
One matchup to watch: Ivan Perisic vs. Trent Alexander Arnold. This was the key duel of the first leg at San Siro. Despite Liverpool winning the match, Perisic proved to be the most dangerous player for the Nerazzurri as they focused on attacking on the left side of the pitch. Simone Inzaghi’s side won’t have many chances to change the destiny of this tie, but it’s likely to come from Perisic if it happens. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defensive performance will tell us a lot about the final result of the game.
Most likely to score a goal: Mohamed Salah. It’s very likely that we are going to see another goal by Salah. At San Siro, he scored the opening goal of the match, and this time around, it’s possible he will have even more space for counterattacks since Inter Milan will try to put pressure and score early. He can definitely benefit from Simone Inzaghi’s aggressive approach and do what’s he does best: Find open spaces and score.
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Man of the Match pick: Alisson. Inter Milan will probably have some chances and the Brazilian goalkeeper needs to be ready to not concede goals. His role will be crucial to determine the second leg of this round of 16 at Anfield.
Match prediction: Liverpool 2, Inter Milan 1. Liverpool will know perfectly how to handle Inter Milan’s early pressure as the guests don’t stand much of chance to overturn the odds in the second leg.
Bayern Munich vs. Red Bull Salzburg
Date: Tuesday, March 8 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Live stream: Paramount+
Odds: Bayern -490; Draw +600; Salzburg +1200 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Featured Game | Bayern Munich vs. Salzburg
One matchup to watch: Brenden Aaronson against Joshua Kimmich. Assuming that both sides line up relatively similarly to the first leg aside from their respective injuries, Brenden Aaronson against Joshua Kimmich should be fairly influential in terms of shaping the game. The USMNT star occupied an attacking midfield role in the opening leg while the Germany international was sat in front of the Bayern defense and given their recent wobbles, that is a pretty crucial role. The Austrians have nothing to lose here and Aaronson will be crucial in terms of creating chances so keep an eye on this one. — Jonathan Johnson
Most likely to score a goal: Robert Lewandowski. Sadly for Sven Ulreich, Manuel Neuer’s likely absence means that Robert Lewandowski takes this one. Although the Polish superstar is not his usual prolific self in front of goal of late, he is still the most likely to find the back of the net and prove the difference between the two sides. — Jonathan Johnson
Man of the Match pick: Thomas Muller. He usually comes up big in these matches and his recent return to action was a boost for Julian Nagelsmann. Assuming that Bayern advance, as expected, it is likely that the Germany international will have played an important role. — Jonathan Johnson
Match prediction: Bayern Munich 1, Salzburg 0. Although the temptation is there to say that the hosts will win by a landslide, that has not been the case of late. Matthias Jaissle’s men made life hard for the Bundesliga giants in Austria and they will do so again here. — Jonathan Johnson