Champions League predictions, odds: Experts split on Man United vs. Atletico Madrid; Chelsea, Juventus favored

Four teams punched their tickets to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals last week and four more will do the same this week as the round of 16 second leg action returns on Tuesday and Wednesday. Liverpool, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester City are all through to the next round, with more to join them in the coming days as giants look to avoid upsets and underdogs aim to crash the party. The slate is highlighted by Manchester United vs. Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, while the likes of Ajax, Chelsea and Juventus will look to get the job done at home and make it one step closer to the final. 

Here’s our predictions for each match and more:

Tuesday’s broadcast schedule

Wednesday’s broadcast schedule

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Manchester United vs. Atletico Madrid

Date: Tuesday, March 15 | Time: 4 p.m. ET | Live stream: Paramount+
Odds: Man United +121; Draw +220; Atletico +250 (via Caesars Sportsbook)

Featured Game | Manchester United vs. Atlético Madrid

One matchup to watch: Jadon Sancho vs. Marcos Llorente. Since the turn of the year, Sancho has found by far the best form of his Manchester United career, largely by playing on a left flank where his team had been reasonably well stocked in the first place. Wherever he starts, the England international is in first name on the team-sheet territory, delivering end product on a consistent basis. Whether it is Llorente at wing back or another option, Diego Simeone will be hard pressed to quell Sancho. –James Benge

Most likely to score a goal: Cristiano Ronaldo. You can’t argue against a track record like this: 36 games, 25 goals (including four hat tricks), nine assists and two Champions League titles snatched away from Atletico. He might have been a non-entity in the first leg, but doesn’t that just heighten your conviction he will find a way to play a leading role in this tie? –James Benge

Man of the Match pick: Renan Lodi. The wing back tore through Manchester United in the first leg and whether he finds himself up against Diogo Dalot or Aaron Wan-Bissaka, he should feel confident about his chances of making a similar impact this time around. –James Benge

Match prediction: Man United 1, Atletico Madrid 1 (Atleti win on penalties). If the first leg is anything to go on, expect a blockbuster tie, i.e. one full of incomprehensible spectacle, shock twists that make no sense in the course of the narrative and a finale that seems inevitable. Simeone’s squad winning on penalties sounds about right then, doesn’t it? –James Benge

Ajax vs. Benfica

Date: Tuesday, March 15 | Time: 4 p.m. ET | Live stream: Paramount+
Odds: Ajax -255; Draw +410; Benfica +625 (via Caesars Sportsbook)  

Featured Game | Ajax vs. Benfica

One matchup to watch: Sébastien Haller vs. Jan Vertonghen. This could prove decisive if Nicolas Otamendi ultimately fails to prove his fitness after injury. If the Argentine does play, then how his ankle holds up could be key as the first leg showed us that this fixture will produce chances and goals at both ends. –Jonathan Johnson

Most likely to score a goal: Sébastien Haller. The Ivorian will be fancied to continue his hot streak while Dušan Tadić also showed his scoring prowess in the opening game, as did Darwin Núñez. André Onana coming back in will be interesting, though, as he has been out of favor since confirming his desire to leave this summer on a free transfer with Inter Milan his most likely destination. This is a big chance for him to impress. –Jonathan Johnson

Man of the Match pick: Dušan Tadić. The stage feels set for Tadic to inspire his team to the quarterfinals as the veteran continues to pull the strings for the Dutch giants. Expect the Serb to deliver another vintage display while aided by the prolific Haller. –Jonathan Johnson

Match prediction: Ajax 2, Benfica 1. Look for Erik ten Hag’s squad to continue their strong continental form with a narrow win in front of a raucous crowd and to be the underdog that nobody wants to draw in the quarters. –Jonathan Johnson

Juventus vs. Villarreal

Date: Wednesday, March 16 | Time: 4 p.m. ET | Live stream: Paramount+
Odds: Juventus -102 ; Draw +235; Villarreal +300 (via Caesars Sportsbook)  

Featured Game | Juventus vs. Villarreal

One matchup to watch: Álvaro Morata vs. Raúl Albiol. While the focus was centered on the duel between Pau Torres and Dušan Vlahović in the first leg, the two to watch in the second leg will be Álvaro Morata and Raúl Albiol. As we’ve seen in the past couple of weeks, Morata’s teammates hinge on his movements on the pitch and that will hold true for this match. –Francesco Porzio

Most likely to have a clean sheet: Wojciech Szczęsny. The Juventus goalkeeper is coming off a huge penalty save against Sampdoria to keep his club in the Serie A mix. He’s likely to be the one who won’t concede goals considering how well he’s been in the recent games. –Francesco Porzio

Man of the Match pick: Dušan Vlahović. I’ll go with the Serb because he’s built to play these kinds of games and he already scored in the first leg, 30 seconds into his Champions League’s debut. –Francesco Porzio

Match prediction: Juventus 1, Villarreal 0. I’m sure that Unai Emery’s side won’t be an easy opponent for the Bianconeri, who are the favorites and should establish themselves as much on the pitch. –Francesco Porzio 

Lille vs. Chelsea

Date: Wednesday, March 16 | Time: 4 p.m. ET | Live stream: Paramount+
Odds: Lille +320; Draw +260; Chelsea -114 (via Caesars Sportsbook)  

Featured Game | Lille vs. Chelsea

One matchup to watch: Thiago Silva vs. Jonathan David. Renato Sanches missing this one for Lille is a blow so perhaps the most interesting matchup will be how Thiago Silva handles Jonathan David. LOSC’s most likely route to goal will be through the Canadian while Chelsea know that they do not need to score to advance. –Jonathan Johnson

Most likely to score a goal: Kai Havertz. I think that both sides will score and would put my money on David hitting the net, but I also think that Thomas Tuchel’s men will win this one and I can see Kai Havertz getting in on the scoring for the Blues. –Jonathan Johnson

Man of the Match pick: N’Golo Kanté. He was excellent in the opening leg and will be key to Chelsea’s hopes in this season’s edition so expect another masterclass from the France international on home soil. –Jonathan Johnson

Match prediction: Lille 1, Chelsea 2. LOSC should put up a fight at home, but qualifying for Europe through Ligue 1 is their undoubted priority now. Anything they can get here is a bonus and the defending champions should ultimately have too much for them. –Jonathan Johnson

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