Why every staff will, will not win

The break between the Champions League group stage and knockout rounds always feels a bit unusual. The rivals drives and dictates the eu soccer season to the purpose the place we observe the biggest-4 races inside the biggest leagues as carefully as we do the title races — or extra so, attributable to the competitiveness of such races — however we usually take an roughly two-month break from the rivals inside the winter months. This 12 months, mentioned break was 3½ months.

pretty a bit’s gone on inside the soccer world since Nov. 2, when RB Leipzig and AC Milan stomped Shakhtar Donetsk and Salzburg, respectively, to declare the ultimate spots inside the spherical of sixteen. Barcelona established full administration of LaLiga’s title race … after getting eradicated from the Champions League. Arsenal maintained its edge on the sphere inside the Premier League. Bayern Munich pulled away from the Bundesliga discipline, solely to get reeled again in a bit. Chelsea and Liverpool went from wobbly to worse. Manchester United launched its most well-known participant and immediately surged. Oh yeah, and the full membership soccer world paused for weeks whereas Lionel Messi and Argentina obtained the World Cup.

Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga & extra (U.S.)

however now the rivals’s again, and rattling if the pecking order does not seem a little bit of blurry. From each betting and odds views, Manchester metropolis and Bayern are the clear favorites, nonetheless the earlier has obtained simply three of its final six matches in all competitions, the latter one in all 4. PSG has misplaced Kylian Mbappe to harm inside the quick time period and has proven spotty avenue type since returning to movement.

exact Madrid is banged up. Liverpool and Chelsea are taking half in like mid-desk Premier League teams, which they’re. Benfica, sufficient to prime PSG in Group H final fall, misplaced its most satisfying youthful participant (midfielder Enzo Fernandez) to an monumental-money swap in late January.

it is all a little bit of a massive quantity. Of the biggest seven or eight favorites heading into the spherical of sixteen, simply one, Napoli, is taking half in all that properly. Will that finish in some surprising outcomes over the subsequent couple of weeks? Will the sport’s sleepwalking massive names use the Champions League as a shot inside the arm and discover fifth gear as quickly as extra? We’re about to search out out.

To brace ourselves for the midweek matches forward, let’s stroll by way of the remaining discipline. Who’s favored? Why would possibly every staff win the rivals? What’s every staff’s most lethal flaw?

The movement begins on Tuesday in Milan (Tottenham Hotspur at AC Milan) and Paris (Bayern at PSG).

The favorites

Manchester metropolis

Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +one hundred seventy (equal to 37%) and 19%, respectively
spherical of sixteen opponent: RB Leipzig (Feb. 22 and March 14)

Why they may win: they ought to nonetheless be one in all of the biggest staff in Europe. Erling Haaland has produced as anticipated (31 targets in 28 matches) since arriving final summer time. however placing in him on the elevated of metropolis’s assault has in some methods stifled its circulation and creativity.

There have been simply ample iffy outcomes of late — a 2-zero loss to Southampton inside the League Cup, current one-purpose defeats to Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur — to hold the Sky Blues 5 factors again inside the Premier League title race and immediate a sequence of “Is metropolis worse off with Haaland?” takes. on this identical iffy time interval, nonetheless, they’ve scored wins over Arsenal and Chelsea (twice), they usually’ve nonetheless averaged almost two targets per match in all competitions as a consequence of the restart.

Caesars nonetheless lists them as overwhelming Champions League favorites. For all of their wonky type, they nonetheless have Haaland, World Cup hero Julian Alvarez, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and a quantity of 1 in all of the biggest and most inventive attacking expertise in Europe.

Why they will not: Pep’s in Tinker Mode. Pep Guardiola is wanting for options to metropolis’s stolidness inside the interim and with the objects helpful, he’ll most seemingly discover them. He hasn’t but, although, and his tinkering is taking metropolis to bizarre places. Joao Cancelo found himself out of favor and took a shock mortgage to Bayern. De Bruyne, metropolis’s engine, started the Spurs loss on the bench for “tactical causes.”

metropolis’s formation in opposition to Spurs was barely indecipherable — it was style of a 4-2-three-1, style of a 4-4-2, style of a 4-1-2-1-2, style of a three-2-three-2 — and produced a passing map that would possibly biggest be described as “What the hell is that this?”

First-12 months metropolis additions have typically taken a whereas to gel and regardless of his productiveness (which forces Guardiola to hold him inside the lineup always), Haaland is not any utterly different. Guardiola will inevitably discover the options he is wanting for, however Leipzig is catching the Sky Blues at a pretty susceptible time.

Bayern Munich

Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +600 (equal to 14%) and 22%
spherical of sixteen opponent: PSG (Feb. 14 and March eight)

Why they may win: They nonetheless have primarily the most attacking upside on the planet. When Bayern started its restart with a trio of 1-1 attracts and pretty simply a few contenders inched nearer to the ten-time defending Bundesliga champions on the elevated of the desk, we overreacted as we always do to transient runs of mortal type. They miss Robert Lewandowski an extreme quantity of! The staff chemistry is terrible! Julian Nagelsmann goes to get canned in the event that they lose to PSG!

Granted, that final half would possibly nonetheless be on the desk, however Bayern responded to this full and utter collapse by torching Mainz and Wolfsburg by a mixed eight-2. Their consideration span waned in opposition to Wolfsburg they usually virtually let their opponents again inside the match, however Jamal Musiala put issues away with an otherworldly one-man current.

For all of Bayern’s supposed struggles, Musiala nonetheless has 14 targets and 9 assists in all competitions, whereas Serge Gnabry has 10 and 10 and three utterly different gamers have mixed double-digit targets with at the very least 4 assists. (None of them are Thomas Muller or Kingsley Coman, who mixed for three of the targets in opposition to Wolfsburg.)

This may not be 2020-stage Bayern, however in a sea of contenders performing beneath their full capabilities, the German champs stay absurdly dangerous. (they’ve Cancelo now, too, who already has two assists in simply 149 minutes.) they usually should get the injured Sadio Mane again by the purpose the second leg in opposition to PSG rolls round.

Why they will not: Opponents take elevated pictures. This staff boasts a quantity of primarily the most spectacular ending expertise on the planet, however with out Lewandowski as a center of gravity up entrance, Bayern’s uncooked shot extreme quality has suffered a bit. whereas they nonetheless try a lot extra pictures than anyone inside the Bundesliga (zero.20 per possession), their zero.eleven xG per shot ranks solely tenth inside the Bundesliga; league opponents, in the meantime, are averaging zero.12 xG per shot (14th).

Is that an monumental distinction? No, however with Leo Messi, Neymar and (for the second leg, at the very least) Kylian Mbappe on deck, shot extreme quality may quickly change proper into a massive concern in Bayern’s quest for a seventh European crown.

The hopefuls

Paris Saint-Germain

Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +seven hundred (equal to thirteen%) and 5%
spherical of sixteen opponent: Bayern Munich (February 14 and March eight)

Why they may win: The sum of the elements stays to be overwhelming. Messi. Neymar. Mbappe (finally). Achraf Hakimi. Gianluigi Donnarumma. Marco Verratti. You get the purpose. When PSG ignite, it is pretty jaw-dropping.

They started the season outscoring their first six league opponents by a mixed 24-4. regardless of prolonged battles with an iffy consideration span — plus accidents and a protracted easing-in course of for stars following the World Cup — they’ve nonetheless scored eighty five targets and allowed simply 27 in 32 matches. The three stars up entrance have fifty seven targets and 35 assists between them. the full by no means seems to match the sum of the elements, however that does not imply the sum is simply not immense.

Why they will not: we have been down this avenue earlier than. there is a pretty reliable script for a method a staff with this many stars falls aside on the fallacious time. First, attributable to accidents and cargo administration (amongst utterly different issues) the three scorers aren’t all on the sphere collectively a lot: Mbappe, Messi and Neymar have all performed in simply 17 of 32 matches. Second, the midfield’s duties become overwhelming with the absence of any pressing presence up entrance. Third, the depth of expertise nonetheless is simply not what utterly different golf equipment can boast, and growing old veterans like Sergio Ramos (36), Verratti (30) and Juan Bernat (29) are being requested to play heavy minutes.



Laurens: Messi and PSG ‘weren’t fantastic’ in loss to Marseille

Julien Laurens recaps Paris Saint-Germain’s loss to Marseille inside the Coupe de France spherical of sixteen.

PSG launched in no new blood inside the winter swap window, whereas Marquinhos, Ramos and defender Presnel Kimpembe have all been in iffy style of late. they’ve solely the third-biggest xG differential in Ligue 1 as a consequence of the restart, they’ve misplaced to Lens, Rennes and Marseille on the avenue since Jan. 1, and whereas Mbappe will return for the second leg in opposition to Bayern, his absence inside the residence leg may put them in a nasty place heading to Munich.

exact Madrid

Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +1100 (equal to eight%) and 9%
spherical of sixteen opponent: Liverpool (Feb. 21 and March 15)

Why they may win: Come on, they’re exact Madrid. If any staff on this rivals will get the benefit of the doubt, it is the defending (and 14-time) champions. The Blancos have been waylaid by harm of late; defenders Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy and Lucas Vazquez and (in any case) midfielder Eden Hazard are out, whereas each forward (and reigning Ballon d’Or winner) Karim Benzema and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois have missed vital time. They needed to jet to Morocco for the membership World Cup — they beat Al Ahly on Wednesday and may face shock finalist Al-Hilal on Saturday — and their go to to Liverpool on Feb. 21 will most seemingly be their thirty seventh match of the season already. (exact Madrid gamers additionally topped three,500 mixed minutes on the World Cup.)

however … they’re exact Madrid! after they ought to level out up, they nonetheless current up in drive. Benzema is rounding into type — he has two targets and two assists in his previous 4 matches — and whereas they had been solely the third- or fourth-biggest staff on paper in final 12 months’s Champions League, they beat PSG, Chelsea, Manchester metropolis and Liverpool in succession, always placing collectively a cost when a cost was required. till they do not, let’s assume they nonetheless will.



Why Vinicius Jr. is so very important to exact Madrid proper now

Alejandro Moreno and Shaka Hislop converse about Vinicius Jr.’s efficiency vs. Mallorca.

Why they will not: there is a put on-and-tear restrict right here. be taught that first paragraph as quickly as extra. This staff is getting pushed round by age, harm and quantity. They’re scoring decrease than they did final season, and their shut-sport magic has dissipated. earlier than leaving for Morocco, that they had obtained simply three of their final 9 matches in Spain. Vinicius Junior is the one regular presence inside the lineup, and he is getting fouled and abused extra than anyone inside the sport. it is pretty a bit, even for exact Madrid.


Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +1100 (equal to eight%) and eight%
spherical of sixteen opponent: Eintracht Frankfurt (Feb. 21 and March 15)

Why they may win: Who’s taking half in elevated proper now? They lead Serie A by thirteen factors, having scored 10 extra targets than anyone else whereas permitting the fewest. They outscored their first 5 Champions League opponents, collectively with Liverpool and Ajax (twice), by a mixed 20-4. Victor Osimhen has 20 targets and 17 assists in 21 matches, and revelatory 21-12 months outdated winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has 10 and 12 in 22.

Luciano Spalletti’s squad tilts the sphere and dominates possession like a Champions League contender is presupposed to do, however they’ve been almost invulnerable to counter-assaults. They dominate set objects, too.

wanting solely at manufacturing ranges and by no means Transfermarkt participant values, you may probably pretty simply conclude that that is, at worst, one in all many two or three biggest teams in Europe. And whereas they’ve confronted little or no adversity this season, they’ve responded properly to what they’ve confronted: Their purpose differential when trailing in league play is +4.2 per ninety possessions, almost as good as you may ever see, and after shedding to Inter of their first sport after the World Cup break, they proceeded to destroy Juventus 5-1 and win 5 straight league matches.

This staff is a wrecking ball, and whereas it is usually truthful to marvel if Cinderella’s carriage will flip proper into a pumpkin in some unspecified time finally, they’ve given us no motive to doubt them but.

Why they will not: Schedule power. With AC Milan’s current collapse, Napoli have performed solely 5 matches this season in opposition to teams inside the current prime 20 of FiveThirtyEight’s SPI rankings. They obtained their first three in resounding style — 4-1 over No. eight Liverpool, then 6-1 and 4-2 over No. 15 Ajax — however Liverpool obtained revenge with a 2-zero win inside the group stage finale, and No. 18 Inter certainly beat them 1-zero on Jan. 4. Their assault is drastically reliant on two gamers, and since the schedule power will enhance, they may discover their alternatives to discover dwindling quickly.


Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +900 (equal to 10%) and 5%
spherical of sixteen opponent: exact Madrid (Feb. 21 and March 15)

Why they may win: They nonetheless try a lot extra pictures than you (and regression to the imply is exact). Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are struggling some extreme factors proper now, factors that transcend struggling some unhealthy breaks right here and there.

they’ve suffered a few unhealthy breaks, although. They’re sixth inside the Premier League in xG differential (solely decimal factors out of fourth), they usually nonetheless have the third-biggest assault inside the league. they will seemingly finish the season elevated inside the desk than they at present are.

O’Hanlon: Why Liverpool’s latest struggles really feel utterly different (E+)

as a consequence of the season started, Liverpool has overwhelmed Manchester metropolis (twice), Napoli, Newcastle, Spurs and Ajax (twice). The upside is there, even after they do not appear to be exhibiting it as a lot, and regardless of their stress numbers struggling as they battle harm and midfield age and break in key new objects up entrance, they nonetheless overwhelm you from a quantity perspective: In Premier League play, they’ve tried zero.17 pictures per possession (third inside the league) and allowed solely zero.10 (third). that is six to seven extra pictures per match.

they do not create ample extreme-extreme quality seems they usually current you with too many, however inside the event you do not convert these probabilities, they will nonetheless take you down. That turns into doubly true if or when key attackers snap out of ending slumps — Mo Salah, Darwin Nunez and newcomer Cody Gakpo have mixed to discover simply 4 targets from pictures worth eight.three xG as a consequence of the restart. that will not final.



Hislop: Klopp has to get one in all of the biggest out of Liverpool

Shaka Hislop thinks Jurgen Klopp should try utterly different formations to get one in all of the biggest out of his staff.

Why they will not: No good staff has worse transition protection inside the interim. Okay, they do not simply current you with too many attractiveness, they current you too many good seems. Of the teams inside the current SPI prime 20, nobody comes shut to the zero.14 xG per shot that Liverpool permits in league play, and no-one permits as many targets in what I name “transition possessions” — possessions that start exterior the attacking third and final fewer than 20 seconds.

As was the case two seasons in the past all by way of a run of center-again accidents, Liverpool is simply getting shredded in transition. Not even shot quantity advantages can overcome that.


Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +1400 (equal to 7%) and 5%
spherical of sixteen opponent: Borussia Dortmund (Feb. 15 and March 7)

Why they may win: They’re unscoutable? of their first match after the winter swap window closed, a zero-zero draw with Fulham, Graham Potter deployed sixteen gamers, collectively with substitutes. 5 of them had been added to the roster in January (Enzo Fernandez, Benoit Badiashile, Mykhaylo Mudryk, Noni Madueke, David Datro Fofana), two extra had been added inside the summertime (Marc Cucurella, Raheem Sterling) and one returned from mortgage over the summer time (Conor Gallagher). Two extra newcomers (Kalidou Koulibaly, Carney Chukwuemeka) sat on the bench, and 4 others have recorded at the very least 300 minutes this season.

that is as new a staff as you may ever see inside the Champions League knockout levels. That they made it right here with ease — after an preliminary upset loss to Dinamo Zagreb (which led to Thomas Tuchel’s firing), they did not lose as quickly as extra inside the group stage — is a reminder of their upside, as is the actuality that they nonetheless have numerous the gamers from 2021’s Champions League title run.

issues clearly have not clicked for Potter, and this overwhelming newness hasn’t helped in that regard, however it absolutely’s going to be awfully laborious to scout and predict what Chelsea will do transferring forward, and in the event that they ever uncover a rhythm, they would possibly make an sudden run.


1:fifty nine

may Aubameyang transfer to LAFC?

Herc Gomez feels Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would have pretty a bit to current ought to he decide to depart Chelsea to play in MLS.

Why they will not: They’re the tenth-biggest staff in England. Chelsea is ninth inside the EPL desk and tenth in each purpose differential and xG differential. They’ve overwhelmed solely Bournemouth and Crystal Palace as a consequence of the restart, and wins by 2-1 over Salzburg and a pair of-1 over West Ham are their solely victories in opposition to teams ranked in even the SPI prime 35 this season. They’ve performed six matches in opposition to the current Premier League prime 4, they usually’ve taken a single level whereas getting outscored 10-1.

that is simply not an out-of-rhythm staff that is hinted at massive upside this season; it is solely a plain outdated midtable Premier League staff. Why would that abruptly change subsequent week?


Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +1800 (equal to 5%) and seven%
spherical of sixteen opponent: membership Brugge (Feb. 15 and March 7)

Why they may win: Roger Schmidt has what he wants. We’re used to 1 in all of the biggest teams in Portugal faring pretty properly inside the Champions League. at the very least one Portuguese staff has reached the spherical of sixteen in seven of the previous eight seasons (two did in 2021-22), and at the very least one has reached the quarterfinals in three of the previous 4. Porto obtained here achingly shut to the semis in 2021, and now Benfica is favored to advance over membership Brugge.

nonetheless, that gives quick shrift to how good Benfica has been this season. They rolled unbeaten by way of Group H, drawing twice with PSG and beating Juventus twice inside the tactic. (Their superior avenue purpose complete gave them first place over PSG.) inside the Primeira Liga, they misplaced to Braga of their first put up-World Cup match, however have in any other case dropped simply 4 complete factors. Porto has finished little or no fallacious this season, however trails Benfica by eight factors all of the identical.

First-12 months supervisor Roger Schmidt has been ready to place in his ball-dominant philosophy with none bumps, and even after shedding Darwin Nunez to Liverpool over the summer time, they’ve boasted simply primarily the most potent assault inside the league. Three gamers have scored double-digit targets in all competitions (led by 21-12 months outdated Goncalo Ramos‘ 17), and three have at the very least eight assists. it is an unimaginable staff to watch, and the battles with PSG proved they’ve the upside to commerce blows with the massive boys on this rivals.

Why they will not: Schmidt does not have Enzo anymore. Chelsea finally made a suggestion that Benfica may not refuse, and Fernandez moved to the Premier League on a €121 million swap on Jan. 31. whereas he contributed a modest 4 targets and 6 assists in all competitions, he was the desk-setter, offering regular deep progressions whereas fulfilling the full key transition roles a defensive midfielder should fulfill.

Benfica beat Casa Pia three-zero in its first put up-Enzo match, however this nonetheless is simply not the Benfica staff we noticed inside the autumn. that is a rattling disgrace.


Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +1600 (equal to six%) and 5%
spherical of sixteen opponent: AC Milan (Feb. 14 and March eight)

Why they may win: They take in stress. The eight teams talked about above Spurs right here common a possession cost of sixty two% in league play, occupy sixty five% of the attacking-third touches of their matches and common 6.9 passes per possession between them. they do not appear to be equal, however there are extra similarities than variations amongst the numerous group; the richest and biggest European membership teams all play the possession sport.

inside the event you are wanting for a staff from the backside half of this record that is notably properly-suited to make a Champions League run, would you search for others that play that type (however may not be almost as good at it)? Or would you search for somebody who absorbs opponents’ possession and seems for counter-attacking alternatives?



The distinction between Hugo Lloris and Fraser Forster

Shaka Hislop explains the variations between Tottenham goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Fraser Forster and the significance of the staff understanding their positions.

Antonio Conte’s Spurs take pleasure in solely a 50.1% possession cost in league play, and opponents occupy fifty six% of the full touches inside the attacking third, usually in opposition to a packed-in Tottenham protection. Of the teams remaining on this discipline, nobody is extra devoted to worthwhile with out the ball, and virtually nobody permits fewer extreme-extreme quality scoring probabilities. they’ve been inconsistent this season, however they’ve proven ample upside to rank fifth inside the Premier League (one level exterior the biggest 4), win their Champions League group and rating a current win over Manchester metropolis.

Harry Kane has been fantastic as always (19 targets, plus a staff-main forty nine probabilities created in 30 matches), Son Heung-Min seems to be rounding into type, and inside the event you are wanting for a curveball staff on this record, then Glory, Glory, Tottenham Hotspur.

Why they will not: ought to not they be elevated in transition? For a stress-absorbing staff, Spurs actually do not dominate inside the counter-attacking division. inside the transition possessions outlined above, they’re averaging simply zero.three targets per sport (thirteenth inside the Premier League) and permitting zero.4 (tenth). is that this a strong anti-possession staff, or a staff battling identification factors?

The longshots

Inter Milan

Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +2500 (equal to 4%) and three%
spherical of sixteen opponent: Porto (Feb. 22 and March 14)

Why they may win: they do not have a clear, damning weak point. Inter is piecing collectively the ultimate phrase Deceptively superior 12 months inside the interim. They’re second in Serie A, forward of Jose Mourinho’s Roma and derby rival AC Milan amongst others. They accomplished second of their Champions League group, ushering Barcelona from the rivals with a 1-zero residence win and a wild three-three avenue draw. They’re into the semifinals of the Coppa Italia, they usually crushed AC Milan to win the Supercoppa Italiana.

They’ve additionally gotten virtually no assist from new additions — headliner Romelu Lukaku has contributed solely two targets and 471 harm-plagued minutes, and the one newcomers to have topped 1,000 minutes to this point are 34-12 months olds (midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan and defender Francesco Acerbi). however they’ve overwhelmed Barca and Napoli, and have a squad with no apparent weakest hyperlinks. In assault, they’re second in pictures per possession, sixth in xG per shot and fourth in common postshot xG for pictures on goal; in protection, they’re seventh, second and fifth. they’ve a constructive purpose differential in each set objects and transition possessions. They’re simply good.

Are they one in all of the biggest in Europe? No, however they’re positively sufficient to win any given tie they face.

Why they will not: in addition they do not have a clear, elite power. Lautaro Martinez and Milan Skriniar are superior, however there are elevated forwards and defenders, respectively, on this event. Their assault is candy, however most on this discipline are almost as good or elevated. Their protection is extra healthful than Liverpool’s and pretty a little bit of the Bundesliga teams left inside the sphere, however it absolutely’s not superb.

Inter’s good at almost all the pieces and good at nothing, and that i do not know the method you win 4 rounds of this rivals with out a particular participant or trait to lean on. it is important to face out indirectly over the course of a hundred and eighty minutes, proper?

FC Porto

Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +6000 (equal to 2%) and 5%
spherical of sixteen opponent: Inter Milan (Feb. 22 and March 14)

Why they may win: they’ve been Benfica’s equal of late. If Benfica has extra upside than the regular spherical-of-sixteen staff from Portugal this season, it is straightforward to view Porto as a consequence of the extra customary Portuguese staff, one which advances to the knockouts solely to bow out quietly. however since a 1-zero loss to Benfica in October, it sure seems as in the event that they’ve been better than that. Sergio Conceicao’s squad has dropped solely two factors from its final eight league matches, has already obtained Portugal’s Taca da Liga and obtained its final 4 Champions League group matches by a mixed eleven-1. prime xG differentials in Primeira Liga play as a consequence of the restart: Benfica at +1.seventy six per match and Porto at a almost equal +1.seventy one.

After stuttering following the summer time departures of Fabio Vieira (to Arsenal) and Vitinha (to PSG), they’ve constructed an fantastic rhythm round principally 25-and-older veterans. forward Mehdi Taremi and left winger/midfielder Galeno have mixed for 26 targets and 10 assists in all competitions, and the center-again trio of Fabio Cardoso (28), Ivan Marcano (35) and the immortal Pepe (39) nonetheless will get the job finished.

Why they will not: we do not know the method they will fare in opposition to prime teams as a consequence of they’ve not performed any. They obtained their Champions League group by topping Atletico Madrid (now twenty first in SPI), Bayer Leverkusen (thirty fourth) and membership Brugge (99th). Their solely match in opposition to a prime-20 staff was the aforementioned loss to Benfica, whereby they had been doubled up when it entails each possession (Benfica sixty nine%) and xG worth (Benfica 1.9, Porto zero.9). Now, they had been dealing with an early crimson card in that match, and it sure seems as in the event that they’ve improved since, however till they prime a extreme-stage staff, we do not know that they’re going to. That sure seems as if one factor that must have been crossed off the to-do earlier than February.

RB Leipzig

Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +6000 (equal to 2%) and 4%
spherical of sixteen opponent: Manchester metropolis (Feb. 22 and March 14)

Why they may win: what quantity of teams are actually taking half in elevated proper now? If RB Leipzig is in a place to upset Manchester metropolis, eliminating the supposed biggest staff remaining inside the Champions League to advance to the quarterfinals, inform me why they will’t go all of the biggest method?

as a consequence of the restart, RBL has gone unbeaten in 5 matches, drawing 1-1 with Bayern (in a match that noticed them generate extra pictures and xG, no much less) and outscoring 4 utterly different opponents by a mixed eleven-three. The veteran center-forward duo of Andre Silva and Timo Werner has found a stunning rhythm, and the midfield duo of Dominik Szoboszlai and Konrad Laimer has been at its inventive biggest. summer time addition Xaver Schlager has been a ball recoveries machine in defensive midfield, and the center-again duo of Willi Orban and Josko Gvardiol has stored stress off of goalkeeper Janis Blaswich.

This staff has reached its highest ebb since hiring Marco Rose in September, and it is finished so regardless of accidents to goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi (out for the season), attacking midfielder Dani Olmo (out for simply a few weeks) and, oh yeah, defending Bundesliga participant of the 12 months Christopher Nkunku.

The France star scored 17 targets in 23 matches earlier than the World Cup break, however has missed movement ever since with a knee harm; the most current updates counsel he may probably be again by the purpose metropolis visits on February 22.

Why they will not: They solely hand over good pictures. RBL permits solely zero.10 pictures per possession in league play, solely barely better than Bayern or Manchester metropolis however decrease than pretty a little bit of the teams inside the spherical of sixteen. however 10.1% of these pictures have been worth at the very least zero.three xG; solely Liverpool has been worse in that regard. Now, the crimson Bulls’ personal shot extreme quality tends to be pretty extreme, too, however you solely ought to ask Liverpool what can happen inside the event you give your opponents one too many extreme-extreme quality probabilities.

Borussia Dortmund

Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +4000 (equal to 2%) and three%
spherical of sixteen opponent: Chelsea (Feb. 15 and March 7)

Why they may win: They’re extremely effective now! For years, Borussia Dortmund has tried to fill its squad with ridiculously extreme-upside youthful gamers whereas supplementing the lineup with the appropriate quantity of veteran-osity. for every Erling Haaland or Jude Bellingham, there’s been a Mats Hummels or Emre Can. That stability has been terribly troublesome to discover: BVB is typically good, however by no means pretty as good as a consequence of it hopes.

as a consequence of the restart, nonetheless, BVB has obtained all 5 of its matches in 2023, outscoring opponents 15-6 and transferring to inside three factors of Bayern inside the Bundesliga desk. Bellingham, fellow kids Karim Adeyemi and Gio Reyna and veterans Julian Brandt and Raphael Guerreiro have all been superior, however it absolutely’s troublesome to not discover the toughness infusion they appear to have gotten from the additions of Sebastien Haller up entrance and Julian Ryerson at fullback.

Haller, 29, was presupposed to be a ready-made Haaland alternative, however missed the autumn and winter whereas battling testicular most cancers; he is again, and he scored in opposition to Freiburg over the weekend. Ryerson obtained here to Dortmund from Union Berlin and has added a clear and apparent shot of Union-ness, reducing off transitions with aplomb and pushing the tempo with progressive carries. Captain Marco Reus has been dialed in since getting back from harm, too.

Bellingham, Adeyemi, Reyna, Youssoufa Moukoko, Jamie Bynoe-Gittens and others give BVB all of the youthful upside they would possibly want, and the veteran-osity is off the charts. Is the stability lastly proper?

Why they will not: Worst transition staff inside the sphere. For all their upside and willingness to push the tempo, BVB has averaged simply zero.26 targets per match in transition possessions this season; of these inside the spherical of sixteen, solely Chelsea, their spherical-of-sixteen opponent, has averaged fewer. in the meantime, they’ve allowed zero.forty seven such targets per match, second-most behind solely Liverpool. that gives them by far the worst purpose differential inside the spherical of sixteen. They push for a pretty open match, and it very typically backfires. maybe it will not in opposition to the Blues, however it absolutely most seemingly will finally.

AC Milan

Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +3500 (equal to three%) and
spherical of sixteen opponent: Tottenham Hotspur (Feb. 14 and March eight)

Why they may win: Nothing like continental play to current you with a nice shot inside the arm. A soccer season is a marathon, and over the course of better than 9 months, almost any staff should take care of a dip in type. Stefano Pioli’s Rossoneri have misplaced 4 straight matches by a mixed thirteen-2, they usually have not obtained since their first put up-restart match on January 4. The assault has regressed, and the protection has cratered with out injured defender Fikayo Tomori and goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

The defending Scudetto winners are in horrendous type inside the interim. however type modifications! And Milan’s full-season averages nonetheless current us an aggressive staff — fourth in pictures per possession in Serie A, second in passes allowed per defensive movement (PPDA, a typical measure of defensive assertiveness) — that generates a lot extra touches inside the discipline than it permits. Maignan is actually out for the major Spurs match, and that is an apparent hindrance. however fading teams have used the Champions League as a shot inside the arm earlier than, and if Milan can get its head proper, the staff nonetheless has pretty a bit to current, from Rafael Leao and Olivier Giroud up entrance to the lively-as-hell duo of Sandro Tonali and Ismael Bennacer (getting back from harm quickly) in midfield.

Why they will not: have you ever seen them play these days? Was that final paragraph convincing? i am undecided it was. Good teams take care of dips in type, however that is an outright collapse. Getting gamers like Bennacer and Tomori again will assist, however Milan was already struggling earlier than they obtained harm, and … as quickly as extra … they’ve allowed thirteen targets of their final 4 matches! Leao stays to be attempting to make issues happen, and there is nonetheless apparent expertise on the pitch, however issues are genuinely dire inside the interim.

Eintracht Frankfurt

Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +ten thousand (equal to 1%) and 1%
spherical of sixteen opponent: Napoli (Feb. 21 and March 15)

Why they may win: they can have one in all of the biggest participant in Europe proper now. Yep, Randall Kolo Muani is that good.

Why they will not: the sphere is tilted in opposition to them. Getting the worst draw for the final sixteen is simply not their fault, however it absolutely’s their draw again.

The longest prolonged pictures

membership Brugge

Caesars and FiveThirtyEight odds: +15000 (equal to zero.7%) and
spherical of sixteen opponent: Benfica (Feb. 15 and March 7)

Why they may win: great satisfying youthful guys with nothing to lose. (And Simon Mignolet‘s been superhuman between the posts.) that is “residence money” territory and that fearlessness may even be an asset when attempting to spring a shock.

Why they will not: They’re the fourth-biggest staff in Belgium. and that is not good preparation for the biggest European rivals.


Post a Comment