Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United need magical performances on Tuesday and Wednesday night to overcome their tough first leg results as they bid for a place in the final eight of the Champions League. For Ajax AFC, there is nothing to lose, rather it is about creating an upset against struggling defending champions, Real Madrid who have lost their last three matches in front of their ever demanding crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu. FC Porto will aim to continue their 100% home record in this season’s competition in a finely poised game against last season’s semifinalist Roma with a quarter final slot for either team to claim.
Here is our preview of the Round of 16 2nd Leg Match Day A.
BORUSSIA DORTMUND v TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR – TUE. 05 MAR 2019, 21.00HRS
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Things appear to be falling apart for Borussia Dortmund since the turn of the year. They have dropped nine points in their last five league matches and their second half performance in Wembley three weeks ago means they find themselves with a mountain deficit to turn around if they aim to go through. Tottenham are experiencing a poor run as well, they are without a victory in their last three league matches and have dropped out of the title race. Their top four position is now under threat in the very tight race at the upper end of the table. With a three-goal advantage, it is quite easy for complacency to creep in but Coach Mauricio Pochettino has warned his team that they must forget the first leg score line and fight in Germany like it is a final. Signal Iduna Park would be ready to provide the home team with the required 12th man support. Lucien Favre has stressed the need to play cleverly as they bid to turn the tie around.
VERDICT – This is the second successive meeting between these two teams in the Champions League. Spurs won both matches in the group stages last season and travel with a healthy advantage as they target a quarter final spot for the first time in nine years. Both sides also met in the knockout rounds of the Europa League in 2015-16 with Dortmund knocking out the English club. Mauricio Pochettino will ensure his team do not miss this golden opportunity presented to them with last season bitter lesson from Juventus a reminder that at this level, nothing can be taken for granted. Dortmund have a strong home record this season and are likely to win the game but not the tie. Over 2.5 goals is expected on the night.
REAL MADRID v AJAX AFC – TUE. 05 MAR 2019, 21.00HRS
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Three straight home defeats including two against eternal rivals Barcelona will have Los Blancos fans feeling a bit nervous when Ajax come calling at the Santiago Bernabeu. In these three games, Real Madrid has shown flashes of its old quality by attempting to control the game but lack the killer instinct to put the games to bed before their opponent strike back. Santiago Solari will need to motivate a deflated team who were on the ropes in Amsterdam against the high energy pressing game from the youthful Ajax team who had last weekend off to fully prepare for the game of their lives on Tuesday night. It would be disastrous if the three-time winners fail to progress to the last eight but like Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag said, Real Madrid have vulnerabilities which they exposed in the first leg and they would likely target a defense that doesn’t have inspirational leader Sergio Ramos available for this game.
VERDICT – Real Madrid acknowledge the talent and ambition of Dutch giants but no one is giving de Godenzonen a chance to knock out the 13 times European Champions. Real Madrid have won their last three home matches against Ajax and with a first leg advantage, a demanding Bernabeu crowd would expect their fading stars to have enough to cross the line. Both teams will score because Real Madrid will always gift their opponent opportunities to have a go at them.
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN v MANCHESTER UNITED – WED. 06 MAR 2019, 21.00HRS
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Without Neymar and Edinson Cavani in addition to the French champions poor record in England, Manchester United were expected to edge the first leg but found themselves down two nil in a masterful European night performance from PSG. Thomas Tuchel team’s hold a healthy advantage going into the second leg at the Parc des Princes with Manchester United coming to the French capital without their midfield lynchpin Paul Pogba. The World Cup winner was sent off in the first leg and will have to sit out the second leg in his native country. Les Parisiens have put themselves in the strong position to progress to quarter finals for the first time since 2016 while United’s wait for another last eight berth since 2014 might have to wait a little longer.
VERDICT – This is the first competitive game PSG will be hosting between these two European power houses. Can Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s team produce one of those magical nights associated with Manchester United in this competition or will PSG progress as they go in search of the Holy Grail. It is up to PSG to ensure that such an advantage is not thrown away in a competition where sloppy performance will punished effectively. Manchester United have a long list of absentees which makes their job more difficult. PSG have all the cards ahead of this game and should effectively finish off their opponent on Wednesday night.
FC PORTO v AS ROMA – WED. 06 MAR 2019, 21.00HRS
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Adrian Lopez 79th minute away goal at Stadio Olimpico gave the Portuguese club a much needed lifeline going into the second leg at home. Porto have been in good form since their defeat in Rome but suffered a shocking home defeat to rivals Benfica on Saturday – a defeat which saw them lose top spot in the league. AS Roma appeared to have turned the corner in recent weeks too, climbing up the league table and were touching distance from the final Champions League spot in the Serie A till they lost heavily in the Derby to local rivals Lazio. The defeat has raised eyebrows once again which means a defeat in Portugal could have severe implications for Eusebio Di Francesco as Giallorossi boss.
VERDICT – This tie is the one on a knife edge with both teams evenly matched to progress regardless of the first leg score line. Both teams suffered domestic defeats last weekend, perhaps they both had their eyes on this game. Sérgio Conceição team have an excellent home record in the Champions League this season with three victories while their opponent have a poor record on the road this season. The Italian’s have only won four of their last 13 away matches. With all factors considered, we might have similar score as the first leg with the game going all the way to penalties. Both teams have goals in them and they are likely to score.
This wraps us our Round of 16 2nd Leg Match Day A preview. You can win big by predicting in the money spinning competition by visiting our Sports shop Babaijebu.ng for mouthwatering offers for all these UCL matches.