by ‘Ifreke Inyang
This week, the UEFA Champions League returns with its emotion-poking theme song, incredible drama and riveting football.
There are 16 teams left in the competition and there are eight quarter-final slots up for grabs.
Who do I fancy to pick them?
Chelsea vs PSG
These two teams met last year, but at a different stage of the competition. I still think the result will be the same – Chelsea will eliminate Paris Saint-Germain.
The French champions are without key players for the first leg and Jose Mourinho’s men, in addition to having all week to rest, welcome back the irrepressible Diego Costa.
Shakhtar Donestk vs Bayern Munich
If the Ukrainians want to stand a chance against Pep Guardiola’s men, they must get a result of any kind at home. A draw or even a narrow win will do a bit for their confidence and chances.
Anything other than that, expect Bayern Munich – who have hit that barnstorming form again – to sweep past Shakhtar into the final eight. And I think they will.
Basle vs Porto
The tie between Basle and Porto, is one of those tricky ones. You really can say with every air or certainty how it will play out.
The Portuguese side are not exactly the big force they once were in Europe. Basle on the other hand, boast of young, hungry and quick players. If you had a gun to my head, I would take the Swiss club in this one.
Schalke 04 vs Real Madrid
Ah. This is no-brainer. It is the end of the road for Schalke. Even with their new coach Roberto Di Matteo, there is no stopping Ronaldo and co.
Madrid tore through the Bundesliga side 9-2 on aggregate last season, on their way to lifting the trophy for a record 10th time. And the money is on them to repeat the trick again.
Juventus vs Borussia Dortmund
For a long time this season, Dortmund flirted dangerously with relegation in Bundesliga. But in the past few weeks, Marco Reus has surprisingly penned a new deal and they have hit form again.
Juventus are a fading European force and even with Paul Pogba in their ranks, I don’t expect them to dump Jurgen Klopp’s men out. I go for Dortmund.
Manchester City vs Barcelona
You never know how these games will pan out. But thankfully for City, Yaya Toure and his compatriot Wilfried Bony are back for this one.
Last year, Barcelona defeated the Premier League champions home and away. It is instructive to note that in both matches, Manuel Pellegrini’s men were reduced to 10 men. We might not see that this year, but I still expect Barcelona to have enough to scale through.
Arsenal vs Monaco
Arsene Wenger will be hoping to get one over his former club and it appears he will. The Gunners have been steady in recent weeks and most of their key players are returning from injury.
Monaco have been on a decent run where they didn’t lose games, but Arsenal’s firepower is in another class – if they bring it in full force.
Bayer Leverkusen vs Atletico Madrid
After humiliating Real Madrid in an absorbing derby, Atletico went on to lose the next week against Celta Vigo. So you never know what to expect from Diego Simeone and his men.
When they are in the mood, they are simply unplayable. And if they can reproduce the intensity we all know them for, I think last year’s finalists will make it into the last eight.
‘Ifreke Inyang tweets via @Ifreke