With the festive period now over, Europe’s elite will be gearing up for the UEFA Champions League knockout stages.
The Premier League quartet of Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have all progressed to the second round of the competition, with some mouth-watering ties on the horizon.
Here, we take a closer look at the games and dissect United and the rest of the Premier League team’s chances of progression.
Manchester United v Paris Saint-Germain
Easily the biggest tie of the second round, Manchester United entertain Paris Saint-Germain in what is expected to be a titanic clash. The Red Devils have recently installed Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer as their interim manager after Jose Mourinho was sacked before Christmas, and the Norwegian has got United purring again.
PSG are cruising to their eighth Ligue 1 title but its success in Europe that is so badly craved. With perhaps the best attacking trio in world football, PSG are expected to make a strong impression in this year’s competition and it’s hard to look past them slipping up to United. If PSG get a positive result at Old Trafford, expect them to make the quarter-finals.
Liverpool v Bayern Munich
Last season finalists Liverpool will be looking to go one better this season and lift their sixth European Cup, but they’ll have to navigate past Bayern Munich first. The Bundesliga giants are in a transitional period to some extent, and their league form leaves much to be desired.
Bayern are six points adrift of Borussia Dortmund in second place, and Liverpool will know they are there for the taking if they can play to their full capacity. The first leg is at Anfield, so expect Jurgen Klopp’s men to take the game to Bayern and try and force and advantage. Overall, it’s a tight one to call but the Reds should have just enough about them over the 180 minutes.
Manchester City v Schalke
English champions Manchester City will entertain Schalke in their second round tie, and it’s hard to see Pep Guardiola’s side not making the quarter-finals. City are the favourites to win the competition outright, and you can bet on Champions League winner on Betfair right now. However, City do have a history of making a premature exit, and will be keen to avoid such events this year.
In spite of their suspect league form, City should have too much quality about them to be troubled by the Germans, although they’ll need to be at their best to avoid a surprise exit. The Bundesliga side are having a troublesome season to date, currently perched in 13th in the Bundesliga but they can rely on the likes of Mark Uth and Breel Embolo.
Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund
The third England v Germany tie in this season’s Champions League pits Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund against each other. The current Bundesliga leaders are playing some brilliant football currently, and have young starlet Jadon Sancho to call upon.
Spurs will need to play at their maximum over the course of the two legs, with the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen all imperative to Tottenham’s chances. This is arguably the hardest tie to call, but whoever can take the advantage in the first-leg, will likely go on to progress to the quarter-finals.