We’re at the business end of the UEFA Champions League season. The knockout stages kick off on Tuesday withlooking to avoid being upset as Manchester City face FC Copenhagen and Real Madrid face RB Leipzig. Then on Thursday the pattern repeats as PSG look to ease past Real Sociedad and Bayern Munich square off against Lazio.
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Champions League TV schedule
All times Eastern
Tuesday’s Champions League picks — Morning Footy
Tuesday’s Champions League picks — CBSSports.com
FC Copenhagen vs. Man City
By James Benge
One matchup to watch: Rasmus Falk vs. Bernardo Silva – If Copehagen are getting anything out of the first leg they are going to need to deliver the defensive performance of their lives. That doesn’t just mean their center backs hurling themselves in front of any shot or pass in the box, but means keeping City from getting quick ball up the pitch. Can Falk, one of the group stage’s better off-ball midfielders, do that? Probably not.
Most likely to score a goal: Erling Haaland – This guy has 11 goals in his last six round of 16 games. Those have come against Paris Saint-Germain, Sevilla and RB Leipzig, all a cut above this week’s opponent.
Man of the Match pick: Erling Haaland – Yeah, as I was saying earlier. This guy scores goals by the bucketload. Even when Everton had largely restricted service to him on Saturday, he bode his time before obliterating a tiring backline. You’d get short odds on him doing the same in Parken.
Match prediction: Copenhagen 0, Man City 3 – I would hate to come across as dismissive of a good team who gave Bayern Munich all sorts of difficulties at Parken, where they effectively eliminated Manchester United a few weeks later. It is just that City are on another level even to the German champions, and they are masters of breezing through these kinds of ties.
RB Leipzig vs. Real Madrid
By Chuck Booth
One matchup to watch: Eduardo Camavinga vs. Everyone – As the Real Madrid injury crisis grows, Camavinga has been asked to add a new position to his box of tools and excelled playing center back against Girona. While it will be a different style of challenge facing Xavi Simons, Lois Openda, and Benjamin Sesko. If Madrid can control possession, they’ll have a good chance to see the match through but the play of Camavinga will be important both in defense and attack to make that happen.
Most likely to score a goal: Vinicius Junior – If Jude Bellingham misses the match, that only makes Vini Jr.’s role more important. The Brazillian has scored three goals in his last five league matches and with his ability to do the unexpected, when Real Madrid needs a moment of magic it comes from his feet and without so many of the regular members of the squad, magic will be needed.
Man of the Match pick: Eduardo Camavinga – We know what the Real Madrid attack can do but it’s going to be on the defense to determine if they can go into Germany and emerge with a victory bringing the focus to the makeshift defense. Even if Antonio Rudiger is available, it would be a risk to start him in the match especially when Camavinga can boss the game at center back.
Match prediction: RB Leipzig 0, Real Madrid 1 – Real Madrid are so good at limiting chances for the opposition that they’ll have plenty of room for error in the match but they won’t need it as Vinicius Junior will provide an early lead that Los Blancos won’t relinquish en route to victory.
Wednesday’s Champions League picks — Morning Footy
Wednesday’s Champions League picks — CBSSports.com
Lazio vs. Bayern Munich
By Francesco Porzio
One matchup to watch: Harry Kane vs. Alessio Romagnoli – It will be a challenging clash for the Italian side that will face Bayern Munich a few days after the German sided’s defeat against Bayer Leverkusen. Lazio are clearly the underdogs in this one, so a lot of their chances at pulling an upset will depend on the defensive performances and how Maurizio Sarri’s team will try to defend Harry Kane, the visitors English star.
Most likely to score a goal: Leroy Sane – While all eyes will be on Kane, Sane will have more space on the wings and freedom to attack Lazio’s defenders individually. So far, he has scored only one goal in the Champions League campaign, and we are definitely expecting more in the coming games.
Man of the Match pick: Thomas Muller – The German player was the face of the defeat against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, and showed frustration and disappointment after the game in the post-match interview as well. Knowing his attitude and importance for the team, he definitely wants to react and lead his side on Wednesday.
Match prediction: Bayern Munich 2, Lazio 1. Despite the fact that Lazio are in a good run of form and have won three of the last five games in the Italian Serie A, Bayern Munich are the favorites and will probably shift their focus to the European campaign after losing the key Bundesliga match against Xabi Alonso’s Bayer.
PSG vs. Real Sociedad
By Jonthan Johnson
One matchup to watch: Warren Zaire-Emery vs. Martin Zubimendi — This is shaping up to be a fascinating duel between two very talented midfielders. Hosts PSG have one of the most exciting emerging stars of the game while the visitors have an underrated performer who is earning admiring glances from across Europe. Whoever is able to assert their influence the most should go a long way towards dictating the eventual winner of this game. The worry for Zubimendi is that even a strong showing from him might not be enough to solve Sociedad’s recent scoring troubles.
Most likely to score a goal: Kylian Mbappe — Rested for the Ligue 1 win over Lille after taking an ankle knock in midweek, the French superstar will be fit and raring to go come Wednesday. With a winnable two-legged round of 16 tie ahead of him and PSG, expect Mbappe to show renewed hunger and grab himself a goal or possibly two. If Ousmane Dembele can replicate the form he showed against LOSC, his fellow France international could be in for a few opportunities to score at Parc des Princes.
Man of the Match pick: Ousmane Dembele — The Frenchman looked sharp against Lille and that is ominous for a Sociedad side who will remember him well from his Barcelona days. Dembele could be the key for PSG in terms of opening up knockout round opponents starting with the Basque outfit and a strong showing with finished product would build nicely on some encouraging moments in the group stages which did not quite work out.
Match prediction: PSG 3-1 Sociedad — This is a very favorable tie for the French champions and especially now that their La Liga opponents are struggling in front of goal. Luis Enrique will want to see no mercy from his players as they bid to return to Europe with a bang. Sociedad will need to aim to stay in the tie during leg one and hope to solve their goal scoring issues to give them something to build on ahead of the second leg. Giving the Basques a goal feels optimistic, but so too would backing a PSG clean sheet given their frequently ropey defensive showings.