UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Leg 1 Predictions

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The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 kicks off next week and many eyes will be drawn to the marquee matchup of Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.

That doesn't mean there aren't other quality matchups though, including Serie A leaders Inter Milan taking on Premier League giants Liverpool and last season's Ligue 1 winners Lille aiming to defeat defending Champions League holders Chelsea.

Meanwhile, UCL top scorer Sebastien Haller will be looking to carry on his form for Ajax and lead them back into the quarterfinals for the first time since the 2018/19 campaign.

Below, ONE37pm breaks down all the first leg affairs in the Champions League and offers up winners in each match.

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Real Madrid - Feb. 15

PSG haven't reached the level that many expected them to after signing Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos and a host of other talents over the summer, but the good news for the Parisians is that Madrid are starting to show signs of weakness.

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Los Blancos have lost twice since the start of 2022, including being eliminated from the Copa del Rey recently. Goals aren't flowing in the way they were previously so if PSG can slow down Madrid up front there will be an opportunity to gain belief.

PSG will also likely benefit from the return of Neymar after being sidelined with an ankle injury. However, Ramos is in doubt with an injury of his own and that will hamper their back line.

Prediction: PSG 1-2 Real Madrid

Manchester City vs. Sporting CP - Feb. 15

Manchester City have been a machine all season and it doesn't appear that truth will halt in the immediate future.

With Champions League being the one thing that has loomed over Pep Guardiola since his arrival, it's beginning to feel like this may be the season where City gets the job done.

For Sporting, they will need to be disciplined and hope that they can fend off a flurry of City attacks, but that likely won't be an easy task.

Prediction: Man City 4-0 Sporting CP

Bayern Munich vs. RB Salzburg - Feb. 16

Bayern are still one of the clear favorites to win the Champions League this season, but this matchup could be closer than some might want to admit.

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Salzburg has a plethora of attacking options, including Karim Adeyemi, Noah Okafor and Brenden Aaronson.

The Austrian side is currently 14 points ahead in their domestic league and they'll be looking to pull off a monster upset against the Bundesliga giants.

Prediction: Salzburg 3-3 Bayern

Inter Milan vs. Liverpool - Feb. 16

Liverpool enter the Champions League restart playing some fine football and the good news for the Reds is that Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have returned from the African Cup of Nations.

New signing Luis Diaz is already shining for the Reds, while Diogo Jota continues to play at a very high level this season.

For Inter, their strength is their back line and ability to hit teams going the other way. The Serie A side will need players like Lautaro Martinez and Alexis Sanchez to help speed up their transition game and create chances when they get them.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Inter

Chelsea vs. Lille - Feb. 22

Chelsea have the opportunity to become world champions when they take on Palmeiras in the Club World Cup final on Saturday, but their attention will soon turn to defending their UCL crown.

Despite some inconsistent play up front, the Blues enter the Round of 16 as one of the teams that should be taken seriously.

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Thomas Tuchel's side are still one of the best in Europe at the back and if Romelu Lukaku ever finds consistency Chelsea can take their game to another level.

Meanwhile, Lille have one of the best scorers in the tournament with Canada international Jonathan David up front. The French side hasn't be consistent enough in league play this season, but there's plenty of talent to potentially upset the Blues.

Prediction: Chelsea 1-0 Lille

Juventus vs. Villarreal - Feb. 22

The arrival of Dušan Vlahović is a game changer for Juventus and while they probably win Champions League, the Serbian gives the Turin club massive hope heading into the future.

The Serie A side now has one of the elite finishers in Europe and that gives them a chance in almost any match.

Meanwhile, Villarreal look to use their experiences from last season as Europa League winners to carry them on a deep UCL run.

Prediction: Juventus 1-1 Villarreal

Atletico Madrid vs. Man United - Feb. 23

Man United have done a 180 since the arrival of Ralf Rangnick in some ways but in others the club is exactly the same.

While the Red Devils have certainly improved defensively, their attack has gone stagnant in matches where Cristiano Ronaldo isn't scoring. Luckily for them, Ronaldo is one of the best to compete in UCL.

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Atletico will be looking to find some kind of attacking consistency after many struggles in 2021/22. Diego Simeone's group always pride itself on being an elite defensive unit though, so perhaps stifling United's attack will lead to some chances on the counter.

Prediction: Atletico 2-1 Man United

Benfica vs. Ajax - Feb. 23

Ajax have been one of the top sides in Europe this season and finished the group stage undefeated.

With Haller leading the line up front alongside young starlet Antony, this Dutch side has the makings of what Ajax previously built in 2019 when they reached the semifinals.

Benfica will be hoping that young Uruguayan star Darwin Nuñez can bring his league form over to Champions League because they'll need to capitalize on several attacking chances if they want to win.

Prediction: Ajax 3-1 Benfica

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