The knockout phase of the Champions League heads into its second with the second set of Round of 16 fixtures.
Juventus heads over to Spain for a clash against Villareal, while English giants Chelsea and Manchester United also take to the field.
Villareal vs. Juventus
February 23rd 7:00am
An injury-depelted Juventus outfit will quest over to Spain for a first-leg Round of 16 clash against Villareal at Estadio de la Ceramica.
The Old Lady topped its group above Chelsea, while the home team finished second behind Manchester United to qualify for this stage.
Since leaving Arsenal, Unai Emery has guided Villareal to sixth spot in the league this season and has it playing competitive football which can trouble this Juventus squad.
Juventus will be without Federico Chiesa, Leonardo Bonnuci and Giorgio Chiellini – three stalwarts of the club.
Villareal is also dealing with some injury woes with goal-scoring sneak Gerard Moreno to miss this clash.
He will be replaced by Yeremi Pino who has the potential to be just as dangerous in the final third despite only being 19 years of age.
A wounded Juventus is never to be underestimate, though.
Massimiliano Allegri has the tactical nous to overcome his squad’s misfortunes but the struggle to find results was well and truly evident in their their struggles in their Torino derby draw.
Emery’s Villarreal should take a slender first-leg advantage to Turin.
Prediction: Villareal 2 Juventus 1
Suggested Bets: Villareal head to head at $2.45
chelsea vs. lille
february 23rd 7:00am
Chelsea remains in England for its opening Round of 16 clash against Lille on Wednesday morning from Stamford Bridge.
After taking out the FIFA Club World Cup in Dubai, Chelsea returned to league action with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace and this first leg in good form.
Lille will have its work cut out on the road against this talent-laden squad and its league form does not exactly exude any chance of an upset here.
Since the turn of the year, Lille has dropped all the way down to 11th in Ligue One and has shown no real sign of completely turning its form around.
Team selection for Chelsea will be interesting after Romelu Lukaka stunk it up against Palace.
The embattled striker only managed seven touches, which is the lowest ever recorded tally for that stat since they were recorded back in 2003-04.
Timo Werner may get a start of Lukaku, but regardless, Thomas Tuchel’s men will have too much firepower for Lille to hold off.
Prediction: Chelsea 2 Lille 0
Suggested Bets: Timo Werner anytime goalscorer at $2.30
atletico madrid vs. manchester united
february 24th 7:00am
It is a huge fixture at Wanda Metropolitano when Ralph Ragnick’s Manchester United travels to Spain for a clash against Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid.
A top-place finish for United saw it qualify for the knockout phase in relatively easy fashion as Cristiano Ronaldo continued his unbelievable Champions League goal-scoring run.
Atletico, meanwhile, finished second behind a rampaging Liverpool in its respective group.
Being 15 points away from fierce Real Madrid in La Liga means the hope of winning silverware will likely rest solely in European football.
Defensively is where Atletico will attempt to frustrate United.
Applying the defensive clamps to stop the way goal from occurring is going to be pivotal in this contest.
How Ragnick sets up in the final third will be intriguing for this clash.
Youngster Anthony Elanga gave United some of its lost spark up front alongside Ronaldo in the 4-2 win over Leeds and Ragnick might very well select 19-year-old prospect.
This game has the makings of a very tightly contested match where neither team gives an inch.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid 1 Manchester United 1
Suggested Bets: Draw at $3.10
benfica vs. ajax
february 24th 7:00am
The underdogs in the race for Champions League glory go head to head when Benfica meets Ajax at Estadio Da Luz.
Ajax romped through its group without a blemish to go six wins from six games and will be brimming with confidence coming into this first leg.
Benfica, meanwhile, finished second behind European giant Bayern Munich in its group and will be hoping to take advantage of its home fixture.
Benfica coach Nelson Verissimo seeks to steer his side through to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2015-16, but his first 10 games in the dugout – since the resignation of Jorge Jesus – have produced a mixed bag of results.
Indeed, the Portuguese giants enter the first leg on the back of a 2-2 league draw with Boavista and have won five of their 10 games under the 44-year-old’s tutelage so far, but they have not failed to score on their own turf in any competition since October.
They will surely find a way to the back of the net and can threaten Ajax based on its form against Barcelona in the group stages.
But Erik Ten Hag has the mind of a genius.
Ajax is the favourite in this first leg and have had big success in the Champions League in recent years.
Having the experience in these types of situations will prove pivotal.
Prediction: Benfica 1 Ajax 2
Suggested Bets: Ajax head to head at $1.80