With the UEFA Champions League round of 16 fixtures beginning today, and a few of the ties delicately poised, The Armchair Pundits takes a look at the potential fortunes of the teams involved, and offers predictions ahead of kick-off this evening.

Late twist | Borussia Dortmund celebrate wildly after an equaliser from Mats Hummels levels the tie away to Shakhtar Donetsk. (Image | Daily Mail)

Late twist | Borussia Dortmund celebrate wildly after an equaliser from Mats Hummels levels the tie away to Shakhtar Donetsk. (Image | Daily Mail)

Plenty of ties still hang in the balance, including one particularly mouth-watering clash and one giant looking to overcome a deficit…

Borussia Dortmund (2) Shakhtar Donetsk (2)

Recap: Ahead of the first leg, many believed that Borussia Dortmund would destroy Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk, given that earlier in the tournament the German side had finished first in the much-feared “Group of Death” ahead of Real Madrid, Ajax and Manchester City.

Instead, the match was a spectacle, with Darijo Srna scoring a beautiful free kick to make it 1-0 to Shakhtar. Before the end of the first half Robert Lewandowski was able to grab the equalizer. Substitute Douglas Costa put the hosts back in front with the goal many people thought would be the winner, but Dortmund were able to clinch a late equalizer thanks to a splendid header by centre-back Mats Hummels.

Predictions: It’s simple, really. Dortmund were able to grab two away goals and therefore are leading in aggregate and I’d say that Dortmund will only be so much better at home. The realistic outcome is a 2-1 win by Dortmund at the BVB Stadion Dortmund.

Manchester United (1) Real Madrid (1)

Recap: Possibly the match everyone has been waiting for as there were some fantastic match ups such as Jose Mourinho vs Sir Alex, Cristiano Ronaldo vs Robin van Persie, David De Gea vs Diego Lopez and etc. The match that everyone got to see in the end was nothing short of a spectacular match as both teams went out to win the game. In the 20th minute, however, young striker Danny Welbeck got the better of Sergio Ramos at a corner to head United in front. The lead lasted only 10 minutes as in the 30th minute Ronaldo scored a spectacular header to make it 1-1 thanks to a great cross by Angel Di Maria.

The rest of the match saw both teams come very close to scoring a pivotal goal but in the end both coaches were happy with the result. One would wonder why Sir Alex did not choose to allow Javier Hernandez come on as a ‘super sub’, though, as the Real Madrid defense were visibly tired and he would have been able to take advantage of that.

Highlight | The towering header from Cristiano Ronaldo in the first leg was one of the best goals in the Champions League this season and his height will cause further problems for Patrice Evra and Rafael. (Image | Marca)

Highlight | The towering header from Cristiano Ronaldo in the first leg was one of the best goals in this year’s competition and his height looks set to cause Manchester United defenders Patrice Evra and Rafael further problems. (Image | Marca)

Predictions: I’m honestly on the fence here. Manchester United have the advantage of the away goal, but Real Madrid have shown that they have the ability to do well away against big teams, and have proven that against Barcelona twice in the past week. The only thing that could make it go United’s way is if van Persie gets out of his 7 match goal drought.

I’ll predict as a tough away win for Real Madrid as the Special One has shown that not only is he a master tactician but also that he has finally learned how to use his players to their best potential. 1-0 to Real Madrid.

Juventus (3) Celtic (0)

Recap: In a game that might not have been so popular due to it being over-shadowed by the Valencia – PSG match on the same day, a display of poor refereeing and a master class at defending and counter attacking football by the Italian Serie A champions were the outstanding memories of this tie. Alessandro Matri opened up the scoring in the 3rd minute of play which visibly shocked the Celtic players. The Bhoys piled on the pressure for the next hour of play but Claudio Marchisio scored the Bianconeri’s second goal on 77 minutes to take them within sight of a first last-eight place since 2005/2006. Mirko Vučinić then ended all doubts by adding to the advantage the 83rd minute.

Predictions: Celtic need a miracle to somehow score 4 goals against the incredible Juventus defense in Turin. Considering that Juventus have not yet lost in Europe at home this season, and even managed to beat the current Champions League champions Chelsea 3-0 at home, there is no question that Celtic have a near impossible job ahead of them. My prediction is another comfortable 3-0 win to Juventus.

Paris Saint-Germain (2) Valencia (1)

Recap: Estadi De Mestalla is one of the few Spanish football stadiums where opponents fear the worst could happen to them. Not for PSG, however, after they took an early advantage thanks to an Ezequiel Lavezzi strike and then towards the end of the first half get a second goal scored by Javier Pastore which made it 2 away goals for PSG. As expected of Valencia, the last 10 minutes of the game saw the hosts turn up the heat and eventually they were able to grab a goal back thanks to an Adil Rami header. Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s stoppage-time dismissal blighted an excellent performances by the Parisiens – even if one could argue that Andrés Guardado might have taken advantage of the situation.

Predictions: Some might argue that it’s game on for Valencia considering the fact that Ibrahimovic will be suspensed and that they were able to grab a late goal. That said, Valencia must vastly improve before they convince anyone that they are capable of causing an upset.

To me, however, PSG have already won this tie by scoring twice away from home. I believe PSG still have enough quality to put this tie beyond doubt and win it with a comfortably 2-0 win at home.

FC Barcelona (0) AC Milan (2)

Recap: A game that many predicted would end a draw or a win for Barcelona saw Milan dominate and pull off the upset of the round. In the first half it was very clear that Milan had 2 strategies which were to “Park the bus” which is to defend with most of your outfield players and the second strategy was to hit Barcelona on the counter attacks which they masterfully did.

Tough job | Stand-in boss Jordi Roura is under pressure to preserve Barcelona's Champions League chances. (Image | FC Barcelona)

Tough job | Stand-in boss Jordi Roura is under pressure to preserve Barcelona’s Champions League chances. (Image | FC Barcelona)

Kevin Prince Boateng notched a somewhat fortuitous first goal after Cristian Zapata appeared to handle the ball, which landed perfectly on Boateng’s left foot in the 57th minute, the Ghanaian rattling home in unstoppable fashion.

Later on in the game, through an impressive counter attack, Stephan El Shaarawy was able to assist Sulley Muntari, who volleyed home to make it 2-0 to the Serie A side.

Predictions: Can Jordi Roura’s Barcelona actually show their dominance at home? With Milan set with the objective to defend it will prove difficult for Barcelona to win this match.

I still believe Barcelona have the quality to step up and end all the doubts surrounding them but it all depends on how Barcelona’s assistant manager decides to set out his team, including whether or not he utilises David Villa. If Messi decides to have a good day at the job, Milan should already consider themselves out. 3-0 win for Barcelona – in extra time.

Schalke 04 (1) Galatasaray (1)

Recap: With the likes of Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder having joined Galatasaray in the January transfer window, many wondered what impact those players would have at the team, and both players had delivered prior to the match against Schalke. However many forgot the fact that Galatasaray striker Burak Yilmaz was tied top goal scorer of the Champions League with Cristiano Ronaldo and he showed why by giving his side the lead.

After Jermaine Jones equalized for the German side just before the half time whistle, the rest of the match was a stalemate – although it remains to be seen how much Galataseray will be made to rue Yilmaz’  two missed chances in the second half.

Predictions: It seems like this game can be open for either one of these teams to go through but considering how well Galatasaray have been playing I believe they can steal an away win from Schalke who seem to be missing quite some quality, especially following the departure of quality midfielder Lewis Holtby. 1-0 win to Galatasaray.

Bayern Munich (3) Arsenal (1)

Recap: The game between Arsenal and Bayern Munich at the Emirates was a match between boys and men as Bayern Munich cruised to an easy 3-1 away win. A fantastic opening goal by Toni Kroos in the 7th minute was followed by a rather ugly second as Thomas Muller poked home from a corner, and an utterly dominant Munich could have added more  before half time. When the second half began Arsenal showed they were able to score and did so through former Bayern striker Lukas Podolski, but any Gunners dreams were crushed when Mario Mandzukic was able to loop a fortuitous third over Wojciech Szczęsny.

Predictions: Arsenal face a nearly impossible challenge where they have to win the match with at least 3 goals away from home. Easiest prediction of all as Bayern Munich are incredibly strong at home. 2-0 win by Bayern Munich home at the Allianz Arena.

Malaga (0) FC Porto (1)

Recap: Quite the stalemate most of the match, FC Porto showed that experience is one of the key aspects to success in Europe as an amazing shot by Joao Moutinho proved the difference between these two in the first leg.. Mauricio Pellegrini’s Malaga however should be satisfied with being able to have defended so well against Porto away at the Estadio Do Dragao, limiting their options to set pieces and shots outside the box.

Predictions: Malaga were able to keep Porto to only one goal in Portugal and have shown that they are quite comfortable at home in the Champions’ League. 2-0 to Malaga.

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