Champions League Round of 16 Football Podcast with Wasim Parkar

With the Champions League Round of 16 behind us, Wasim looks back at fine wins for Leicester and Monaco, while posing questions for Guardiola and Sampaoli. Plus, Juve and Atletico are the two teams nobody wants to draw in the quarterfinals.

You can listen to the podcast through the player below or subscribe through iTunes here.

Episode 2 of The Football Podcast with Wasim Parkar: La Liga’s Title Race

Wasim looks back at a wild round of midweek games in La Liga and discusses the implications for the title race. Between Barca, Real and Sevilla, who is best placed to win the league?

This Champions League Midweek

Champions League Matchday 5 is often the most defining day of the group stages. There’s a good chance we’ll know most of the qualifiers for the round of 16 after these matches, as well as the group winners. Keeping various permutations in mind, these six games are likely to be the most decisive in this round.

Tuesday, November 22

Monaco vs Tottenham 
Group E

Monaco lead the group, four points clear of Tottenham and hence, can even afford to lose this game and still control their destiny. Leonardo Jardim is unlikely to tolerate that outcome as Monaco will want to avoid needing anything from their last game away at Bayer Leverkusen.

Anything other than a win and Spurs could exit the competition if Leverkusen win in Moscow. After waiting so long to make here, an early exit would be quite underwhelming for Spurs. Mauricio Pochettino can take solace in the fact that Tottenham haven’t lost away from home in this Champions League campaign, but his men will need to be switched on from the first whistle if they want to stay alive in the competition.

Sporting Lisbon vs Real Madrid
Group F

Sporting need to win this match to keep their hopes of progression alive, but even that may not suffice as Real have a cushion of five points. The Portuguese were so close to winning at the Bernabéu on Matchday 1. They will need to rely on the those same levels and then some to get their desired result this time around.

Real have inexplicably dropped away points, so it isn’t a foregone conclusion that they will get the three points in Lisbon. While a draw or loss won’t be terminal for Real’s hopes, it will almost certainly result in a runner-up finish considering Dortmund are hosts to Legia Warsaw. 

FC Copenhagen vs Porto
Group G

On the balance of play, an argument could be made that Copenhagen have been the best team in the group, yet they find themselves in third place. Copenhagen dominated the reverse fixture and if they could finish the chances they create, they can leapfrog their opponents with their last game against an eliminated Club Brugge. A draw would suffice for Porto as it would keep them second with their last game at home against a Leicester side that is likely to have already qualified for the round of 16.

Sevilla vs Juventus
Group H

The group leaders face off in what should be a cracking encounter at the Sánchez Pizjuán. Sevilla have the advantage, leading by two points after Juve conceded a late equalizer at home against Lyon. The Bianconeri will have to take the game to the hosts as they will want to avoid finishing second and drawing a big team in the round of 16 like last season. If Juve win, Sevilla could yet find themselves in trouble with a visit to a Lyon team that could still be in contention come the final matchday.

Wednesday, November 23

Arsenal vs Paris Saint-Germain
Group A

Two teams that have made a habit of finishing second in the group stages now play each other with a golden chance of finally winning a group and getting better odds in the round of 16. A better opportunity might not present itself, so will Arsenal or PSG rise to the challenge or will nerves get the better of them? We’ll find out at the Emirates.

Besiktas vs Benfica
Group B

Were it not for the concession of two late equalizers at home, Besiktas would already have a place assured in the last 16. As it happens, they are a point behind Napoli and Benfica and need to get maximum points in their last home fixture against the Portuguese champions. If they lose, the Turkish champions could be knocked out if Napoli beat Dynamo Kiev. Benfica on the other hand, will be alive even if they lose, but a win would guarantee qualification and keep them in the hunt to win the group.

Celta Vigo 1 Sevilla 1

The second game in this week’s triple-header between Celta Vigo and Sevilla finished in a thrilling 1-1 draw. How Sevilla managed to escape with a draw is anyone’s guess. The home side battered their opponents especially since Federico Fazio’s sending off in the 25th minute, but their poor finishing combined with some heroic last-ditch defending from the visitors meant only one point in stead of three.

In the grand scheme of things, a point didn’t do much for either team. Sevilla stretched their unbeaten streak in the league to five games, however they are yet to have an away win this season. Such poor returns on the road make it unlikely for Unai Emery’s men to make up the eight-point deficit to Villarreal in the last Champions League spot.

Meanwhile, Celta are outside the European spots on the basis of goal difference and their limited squad makes it difficult to see them overtaking either Sevilla or Athletic Bilbao. However, a season of promise can still finish well. If Claudio Beauvue’s finish was anything to go by, the Galician team might just have one of the most exciting attacking trios in the league once Nolito returns to the playing eleven. Nolito, Beauvue and the underrated Iago Aspas can be a handful against most defences in the league.

Attention now turns to the final instalment of this trilogy on Thursday. Sevilla should easily navigate the Copa Del Rey semifinal after their 4-0 win at home in the first leg. Nevertheless, with the non-stop attacking football we have seen in the two matches between these teams so far and with a Celta Vigo side with nothing to lose, hopes are we’ll see another crazy end-to-end game in the second leg.

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