Champions League & Europa League preview & predictions – February 16-18

The knockout stages of 2020/21 European season begin this week, with the Champions League and Europa League back in action after 10 week breaks since the respective group stages finished back in early December.

Liverpool, Manchester United, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, AC Milan and Rangers are among the sides taking to the pitch across Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

A handful of games in both competitions have been relocated to neutral venues across Europe as a result of coronavirus restrictions impacting travel.

Here’s a rundown of all the games and how you can watch them, as well as predictions.

Barcelona vs PSG

Neymar Jr
PSG’s Neymar faces former club Barcelona | Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 20.00 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Camp Nou
TV channel? BT Sport 3 (UK)

Neymar returns to Camp Nou and Barcelona and PSG go head to head for the first time since the former’s historic aggregate comeback in 2017.

The Catalans have enjoyed respite in the Champions League this season and have also recaptured some domestic form in recent weeks, although there are goals to be scored against them.

Lionel Messi is back firing and has scored eight goals in his last five La Liga appearances.

Prediction: Barcelona 2-2 PSG

RB Leipzig vs Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp, Sadio Mane
Liverpool are overdue a win after poor results | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 20.00 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Puskas Arena, Budapest
TV channel? BT Sport 2 (UK)

The first leg of Liverpool’s clash with RB Leipzig has been moved to neutral ground in Hungary and will be played at the Puskas Arena in Budapest.

It means that Leipzig will lose home advantage, yet Liverpool will still be rewarded for away goals.

Europe is a chance for Liverpool to take a brief break from a troubling period in the Premier League, although in Leipzig they face a more than potent threat who knocked out Tottenham at this stage last season and beat Manchester United in the group stage.

Prediction: RB Leipzig 1-1 Liverpool

Porto vs Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is aiming for a sixth Champions League title | Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 20.00 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Estadio do Dragao
TV channel? BT Sport 2 (UK)

Juventus were knocked out of the Champions League at this stage last season and will be looking to make amends with a strong start to this year’s knockouts in their trip to Portugal.

Juve finished top of Group G ahead of Barcelona to be seeded for the first knockout draw and finished the group stage with a 3-0 win at Camp Nou back in December.

Porto followed Manchester City through from Group C and were unbeaten after matchday one.

Prediction: Porto 1-3 Juventus

Sevilla vs Borussia Dortmund

Erling Haaland
Can Erling Haaland inspire a struggling Dortmund? | Pool/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 20.00 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan
TV channel? BT Sport 3 (UK)

The hipster tie of the first lot of Champions League last 16 ties is Sevilla vs Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night, pitting two potential dark horses against each other.

Dortmund striker Erling Haaland is the competition’s joint leading goalscorer after netting six times in four group stage appearances. He has been back fit and scoring since January.

In Jules Kounde, Sevilla possess one of the most promising young defenders in Europe. The Spanish club have also been in far better domestic form of late.

Prediction: Sevilla 2-1 Borussia Dortmund

Red Star Belgrade vs AC Milan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Davide Calabria
Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn’t score in the Europa League group stage | Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 17.55 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Red Star Stadium
TV channel? BT Sport digital (UK)

AC Milan are hoping that 2020/21 will mark their return to glory. The Rossoneri are locked in a Serie A title battle with city rivals Inter and will be desperate to make a real mark in European competition for the first time since they last won the Champions League in 2007.

39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 16 times in 18 appearances this season, although he drew three blanks in the games he played in the Europa League group stage.

Red Star Belgrade qualified as runners-up in Group L behind Hoffenheim.

Prediction: Red Star Belgrade 0-2 AC Milan

Real Sociedad vs Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took Man Utd to the semi-finals last season | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 17.55 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Allianz Stadium, Turin
TV channel? BT Sport 1 (UK)

Manchester United were dumped out of the Champions League in December as a result of back-to-back defeats against PSG and RB Leipzig in the final two group games. They now continue their European season in the competition they last won in 2017.

Real Sociedad have fallen away from the top of La Liga since the knockout draw was made in December, but they have at least won their last two games.

This one was moved from La Real’s home stadium in San Sebastian to Turin because of the coronavirus travel ban imposed by Spanish authorities on travellers from the UK.

Prediction: Real Sociedad 1-1 Manchester United

Slavia Prague vs Leicester

Harvey Barnes, James Maddison
James Maddison & Harvey Barnes tore Liverpool to shreds | Michael Regan/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 17.55 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Sinobo Stadium
TV channel? BT Sport ESPN (UK)

Leicester are very much a team in form and full of confidence at the moment, which will have been substantially boosted further by the nature of their clinical win over Liverpool on Saturday.

Slavia Prague won all three home games in the group stage but the Foxes are a different proposition altogether and would be favourites to advance from the tie overall.

If Leicester can secure an away goal and/or clean sheet, it will make their task in the return leg at the King Power Stadium a little more comfortable.

Prediction: Slavia Prague 0-1 Leicester

Wolfsberger vs Tottenham

Heung-Min Son, Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham are struggling | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 17.55 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Puskas Arena, Budapest
TV channel? BT Sport 2 (UK)

In the last three weeks, Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham have lost four out of five Premier League games and been knocked out of the FA Cup. The question now is whether Europe will offer respite or come as even more of a burden in a packed schedule.

Spurs have an EFL Cup final coming up against Manchester City in April, but if Mourinho wants to deliver silverware this competition is his only other chance this season.

Wolfsberger will not get the benefit of home familiarity because the game has been moved.

Prediction: Wolfsberger 1-2 Tottenham

Antwerp vs Rangers

Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard is already closing in on a Scottish title | Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 20.00 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Bosuilstadion
TV channel? BT Sport 3 (UK)

Steven Gerrard has set Rangers on course to win a first Scottish title since 2011, but the season would be even better for the Glasgow club if they can add a good European run to that.

Rangers reached the last 16 in 2019/20 and will fancy their chances of matching that.

However, Antwerp should not be taken lightly. The Belgian club beat Tottenham on home soil in the group stage in October.

Prediction: Antwerp 1-1 Rangers

Benfica vs Arsenal

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Arsenal are much improved from earlier in the season | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 20.00 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Stadio Olimpico, Rome
TV channel? BT Sport 2 (UK)

During the group stage, the Europa League was welcome respite from a wretched Premier League run for Arsenal. Since then, however, the Gunners have shown marked improvement.

In Benfica, Mikel Arteta’s side looked to have been handed one of the toughest draws available to them, although the Portuguese are having a down year domestically and also won’t be able to rely on home advantage in this one.

Martin Odegaard is in line for his European debut for Arsenal following his first start at the weekend.

Prediction: Benfica 1-2 Arsenal

Granada vs Napoli

Lorenzo Insigne, Matteo Politano, Hirving Lozano
Napoli would be a major scalp for Granada at this stage | MB Media/Getty Images

What time is kick off? 20.00 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Nuevo Los Carmenes
TV channel? BT Sport digital (UK)

Granada are only two years removed from playing in Spain’s second tier and have made it into the Europa League knockout rounds in their first ever season in a continental competition.

Napoli would be a major scalp in this one. But they are battling away in a fierce scrap for a top four Serie A place and are better off than they were last season.

Granada don’t score or concede many in Europe, averaging just one goal per game going forward but finishing the group with only three goals against. Napoli weren’t much different.

Prediction: Granada 0-0 Napoli

The following Europa League last 32 ties are also being played this week, all available to watch in the UK on BT Sport platforms (times specified GMT): Dynamo Kyiv vs Club Brugge (17.55), Krasnodar vs Dinamo Zagreb (17.55), Olympiacos vs PSV Eindhoven (17.55), Braga vs Roma (17.55), Young Boys vs Bayer Leverkusen (17.55), Lille vs Ajax (20.00), Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Shakhtar Donestsk (20.00), Molde vs Hoffenheim (20.00), Red Bull Salzburg vs Villarreal (20.00).

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Author: XenBet

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