After a break of several months, the two top competitions in European football return to action this week. First up on Wednesday and Thursday evenings is the Europa League back in action with its eight Round of 16 ties being played to completion. Then on Friday and Saturday night, the four remaining Champions League Round of 16 ties will be played, two per evening, at 8pm each night so we can know who the quarterfinalists in each competition will be.

From then on, UEFA has decreed thart instead of the usual two-legged, home and away format for each competition through to the final, each tournament will instead be contested at a neutral venue from the quarterfinals onwards with each tie being played over one game, with extra time and penalties used to decide the winner if required.

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Let’s now check out how UEFA has decided each of the competitions will progress to completion starting with the Europa League which begins first.

Europa League

The Europa League was the competition that required the most sorting out of the two restarting this week. Six of the eight Round of 16 first leg ties had been played prior to the lockdown, but two games had not played their first leg ties (Getafe v Inter Milan and Sevilla v AS Roma). Which left UEFA with a slight problem.

Their solution was for the six games that have already had the first leg of their tie played, those teams will play the second leg as planned with the home team playing at their ground. For Inter v Getafe and the Sevilla v AS Roma games, these matches will be played in Germany at a neutral venue and will be played over a one-legged format. Extra time and penalties will be used in all ties to decide the winner on the night if necessary.

From the quarterfinals thereon, the teams will then be based in Germany with all ties being played over one leg with extra time and penalties used to decide the winner in a straight knockout format all the way through to the final.

This has given us the following fixtures:

Europa League Round of 16 Fixtures

  • Copenhagen (0) v (1) Istanbul Basaksehir
  • Manchester United (5) v (0) LASK Linz
  • FC Basel (3) v (0) Eintracht Frankfurt
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers (1) v (1) Olympiacos
  • Bayer Leverkusen (3) v (1) Rangers
  • Shakhtar Donetsk (2) v (1) Wolfsburg
  • Inter Milan v Getafe – One Off Tie – Veltins Arena
  • AS Roma v Sevilla – One Off Tie – MSV Arena

As you can see, in several ties the home teams are in an especially storng position, with Manchester United, FC Basel, Bayer Leverkusen and Shakhtar Donetsk having won their away leg, while Wolves also did well to earn a draw in Greece against Olympiakos. Only Copenhagen, of the home teams playing this week, have a deficit to overcome against Istanbul Basaksehir.

The most interesting games should be the two one-off fixtures in Germany where Inter Milan and Getafe as well as AS Roma and Sevilla start the game knowing that only a win on the night will suffice and that could make for some entertaining action in both games.

Our Europa League Quarterfinal Qualifier Predictions

  • Istanbul Basaksehir
  • Manchester United
  • FC Basel
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers
  • Bayer Leverkusen
  • Shakhtar Donetsk
  • Inter Milan
  • Sevilla

Europa League Overall Winner – Prediction

Bet365 have Manchester United as the 7/4 favourites to win this tournament and they have had recent success in it having won it back in 2017. However, I do think that Sevilla at 15/2 cannot be discounted especially given their superb record in the tournament in the past, while if you want a form team, AS Roma are a 16/1 shout and if they manage to knock out Sevilla, they could be a dark horse to win this tournament.  We’d back the winner of the Sevilla v AS Roma tie to have a real chance of making the final and winning the trophy.

Champions League

UEFA didn’t have so much trouble with the Champions League to sort out. Four of the eight Round of 16 ties had already played their second legs when the lockdown started, which left just four second leg ties to be played to complete the round, all at the same point. These games will continue as they would have back in March at the venue of the home team and they are as follows:

Friday 7th August

  • Juventus (0) v (1) Lyon
  • Man City (2) v (1) Real Madrid

Saturday 8th August

  • Barcelona (1) v (1) Napoli
  • Bayern Munich (3) v (0) Chelsea

All games kick off at 8pm UK time.

After these four Round of 16 ties have been completed, then the four winning teams will join Paris St Germain, Atletico Madrid, Atalanta and Red Bull Leipzig in the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals will then see all competing teams play their games at either the Jose Alvelade stadium (home of Sporting Lisbon) or the Stadium of Light (home of Benfica) in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. These two venues will be used again for the semifinals and the final will be played at the Stadium of Light on the 23rd August.

The ties in the main are delicately poised, apart from the Bayern v Chelsea game which looks certain to be an easy win for Bayern Munich. Manchester City stand a great chance having won in Madrid, but the other two games are very much in the balance and if there is going to be an upset on the night it could well come in one or both of those games.

Our Champions League Quarterfinalists Predictions

  • Paris St Germain, Atletico Madrid, Red Bull Leipzig and Atalanta have already qualified
  • Lyon
  • Manchester City
  • Barcelona
  • Bayern Munich

Champions League Overall Winner Prediction

After a superb return to action, Bayern Munich clinched the Bundesliga and German Cup and many have them as the favourites to now win this trophy. Bet365 have them as joint favourites with Manchester City and I feel that is about right. However, I think having been handed a relatively comfortable draw, Paris St Germain at 5/1 are the smart money bet here.

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