Champions League last-16 second leg preview: Man City, Juventus, Barcelona all to advance?

Of the eight round-of-16 matchups in the Champions League, just two are effectively settled after the first leg. (Sorry, Chelsea and Valencia.) Three of them feature heavy favourites (Man City, Barcelona, RB Leipzig) against long underdogs (Real Madrid, Napoli, Tottenham), but the odds haven't meant much over the past few years. Beyond those, there are three other ties -- one involving the defending champions -- that currently look like anyone-can-win coin flips. In other words, there's plenty left to play for!

So, with the return legs upon us let's take a look back at each of the first-leg games and see what they can tell us about what's to come over the next two weeks.

Editor's note: scores in parentheses below are from the first legs, played in February. The winner on aggregate over the two legs advances; ties are broken by away goals.

Also, several Champions League games have been impacted by coronavirus fears: Both Valencia vs. Atalanta on Tuesday and Paris Saint-Germain vs. Dortmund on Wednesday will be played behind closed doors. When decisions are made regarding attendance and/or logistics for other matches, we will update this page accordingly.

Jump to: Leipzig-Spurs | Valencia-Atalanta | PSG-Dortmund | Man City-Real Madrid | Juventus-Lyon | Napoli-Barcelona | Chelsea-Bayern

Second leg: 3/17, 4 p.m. ET
FiveThirtyEight odds: Manchester City 90%, Real 10%

Real Madrid's success this season has been built upon their defense, which has allowed the fewest goals (17) in La Liga. Earlier in the campaign, Zinedine Zidane installed a second defense-oriented midfielder, Federico Valverde, alongside Casemiro. Pair them with two great center-backs (Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos) and a couple defensively capable fullbacks (Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy), and you're just not going to give up many goals. That is, unless you're playing Manchester City.

For a team that still really lacks a defining modern European victory, Pep Guardiola's side came into the Santiago Bernabeu and eviscerated Madrid's greatest strength. Think of it as the inverse of Atletico's defensive display: City generated the most expected goals (3.07), the second-most shots (16) and the second-most xG per shot (0.192). Despite playing an unfamiliar, and theoretically defensive, left-wing role, Gabriel Jesus got on the end of shots worth more xG than anyone else across (1.41) all of the first legs.

Key stat: Madrid now have to score at least two goals, and they're going to have to do it without their captain, Sergio Ramos, who was red-carded in the first game, and without allowing much to the same attack that destroyed them a few weeks ago. It's hard to see it happening, but maybe this is one number for Zidane to focus on: Real completed 12 passes into City's penalty area and only allowed eight into theirs.

JUVENTUS (0) vs. LYON (1)
Second leg: 3/17, 4 p.m. ET
FiveThirtyEight odds: Lyon 50%, Juventus 50%

Juventus didn't look like a true title contender before the first leg, and they looked like even less of one after it. Lyon, meanwhile, came into round of 16 as one of the two or three weakest teams remaining. They're currently in fifth place in France, and the FiveThirtyEight Soccer Power Index rates them as the 34th-best team in the world: one spot behind Olympiacos and two spots ahead of Sheffield United. Despite that, they played a roughly even match against the seven-time defending Serie A Champs, just trailing slightly in xG (1.10 to 1.04) and total shots (14 to 12).

This season, Juve really feel like a team in transition: They've moved away from the defensive solidity of the Massimiliano Allegri era, but they haven't fully integrated the field-tilting, systematic chance creation that made Napoli so fun to watch under Maurizio Sarri. Instead, they're a team that can hold lots of possession, but they take a ton of low-quality shots and struggle when they don't have the ball.

"I am having a lot of difficulty in getting across the idea of moving the ball quickly to this team," Sarri said after the loss. Against Lyon, Juventus had 63.5% of possession -- less than only Barcelona and Liverpool -- but their pressing rate (or PPDA) was middle of the pack (11.59). So, most of their attempts came against a packed-in, settled defense, and not a single one ended up on target.

Key stat: Lyon's attack has struggled all season, but Houssem Aouar, the club's latest midfield uber-prospect, gave them enough juice to get over the line in the first leg. Playing on the left wing, he created 0.61 expected assists, which was the most in the match and 10th-most among all players.

It seems unlikely that Lyon hold Juventus scoreless in Italy, so they'll probably need another individual performance like that to move on.

Second leg: 3/18, 4 p.m. ET
FiveThirtyEight odds: Barcelona 87%, Napoli 13%

While Barcelona have doubled-down on the "possess the ball until the opponent gives up" strategy since hiring manager Quique Setien, this felt like a new extreme.

In the first leg, they completed 85.3% of the game's attacking-third passes; no one else in the last 16 was above 73.7. They were the only team to complete at least 90% of their passes. Their average sequence contained 7.3 passes -- two more than PSG's second-most total of 5.3. And their average sequence lasted for an absurd 19.2 seconds -- most of all the 16 teams by more than five seconds. And yet, somehow Barcelona were only able to generate eight shots, just one more than Napoli, despite the impossible-seeming possession advantage.

In a broad sense, it worked, as Barcelona created the highest quality opportunities (by xG per shot) across all the first legs, and they edged Napoli on overall xG, 1.62 to 0.75. The difference was the finishing, but given that Barcelona employ the greatest finisher in the world, they'll take that kind of performance every time.

Key stat: Messi completed eight dribbles (tied for most among all players), took 10 touches in the penalty area (second most), completed six passes into the penalty area (second most), and racked up 0.39 xG and 0.72 xA. He didn't score a goal or get an assist. It seems unlikely that'll happen again.

Second leg: 3/18, 4 p.m. ET
FiveThirtyEight odds: Bayern greater-than-99%, Chelsea less-than-1%

This was a complete blowout from every conceivable angle. Even though Robert Lewandowski is out injured for the return, I cannot make the case for a Chelsea comeback without invoking witchcraft, ancient magic, alien invasion or geopolitical intervention.

Key stat: Despite being a Canadian teenager who is theoretically playing out of possession as a left fullback, Alphonso Davies completed six dribbles (tied for second-most among all players) and created 0.69 expected assists (fifth-most). He's special.



After winning 1-0 away from home in the first leg, Leipzig wrapped up the tie with an emphatic 3-0 win at home to seal a place in the quarterfinals. Last season's finalists Tottenham, meanwhile, crashed out in disappointing fashion.


Atalanta took control of the tie with a 4-1 win at home in the first leg, then Josip Ilicic ensured they would advance to the last eight with a four-goal display at a Mestalla that was empty of Valencias supporters, due to anti-coronavirus measures.


After winning the home leg 1-0 thanks to an early Saul Niguez strike and a textbook defensive performance, Atletico arrived in England with a lead to defend The Spanish club conceded before half-time but thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Jan Oblak survived a furious onslaught from the Reds to force extra time. Liverpool struck first in the extra period but two Marcos Llorente goals in nine minutes turned the tie on its head and send Diego Simeone and Co. to the quarterfinals of the competition.

PSG (3) vs. DORTMUND (2)

PSG overcame their recent Champions League woes, and a 2-1 first-leg defeat to Dortmund, with a 2-0 win in a mostly empty Parc des Prince. With Kylian Mbappe starting on the bench due to a bout with the flu, Neymar stepped up to open the scoring on 28 minutes before an own goal by Mats Hummels just before half-time handed PSG the necessary scoreline to advance.