The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 gets underway tonight with FC Copenhagen clashing with the defending champions, Manchester City, while 14-time champions Real Madrid travel to Germany for their encounter with RB Leipzig. Here’s a preview of the action.

FC Copenhagen vs Manchester City

Manchester City’s pursuit of a second consecutive Champions League title will be put to the test when they face FC Copenhagen in the first leg of the last 16.

The Cityzens comfortably topped Group G with a perfect record from six games. On the other hand, the reigning Danish champions secured passage to the knockout stages under difficult circumstances, finishing eight points behind runaway group winners Bayern Munich. The Danish side endured a challenging start to the group stages, recording a single point in three matches. Jacob Neestrup’s charges turned the tide in the final three fixtures, narrowly winning their two home games and securing a commendable draw at Allianz Arena.

Copenhagen’s last knockout appearance in the competition was in the 2010/11 season, a run that was ended by the English side Chelsea. The Danes lost their home fixture 2-0 before securing an admirable goalless draw at Stamford Bridge. Copenhagen finished 2023 in a slump, suffering two successive league defeats to AGF and Viborg in a three-match winless run.

The defending champions will surely be aware of the threat posed by the Danish side, having witnessed their 4-3 victory over noisy neighbors Manchester United. City was at their brilliant best in the group stages, recording a perfect total of 18 points in a group consisting of RB Leipzig, Young Boys, and Red Star Belgrade.

Pep Guardiola’s side has an impressive recent record over Copenhagen, thrashing the Danes 5-0 at the Etihad during the 2022/23 group stages. With the return of Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland from injury, the Cityzens have been in ominous form, winning 10 consecutive games in all competitions. Guardiola’s side will visit Parken Stadium without any injured or suspended players.

City’s two visits to the Danish capital have ended in stalemates, but it could be a case of third time lucky for Guardiola’s side, who have found form at the right time. The Copenhagen goalkeeper will need to be on top form to thwart Man City’s potent attack, which I don’t see happening. This match should be fun to watch; I believe we might be treated to a lot of goals.

Prediction: Additional Totals Over 2.5

Red Bull Leipzig vs Real Madrid

Despite a great start to the season, RB Leipzig has been dreadful lately, and their worrying form could work into Madrid’s hands. Certainly firing on all cylinders, the side from the capital is in impressive form, having recorded a resounding 4-0 league win over title challengers Girona at the weekend. Madrid ended the Champions League group stages unbeaten with a perfect record of six wins, although they conceded seven goals.

The 14-time Champions League winners have suffered a single defeat in their last 27 appearances and have opened a 10-point gap at the summit of LaLiga EA Sports. With Madrid reaching the semi-finals in the previous seven editions, the German opponents should know the odds are stacked against them.

Marco Rose’s side qualified for the knockout stages with a decent return of 12 points, losing twice to defending champions Manchester City. The Germans are in a wobble, falling off 15 points in the Bundesliga title race. Leipzig has recorded one win from their past six appearances in all competitions. With four goals in his previous games, Louis Openda is a man on a mission and one of a few bright sparks in an underwhelming campaign for Leipzig.

Devastating on the counter-attack, Leipzig is a banker to find the net whenever they play, but their record of one clean sheet in their previous 16 games is a sight to behold for the likes of Vinicius Junior, who has four goals in the competition so far. This is the stage where Madrid tore their rivals to shreds, and I see that trend continuing in this fixture.

Prediction: Real Madrid Straight Win