The 2023/24 Champions League gets back under way this week with four fascinating last-16 ties.
Last season's winners Manchester City received a favourable draw as they prepare for a trip to Denmark to take on domestic champions Copenhagen. The Danes were 4-3 winners over City's local rivals United in a wild group stage game last November.
Elsewhere, record 14-time continental champions Real Madrid head to Germany to face RB Leipzig, French champions Paris Saint-Germain face a tricky test against La Liga side Real Sociedad, and Bavarian giants Bayern Munich travel to Rome to take on Lazio.
Copenhagen v Manchester City (Tuesday, midnight, UAE)
Hosts Copenhagen play their first competitive game since December when they welcome Manchester City to Parken on Tuesday night. The Danish champions, who are coming off the Superliga's extended winter break, held City to a 0-0 draw when they last met in the 2022/23 competition. They have also already made an impression on the other side of Manchester this term, qualifying ahead of United from the group stage.
In-form City made it 10 wins on the spin as they beat Everton 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, and were even able to start that game with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Kyle Walker and Bernardo Silva on the bench. Erling Haaland's two-goal salvo should also bolster confidence in their ranks.
Copenhagen will be well rested and have had two months to prepare for this game, but how can you really prepare for a City side in this kind of form? It's hard to look past a comfortable away win.
Prediction: Copenhagen 0-2 Man City
RB Leipzig v Real Madrid (Tuesday, midnight, UAE)
A 2-2 draw against Augsburg at the weekend means RB Leipzig have won just once in six games going into Tuesday's home game against La Liga leaders Real Madrid. However, the Germans remain a force in their own stadium, winning seven of the last nine on home turf and were winners over Real in the group stage last season. Real have lost just one of their past 15 Champions League matches against German sides (W10 D4), with that solitary defeat coming at the Red Bull Arena.
Carlo Ancelotti's side are on a five-game unbeaten run, winning four. They also go into the game in good spirits following a 4-0 hammering of Spanish title contenders Girona on Saturday to open up a five-point lead at the top of the table. Talisman Jude Bellingham picked up an injury in that game, but even without him they should have too much for the hosts.
Prediction: RB Leipzig 1-2 Real Madrid
Paris Saint-Germain v Real Sociedad (Wednesday, midnight, UAE)
A tricky tie to call given PSG's underwhelming displays in the group phase. They were a little fortunate to progress ahead of AC Milan and Newcastle United (behind Borussia Dortmund), while they have been eliminated at the last-16 stage the past two seasons.
By contrast, the visitors, back in the competition after a long absence, went through the group stage unbeaten. In fact, Imanol Alguacil’s miserly side kept more clean sheets (four), conceded fewer goals (two) and faced fewer shots on target (12) than any other team in this season’s competition so far.
PSG do take some form into the contest though, having won three on the bounce, including a 3-1 victory over Lille on Saturday. Kylian Mbappe, who was afforded the luxury of a rest at the weekend, has seven goals in his past five games against Spanish teams in the Champions League.
Prediction: PSG 1-0 Real Sociedad
Lazio v Bayern Munich (Wednesday, midnight, UAE)
Bayern Munich will be eager to get back on track after being thrashed 3-0 by title rivals Bayer Leverkusen at the weekend.
Despite the emphatic nature of that setback, they are still big favourites to come away from Stadio Olimpico with a first-leg advantage when they face Lazio.
The reason for that is Bayern are experts at navigating this type of tie, having qualified from 11 of their past 12 Champions League last-16 ties. In all 11 of those victories they have avoided defeat in the first leg (W7, D4). They are also unbeaten in 12 outings against Italian teams, the last loss being a 3-2 reverse to Inter Milan in March 2011.
They also have one of the most devastating strikers in Europe and no player has more goal involvements in this season’s competition than Harry Kane (seven – four goals and three assists).
Prediction: Lazio 0-2 Bayern Munich