Preview: 2013/14 UEFA Europa League – Round of 16
AZ – FC ANZHI MAKHACHKALA 57%-43%
This is probably the weakest match of this Round.
In December we would have bet on AZ with no doubt, but FC Anzhi has relatively strenghtened its squad during the winter market (last Sunday they got their first win of the Season on the first match after the long break), so the tie should be quite open: anyway AZ could still be a little bit favorite, because the Russians will have to focus on their Championship in order to try to avoid relegation
PFC LUDOGORETS RAZGRAD – VALENCIA CF 40%-60%
The Bulagarians’ victory over SS Lazio didn’t surprise us, because we knew that they are a very good team, and what they did in the Group Stage, in which they beat twice PSV, a team that more or less should be on the same level with SS Lazio. But now things are getting (much) more complicated for them, because Valcencia CF is on an higher step than the Italians and the Dutchmen, and should be among the best six/seven team in the competition.
PFC Ludogorets Razgrad’s amazing run could probably stop here, but the Spaniards will have to play at their best.
FC PORTO – SSC NAPOLI 50%-50%
After Swansea City AFC, here’s an even more difficult opponent for SSC Napoli. If this match had been the Final, nobody would have been surprised.
We expect a very entertaining game, both of the teams have an open style of play and there are a lot of very technical players in both of them.
Despite being true that FC Porto has been better in recent previous years, it looks like they’re improving in the recent weeks, and we can’t predict any winner: anything is possible.
OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS – FC VIKTORIA PLZEN 45%-55%
L’OL è probabilmente più forte, ma è altrettanto probabilmente il più debole della sua recente brillante storia, e non ha impressionato nè nella Fasi a Gironi, nè nei Sedicesimi di Finale, in cui ha segnato il goal decisivo (1-0 in totale) solo dopo che un giocatore del Chernomorets Odessa è stato espulso; invece il FC Viktoria Plzen, che non dispone di un budget troppo elevato, è sempre un avversario molto ostico da affrontare nelle Competizioni UEFA (chiedere a Napoli, CSKA Moscow e Shakthar Donetsk): per cui ci sentiamo che una “sorpresa” è tutt’altro che improbabile !
SEVILLA FC – REAL BETIS BALOMPIE’ 35-65%
This is one of the two Derby of this Stage, but this isn’t just a Spanish Derby, but it’s a Sevilla Derby, so it will be very interesting, especially on the stands.
Real Betis Balompiè is having a very poor season, and it will be probably relegated to Seguna Division in May, being currently on the bottom of the table, while FC Sevilla looks (much) stronger, even if they are quite far from the team that won two UEFA Cups in 2000′s.
We consider the red-and-white team the favorite one, but don’t forget that anything can happen in football, most of all during Derbies.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FC – SL BENFICA 50%-50%
Another early potential Final.
Two very different kind of football will face eachothers, let’s see which one will be the best !
Tottenham dominated the (very easy) Group Stage, but was very close to be eliminated in the Round of 32 against Dnipro (they lost 1-0 away and were tied 1-1 at home, when managed to score the two decisive goals just after that a controversial red card had been shown to the Ukrainians), while SL Benfica didn’t impress in their CL Group Stage, but were quite brilliant in EL Round of 32: we really can’t dare any prediction.
FC BASEL 1893 - FC (RED BULL) SALZBURG 35%-65%
A clash between the last surviving German speaking teams: it’s a kind of Alpine Derby, and the distance between the cities is a bit more than 500 km, neither the shortest one, nor the longest one.
FC Basel last year was the surprise of the competition and reached the Semi-finals, this year they’re still a good thing, but they look a little bit weaker to us, while FC RBS are usually a very unpredictable team, but this Season they look very continuous: they won every match in the Group Stage, demolished AFC Ajax in the Round of 32 and next weekend they could win the Austrian Championship two months in advance, so that they could concentrate all their energies on Europa League and be the FC Basel of this Season.
JUVENTUS FC – ACF FIORENTINA 70%-30%
This has been a cruel draw for Italy, because both of these teams could have reached the Semi-finals and improved and get more ranking points.
ACF Fiorentina maybe plays a better football, but Juventus FC is more physical, and, maybe, simply stronger, and moreover the Italian Championship is almost won, and they can focus just on Europa League.
In Europe Fiorentina probably won’t have the alibi of adverse referees.
All the predictions are made by Maxi Lozzo.