Barcelona vs. Celtic. Celtic have a lot to do. Too much, really. I, along with many others, believed that they could take Barca at home, and it looked like they might until Henry and Messi reminded the world why they get paid the big bucks. Now, they're facing a 3-2 deficit and a trip to the Nou Camp, meaning they'll need a two goal victory to go through. Though Atletico offered a blueprint for how to achieve this over the weekend, that was in Madrid and with an a strong, attacking side. Barca have not lost by more than a goal in the Nou Camp in all competitions this year and I think even a gritty, determined Celtic side will be hard-pressed to get a draw here.
Manchester United vs. Lyon. United have the decided edge in this one. Going to Old Trafford and getting a victory is no easy feat. Of course, if Lyon draw 2-2 or higher, they're through. 1-1 even sends things to extra time and penalties. But that late Tevez equalizer in France really took the wind out of Lyon's sails and United have been in absolutely sparkling form. It's true that in recent years they've become overconfident and then been dumped out of the competition, but I can't see that happening until later. Unless, of course, the French Ben's (Zema and Arfa) have the game of their lives against what might be the best Central Defense (Vidic and Ferdinand) in Europe.
Sevilla vs. Fenerbahce. I didn't see the result of the first leg coming, but that's because I forgot about the incredible atmosphere in Istanbul. Graham Poll, the legendary English referee, recently gave his opinion on the Champions League and named it as the most intense environment in the competition. It's no wonder that the Turks won all of their group stage matches played at home. However, Sevilla are substantially better at home than on the road, and bounced back from their CL defeat with a 5-0 mauling of Zaragoza. Fenerbahce aren't a bad team on the road and force many draws, but considering that a 1-0 victory puts Sevilla through, one has to give the Spaniards the edge.
AC Milan vs. Arsenal. If you think a 0-0 draw is necessarily boring, you didn't watch the intricate chess match that these two sides put on at the Emirates. The Arsenal midfield and the Milan defense were the true stars of the match, and a ton of individual skill was on display. However, since Emmanuel Adebayor failed to score in the last minute of that game, Milan return to the intimidating San Siro as favorites in this one. The fact that Arsenal need only finish with a score draw to advance on away goals would be much more comforting to Gunners if their otherwise outstanding team hadn't made a habit of getting thrashed on the road in cup competitions (Spurs in Carling, United in FA). This time around, the key figures will most likely be Kaka and Adebayor. Last time, Fabregas and Flamini did a wonderful job of shadowing the Milan superstar, allowing him to make his feared runs only when there was nowhere to go but the corner or straight into an Arsenal defender. And Adebayor did some good work up front... until it came to finishing. If Kaka breaks out, Milan could win big. If Adebayor isn't rendered toothless by the 4-5-1, receives good link-up play, and finds his magic finishing boots, Arsenal could nick it. And if both things happen, expect a classic.
Arsene Wenger cobbled together starting lineups with spit and duct tape and Denilson and somehow the team dragged its ass over the finish line in third or fourth.