Retrieving a situation from a deficit in sport is always hard. The very nature of knockout football, and the Champions League specifically, is that starting from a losing position is infinitely tougher than starting from a leading position. Every statistic will tell you that it’s easier to have won your first leg if you want to progress into the next round.
Two teams who have plenty of recent history in coming back from a losing first leg to triumph against the odds in the second leg are Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, however. The North London outfit were 30 minutes from an inglorious exit against Ajax and 3-0 down in the tie only for Lucas Moura to spark wild celebrations in the away fans as they came back to win 3-2 on the night and go through to the Champions League final on away goals.
Liverpool know exactly how good it feels to win from behind in this competition too. Not only did they win the cup outright when they came back from 3-0 down at half-time in the 2005 final in Istanbul, but they lost the first leg of last season’s semi-final against Barcelona 3-0 before winning the return fixture at Anfield.
The questions begs asking, then: can these two British teams pull off the great escape yet again?
RB Leipzig (1) vs. (0) Tottenham Hotspur (Tuesday, 8pm GMT kick-off)
With the German side holding a slender yet vital lead from the first leg at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, it will something quite impressive if Spurs can win from behind in the tie, especially given that their new signing, Steven Bergwijn, who had performed well since his arrival from Eredivisie, was injured at the weekend and will likely miss the rest of the season.
With Julian Nagelsmann in charge of Leipzig, they have risen up the German Bundesliga, and will be confident of a positive result. We can see this being fairly close, but 2-1 to either side looks probable, and with good odds on exact goals, that’s where our money would go.
Our tip: Exactly 3 goals to be scored (3/1)
Valencia (1) vs. (4) Atalanta (Tuesday, 8pm GMT kick-off)
Already looking like a fairly dead rubber, Italian side Atalanta will be grateful to be completing this tie in Spain rather than Italy, with all sport banned in their home country.
With three goals the difference, you might be tempted to speculate that Valencia will be desperate for a victory with pride their main source of inspiration. Atalanta, however, will not be playing in Serie A, so they can give this competition – and tie – their absolute focus. Expect goals.
Our tip: Duván Zapata to score at anytime (7/5)
Liverpool (0) vs. (1) Atlético Madrid (Wednesday, 8pm GMT kick-off)
Atleti held out brilliantly in Madrid as Liverpool went behind early to a Saul Niguez strike in the first exchanges. Thereafter, Liverpool were reduced largely to pot shots with their hosts happy to take a 1-0 to Anfield. So it transpired, and Atletico Madrid now have that mission to complete.
How difficult will it be at Anfield? Last season, Barcelona went to Anfield with a 3-0 lead in the semi-final and still lost, trumped 4-3 on aggregate. Madrid might hold out until half time, but in the closing stages, The Kop can feel like it’s sucking the ball into the opposition’s net. Its hard to see Simeone’s side closing it out.
Our tip: Liverpool to win the second half (5/6)
Paris Saint Germain (1) vs. (2) Borussia Dortmund (Wednesday, 8pm GMT kick-off)
With all three goals in the first leg of this tie going in during a frenetic second half, Dortmund take a slim lead to Paris with players such as Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho in fine form.
While PSG definitely have it in them to turn the tie around, Dortmund look highly composed at home and on the road and they’ll do just enough to get through. Both sides are dangerous going forward, but Dortmund’s lead from the first leg will be enough to see them through.
Our tip: Both teams to score and a draw (4/1)
Round of 16 Fixtures (all second legs):
Tuesday 10th March
RB Leipzig vs. Tottenham Hotspur (8pm GMT kick-off)
Valencia vs. Atalanta (8pm GMT kick-off)
Wednesday 11th March
Liverpool vs. Atlético Madrid (8pm GMT kick-off)
Paris Saint Germain vs. Borussia Dortmund (8pm GMT kick-off)