Zenit St Petersburg v Benfica Pick: The early game in the Champions League comes from Russia where Zenit St Petersburg are trying to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the First Leg, although it could be a high-scoring game this week.
That is because they are facing a Benfica team that have lost a number of their experienced defensive players and who have said they are going to go on the attack in search of a vital away goal. That goal would give them a significant edge in this Last 16 Second Leg if they can get an away goal as it will force Zenit St Petersburg to score three goals to progress.
Out of the two teams, there is no doubting that Benfica are in the better form especially as Zenit St Petersburg have struggled out of their Winter Break. They won a big game at Sporting Lisbon over the weekend and have now won 9 straight away games in all competitions while Benfica were 1-2 winners at Atletico Madrid in the Group Stage.
Benfica scored in every away game in the Group Stage and will feel they have enough in the attacking areas to make up for their defensive injuries. On the other hand Zenit St Petersburg have won 4 in a row at home in the Champions League but they did concede to Gent and Lyon and so I can see goals in this one.
An away goal for Benfica would really open the game up, but I also note that their home/away games in the Group Stage would have seen 5 of the 6 games feature at least three goals. Of course the form has changed since December, but Benfica can make this a real Cup tie and I think they will look to get forward to make this an open game and backing goals at odds against is my pick.
Chelsea v Paris Saint-Germain Pick: There has to be something of a rivalry that has developed between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain over the last couple of years thanks to two tight Champions League Knock Out ties. Both clubs have big ambitions thanks to powerful owners with deep pockets and the previous two ties have been decided by razor thin margins as both have ended 3-3 over two legs with each team winning once on away goals.
The Chelsea fans have to hold onto Jon Mikel Obi's goal in Paris three weeks ago as one that might be the difference maker in this tie.
This is definitely a Chelsea side who have played with plenty of improvement under Guus Hiddink but they continue to leak plenty of goals at Stamford Bridge. It is a big reason they have only won 3 of their last 8 games here in all competitions and Chelsea have conceded at least once in 8 of their last 9 games at home with the one exception being a win over Scunthorpe United from League One.
Heavy wins over Newcastle United and a much changed Manchester City team might give their fans belief, but this is another big step up and missing a leader like John Terry is a huge blow to their chances.
Paris Saint-Germain won't fear having to score here as they managed to do that twice last season albeit once in extra time, and they rested players last weekend as Chelsea did to keep both teams fresh.
I think we will see another entertaining game between these two clubs who do match up well with each other. Each of their last five games have been fun to watch and I think this one goes the same way and I do expect both teams to score with the way they have been playing in attack and defence.
The layers have the price for at least three goals at odds against, but the attacking players on display and the situation of the game suggests that is too big. Chelsea haven't looked capable of winning games 1-0 at Stamford Bridge and Paris Saint-Germain have yet to find their consistency away from home in the Champions League. I do expect both teams to score and gaps should appear if one of these teams is chasing the game so backing at least three goals is my call.
Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham Hotspur Pick: This is the kind of tie that might be taking place in the Champions League next season and the winner of the Borussia Dortmund-Tottenham Hotspur Last 16 tie will believe they can win the Europa League. Both teams had impressive wins in the Last 32 and may have wished to avoid one another at this Stage, although you can bet your bottom dollar that both managers speak about having to 'beat everybody' to win the Europa League.
It is a hard one to separate over two Legs and I do think both teams will believe they can get forward and cause problems for the other. Having home advantage should be the key for Borussia Dortmund to put themselves in a position to have something to defend in North London.
However Tottenham Hotspur have shown during the course of the season that they are able to battle back from tough positions and I think they have enough attacking talent to create a couple of big chances in Dortmund themselves.
The big question has to be the number of changes that Tottenham Hotspur make with a big Premier League game on Sunday to come. However they have to be careful they don't leave themselves short in both the Europa League and Premier League and Mauricio Pochettino has a big test to rotate his squad effectively in this one.
The same can be said for Borussia Dortmund who are back in the title race in Germany, but they too have managed their schedule effectively to this point.
I am looking for a very good game of football to be played by these two teams who are arguably the two favourites to win the Europa League. With the way Borussia Dortmund play, I can see both teams having their chances and will back at least three goals to be shared out by the teams.
Basel v Sevilla Pick: This has all the makings of a fascinating Last 16 tie, especially if Sevilla continue to struggle away from home as they have for much of the season. This is certainly the priority for Sevilla who will see winning the Europa League for a third consecutive season as their best chance of reaching the Champions League again.
Both Basel and Sevilla were knocked out of the Champions League this season and Basel are unlikely to lose focus knowing the Europa League Final is to be played in their home Stadium. Basel might have rode their luck to get through to this Last 16 tie, but they have had success at this level in recent years and Sevilla will have to pay them full respect.
Basel have to feel they need a lead to take to Spain if they are going to win this tie, but they have to be careful in finding the right balance when seeing Sevilla have scored in 6 of their last 7 away games in all competitions.
The situation should mean both teams look to get onto the front foot and produce a very positive performance. That should lead to an exciting game with chances at both ends and I do think we will see both teams score in this one.
While Sevilla would likely settle for a score draw, Basel's ambitions might mean there is space for them on the counter attack too and I am expecting to see a third goal scored by one of the teams. I'd rather back Basel to do that at the prices, but instead I am simply going to back there being at least three goals at prices just under odds against.
Athletic Bilbao v Valencia Pick: The two wins that Athletic Bilbao have had over Valencia in the League this season has to give them a real mental edge in this Last 16 tie, while the winner of this one has to be feeling good about their chances of going all the way. The Spanish sides have had a lot of success in the Europa League so the winner might just have what it takes to go all the way.
It is those two wins that Athletic Bilbao have had over Valencia that should make them favourites, as well as the fact they have put together some impressive wins of late. Athletic Bilbao have had a harder time at home in recent weeks and had to battle hard to edge past Marseille, while Valencia have won 3 in a row away from home prior to this First Leg.
That form should give Valencia some confidence, but they have had a hard time against some of the better teams from Spain.
Athletic Bilbao are definitely one of those as they chase a Champions League place and I think they will have the advantage at the end of the First Leg. Gary Neville is helping Valencia put together some more consistent results of late, but Athletic Bilbao are in strong recent form too and I think they take the lead to the Mestalla next week.
Liverpool v Manchester United Pick: Liverpool versus Manchester United... If the Europa League wanted a boost in respectability in England, this is exactly the kind of tie that the competition would have been hoping for.
Both clubs will be desperate to get back into the Champions League this season and both Liverpool and Manchester United look like they will come up short in the race for the top four in the Premier League. That means winning the Europa League is their best avenue back into the premier European competition which has only added to the importance to a couple of games taking place in the next few days.
The First Leg at Anfield comes at a good time for Liverpool as they don't have any commitments this weekend unlike Manchester United who host West Ham United in the FA Cup Sixth Round. Injuries have also played a big part for both clubs this season, but that is where Liverpool might have benefited from the scheduling as they look much healthier than Manchester United with more options off the bench.
When they met at Anfield earlier this calendar year, Liverpool did feel they missed their chances that were created, but now they will have Daniel Sturridge back to lead the line and Philippe Coutinho pulling the strings. I do think that gives the home team the edge and a chance to have a lead to protect when they go to Old Trafford next week, especially as Manchester United might have to rely on some of their younger and more inconsistent players to produce on Thursday.
However you can't ignore how well Louis Van Gaal has prepared his team for the 'big games' and that he has won all four previous matches as Manchester United manager against Liverpool. Manchester United have also won 3 of their last 4 visits to Anfield but there are some experienced heads out for the visiting side.
I can understand why Liverpool will have their backers at odds against to beat this current Manchester United squad, but I think the over 2.5 goals option looks vastly overpriced. The last game might have ended 0-1 to Manchester United, but there were a few chances in that game that might have changed the whole feel of the match and goals have been a feature of Manchester United games.
Before that game, the last four games between these teams had produced at least three goals and I think this will be played like an English Cup game rather than a European tie. It looks a big price for three goals to be shared out and I think the Second Leg will be left in the balance at the end of this one with my gut feeling being that Liverpool have a narrow lead to take to Old Trafford.
Villarreal v Bayer Leverkusen Pick: On paper this looks a difficult tie to call as Villarreal have played well this season but Bayer Leverkusen are coming out of the Champions League and might be prioritising the Europa League. Recent form hasn't been particularly kind for either team, but Villarreal have been strong at home and I think that will give them a narrow advantage in this one.
There is no doubting the threat that Bayer Leverkusen pose going forward, but Villarreal have used a strong defensive shape to give them a foundation for success at home.
On the other hand Bayer Leverkusen have been conceding a fair few goals of late and have conceded six in their last couple of away games. That should mean Villarreal have their chances in this one and they have won all 4 home games played in the Europa League to this point.
I am almost certain this tie will still have all to play for when they meet again in Leverkusen in seven days time, but I do think Villarreal win the game. The price is just appealing enough considering how well they have played at home for much of the season and Bayer Leverkusen's recent defensive issues taking into account.
Zenit St Petersburg-Benfica Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.20 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Chelsea-Paris Saint-Germain Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Borussia Dortmund-Tottenham Hotspur Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Basel-Sevilla Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Athletic Bilbao @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Liverpool-Manchester United Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.45 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Villarreal @ 2.20 Coral (2 Units)
February Final: 30-23-2, + 20.82 Units (105 Units Staked, + 19.83% Yield)
Season 2015/16: 107-151-2, - 17.55 Units (572 Units Staked, - 3.07% Yield)