The UEFA Champions League draw for the Round of 16 threw up a number of interesting fixtures. After an exciting group stage with plenty of amazing matches, brilliant football and a few shock exits, the tournament is set to enter the knockout stages. With the matches now taking place over February and March, football fans […]
The UEFA Champions League draw for the Round of 16 threw up a number of interesting fixtures. After an exciting group stage with plenty of amazing matches, brilliant football and a few shock exits, the tournament is set to enter the knockout stages. With the matches now taking place over February and March, football fans in for a treat.
We take a look at the fixtures lined up and the outcome we expect from each.
Borussia Dortmund vs Paris St. Germain
A homecoming for Thomas Tuchel, the current PSG manager who made a name for his himself as one of the top managers in the game currently. However, this return might not be a sweet one. As the PSG manager, the biggest expectation for Tuchel is to challenge for the UEFA Champions League title, a competition the team has massively underachieved in. Facing his former side might not be the easiest start to the knockout phase though, with the energetic, fast paced style of play and the daunting atmosphere at the Westfalenstadion presenting a far tougher challenge PSG would have been hoping for. The strike force of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Mauro Icardi represent a nightmare for any defence in Europe and fans will be hoping that these players can turn on the heat and navigate through this tricky tie.
For Dortmund, the clash represents an opportunity to make a mark on a competition in which they hope to win after reaching the final in 2013. Currently third in Bundesliga, the team seems to be picking up momentum at the right time. If the likes of Jordan Sancho, Marco Reus and Thorgan Hazard can keep up the good form, they can challenge a strong PSG side.
Head to Head
|Played||PSG Won||Borussia Dortmund Won||Draw|
Real Madrid vs Manchester City
Possibly the most high profile tie to come out of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 draw. Pep Guardiola faces old foes Real Madrid, a team he has beaten more than any other as manager, in a quest to land the much coveted Champions League title with Manchester City. Despite dominating the domestic landscapes in Germany and England after leaving Barcelona, the biggest criticism Guardiola often faces is that he has never won a UEFA Champions League without Lionel Messi. He will be looking to challenge for the title this year, with Manchester City having been knocked out of the competition in the quarter-finals in the last 2 editions.
However, in that quest, the last team he would have wanted to face is Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid, a team that has made a habit of winning this competition. With 4 UEFA Champions League titles in the last 6 years, and the likes of Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard hitting form at the right time, the team from Santiago Bernabeu will be fairly confident of knocking out a major rival this early in the tournament.
The last time these two teams met in the Champions League, Madrid knocked out City in the semi-finals, on their way to winning the trophy in 2016.
Head to Head
|Played||Real Madrid Won||Manchester City Won||Draw|
Atalanta vs Valencia
The two teams most other teams wanted to face in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 square off in a tie that will ensure that at least one underdog team will be present in the quarter-finals of the tournament. Tournament debutants Atalanta have made an impressive start to life in the European Elite, qualifying for the knockouts in the first try. Currently
Valencia on the other hand are tournament veterans but have seen their stock fall considerably in the recent years. The team stands 8th in La Liga currently, but have managed to win 3 out of their last 5 games, and fans will be hoping that this upturn in form can be maintained till February.
Head to Head
|Played||Valencia Won||Atalanta Won||Draw|
Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool
In what will be another high profile clash in the last 16 of UEFA Champions League, defending champions Liverpool face Spanish heavyweights Atletico Madrid. Liverpool will return to Wanda Metropolitano, the site of their famous victory against Tottenham as they lifted the premier European trophy for a 6th time.
The football on display will possibly make for the most entertaining tie in the round of 16, with both teams defending with discipline and throwing the kitchen sink in attack. With the likes of Sadio Mane, Mohammad Salah, Virgil Van Dijk, Allison, Joao Felix, Koke and Jan Oblak showing off their abilities over two legs, even the neutral fans are sure to enjoy this one.
Speaking of current form, the high flying reds seem to hold an advantage over the Rojiblancos, with Atletico struggling in the 5th spot in La Liga and Liverpool leading the table in the English Premier League, staying unbeaten all this while.
Head to Head
|Played||Liverpool Won||Atletico Madrid Won||Draw|
Chelsea vs Bayern Munich
A repeat of the 2012 UEFA Champions League final is on the cards as current Europa League holders Chelsea square up to German champions Bayern Munich. Chelsea have been struggling with defence this season and these struggles will only get magnified against the most dangerous striker in Europe – Robert Lewandowski. Supported in attack by the likes of Serge Gnarby, Philipe Coutinho and Thomas Mueller, Lewandowski will be relishing the prospect of coming up against a young Chelsea side that is undergoing a loss of form and confidence at the wrong time.
Manager Frank Lampard, one of the heroes of the 2012 final where Chelsea beat Bayern in Munich to win the coveted trophy, will have to fix the gaping issues in the side quickly or risk early elimination from the competition.
Head to Head
|Played||Chelsea Won||Bayern Munich Won||Draw|
Olympique Lyonnais vs Juventus
Italian champions Juventus were awarded what many will deem a favourable draw. Lyon are one of the more unfancied sides in this edition of the UEFA Champions League, and Juventus considered to be among the early tournament favourites. Boasting of one of the strongest and most balanced squads in Europe, Juventus will be expected to go through to the next round fairly easily.
Lyon’s problems were compounded by an announcement of injury to star forward Memphis Depay, who had been in inspirational form so far this season. A serious ACL injury sees Depay out for the entire season and without him Lyon’s task just becomes a whole lot more difficult.
Head to Head
|Played||Lyon Won||Juventus Won||Draw|
Tottenham vs RB Leipzig
Tottenham finished second in their group and could have been drawn against the stronger sides like Barcelona, PSG or Juventus. They managed to draw RB Leipzig, and while that may not be an easy draw in itself, it does present a far more convenient route to the quarter-finals. This will be a game between two of the most energetic sides in Europe and a battle between two of the most prolific goal scorers in Harry Kane and Timo Werner. Jose Mourinho, newly appointed as the Tottenham manager, will be relishing this opportunity to make a mark on the tournament on his comeback trail. Fans will be hoping that Mourinho can work his magic and take the team one step further from the previous season where they lost to Liverpool in the final.
Head to Head
Tottenham and RB Leipzig have never faced each other in a competitive fixture.
Napoli vs Barcelona
The last game in the UEFA Champions League Round 16 draw is another exciting clash, between perennial favourites Barcelona and Napoli, a team which wants to elevate its status from also-rans to challengers. Napoli is a club in turmoil right now, with players and owners clashes leading to fines and bans, disappointing results in the domestic league, and sacking manager Carlo Ancelotti despite qualifying for the knockout stages of the champions league. AC Milan and Italy legend Gennaro Gattuso has been named the manager of Napoli and fans will be hoping for an upturn in fortunes of the team, with a clash against Barcelona on the horizon.
Barcelona are facing their managerial troubles, with Ernesto Valverde viewed as a less than ideal candidate to take the club forward. In fact, in a number of games this season, it is down to the individual brilliance of the likes of 6-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez that the team has managed to win or salvage draws. It is this clear lack of direction and strategy that the team from Italy will be hoping to exploit and cause a shock defeat.
Head to Head
Napoli and Barcelona have never played each other in a competitive fixture.