UEFA Champions League round of 16 draw analysed
The Round of 16 draw for the UEFA Champions League took place yesterday, with Europe’s elite teams hoping to take one step closer to reaching the final in Madrid.
After six rounds of group-based matches, the winners and runners-up from each group advanced to the knock-out stages of the competition. From the Round of 16 onwards, it will consist of two legs, with the first leg being played at the home ground of each group’s runners-up.
Teams advancing from the same group, and teams situated in the same country/league cannot be drawn again in the Round of 16. As always, the team with a higher aggregate score after both legs advances to the quarter-finals.
Here is how the draw concluded –
Schalke 04 vs Manchester City – Royal Blue Against the Blue Moon
Runners-up in Group D, German side Schalke were drawn with the Premier League champions Manchester City, who topped Group F.
With the current form Pep Guardiola’s side are in, last season’s quarter-finalists will be very content with what seems to be a rather favourable draw against a 13th-placed Schalke side.
Domenico Tedesco’s men will look to cause a major upset in February, however, the blue half of Manchester are firm favourites to advance to the quarter-finals.
Atletico Madrid vs Juventus – He’s Back In Town
Just when Atletico thought they had seen the last of Cristiano Ronaldo scoring against them, they get drawn with the Portuguese stalwart’s mighty Juventus.
Atletico Madrid will host the record champions of Italy where the spotlight will surely fall directly on the former Real Madrid forward once again, not that he would want it any other way.
Atletico were the only team to finish second in their group due to goal difference, with the Madrid club equalling group leaders Borussia Dortmund’s points tally of 13.
Juventus stumbled across the line to finish top of Group H, after a shock defeat to Swiss champions Young Boys in the final group-stage fixture.
Juventus look favourites in this one, but Atletico always remain a dark horse, capable of vanquishing the upper echelon in the Champions League.
Manchester United vs Paris Saint-Germain – Park the Bus in Paris
Runners-up in Group H, Manchester United have been drawn against French champions PSG. On the hunt for a first Champions League title, PSG are heavy favourites to go through against a lacklustre Manchester United who have shown little to inspire memories of 1999 or 2008 in this year’s competition.
After the announcement by Manchester United yesterday that Jose Mourinho has left the club, this fixture gains yet another interesting angle. United could approach this one of two ways; either accept a lack of cohesion or use it as an opportunity to show they can turn over a new leaf.
PSG could run riot in Manchester unless the biggest upset in the Round of 16 is on the cards.
Read More | Mourinho at Manchester United – Where did it all go wrong for the Special One? |
Tottenham Hotspur vs Borussia Dortmund – Goals Galore
Runners-up in Group B behind Barcelona, Tottenham did just enough to finish above Inter Milan. Dortmund, on the other hand, topped their group on goal difference, a factor that will come into play again.
What looks to be a fixture with plenty of goals on paper, it is harder to call this one than the others. Dortmund will start favourites, with the advantage of a second leg at home, however, it could come down to just a goal or two on aggregate.
Lyon vs Barcelona – The Teams Nobody Wanted to Face
Going into the draw, Lyon and Barcelona were two teams the rest would have hoped to avoid, fittingly, however, they now face each other.
Lyon just never seem to give up and their heroic victory against a high-flying Manchester City side is indicative of their talents. However, when Lionel Messi is playing among your ranks, Barcelona always look favourites to win. This tie could prove amongst the most entertaining of the Round of 16.
Barcelona should have enough to defeat Lyon over two-legs.
AS Roma vs Porto – The Team Everyone Wanted to Face
Porto were the surprise winners of Group D, finishing with just one draw and five wins in the group-stage, accumulating the highest tally in any group, with 16 points.
However, they remained the side every other team would have wanted to be drawn against, with AS Roma getting the draw.
AS Roma will be favourites to advance, but if the group-stage showed us anything, it is not to underestimate Porto.
Read More | Monchi, The Man Behind Sevilla’s Success And Roma’s Ongoing Youth Revolution |
Ajax vs Real Madrid – No Better Time to Play Real
Ajax ended runners-up in Group E, but a draw with Group G winners Real Madrid may not be so daunting for the young Dutch side.
Low on confidence in the league and after a relatively fortunate, yet mediocre Champions League group stage, Real Madrid were humbled with a 3-0 loss against CSKA Moskva in their penultimate match, their biggest ever defeat at home in Europe.
While the record 13-time champions remain favourites simply on the basis of name and history, Ajax could not have hoped for a better time to face such a European giant down on their luck.
Having said that, Real Madrid could rediscover their identity in this competition and blow away their opponents with relative ease. Experience at this stage of the competition could also play a part, something Real have in spades.
Liverpool vs Bayern Munich – Bad Memories for Some
The last time Jurgen Klopp faced Bayern Munich in the Champions League was with Borussia Dortmund in the first ever all-German final in 2013. Bayern Munich won 2-1 at Wembley, and memories of that night in London will not have been forgotten.
This time, however, he faces Bayern with an entirely new beast, Liverpool. The Merseyside club, similar to Premier League rivals Tottenham, did just enough to advance second in their group ahead of another Italian club, Napoli.
Bayern Munich are far from their best in the Bundesliga, but the German champions topped Group E with the joint-highest goal difference of +10 with Group F winners Manchester City.
Klopp and Liverpool, of course, reached the final last season, losing bitterly to Real Madrid in a dramatic final in Kyiv. The Premier League’s table-toppers have greatly bolstered their defence since then, most notably with the arrival of goalkeeper Alisson from AS Roma.
Read More | The transformation of Liverpool’s defence |
Liverpool, on current form, look to be favourites going into this one, but the strain and pressure of keeping up with Manchester City in the Premier League could affect how the club approach this tie. Bayern, however, may see an opportunity to advance far into the competition this year as a way to gloss over their domestic worries under Niko Kovac.
The Round of 16 looks set for some incredible matches spread across February and March with the first-legs to take place on 13/14 and 20/21 of February 2019. The second-leg matches will take place on 6/7 and 13/14 March 2019.
UEFA Europa League Round of 32 Draw
Big names from across Europe’s top leagues will also take part in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 matches.
Inter Milan, who crashed out of the Champions League group stage qualified for the Europa League with a third place finish in Group B. They will face Rapid Wien in their Round of 32 fixture.
Another Italian side dropping down from the Champions League is Napoli, who will face Zurich FC.
Premier League side Chelsea will face Malmo FC of Sweden, while cross-town rivals Arsenal will face Bate Borisov in their Round of 32 fixture.
Other notable fixtures are Shakhtar Donetsk vs Frankfurt, Celtic vs Valencia, Lazio vs Sevilla, and Galatasaray vs Benfica.
All first-leg fixtures will take place on the 14th of February, 2019. The second-legs will be played on the 21st of February, 2019.
Edited by Srinivas Sadhanand
Feature Image via Schalke 04