The group stage of the UEFA Champions League came to a conclusion on Wednesday night, introducing us to the last 16 teams in Europe’s premier football tournament. The knockout stage will commence in February 2020 but before that a draw will be held to determine the encounters that are expected to leave us gasping for our breath.
The draw for Round of 16 is scheduled for Monday i.e. December 16 and will take place in Nyon, Switzerland. Much to the hype of the fans, all the permutations and combinations will come into effect as to who is drawn against whom but much to the extent of your imagination, the round of 16 can actually bring us some of the biggest battles on the pitch at the European stage.
While some might remind you of the bitter past, some may smell of revenge. As per the information available on the official UEFA website, we bring you the most desired matches that could take place in the Round of 16.
Barcelona vs Chelsea
The much-hyped encounter has always been a saga of revenge for Chelsea due to their abysmal defeat in the semi final of 2009 edition of the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona, which unfortunately is still etched in the memories of the Blues.
Potential opponents in the last-16:— Uber Chelsea FC 🏆 (@UberCheIseaFC) December 10, 2019
🇩🇪 Bayern Munich
🇪🇸 FC Barcelona
🇩🇪 RB Leipzig
We’ve done it before...
We’ve done it before...
The Spanish giants were up against Chelsea in the round of 16 back in the 2017-2018 edition of the competition where a Lionel Messi double bonanza in the second leg ensured Chelsea had no chance to progress, losing the knockout match by an aggregate score of 4-1. The 2019 Ballon D’or winner is looking fiercer and menacing with age but given Chelsea’s resurgence under Frank Lampard, this encounter once again will be one to watch out for.
Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid
Bayern Munich against Real Madrid has always managed to garner attention like no other match. The 13-time European champions have got the better of the Bavarians in two consecutive seasons in 2017 and 2018. Los Blancos have faced Bayern 26 times, winning 12 and losing 11 of them while the rest have been shared.
Although, the two heavyweights of European football have achieved European glory on multiple occasions, this encounter is one of the most closely fought battles in the European continent. If this one is on the cards, we’ll be in for a big treat in just the initial knockout stages in the tournament.
Juventus vs Tottenham Hotspur
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur have a golden chance to shine on the big stage. Although they fell short against Bayern Munich in their final encounter of the group stage, the team has surely improved under the Portuguese who brings the experience of playing on the biggest platform.
Juventus has the upper hand, having won one and drawn one against the North Londoners in the Champions League. And to top it off, the Old Lady from Turin has its shining armour, Cristiano Ronaldo to save her from any further troubles. This will be a battle of Mourinho’s resolve against Ronaldo’s persistent efforts to score.
Liverpool vs Dortmund
Remembered fondly for orchestrating a comeback against his former club in the semi-finals of the Europa League back in 2016, Jurgen Klopp might have to face the monster he created once again. However, Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund haven’t come across each other much in the past but their ascent under the tutelage of the same manager makes this competition exciting.
Lovren’s last minute winner vs Dortmund to send Liverpool to the Europa League Semi Finals (2016) pic.twitter.com/wxeXVXaJhd— Football Scenes (@AllFootbalI) April 9, 2018
The reigning European champions might not have it easy given their uneasiness in the group stage encounters against Napoli, but the Reds have the tendency to turn things on its head. Dortmund are shaky at times but given the state of Liverpool in the European competition this year, you might never know where this match may head towards.
Manchester City vs Atletico Madrid
Attack vs Defend. Pace vs Resolve. This will be the state of affairs if Pep Guardiola has to deal with Diego Simeone in the round of 16. It will be a delightful spectacle for all the football fans when Manchester City’s pressing will be up against a defensive giant like Atletico Madrid.
Both the teams haven’t played against each other in the Champions League and given the fact that Guardiola has been eyeing a Champions League trophy since 2011, there will be no holds barred at the Wanda Metropolitano or at the Etihad Stadium.
Feature image courtesy: AFP/ GABRIEL BOUYS