The UEFA Champions League round of 16 will feature some cracking fixtures, with reigning champions Liverpool going up against the defensive stalwarts of Atletico Madrid. Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola will return to Spain, battling a familiar opponent in Real Madrid as Manchester City are lined up against 13-time European champions.
17 - No side has Pep Guardiola met more in his managerial career than Real Madrid, with the Spaniard winning nine, drawing four and losing four of his 17 previous meetings with them. Titans. #UCLDraw pic.twitter.com/PGALy3Cill— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 16, 2019
In a recap of the 2012 Champions League final, German side Bayern Munich will come up against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea and the Bavarians will be aiming to storm their way into the quarter finals after losing out on the spot in the previous edition of the competition.
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur have a tricky fixture against RB Leipzig, who have been wheeling their way through the Bundesliga season. Occupying the top spot in the Bundesliga as of now, they ended their group stage with just one loss in six games. Leipzig are known to play with a lot of intensity and post a high work rate and the trip to Germany won’t be an easy one for Mourinho’s men.
2012 - @ChelseaFC and Bayern Munich will face in the Champions League for the first time since the 2012 final, which the Blues won 4-3 on penalties with Frank Lampard as captain. Rematch. #UCLdraw pic.twitter.com/Xwv7L6p5OY— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 16, 2019
Lionel Messi and company need to be on their toes as Napoli will look to pounce on any chance under their new manager Gennaro Gattuso. Barcelona’s defensive troubles have been exposed often lately and Napoli usually likes to play on the counter. This one can swing in any direction but on the face of it, the Blaugrana are tipped to proceed further in the competition.
The reigning Serie A champions are pitched against Lyon who seem to be drowning in their domestic league and were fortunate to make it past the group stage.
Nevertheless, Lyon will face the full wrath of Cristiano Ronaldo in his most preferred competition and if Ronaldo has a night like his last season’s demolition of Atletico, Lyon can kiss goodbye to all their hopes of going ahead.
However, the most enticing fixture seems to be between Paris Saint Germain and Borussia Dortmund, where PSG will aim to hit hard and move past the last 16 stage after a giving away a first leg 2-0 lead in the last season against Manchester United. Dortmund, on the other hand, were gritty in the group stage and will look to continue the same rhythm into the round of 16.
The Italian club Atalanta are up against Valencia in a fixture which seems to be getting the least amount of coverage. Champions League returns on February 18, 2020, with the teams going toe-to-toe for Europe’s top honour in football.
Feature image courtesy: AFP/ Fabrice Coffrini