UCL round of 16: Real Madrid vs City, Liverpool vs Atletico

Title holders Liverpool will face 2 times runners up Atletico Madrid.
Title holders Liverpool will face 2 times runners up Atletico Madrid. Credits: UEFA.com

The Champions League round of 16 draw happened this Monday, 16th of December. There are 16 teams still competing.

In the pot 1, there were the winners of the groups: Paris Saint Germain, Bayern, Manchester City, Juventus, Liverpool, Barcelona, Leipzig, Valencia.

Among the runners up there were Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham, Atalanta, Atletico de Madrid, Napoli, Lyon, and Chelsea.

Here is the round of 16 matches:

Borussia Dortmund vs Paris Saint Germain

Paris Saint Germain could not have asked for a better draw as they are facing the usual Bundesliga underachievers Borussia Dortmund. The Yellow Wall is definitely one team full of talent but is known to choke under pressure and they barely escaped their group, having a little help from Inter Milan to do it.

Meanwhile, PSG is a team that is also not known for doing very well in the UEFA Champions League. Despite being stacked with talent, like Mbappe and Neymar, the French champions have never made it past the quarter-finals.

That dramatic 6×1 match against Barcelona is still a nightmare that many supporters have to endure. Last season they were eliminated again in a dramatic fashion, against Manchester United, by a late penalty converted by Rashford.

Borussia did not have better luck: they were eliminated in the round of 16 too, with a combined 4×0 result against Tottenham. The Germans are currently 3rd in the Bundesliga, while PSG is first in Ligue 1 already with 7 point difference to the 2nd placed Olympique Marseille.

Both teams have only played each other twice, with both games having resulted in draws. It happens during the 2010-2011 Europa League group stages.

Dortmund was then led by Jurgen Klopp and was drawn in a group with PSG and Sevilla. They finish 3rd in the group, although but they were crowned Bundesliga champions that season.

They drew 1×1 in Paris and 0x0 at home, a result that wouldn’t be enough to go through in the knockout stages. Will the outcome be different this time or will the law of the strongest prevail?

PSG visits the Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund on the 18th of February and hosts Borussia in Paris on the 11th of March.

Real Madrid vs Manchester City

The 13-time Champions League winners Real Madrid face the current Premier League champions Manchester City. The clubs have faced 6 times in their history, with 3 victories for Real Madrid, 1 for Manchester City and 1 draw.

The last time the teams faced was in the 2015/16 Champions League semifinals. Real Madrid was on track to conquer their 11th Champions League title, the first of 3 consecutive ones.

In the away game at Manchester, the game ended 0x0, but on the return fixture, Real Madrid did enough to go through. A single goal from Gareth Bale was enough to deny Manchester City their first possible final ever.

It was the last season of Manuel Pellegrini, before the arrival of Pep Guardiola. Now the Spanish coach is hungry to conquer the Champions League a title Manchester City has never got before and that is missing to Guardiola since his time in Barcelona.

With the Premier League title more and more difficult to reconquer, since Liverpool is 11 points away, City must focus on the biggest trophy of all. Meanwhile, Real Madrid is in a tight right with Barcelona for La Liga.

Will Pep and his men be able to eliminate the always favorite Real Madrid? Will Zidane’s men choke like they did last year against Ajax? One of the most awaited fixtures this one, for sure.

Real Madrid faces Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu in the 26th of February. The return fixture in the Etihad is scheduled for the 17th of March.

Atalanta vs Valencia

Possibly the best draw that both these teams could ask for in this stage, as Atalanta and Valencia are equally seen as outsiders. The Italians scraped through the group stage, after losing the first 4 games, becoming the first team in history to achieve such a feat.

They won their last 2 games and drew against Manchester City to book their first-ever place in the last 16. This is actually the first Champions League participation ever for Atalanta, as they ended last season in 3rd of Serie A, the best placement of their history.

The team led by Gian Pero Gasperini will have to face the winners of Group H: Valencia. The Spanish side surprised both Chelsea and Ajax with away wins. They are a team hard to beat, especially when they score first and sit back on the opposition.

Valencia returns to the round of 16 for the first time since 2012-13 when the team led by Ernesto Valverde (currently at Barcelona) lost against PSG in the first knockout stage. They were finalists in 2000-01, losing in penalties against Bayern Munich.

Atalanta and Valencia have only played once in their history and it was friendly, which happened in August of 2017. The Italians won 2×1. How will it be now in the most important stage of all?

Valencia visits the San Siro, where Atalanta is currently playing their European games, on the 19th of February. The return match at the Mestalla happens on the 10th of March.

Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool

The current holders of the Champions League title, Liverpool, have a tough nut to crack, as they will face Atletico Madrid. The ‘colchoneros’ are led by Diego Simeone and they are known to be a solid defensive side.

Meanwhile, Liverpool is going through one of the best forms of their history. They are unbeaten in the Premier League, with a 10 point difference to 2nd place Leicester City and it seems that after 30 years they will finally clinch back the desired league title.

In the Champions League, they are obviously favorites, having been in the finals twice in the last 2 seasons and winning it last year. They struggled in the early stages of this edition, losing the opening match against Napoli, but ended up topping it.

Atletico Madrid made a considerable investment to renovate their squad last season, dropping 120M in a young lad called Joao Felix. They also brought a bunch of experienced players, like Trippier, who was part of Tottenham’s side last season.

However, they sit 5th in La Liga and have struggled in the Champions League, losing two games in 4. With only 18 goals scored in 17 games, they will need to improve their finishing to have any chance against Anfield Reds.

Both teams faced 6 times before: 2 wins for Atletico, 1 for Liverpool and 3 draw.

The last time they faced was in 2010, in the Europa League semifinals. A goal in extra time by Diego Forlan send the Spanish side into the final, which they would end up winning. This time, however, Liverpool seem to be the favorites.

Liverpool visits the Wanda Metropolitano on the 18th of February. The return fixture at Anfield is on the 11th of March.

Chelsea vs FC Bayern Munich

Frank Lampard won’t be too pleased with the result of the draw, as the Blues got Bayern Munich. On the other hand, it will be an opportunity for the (now) manager to remember his only Champions League title when he beat the Germans at their own turf.

In fact, in that final in 2012, Lampard was on the pitch for the 120 minutes. He scored the 3rd penalty of the shootout, where eventually Chelsea would win that dramatic final.

Now, in a similar measure, Chelsea will need quite a miracle to go through. The Blues have struggled lately in the Premier League, having lost 4 of their last 5 games.

Bayern Munich ain’t much better, to be honest, having lost twice in the last three matches and being 6 points away from the leaders of Bundesliga (Leipzig). They already fired their coach, Niko Kovac, who was replaced for interim manager Hansi Flick.

However, in the Champions League, they cruised comfortably, having the best group stage results ever in the history of the competition. With 6 wins in 6 games and a positive goal difference of 19, they have upfront the current top scorer of the competition – Lewandowski, with 10 goals.

The two teams faced 5 times before, with the last time being the 2013 UEFA SuperCup. Bayern got revenge on Chelsea, betting the Blues on penalties, after a 2×2 draw.

In total, Bayern won twice, Chelsea once, with 2 draws (penalty shootout do not count, so both the Champions League final and SuperCup matches count as a draw).

Chelsea hosts Bayern in Stamford Bridge on the 25th of February. They travel to the Allianz Arena on the 18th of March.

Lyon vs Juventus

Juventus got a favorable draw, as Cristiano Ronaldo and company will visit last season third-placed French team, Lyon. The French team saw already their manager Sylvinho being sacked early this season, having been replaced by Rudi Garcia.

Lyon currently is 8th in the league and have lost 2 of their last 3 league games. Their star player Memphis Depay has torn his ACL recently, which means he will not be able to play the games against Juventus. It is unlikely he plays any more games this season as well as the Euro 2020.

Meanwhile, Maurizio Sarri’s team is currently tied on points with Inter in the Serie A, trying to reconquer their Scudetto. Their front trio of Ronaldo, Higuain, and Dybala will certainly cause troubles to Lyon’s defense.

Both teams faced each other 5 times before, with Lyon failing to win a single match. The French side lost 4 times and drew once. The tie happened last time they were drawn together, in the Champions League 2016/17 group stage.

Juventus was held to a 1×1 draw at home, after having been the French side 0x1 in their away fixture. In that season Juventus went all the way to the final, having been beaten by Real Madrid.

Lyon ended 3rd in the group stage and transitioned to the Europa League, where they were semifinalists. Unless there are big changes during January, the outcome is unlikely to favor the French team.

The Italian champions face Lyon on the 26th of February with the return fixture in Torino being played on the 17th of March.

Tottenham vs RB Leipzig

It will be the first time that Tottenham Hotspurs and RB Leipzig face each other. It is likely to be one of the evenest fixtures of the round of 16, as Leipzig are the current Bundesliga leaders, while Tottenham is improving under Jose Mourinho.

Spurs were on a downfall until they sacked Mauricio Pochettino. They brought Jose Mourinho and the Portuguese coach took them from the 14th place to the 5th in less than a month. In fact, if they win their next match against Chelsea, they will be in the top 4.

Meanwhile, RB Leipzig has finally got the Bundesliga this weekend. They have the best attack in the Bundesliga, with 42 goals scored in 15 matches and they are currently on a 6th win streak in the league.

However, in the Champions League, experience counts. Leipzig are a recently founded club (with just 10 years of history) and although their rise to starlight was incredible, they are just now for the 1st time in the knockout stages of this competition.

Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspurs were finalists last season and their squad is pretty much the same. If they were at risk of losing key players a month ago, they might have now got some leverage to negotiate with Jose Mourinho on the wheel.

The ‘Special One’ himself is vastly experienced in the Champions League, having won the competition twice (with Inter and Porto). Will the experience be enough for Tottenham to defeat a fierce Leipzig side?

Tottenham faces Leipzig in their new stadium in London, on the 19th of February. They visit their opponents in Germany on the 10th of March.

Napoli vs Barcelona

The first time in these stages, as Napoli and Barcelona have never faced each other in any official competition. The clubs have faced 4 times, during friendlies, all of them happening in August. The last one was actually this year, with the ‘Blaugrana’ beating Napoli 4×0.

If one month ago we could say that Napoli had a word to say, after what happened last week we are uncertain if they can present a challenge to Barcelona.

Napoli has sacked their manager Carlo Ancelotti after the Italian had qualified the team for the knockout stage of the Champions League. They have replaced him with Gennaro Gattuso, who is inexperienced at this level as a manager.

Barcelona has already confirmed that the Champions League is a priority. Leo Messi, who just won his 6th Ballon D’Or, has his eyes on the Champions League final that they have missed since 2015.

Last year they were pretty close but were tragically beaten at Anfield 4×0, after a 3×0 win in Barcelona.

In the season before a similar story happened in the quarterfinals against Roma, with the hero being Kostas Manolas. The Greek defender is now in Napoli and might come back to haunt Barcelona’s dreams.

Nonetheless, with Napoli currently struggling to get into the top 4 of Serie A, they are unlikely to present a high challenge to Barcelona. On a good day, it will be a walk in the park for Messi and company.

Napoli hosts Barcelona in the San Paolo on the 25th of February. The return leg at Camp Nou is on the 18th of March.

Here is the bracket of the competition. Check regularly SoccerAntenna.com for more updates on the Champions League.

About Jorge Costa 117 Articles
Jorge Costa is a freelance journalist, with a Masters Degree in Journalism and Communication, through the University of Coimbra, Portugal. He specializes in sports and soccer in particular.

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