Clubs around Europe waited with baited breath as their last 16 opponents were revealed in the next stage of this season Champions League.
A record total of five English teams managed to make it past the group stages this time round, with many feeling that this could mean that it will be a Premier League side that triumphs in Europe’s top club competition. They face stiff competition though from the usual suspects though and there’s even the potential for a slip up here and there on the way to Kiev.
Juventus v Spurs
This tie will certainly be an interesting one as it sees last season’s beaten finalists, minus Leonardo Bonucci, take on this year’s best performing English side in the competition. Spurs look like they’re out of the title race in the Premier League so their main attention may have switched to winning the Champions League. Juventus are still in the mix domestically and do possess a lot more experience in this competition. It should be a real spectacle.
Basel v Man City
Most people will think Man City coming out on top of this tie will be a forgone conclusion but if they don’t take Basel seriously, they will come up short, just as many teams have in the past. They are real banana skin opponents, who have already beaten the likes of Manchester United. City should have far too much for them, especially now they’re playing just how Pep wants them to but they have will have to put in the work over both legs.
Porto v Liverpool
This is another interesting tie in the last 16 as both sides have plenty to offer at the top of the pitch and ultimately that’s where things could be decided. Sergio Conceicao’s men are cruising domestically while Liverpool have been a bit stop start. They too, like Spurs, could have turned their attention to getting as far as they can in this tournament and with the likes of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané capable of causing any team problems, they should progress here.
Sevilla v Manchester United
Sevilla are more known for their achievements in the Europa League than the Champions League, after winning it 3 times in a row, and they will really need to bring their A game in order to progress past the last 16 of Europe’s elite competition. Manchester United looked comfortable in the group stages and while they will have to inevitably raise their game a bit to get past Sevilla, they’re more than capable of doing so, especially under José Mourinho’s guidance.
PSG v Real Madrid
This is potentially the clash of the tournament so far as it sees current holders Real Madrid go head to head against new kids on the block PSG. Both teams are packed with quality, all over the pitch, with the game likely to come down to who has the better players in the final third. If PSG click, they could be very tough for anyone to stop and that includes Real Madrid. Madrid will need Ronaldo more than ever in this one.
Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma
This fixture is probably the hardest to call as both teams certainly have enough to beat each other. Both sides did better than expected in the group stages with Roma probably upsetting the odds just that bit more by topping a group which contained Premier League champions Chelsea and Atletico Madrid as well. You would expect Roma to be victorious but having to travel to the Ukraine could be a big factor so Shakhtar certainly are in this tie, especially as they managed to beat Man City last time out.
Chelsea v Barcelona
A potentially entertaining spectacle here between two teams who last met in the 2012 Champions League semi-final, which Chelsea won on their way to lifting the trophy. Barcelona will want revenge and this could be a deciding factor. Conte’s Chelsea, the defending Premier League champions, have really suffered from inconsistent form both domestically and in Europe, while Barca look to be going well. Chelsea have shown their power already in the competition but Barca may just have too much.
Bayern Munich v Besiktas
It has been a season of ups and downs for Bayern so far but now they certainly look to be back on track after the return of Jupp Heynckes. Besiktas fared well, topping their group and will give it a real good go against the German giants but they’re highly unlikely to have anywhere near enough to cause an inform Bayern team any problems. It should be a very one-sided affair.