The Champions League round of 16 draws have been made, the teams now know their next opponents in their quest to win the trophy with the big ears. The likes of Manchester United also await their next opponents, in the quest to win the trophy with no ears. The matches will be played next year February and a lot will still happen between now and then. Forms will change, for good or for bad, teams will get depleted and teams will add more quality. Regardless, with what we know of the teams so far, let’s do a quick preview and predict the quarter-finalists.
Moechengladbach vs Man. City
Manchester City wouldn’t have prayed for a better draw. Not that Gladbach are not a good side, but they are not on the same level as City.
Gladbach ruffled feathers in a group that had Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Shaktar Donetsk. Trashing Shakhtar home and away was their highlight.
City has an easy ride to the round 16. They won five and drew just one of their group matches. In time past City have been knocked out by ‘inferior’ opponents, they have also not been convincing in the domestic league this season.
Players to watch: Marcus Thuram (Gladbach), Alassane Plea (Gladbach), Kevin De Bruyne (Man City), Raheem Sterling (Man City)
Prediction: Manchester City to qualify.
Lazio vs Bayern
The draws Lazio must have prayed against, they come up against the defending champions.
It was quite straight forward for Lazio in a group that had Borussia Dortmund, Zenit and Club Brugge. They won two and drew four to stay unbeaten, though they finished second to Dortmund.
Bayern had it easy in their group, dropping points just once, away at Atletico Madrid. They did the double against Salzburg and Lokomotiv Moscow. The tournament is just about to start for Lazio and they will do well to avoid a hammering.
Players to watch: Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Luis Alberto (Lazio), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern), Serge Gnabry (Bayern)
Prediction: Bayern to go through.
Atletico vs Chelsea
One of the most balanced ties of the round. Chelsea made light work of a group that had Sevilla, Krasnodar and Rennes. Winning four and drawing two of their matches, including a resounding 4-0 win away at Sevilla, Atletico’s fellow La Liga team.
Atletico were always going to be second in a group that had Bayern, leaving it late till their last group game away at Salzburg to confirm qualification.
Chelsea and Atletico Madrid had a memorable semi-final clash in 2014, with Atletico winning 3-1 on aggregate.
This term Atletico look good in La Liga, top of the standings. Chelsea also look good in the league, establishing themselves as title contenders. Expect a tactical battle between Frank Lampard and Diego Simeone, it is the type of tie that is likely to be won from the bench, Simeone should have the upper hand in that regard.
Players to watch: Joao Felix (Atletico), Luis Suarez (Atletico), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea)
Prediction: Atletico Madrid to scale through narrowly.
Leipzig vs Liverpool
Fresh from knocking out one English side, Leipzig face another in the Round of 16. Leipzig recovered from a 5-0 thumping against Man. United to finish second behind PSG in a tough group. They will hope to build on their semi-final finish last season. However, they did not come up against a team like Liverpool enroute the semi-final the last time out.
Liverpool won the UCL two seasons back and boast of a formidable team. Bar a home defeat against Atalanta, Liverpool found their group easy, finishing first with four wins. Manager Jurgen Klopp will hope most of his injured players are back and firing by February.
It will be a tactical battle against two German managers, Klopp against the young Julian Nagelsmann
Players to Watch: Emile Forsberg (Leipzig), Dayot Upamecano (Leipzig), Mo Salah (Liverpool), Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Prediction: Liverpool to go through