With the Champions League group stages finished, and the round of 16 draws announced, there’s a clearer idea as to what to expect from each side.
Monchengladbach was an unlikely side to make it to the knockout stages as they were drawn with both Real Madrid and Inter Milan. However, they managed to come in second, behind Real Madrid. Despite an impressive run in the group stages, Monchengladbach will now have to face Manchester City. Although the Cityzens undoubtedly hold much more talent than their opponents, they haven’t been as dominant a side as in recent years. Monchengladbach will need to put on a performance that has yet to be shown this season if they wish to make it to the round of 16.
Manchester City has had a bleak season in the Premier League so far. Currently sitting in eighth place, their side hasn’t looked as strong as it has been in recent years. Despite this, the Cityzens remained strong in the Champions League, and are yet to lose a game in Europe. Pep Guardiola will hope the games against Monchengladbach require little worry, despite his squad’s poor run of form recently.
Lazio faces one of the toughest tasks in the round of 16: beating Bayern Munich. Lazio has struggled this season in both Series A and the Champions League. In Italy, they’re currently in ninth, while in Europe they barely squeezed past Club Brugge to qualify for the knockout stages. Due to their recent run of form, Lazio will need a lot of luck if they wish to qualify for the quarter-finals over their German competitors.
The reigning champions will hope to stroll through to the last eight, as they face little completion from Lazio. Currently in second in the Bundesliga, and unbeaten this Champions League, Hans Flick will think little of this matchup. The Bavarians are one of the most talent-filled squads in Europe, and likely won’t be stopped by Lazio.
With the recent addition of Luis Suarez, Atletico Madrid look like a very strong side. They’ve dominated in Spain, and are first in the league, and have been strong in the Champions League as well. However, they face Chelsea, who will surely cause many problems for their side. A staunchly defensive team in Atletico Madrid against a Chelsea squad overhauled with attacking options will be an interesting matchup. The Colchoneros are the current favorites to win due to their consistency throughout the season so far.
Over the summer, Chelsea threw money at their problems, however, their newest additions have yet to make a real impact. Chelsea has been inconsistent in England this season, which has left them in sixth in the table. However, they’ve impressed in the Champions League and will give Atletico Madrid two very difficult games. Chelsea is yet to find their rhythm and get all their players to gel properly. If, however, they manage to do so during this long break from European soccer, they can prove to be deadly.
Leipzig has been a force to be reckoned with this season. They are currently in third place in Germany, inches behind Bayern Munich. They managed to beat Manchester United to find themselves in the round of sixteen against English side Liverpool. Liverpool has many holes in their squad due to an overload of injuries amongst some of their best players. However, many may be back in time for the clash on February 16th. Leipzig will need two very strong performances to pull off an upset against the reigning Premier League champions.
Although they’re currently first in England, Liverpool’s injury woes will make it difficult for them to stay up there long. However, there is an overload of talent within the squad so Liverpool will hope they can get through. With a dangerous attacking trio of Roberto Firmiño, Sadio Mane, and Mohammed Salah, any team will have difficulty playing them.
Porto faces a difficult task in beating Italian giants Juventus. They have looked like a weakened side in Portugal, as they’re currently only third in one of the weaker leagues in Europe. However, they haven’t struggled in the Champions League much, as they came in a close second to Manchester City. Porto will have a daunting task ahead of them, as they face an unbeaten side in Serie A.
Juventus have looked like a weakened side this season despite being unbeaten in Italy. The Old Lady has drawn almost half of their games this season. Without star player Cristiano Ronaldo, the side looks lost on offense. However, with the Portuguese striker, they’ve looked like a scarily good side. Recently, the side has looked like they’ve finished meshing. If Andrea Pirlo‘s side is at 100%, they will coast through the quarter-finals. Juventus surely won’t think much of this game against Porto so long as things go to plan.
Things are at their worst at the Catalan club. Lionel Messi wants out of the club, their president has resigned, and they’re currently in fifth in Spain. They seemed to be headed towards finishing first in their Champions League group until a devastating 3-0 loss to Juventus. Now, they face their former golden boy Neymar Jr., with PSG. However, the Catalonians still have a very talented squad and can’t be ruled out in this fixture. Barcelona will be forced to get themselves together before facing the Parisians on the 16th of February.
Paris Saint Germain
PSG have looked very strong in the Champions League this season. They finished first despite facing competition from Manchester United and RB Leipzig. Despite having a sluggish start to the beginning of the Ligue 1 season, they’ve played well over the course of the season. However, if one of their star men goes through certain injuries before the series begins, PSG will face a big issue. Recently, fans have seen that the team needs both Kylian Mbappe and Neymar Jr on the field to be at their best. This will be an interesting series of matches for both sides, as they look to prove they have what it takes to compete for the title
Sevilla will have a lot of trouble getting past Dortmund. They’ve struggled this season as they’re currently seventh in Spain, and haven’t looked especially strong. However, Dortmund’s defense is penetrable, and haven’t been the strongest of sides recently. However, this Sevilla side will need to address their lack of offensive prowess to pose a real threat to Dortmund.
Dortmund holds a squad full of talent, yet can’t seem to use that talent to win games. After firing their manager Lucien Favre, they look like a squad needing to reboot. Their offense is full of talented youngsters including Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho, and Gio Reyna. However, they’ve struggled to create wins because of their weak defense. If Dortmund can fix their defensive issues soon, they’ll be a very difficult team to beat. However, as they face one of the weakest sides in the round of sixteen, they won’t have much trouble qualifying for the quarter-finals.