The Champions League knock-out stages won’t start until February, but we’ve teaser of what is in store for us. Monday’s Champions League draw has ensured us of some mouth-watering clashes in the round of 16.
Arsenal will once again take on Luis Enrique’s Barcelona. Arsenal’s record against the 2015 Champions League winners hasn’t very good. Arsene Wenger’s record of four losses, two draws and one win against the Catalan giants since 1999 won’t certainly make him proud. The North Londoners will be terrified of the fact that Lionel Messi, arguably one of the best players in the history of football, is currently the weak link in Barca’s front three. The Gunners will have to deliver exceptional performances over the two legs to stand a chance.
Jose Mourinho’s troubled Chelsea side will face the French champions Paris Saint-Germain. If their current form doesn’t improve by the time the European competition returns next year, PSG will have very less difficulty to see off the Premier League champions. Last year these two sides met in the round of 16 and Laurent Blanc’s men defeated the West Londoners to book a place in the quarter-finals.
Juventus vs Bayern Munich will be one of the most interesting fixture of this round. The Italian champions were the runners-up in last season’s version whereas the German champions are usually among the favorites to clinch the trophy. Based on their start to the campaign, the Bavarian giants certainly seem to be the likely winners but Allegri’s men are more than capable of rising up to the occasion. The Old Lady are getting more consistent results in the Serie A now and they have now risen to the fourth spot after a tumultuous start to the season.
AS Roma will meet the Spanish giants Real Madrid and Rafa Benitez’s men are being tipped to outclass their opponents. Real Madrid’s defeat against Villarreal at the weekend marks their worst start to the season since 2008-09. But it is hard to predict a different outcome in the round of 16 of the Champions League simply because of the quality that Los Blancos have at their disposal.
Manchester City will take on Dynamo Kyiv while Atletico Madrid will meet the Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven. Pellegrini’s City and Diego Simeone’s Atletico are the favorites to qualify for the quarter-finals.
The Portuguese club Benfica are drawn against the Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg. This will be Benfica’s first return to the knock-out phase of the Champions League since the 2011-2012 season. These two sides met in the group stage last season and Zenit won both the fixtures.
Last but not the least, this year’s surprise entry into the round of 16, KAA Gent, will come up against Wolfsburg. The German side can’t afford to underestimate the Belgian club as they finished second in the group which consisted of La Liga giants Valencia and French Ligue 1 outfit – Lyon. KAA Gent can cause upsets, and they have already come very far, given the fact it is their first ever season in the Champions League.