UCL Round of 16! Me personally, i don’t know how or why, but ive lost interest in many of the leagues, matches etcetera in the past 6 months. I still watch football often, almost daily, but nowhere near the amount i used to. But if there still is one competition that gets me going, that is Champions League.
Champions League knockout stage matches will kick off on Tuesday 13th of February, in other words; The beginning of the end…for the football season! This is a brief UCL Round of 16 preview post, i will try to post individual match previews for most of the upcoming matches, links will be added below once i add those said posts.
UCL Round of 16 schedule:
Tuesday, 13th of February
- Basel vs Manchester City
- Juventus vs Spurs
Wednesday, 14th of February
- Real Madrid vs PSG
- Porto vs Liverpool
Tuesday 20th of February
- Bayern Munich vs Besiktas
- Chelsea vs Barcelona
Wednesday 21st of February
- Shaktar Donetsk vs AS Roma
- Sevilla vs Manchester United
Out of the 8 UCL Round of 16 matches, i find Real Madrid vs PSG to be the king of the hill. One of the most iconic football clubs in the world vs the mega rich under-performers of last few seasons. But there is at least 1 interesting match on each match-day. I know which match im going to watch each day just by looking at the schedule, no matter the current form of the teams. My sight is set on Juventus vs Spurs, Real Madrid vs PSG, Chelsea vs Barcelona and Sevilla vs Manchester United.
The favourites remain the favourites, or do they? Well yes and no. UCL Round of 16 will either concrete or shatter the favourite position for some teams, namely Real Madrid or PSG
The winner Real Madrid vs PSG will be a strong candidate to go all the way. But what has changed since the start of the season? Well, a LOT. Real Madrid was the favourite to win it all at the start of the season, right now they aren’t really favourite’s for anyone or anything, including yours truly. Make no mistake, im still a Real Madrid fan through and through. I think that Real Madrid have an outside chance to lift the trophy for the 3rd time running, but given their form they aren’t the favourite’s at the moment. PSG will be a true test for the team.
Barcelona looked like a disaster waiting to happen once Real Madrid ragdolled them in the Spanish Supercopa before the season started, but they have DOMINATED La Liga ever since, their only defeat of the season came in Copa Del Ray. They have bought numerous players despite being the front-runner on almost all competitions, namely Philippe Coutinho and Yerry Mina. I personally don’t think Barcelona are going to win Champions League, but then again when you got on-form Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, anything is possible.
Manchester City, who has been one of the most active teams on the transfer market in recent seasons. They’ve got a very exciting mixture of talented youth and hardened veterans. Pep Guardiola finally managed to get the team playing like he wants to, after the failure of the 1st season. Manchester City is a team that can win any team on a good day, but they also seem like a team that can fold themselves at any given time. Feeble at the back, despite spending close to 400million on that defensive line alone.
PSG is among the favourites to lift the trophy. The coup’s of the season Neymar AND Kylian M’Bappe in addition to Edinson Cavani, strikes fear in any given defensive line. 1st line under fire is that of Real Madrid; Carvajal(suspended on the 1st leg), Varane, Ramos and Marcelo. If Real Madrid play like they have been playing for the last 3 months, PSG will tear them apart. What makes this match-up interesting, is the reported interest by Real Madrid on Neymar. Its been said he WANTS the transfer to happen, so he probably wants to show up in the match. On the other hand we’ve seen on more than one occasion Neymar clashing with Dani Carvajal for example. Will that reported interested wind Neymar up OR down? PSG’s chances on winning the Champions League rests on the shoulders of Neymar, they have a good team overall, but to put it bluntly; without Neymar they wouldn’t be a threat for anyone.
So the favourite’s remain more or less the same, the only exception is that Real Madrid plummeted from the outright favourite to win to 3rd or 4th favourite. I would say that the deciding factor in the Champions League is the quarterfinal draw, lets say if Barcelona draws Manchester City(given they have to advance from UCL Round of 16 first), i cant see Manchester City pulling of a shock in that match. Where as, say Juventus, i cant see Juventus winning the competition, but if they were to be drawn against Barcelona, they could give a run for their money in that match-up. And Juventus winning that match-up would shake up the competition considerably.
What about the remaining teams in UCL Round of 16?
Out of the other 12 teams, i personally can’t really see anyone pulling out a shock. Despite the UCL Round of 16 being very competitive, with great teams of tremendous quality. Say Liverpool, who has an amazing attacking trio in Mane, Salah and Firmino. Their downfall has been and probably will be the very poor defending at times. Spurs who has quality on all positions, lack a real superstar to pull them through. Harry Kane is a great forward, one of the best out there, but can’t really see him doing anything THAT special alone. His attacking partners are hardly compatible with say those of Liverpool. Manchester United can never really be counted out, that being said they havent played as well as many expected. Alexis Sanchez will give them a new lifeline on the attack, but their problem remain the same. Downright poor defenders, and that midfield isn’t looking too sharp either, defensively or offensively.
Bayern Munich just doesn’t seem as much of a threat like they have been in recent years. Surely you can never completely count them out, but they would need a very favourable draw and then some. Juventus is more or less the same, very good team but i cant see them pulling of a big shocker, they can cause problems for any team on given day, but that’s it.
All in all, UCL Round of 16 matches will be very interesting without exceptions, some matches will better than others, hopefully there are some surprises as well. As stated above i will try to put up an individual match reports on most matches, the very least for the big one’s.