The Champions League Round of 16 draw took an unexpected turn of events when the governing body, UEFA had to conduct a redraw in order to rectify a glitch in the external software during the initial draw. A few clubs complained regarding the initial one as it was apparent that the software wasn’t configured correctly. To save their blushes, UEFA decided to redo the draw entirely.
It hasn’t been a great week for sporting authorities, first the FIA with the final Grand Prix and now UEFA with the Champions League Round of 16 draw. Anyway, the matches are set now and teams would start preparing for these crucial encounters.
Here’s what we make of this draw.
RB SALZBURG vs FC BAYERN MUNICH
German champions Bayern Munich have been super dominant throughout this season and went through unscathed from the group stage, winning six out of six games. They conceded just three goals and scored 22 in return. Such has been their season so far under new manager Julian Nagelsmann.
Austrian team RB Salzburg is known to cause issues to teams that like to press high up the pitch. They are capable of causing issues to any team on their day. They’ve been a bit open under manager Matthias Jaissle but it won’t be as straightforward as people would expect.
SPORTING LISBON vs MANCHESTER CITY
Manchester City had a tough group to contest against and they passed through with relative ease. They have a favourable tie in the Round of 16 draw and are up against the Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon. They had three defeats and three wins in the group stage and finished second behind Ajax in their group. The Cityzens would be happy with the draw they have got but still have a job to do in this knockout stage.
BENFICA vs AFC AJAX
Dutch side Ajax have been a standout team from the group stage of the Champions League. Only Bayern have scored more goals than Ajax in the competition so far and their striker Sebastien Haller has been in sparkling form scoring ten goals in six games. They are up against an improved Benfica side who are looking to be a serious European force yet again. They kept four clean sheets in the group stage, beating Barcelona comprehensively at home. This tie would be evenly matched and one for the football purists.
CHELSEA vs LILLE
European champions Chelsea look good for another strong campaign in the Champions League. Their sloppy result in the final group game to Zenit St.Petersburg cost them the top spot in the group but the Chelsea faithful won’t be too fussed with what their tie has turned out to be. Interestingly, this was the only tie that remained the same in the two draws conducted. French champions Lille had a tough start to the group stage but got back pretty strongly in the second half to top their group. Chelsea would start as favourites in this tie.
ATLÉTICO MADRID vs MANCHESTER UNITED
Two teams that spearheaded the complaint barrage for a redraw were intriguingly matched together for the round of 16. Both these teams haven’t played anywhere close to what they are capable of but they are through to the knockout stage and that’s what matters. Both sides have world-class players in the squad who could influence this tie.
VILLARREAL vs JUVENTUS
Juventus did incredibly well by topping the group that had the defending champions, Chelsea. Having topped a group that also included Zenit and Malmo, they now face the team 13th in La Liga, which is as kind as a draw can get at this stage. Villarreal have a manager in Unai Emery who knows what it takes to win knockout games in European competitions. Juventus, however, would fancy their chances of making it to the quarter-finals.
INTER MILAN vs LIVERPOOL
Inter, after a wobbly start as they reacted to the loss of Antonio Conte and Romelu Lukaku last summer, have improved with a run of five straight league wins taking them top of Serie A. Liverpool were in a tough group but went through without much fuss. They made a trip to the San Siro in the group stage and had an incredible night. Jurgen Klopp’s men would be hoping to replicate the performance in the round of 16 as well.
PSG vs REAL MADRID
The first draw offered up a mouthwatering clash between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and while that possibility may have vanished, PSG against Real Madrid is a decent replacement. Having lost at home to Sheriff in the second game of the group stage, Real Madrid have improved significantly and are on a run of 10 straight wins in all competitions. PSG, meanwhile, are still adapting to life under Mauricio Pochettino and Lionel Messi. This is for sure THE clash of the round of 16.
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