UEFA Champions League round of 16 final draws

349

Red Bull Salzburg (AUT) v Bayern Munich (GER)

Six-time European champions Bayern are the only German team through to the last 16.

Coach Julian Nagelsmann will be counting on the goals of Robert Lewandowski, who missed last season’s quarter-final loss to PSG through injury. The Pole struck nine times as Bayern completed a perfect group stage for the second time in three years.

Salzburg, 1994 UEFA Cup finalists, are through to the knockout phase for the first time. Germany striker Karim Adeyemi, 19, is the one to watch for a club that helped develop Erling Haaland.

Sporting Lisbon (POR) v Manchester City (ENG)

Last season’s Champions League runners-up go up against the Portuguese champions in a tie where Pep Guardiola’s City will be heavily favoured.

The Premier League leaders narrowly missed out on a first European crown, losing to Chelsea last May, but free-flowing City is again among the chief contenders for the title.

Sporting, coached by 36-year-old Ruben Amorim, recovered impressively after losing their opening two group games. Their last trip to the knockout rounds ended in a 12-1 whipping by Bayern in 2009.

Benfica (POR) v Ajax (NED)

In Sebastien Haller, Ajax boasts the competition’s leading marksman this season with 10 goals. The Ivorian hit four on his debut and has scored in every game since, powering the Dutch giants to six wins from six.

The four-time European champions face Benfica, winners of the European Cup in 1961 and 1962.

The Portuguese club, coached by the wily Jorge Jesus, pipped Barcelona to second place in Group E on the final day to qualify for the knockout rounds for the first time since 2016/17.

Chelsea (ENG) v Lille (FRA)

The title-holders have not looked back since Thomas Tuchel’s appointment in January, going on to lift the Champions League trophy for a second time.

A formidable defence was the blueprint for success, but the Blues will expect more from record signing Romelu Lukaku as they try to repeat as kings of Europe.

While Chelsea could not have asked for a kinder draw after finishing second in Group H, French champions Lille — led by Canada striker Jonathan David — are out to cause more upsets on the continent.

Atletico Madrid (ESP) v Manchester United (ENG)

A series of late goals by Cristiano Ronaldo allowed United to top their group and by February new coach Ralf Rangnick will hope to have made his mark on the three-time former European champions.

Spanish champions Atletico scraped through Group B by beating Porto in their last game but Diego Simeone’s side is off the pace in La Liga and has recently struggled against English teams, losing twice to Liverpool in the group stage.

They have also gone out to teams featuring Ronaldo no fewer than five times in the last eight years.

Villarreal (ESP) v Juventus (ITA)

Juventus, currently sixth in Serie A, are not the force they once were. However, they managed to top their group despite losing 4-0 away to Chelsea, and their reward is a relatively kind draw.

Villarreal qualified for the Champions League by virtue of winning the Europa League, their first major trophy. They may be in the bottom half in La Liga, but Unai Emery’s side will fancy upsetting Juve, who have gone out to Porto and Lyon at this stage in the last two years.

Inter Milan (ITA) v Liverpool (ENG)

These clubs have won nine European Cups between them but this is just the third time they have been drawn together. Inter won 4-3 on aggregate in the semi-finals on the way to winning the trophy in 1965, while Liverpool triumphed 3-0 on aggregate in the last 16 in 2008.

Inter are the reigning Italian champions but Jurgen Klopp’s side is in formidable form this season. They were the first English team ever to win all six group games and they will have top scorer Mohamed Salah as well as Sadio Mane back from the Africa Cup of Nations by the time the tie comes around.

Paris Saint-Germain v Real Madrid (ESP)

Kylian Mbappe will be the primary focus of attention here. The PSG striker is out of contract next June and Real have long been favourites to land his signature.

Otherwise, this tie sees the French league leaders, with their superstar attack of Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar, continue their bid to win a first Champions League crown against the record 13-time champions Real, winners when the teams met in 2018 last 16.

Real are top of La Liga under former PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti and should be seen as favourites, at least in present form.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *