UEFA Champions League Round of 16 draw went down on December 15, 2014 in Nyon, Switzerland and proved to be exciting for many clubs and supporters and devastating for others. Several teams are matched up for a second year in a row or in deja vu fixtures from years past and provide some very interesting games. Last year every group stage winner advanced and there is reason to believe that could potentially happen again.
Barcelona vs. Manchester City
Clearly the toughest draw of the Round of 16, Manchester City will once again face Barcelona. In case you forgot, the Catalan side eliminated Manuel Pellegrini’s team at the same stage last season, winning 4-1 on aggregate. Barcelona haven’t always been at their best this season and Lionel Messi has struggled to keep pace with Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal tallies. Barca remains a superb team with probably the most dangerous attack in soccer in Luis “The Chomper” Suarez, Messi and Neymar.
Manchester City – the defending Premier League champions – could certainly prevail, as they progressed well through the group stage and appear healthy, although it appears unlikely in comparison to Barca’s pedigree and unmatched pool of international talent.
Chelsea vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Currently top in the Premier League, Chelsea were paired with French Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain. The Blues overcame the French side in last season’s quarter-finals, prevailing on away goals after a 2-0 home win followed a 3-1 loss in Paris.
Chelsea have improved dramatically since last season, with the additions of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa making them a much more rounded club, while PSG have looked unconvincing in Ligue 1 and struggling to dominate games.
They still possess one of the great strikers – and a former Mourinho favorite – Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Also don’t forget David Luiz, the Brazilian back who transferred from Chelsea, and is eager to play his former team. Despite PSG being clear winners in the weird hairstyle department, Chelsea has been far too powerful on the pitch.
Monaco vs. Arsenal
Arsenal will play Monaco, as Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger goes up against his former employers.
Wenger must be happy going back to the club he once managed for seven years, winning Ligue 1 in 1988. And it’s also a very favorable one for Arsenal, who for the past two years had drawn Bayern Munich at this stage and was quickly sent packing.
Monaco, meanwhile, somehow made it through despite scoring only four goals in six games. Doesn’t Monaco already have enough to be thankful for? The weather…the women. Arsenal’s scoring has been sporadic and Monaco only conceded one goal in group play. Many struggle to choose between the two; however, the edge must go to Monaco.
Real Madrid vs. Schalke
Schalke meet defending champions Real Madrid. The only thing really to say is – poor Shalke. Real Madrid overwhelmed Schalke in the round of 16 last year, winning 6-1 in Gelsenkirchen and 3-1 in Spain; with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring 4 goals.
Barring a natural disaster, Schalke really has no chance against the defending Champions League winners. Ronaldo and the Welsh Wonder Kid, Gareth Bale, are too much for the Germans, who will be dispatched brutally.
Prediction: Real Madrid
Bayern Munich vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Bayern Munich play Shakhtar Donetsk, in a match against two teams who’ve never faced each other. While this is a good draw for the Germans, have fun playing in Ukraine in early Spring where it’s still very much winter.
Bayern Munich is comfortably in the lead in the Bundesliga, so Pep can really focus on beating the Ukranians. Shakhtar Donetsk is not in great shape as they’re not even playing in their own stadium right now (playing in Lviv) due to damage from shelling. Still doing well in their league, sitting second behind Dynamo Kiev.
Bayern is the clear favorite over Shakhtar and should advance with no troubles.
Prediction: Bayern Munich
Borussia Dortmund vs. Juventus
Juventus play Borussia Dortmund in a repeat of the 1997 final. Juventus director Pavel Nedved told uefa.com: ‘It could have been worse because there was still Bayern and Madrid when Borussia’s name came out.” Ouch. Not much respect there.
Dortmund overcame Juventus 3-1 in the 1997 UEFA Champions League final in Munich; the Italian team had won 6-1 over two legs in the UEFA Cup final four years earlier.
Juventus are at the top of Serie A and drew in their last group stage game against Atletico. Dortmund are in the unusual position of having to dig themselves out of the relegation zone in the Bundesliga, so it makes one wonder how much emphasis they’ll have on the Champions League run. It should be no surprise watching Juventus advance.
Atletico Madrid vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen take on last season’s runners-up Atletico Madrid. Atlético and Leverkusen played out two 1-1 draws in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League group stage.
Leverkusen has struggled with Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, but lets be honest…who hasn’t? Atletico Madrid, last year’s runners up to Real Madrid, are without Diego Costa, Thibaut Courteos, and Filipe Luis from last year. Yet without the trio, they still managed to win their group. Bayer may need some aspirin because Atletico are the favorites to breeze through.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid
Porto vs. Basel (Feb. 18 and March 10)
Basle, the Swiss champions take on Porto of Portugal, who they’ve never met. Probably (DEFINITELY) the most uninteresting matchup of the draw. Both are considering themselves lucky in this draw, considering both were never considered a factor before the draw of 16. Porto won their league group with ease and have Jackson Martinez, who leads the Portuguese 1st Division in scoring. Basle are into the round of 16 after a somewhat strong finish, beating Liverpool at home and drawing them at Anfield. Either way, one of these teams will be onto the next round. Odds are on Porto.
Round of 16 Schedule:
17 February & 11 March Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) v Chelsea FC (ENG) FC Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) v FC Bayern München (GER)
18 February & 10 March FC Schalke 04 (GER) v Real Madrid CF (ESP) FC Basel 1893 (SUI) v FC Porto (POR)
24 February & 18 March Manchester City FC (ENG) v FC Barcelona (ESP) Juventus (ITA) v Borussia Dortmund (GER)
25 February & 17 March Bayer 04 Leverkusen (GER) v Club Atlético de Madrid (ESP) Arsenal FC (ENG) v AS Monaco FC (FRA)