Champions League : Round of 16 Big Match Previews

Monday’s Champions League Last 16 draw threw up some intriguing match ups as five of the English clubs through to the knockout learned their fates. Chelsea who were the only English club to finish runners up in their respective groups were paired with La Liga leaders Barcelona, fellow Londoners Tottenham were paired with last years losing finalists Juventus while Manchester United will travel to Sevilla for the first leg of their last 16 tie.

City will travel to Basel while Liverpool were drawn with Portuguese outfit FC Porto. Probably the tie of the round saw last years winners Real Madrid paired with Paris Saint Germain. Bayern Munich who finished behind the French leaders were paired with Turkish outfit Besiktas who have impressed in the competition topping a group which included French champions Monaco, Besiktas and German’s surprise package of last season RB Leipzig. Italian side Roma complete the draw as they are paired with Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk.

After finishing runners up in their group, second to Roma, Chelsea were faced with the repercussions as they were paired with Barcelona once again. This match up has thrown up some frantic spectacles in recent years, probably the most memorable being Andres Iniesta’s dramatic winner on aggregate at Stamford Bridge in 2009, a game which had Didier Drogba sent off for his altercation with the official. Chelsea were on course for a successive Champions League semi-final with Manchester United until Iniesta broke their hearts with a spectacular strike in stoppage time. Barcelona then went to lift the trophy easily dispatching of Manchester United 2-0 in the final held in Rome.

Big match overview:

Chelsea Vs. Barcelona :-

After finishing runners up in their group, second to Roma, Chelsea were faced with the repercussions as they were paired with Barcelona once again. This match up has thrown up some frantic spectacles in recent years, probably the most memorable being Andres Iniesta’s dramatic winner on aggregate at Stamford Bridge in 2009, a game which had Didier Drogba sent off for his altercation with the official. Chelsea were on course for a successive Champions League semi-final with Manchester United until Iniesta broke their hearts with a spectacular strike in stoppage time. Barcelona then went to lift the trophy easily dispatching of Manchester United 2-0 in the final held in Rome.

Chelsea’s record against Barcelona

P W D L GF GA
15 5 5 5 20 25

Chelsea got their own back a few years later as they beat the 2011 champions on aggregate after an impressive showing at the Camp Nou. A  freak game which involved Messi uncharacteristically missing a penalty against the Bar and an off form Fernando Torres sealing the tie with Chelsea’s second goal. The blues then went on claim the trophy of their opponents in the final against Bayern Munich on their own turf.

Chelsea have arguably the most unfavourable tie matched up with Ernesto Valverde’s men in a week where Antonio Conte conceded his sides Premier League title ambitions have been brought to an end following their defeat to West Ham over the weekend.

However, Barcelona have not been at their best this season despite being top of La Liga. Valverde has changed the style over at the Camp Nou which has only ignited some of the doubters over his appointment at the start of the season. Though Chelsea may feel, they can cause an upset in this tie; Valverde has vastly improved Barcelona’s defence, the time of shipping goals at a canter last season under Luis Enrique has been brought to an end by Valverde’s rigid style. Suarez’ form has suffered as a result, as well as Barca being heavily reliant on the brilliance of Lionel Messi than they’ve ever been.

The return of Ousmane Dembele from a long term injury could further boost Barcelona’s chances but Chelsea cannot be ruled out of this one if the 2012 result between these two is anything to go by.

This game is too close to call.

Key Men:

Barcelona: Lionel Messi

Chelsea: Eden Hazard

Real Madrid vs Paris Saint Germain

Probably the tie of the round.

Maybe, just maybe we will finally see just how good Paris Saint Germain really are as they are paired with last years winners and 12 time champions Real Madrid. Can Unai Emery’s French giants stop Real Madrid’s run to another Champions League glory. Who maybe causing the upset here? I doubt it would be PSG as they are looking a real force to be reckoned with scoring an incredible 25 times in the group stage. A Champions League record.

Over recent seasons, Paris Saint Germain have always fallen short of reaching the next level but this year they are tipped for greatness especially on the European stage, and that brings massive expectations on Unai Emery and his side to deliver. With the impeccable front three of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and probably the most exciting youngster right now in Europe, Kylian Mbappe. Few people would bet their mortgage that PSG would run out winners come the final in Kiev next year.

Despite Real Madrid’s shaky form this season, when you have five time Ballon D’or winner Cristiano Ronaldo on your side, you’re always bound to come up trumps. Zidane has proven a brilliant coach during his time at the helm, but how motivated are Real Madrid to try and match the lofty ambitions of last year, famously lifting the domestic and European double? The loss of Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez have hit Zidane and his men hard this season, as there is a lack of quality to call up on when needed this season. January might see Real Madrid strengthen their squad though it may be difficult to add quality. This is the Champions League, a competition Real Madrid simply cannot be ruled out of.

Though what’s for certain, one of these giant clubs WILL have to relinquish their position in the competition in February. Just who could it be?

A fascinating spectacle to look forward to.

Key Men:

Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo

Paris Saint Germain: Neymar

 

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