The UEFA Champions League: Round of 16 – Preview
The UEFA Champions League draw took place this Monday in Switzerland and we can’t really say that any of the 16 teams left in the competition will have an easy task ahead. Here’s the Round-of-16 draw:
PSG vs Chelsea
Benfica vs Zenit
Gent vs Wolfsburg
AS Roma vs Real Madrid
Arsenal vs Barcelona
Juventus vs Bayern Munich
PSV vs Atletico Madrid
Dynamo Kiev vs Manchester City
On a first look, the biggest matches of the round appear to be the PSG vs Chelsea, Roma vs Real Madrid, Arsenal vs Barcelona and Juventus vs Bayern Munich. With the exception of Roma, all the teams involved in these games can have legitimate aspirations to win the Champions League title next May.
In the second bracket of games, we still have strong teams and some potential favorites to reach the competition’s final and eventually win it, but we also have a good amount of more secondary sides. We’re talking Zenit vs Benfica, Gent vs Wolfsburg, PSV vs Atletico Madrid and Dynamo Kiev vs Manchester City. Obviously, Atletico and Man City stand out from the pack here, but if we want to be cold and realistic, the truth is that none of the other teams can actually be seen as a strong contender to clinch the most coveted European title.
PSG vs Chelsea: Even though many may argue that it’s going to be a 50-50 battle, it’s hard not to grant José Mourinho’s side the underdog role in this tie. Their domestic season has been beyond poor and the team’s confidence levels are extremely low.
Benfica vs Zenit: If we take into consideration the Portuguese side is not as strong as it was in past years and that last season they already lost twice against Zenit when these 2 teams faced each other, our pick in this one has to go to the Russian powerhouse.
Gent vs Wolfsburg: It’s the first time these 2 teams reach this stage of the competition but despite Gent’s good campaign in the previous round, Wolfsburg definitely has more arguments to advance into the quarter-finals.
AS Roma vs Real Madrid: The Italians’s recent form has been very poor, but the truth is that these clashes will only take place in 2 to 3 months from now. Nevertheless, Real Madrid are still the favorites and unless they really screw up in this 2-leg tie, they should get their hands in a ticket to the next round.
Arsenal vs Barcelona: In order for Arsenal to stand a realistic chance to go through, they need to get a win in the first leg at the Emirates and not concede. If they accomplish that, they might pull off a surprise and knockout the reigning champions. The favorites are Barça though and with more or less difficulties, they should go through.
Juventus vs Bayern Munich: The Italian champions didn’t have the best of the starts this season, but they seem to be recovering their good form as the season unfolds. The only problem here is that they’ll be facing one of the favorites to win the competition. It’s hard not to see Bayern Munich coming out victorious in this tie…
PSV vs Atletico Madrid: The Dutch side made it out of a group containing Manchester United and that must something to be credited for. However, they’re facing an extremely disciplined side in Atletico, and Simeone’s men have far more experience than PSV in these stages of the competition. The Spaniards will probably be the ones moving forward here.
Dynamo Kiev vs Manchester City: The Citizens finally managed to qualify from their group in 1st place and theoretically, it does seem to have paid off. Their opponents is the Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev and Manchester City definitely goes into this tie as the major favorite.
Sources: uefa.com / theguardian.com