The draw for the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 took place shortly before Christmas, deciding which teams would be going head to head as the tournament enters the knockout stages.
After the group stages, the list of teams that have been successful is pretty predictable. It includes some of the biggest and most successful teams in Europe, including last year’s champions, Liverpool; PSG; Barcelona; Bayern Munich; Real Madrid; and Manchester City.
While all the games in the Round of 16 look like they’ll be closely fought and exciting, there are some games that will be key in deciding the outcome of the competition. Here is a look at some of them.
Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool
Liverpool is having its best season for a long time. In fact, they’re now over a year undefeated in the Premier League and still a strong contender for the Champions League. While a 7th title is not a priority for the reds this year, they certainly wouldn’t turn away the opportunity.
All eyes were on who they would be drawn against for the Round of 16, and Liverpool boss, Jurgen Klopp, was likely quite relieved when it was revealed that they’d be playing Atletico Madrid. The Spanish side are yet to win the Champions League, despite being runners up twice in the last few years.
The game between Atletico Madrid and Liverpool will be a key game. After their dominant performance all season and their Champions League success last year, major oddsmakers currently have Liverpool looking most likely to win with odds at around 7/5.
Real Madrid vs Manchester City
Manchester City are currently favourites to win the Champions League after a run of success at home over the last decade. The blues are yet to win a European trophy this century and the pressure is on the team and its manager to change this quickly.
Real Madrid are the most successful team in the history of the competition, with 13 Champions League wins. The two sides are looking evenly matched according to bookmakers, although Madrid are getting slightly better odds from some. They both put in strong performances during the group stages, with City winning one more game.
Despite the slight preference for Real Madrid by bookmakers, if Manchester City can beat them in the Round of 16 then few would bet against them for the rest of the competition.
Bayern Munich vs Chelsea
Bayern Munich won all of their group stage matches in the Champions league, while Chelsea only won three of their six. In their respective domestic leagues, the two sides are performing similarly, with Bayern currently third in the Bundesliga and Chelsea fourth in the Premier League.
Bayern Munich have had more success in the competition, with five trophies. Chelsea have only won it once, although they did beat Bayern in the final to take this solitary title; so there is a history of the London side beating their German rivals.
Bayern Munich currently have much better odds to win the Champions League at 8/1, compared to Chelsea who have odds of around 40/1.
Borussia Dortmund vs PSG
PSG have fared slightly better in historic results against Borussia Dortmund, with a victory in 44% of their matches compared to Dortmund’s 31%. Despite this, most oddsmakers are giving them similar odds, although some seem to favour Dortmund.
PSG won five of their six games in the group stages, second only to Bayern Munich. Meanwhile, Dortmund only won three, finishing second in Group F behind Barcelona. With statistics like this, PSG should be favourites to win, but Dortmund have had a run of success in the Bundesliga in recent weeks and months. They also pulled off some strong, unexpected performances against both Inter Milan and Slavia Praha in the group stages.
All of these games are going to be closely fought matches between teams who are all deserving of victory. The knockout format of the Champions League will mean the pressure will be on the players to perform in each of the two legs in the Round of 16. The strong performances in the group stage no longer count for anything, it’s winner takes all.