CHAMPIONS LEAGUE R016 DRAW

2023-12-18 · 4 min read · UEFA Champions League/Soccer
Manchester City

Manchester City | FC Bayern München

The path to Wembley is beginning to make sense with the draw for the round of 16 taking place on Monday. For the most part, the matchups have been spread out as evenly as they can be, setting us up for what should be mouth-watering quarter and semi-final matchups.
Despite favourites in Manchester City and Bayern Munich having comfortable draws, the same cannot be said for Real Madrid who are up against German side RB Leipzig. The highlight of the round is undoubtedly Barcelona and Napoli facing off in a crunch clash between the champions of Spain and Italy.
The absence of heavy weight clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Juventus are noticeable and gives this years Champions League a feeling of optimism amongst 10 – 12 of the remaining sixteen clubs. So, can one of the outsiders profit from a good draw and use it to propel them to the latter stages and maybe even a run to Wembley?
Here are the round-of-16 ties and how they will shape up.
FC PORTO vs. ARSENAL
While this tie looks a good one for Arsenal's hopes of progressing to the quarterfinals, the Premier League leaders should be wary of a Porto team that has experience and quality in abundance. Only Spanish champions Barcelona took points off Porto in the group stages, with the Portuguese side qualifying in second place -- level on points with Barca.
Having been eliminated from the Europa League by Sporting CP last season, Arsenal have recent knowledge of the ability of Portuguese opponents to cause an upset, and Porto are well accustomed to performing at this stage of the competition.
Prediction: Arsenal advances winning and home and drawing on the road.
NAPOLI vs. BARCELONA
Arguably the tie of the round, with the champions of Italy facing the champions of Spain. Though neither have yet been able to replicate the form they displayed on the way to winning their respective titles last season.
Both sides displayed defensive frailties during the group stage. With much stronger in attack than in defence, it is likely to be a high-scoring tie. It's a tough one to call right now, with domestic form in February likely to dictate the eventual winners, but whichever way it goes, it will be entertaining.
Prediction: Barcelona advances on goal differential
PSG vs. REAL SOCIEDAD
PSG were fortunate to squeeze into the round of 16 after an unconvincing campaign in Group F in which they won just two games. A controversial stoppage-time penalty against Newcastle at home on matchday five earned a 1-1 draw which ultimately paved the way for Luis Enrique's team to qualify as group runners-up, edging out third-placed AC Milan by virtue of their head-to-head record.
The French champions are no longer the exciting team of star players but they still have Kylian Mbappé. He alone can send the Parisiens to the quarter finals.
Prediction: PSG advance with Mbappe scoring in both fixtures
INTER MILAN vs. ATLETICO MADRID
They are two teams that have recently suffered defeat in the Champions League final -- Inter last season; Atletico in both 2014 and 2016 -- but both harbour realistic ambitions to make it all the way this time if they avoid the favourites. Both came through the group stage without a defeat, so you can expect two closely-fought games in this tie as coaches Simone Inzaghi and Diego Simeone attempt to outdo each other.
Prediction: This one goes to penalties where Atletico Madrid advance
PSV EINDHOVEN vs. BORUSSIA DORTMUND
Dortmund's pedigree in the Champions League and their comfortable progression as winners of Group F marks them out as favourites in this tie, but PSV are the only team in Europe's major leagues with a 100% domestic record and have scored an incredible 56 goals in 16 Eredivisie games so far this season.
If PSV can keep their squad and sustain their domestic form, they will see Dortmund as a beatable opponent, having avoided round-of-16 heavyweights such as Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. But Dortmund will also see PSV as a favourable draw and Edin Terzic's team should come through as winners.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund come-from behind at home in the second leg to advance
LAZIO vs. BAYERN MUNICH
Bayern will regard this draw as a comfortable route through to the quarterfinals and, for Lazio, it could be a case of doing their best to keep the score down. Thomas Tuchel's team cruised through to the knockout stage as easy winners of Group A, while Lazio emerged as runners-up to Atletico Madrid in Group E, ahead of Feyenoord and Celtic - two of the weakest teams in the competition.
With Lazio struggling mid-table in Serie A, coach Maurizio Sarri's immediate challenge will be to improve results in order to ensure he is still in the post by the time he faces off against Tuchel in the New Year.
Prediction: Bayern Munich advance comfortably
FC COPENHAGEN vs. MANCHESTER CITY
Although Copenhagen reached the round of 16 thanks in no small part to a 4-3 home win against Manchester United in Group A, don't expect the Danish club to repeat that shock result against City. City can look forward to a noisy and passionate atmosphere at Parken Stadium for the first leg, but they have nothing to fear from the tie itself.
Prediction: Manchester City win both ties and don’t allow a goal
RB LEIPZIG vs. REAL MADRID
This could be an awkward tie for Carlo Ancelotti's side, especially when they travel to Germany for the first leg with memories of last season's 3-2 defeat against Leipzig in the group stage. With Jude Bellingham emerging as arguably the star of the group stage, Real Madrid certainly have the players to make this a comfortable tie, but Leipzig have become a regular in the Champions League in recent years and coach Marco Rose can make life difficult.
Prediction: I’m calling it now. The upset of the knockout rounds is RB Leipzig knocking out Real Madrid in the round of 16 winning at home in the first leg and fighting to a draw in the return.
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By: Aaron Cantin

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