The UEFA Champions League (UCL) for the 2017/2018 season saw the completion of the group stage last week so the UCL Last 16 draw was highly anticipated. This season’s group stage already brought some exciting football games, some amazing goals, and record-breaking events. As we move to the business end of the Champions League season, fans of European football had to bid farewell to some strong teams. Napoli, Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid and Monaco surely had higher dreams of the competition but they have to drop to the Europa League to compete for the second tier trophy of European football.
The UCL last 16 draws were made yesterday in Switzerland and it already has players, managers, and fans looking forward to the Valentine week of 2018 when the first fixtures would be taking place. The draw has some mouth-watering clashes that will see the favorite teams to win the competition playing against each other as early as the second round.
Champions Real Madrid travels for the Club World Cup today but they were drawn with big money spending French giants Paris Saint Germain. Madrid finished second in their group even though Cristiano Ronaldo hit a new milestone as the first man to score in all 6 games of one UCL season group stage. PSG had dominated French football for the better part of the last 5 years and they hope to exert their dominance in Europe as well by bringing the “cup with big ears” to the French capital. Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were brought to the Parc de Princes to help achieve this feat this season thanks to the financial backing from Qatar Sports Investment but they have been handed the toughest draw possible as they have to play Zidane’s Real Madrid; the only team to have defended its UCL crown.
Barcelona will be traveling again to London this season but will be playing Chelsea over two legs. The Catalan giants have progressed easily against English teams in the past seasons although they have almost always played Arsenal. The last English team that knocked Barcelona out of the competition was Chelsea in 2012. Chelsea has a decent record against Barcelona in relation to other English teams. The English champions have a style of play that is solid in defense and devastating on the break which would be key to breaking Barcelona down. Conte’s men would note that this Barcelona’s side is not as strong as they were 2 years ago but they have a considerable lead on the La Liga log as of now. Also, talisman Lionel Messi has failed to score against Chelsea with 29 shots against the English team.
Tottenham impressed everyone by finishing top in a group that had Madrid and Dortmund after crashing out at the group stage last season. Spurs are having it tough in the English league so they would be looking for some European triumph to salvage their season but they will be traveling to Turin to play last years runner-up Juventus. Juventus have won the Serie A every season for the past 5 years but have failed to secure a European crown despite reaching the final twice. They are currently in a struggle with Inter and Napoli for the top spot in Europe and maybe in pole position in Italy when this fixture is played.
High flying Manchester City will face Basel in the UCL last 16 while their cross-town rivals and Europa League winners, Manchester United will be playing against Sevilla. The fifth English team in the UCL, Liverpool will face Portuguese giants Porto over two legs. This would be the first time that five teams from one league will be in the UCL last 16 and English fans would hope that one of these five would bring the UCL home again.
Bayern Munich seems reformed under newly reappointed manager Jupp Heynckes and they will be looking forward to playing Besiktas. Besiktas strengthened their squad considerably over the summer and they finished top of their group in the first round of UCL. The last game of the round of 16 would be between Shaktar Donetsk and Italian giants AS Roma.
Players, managers, and fans have taken to social media to react to the UCL Last 16 draw. The Last 16 has five clubs from England, three from Spain and two from Italy. France, Germany, Portugal, Ukraine, Turkey, and Switzerland have one representative each. The first leg of these fixtures will be played in February so the clubs will strengthen or be weakened by the January transfer window and the clubs have more than a month to prepare for them.
UCL Last 16 (Leg 1 of 2)
13/02/2018 Juventus vs Tottenham
13/02/2018 Basel vs Manchester City
14/02/2018 Porto vs Liverpool
14/02/2018 Real Madrid vs PSG
20/02/2018 Chelsea vs Barcelona
20/02/2018 Bayern vs Besiktas
21/02/2018 Sevilla vs Manchester United
21/02/2018 Shaktar Donetsk vs Roma