Previewing the Champions League Round of 16: Part Two


Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United take on Atletico Madrid in the Champions League next week. (Courtesy of Twitter)

By the time this is published, the first legs of certain ties of the Champions League round of 16 will have already happened. However, next week, the other four ties have their first legs on Tuesday and Wednesday. As a reminder, the round of 16 is split up into two legs, with both teams playing one match at home and one away. The matches next week are: 

Chelsea vs. Lille

Villareal vs. Juventus

Atletico Madrid vs. Manchester United

Benfica vs. Ajax

The Chelsea and Juventus games are on Tuesday, while the Madrid and Ajax matches are on Wednesday. The biggest tie is, without a doubt, Atletico Madrid against Manchester United. Atletico is a very defensive team, and it will have to deal with United’s firepower, which, despite its poor run of form, can punish teams with the amount of star power that it has. This brings Cristiano Ronaldo back to the Wanda Metropolitano in a game that he will want to score in. Atletico will do its best to defend, but its players have to remember the past: in the past decade, the team has only conceded four hat tricks in total. The man to score all four hat tricks? None other than Ronaldo, with his last being back in 2018 with Juventus when it knocked Madrid out of the Champions League with a hattrick after losing the first leg 2-0. This is a game that is too close to call, with both teams in questionable form and desperate for a win that can help their European fortunes.

Ajax and Benfica should be a good match, with Ajax winning all of its group stages matches and Sebastian Haller at the front who has scored 10 goals in those matches, Ajax should beat Benfica. As for the Juventus game, Juventus should beat Villareal with a degree of comfort. Juventus’ new signings, which include Dusan Vlahovic, who joined for roughly 85 million dollars, will want to impress in their Champions League debuts, so expect them to try their hardest to get onto the scoresheet.

As for the final match, Chelsea vs. Lille should be an interesting match. The titleholders have had a change in form compared to the start of the season, with the Blues now 16 points off of leaders Manchester City. In November, they were leading the Premier League. As for Lille, the defending Ligue 1 champions have fallen off a cliff and are in 10th place. With both teams falling far behind, they will want to ensure that another piece of silverware doesn’t get away from them. Chelsea should have the advantage but in the Champions League, anything can, and will, happen. I will be at the Chelsea match, so hopefully we can see a match that only the Champions League can produce: teams giving their all to win one of soccer’s most coveted trophies.