Champions League Round of 16 Preview: Part Two


The Champions League Round of 16 is finally here. (Courtesy of Instagram)

By the time you’ve read this, the first leg for the first two  Champions League knockout ties will have been played, and there are two more to be played in a few hours. Next week, the remaining four matchups of the round of 16 will take place. As a reminder, here are all eight ties:

Paris Saint Germain (PSG) vs Bayern Munich

AC Milan vs Tottenham Hotspur

Club Brugge vs Benfica

Borussia Dortmund vs Chelsea

Liverpool vs Real Madrid

Eintracht Frankfurt vs Napoli

RB Leipzig vs Manchester City

Inter Milan vs Porto

As a reminder, the winner of the tie is determined by the aggregate score of the two legs. If after the second leg the aggregate score is tied, extra time and if needed, penalties are used to determine the winner. Due to this format, the group winner is rewarded for winning their respective group by playing the second leg at home, giving them a form of “home field advantage.” This article will focus on Liverpool, Napoli, Manchester City and Porto ties, with half of those taking place next Tuesday with the other ties taking place next Wednesday.

The first tie I want to discuss is the Liverpool vs. Real Madrid tie. This is a rematch of last year’s Champions League final, where Real Madrid won the competition for a record 14th time. After almost winning an unprecedented quadruple, Liverpool have had a season to forget as they are currently in 10th in the Premier League and have been wildly inconsistent this season. To make matters worse, they have struggled with injuries to star players such as Luis Diaz, Diego Jota and Virgil Van Dijk just to name a few. With poor results in the league and early eliminations in the domestic cup competitions, this is Liverpool’s last chance for any trophy this year.

As for Real Madrid, the reigning Champions League and La Liga champions have had a great season, winning two trophies so far and still in the running for more. They have slightly fallen behind in La Liga but you can never count them out. With stars such as Karim Benzema, Vinicius Jr. and Luka Modric, they’ll try to advance even further in the competition. Liverpool will host Madrid in the first leg on Tuesday with Madrid hosting the return leg.

The second tie is Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Napoli. For Frankfurt, last year’s Europa League champions are currently sixth in the Bundesliga and are still within touching distance for the Champions League positions. They are also in the quarter finals in the domestic cup competition. As for Napoli, they have been a surprise to the rest of the world as they have completely dominated Serie A, only losing one game so far in the league and are a distant 13 points ahead of anyone else. Their star duo of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Victor Osimen have caused havoc on defenses so expect the Frankfurt defenders to have their hands full. Frankfurt will host Napoli on Tuesday with Napoli hosting the return leg.

The third tie is RB Leipzig vs. Manchester City. For Leipzig, the German club are currently fifth in the Bundesliga and just like Frankfurt, are also in the hunt for the Champion League positions. They are also in the quarter finals of the domestic cup competition. As for Manchester City, the reigning Premier League champions are sitting in second, but only three points behind the league leaders. For a team who has dominated the English soccer landscape for the past few years, winning 11 trophies under their manager Pep Guardiola since 2016, they have never been able to capture the elusive Champions League.

Last year, they were within minutes of reaching the final, but fell to Madrid who scored two goals in added time to push the game into extra time where Benzema scored a goal to knock them out. This year, they added to their squad with Erling Haaland who has scored 31 goals in 28 matches across all competitions. With additional stars such as Kevin de Bruyne and  Phil Foden, this may be their year. However, in order to do that, they need to beat what’s in front of them. Leipzig will host the first leg on Wednesday with City hosting the return leg.

The final tie is Inter Milan vs. Porto. For the Italian side, they are currently second in Serie A, but as mentioned earlier, a distant 13 points behind Napoli. Despite being second, there is a lot of competition for the Champions League places with the gap from Milan to sixth placed Lazio only four points. They have already won a trophy this year with the Supercoppa Italiana and are also in the semi-finals of their domestic cup competition. As for Porto, they are second in their respective league. They have already won two trophies this season and as a team that has won the Champions League before, they will want to add another. Milan host the first leg next Wednesday with Porto hosting the return leg.

The Liverpool and Napoli ties are next Tuesday at 3 p.m. with the City and Milan ties taking place next Wednesday at 3 p.m. With every team eager to advance, one way to achieve this goal is to win the first leg to set themselves up in a good position for the second leg to advance in the Champions League.