The European Champions League is hotting up, with this season’s first knockout stages coming up on Feb 18 2020.
There are some jaw-dropping fixtures in this year’s Round of 16. Defending champions, Liverpool FC will kick off the first leg against Spanish Atletico Madrid, and Manchester
City will be hoping to down the Spanish giants, Real Madrid in their first knockout match.
Sites such as Marathon Bet predict that the most closely fought matches will be between these English and Spanish giants, predicting that the English teams will just edge the matches.
Last year’s dramatic semi-final losers, Barça will be hoping to overcome their recent misfortune, and are outright favourites to win their first Round of 16 game against Napoli.
Other tantalising matches coming up include England’s Chelsea versus Germany’s Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund against Paris Saint-Germain. These games, featuring massive clubs, will be hard not to miss.
Below we’ll look at successful clubs’ recent forms and how they may affect the main fixtures.
Liverpool FC vs Atletico Madrid | 18 Feb 20:00
Last year’s champions are the favourites to beat Atletico Madrid and progress to the next round again this year. Liverpool, under Jurgen Klopp, have lost two European finals to Spanish teams. These were the Europa League Final in 2016 against Sevilla, and a Champions League Final in 2018 against Real Madrid.
However, Klopp ended the Red’s poor run against Spanish teams by winning last year’s Champions League semi-final against Barcelona. Barça comfortably beat the Merseyside team in the first leg at the Nou Camp, 3-0, from which nobody expected the underdogs from Liverpool to make a comeback.
However, Reds supporters were not to be outdone at home in the 2nd leg, and the energy of Anfield caused a major upset against the Catalan masters. From the seventh minute, when Dirik Origi slid in the opener, until the end of the second leg, Barcelona seemed dumbstruck. Liverpool went on to score four goals without conceding an away goal, meaning that they won with a 4-3 aggregate scoreline.
The final was less dramatic, where the champions produced a solid performance, beating Tottenham 2-0 to claim victory over Europe.
With their fear of Spanish teams fading away, plus their current home league form (no losses in 19 games and only one drawn) spurring them on, surely the defending champions will overcome Atletico Madrid?
Madrid’s second biggest team currently sits fourth in the Spanish La Liga, with just two losses in 18, and eight drawn games. Stats suggest that Liverpool should overcome the Spanish team, who’ve been unable to break down many teams this season. However, a number of injuries suffered by Liverpool and playing away could cause an upset.
Real Madrid vs Manchester City | 26 Feb 20:00
Two of football’s historically dominant heavy-weights will put all their physical and willpower into this game.
Real Madrid’s ability to win this competition cannot be questioned after their 2016, 2017, and 2018 wins saw them break consecutive records. Sitting second place in the Spanish La Liga, with only one loss all season, the world famous club can never be written off.
Since Zinedine Zidane took over as first team coach in January 2016, Real Madrid have won the European Champions League three times. The manager also guided them to win La Liga in the 2016–17 season. Since then, he’s seen them drop to third place on the final day of the league, which will be disappointing for Los Blancos fans.
Man City, on the other hand, have dominated the English Premier League for the last two seasons, but have had a disappointing run in the Champions League by not progressing past the Round of 16. The Sky Blue’s boss, Guardiola recently said it’s “crazy” to think they can catch Liverpool in the home league and therefore, he will be wanting to improve his club’s Champions League credentials this year.
That’s two managers with two different priorities, which will prove an interesting prospect for the game.
Chelsea vs Bayern Munich | 25 Feb 20:00
Chelsea have produced a couple of strong performances against Chelsea and Ajax in the group stages, and are currently fourth in the Premier League.
Meanwhile Bayern won all of their six Group stage games, including against Tottenham, and are currently third in the Bundesliga.
Borussia Dortmund vs Paris Saint-Germain | 18 Feb 20:00
Borussia Dortmund sits just behind Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, but in the Champions League they’ve just won three of their six games.
Paris Saint-Germain have claimed five wins, and sit above Real Madrid after the group stage.
These main matches are bound to get us sitting on the edge of our seats. Who will progress remains to be seen.