UEFA announced the Champions League last 16 draw in Nyon, Switzerland Wednesday. The league divided the last 16 teams into 2 pods: seeded group winners and unseeded. Teams that faced each other in the group stages can’t be drawn together, nor can clubs form the same country. With that being said, here are your top 3 most interesting draws remaining in the Champions League’s Round of 16.
Sevilla vs Borussia Dortmund
First glance at this matchup and most soccer fans would think Dortmund all day, but not so fast. Currently 5th in the Bundesliga, Dortmund have struggled to find their form especially at home, where they already have 3 losses. Not only that, but VfB Stuttgart thrashed the team in its last home performance at the Westfalenstadion, winning 5-1. This resulted in manager Lucien Favre getting the sack. Before their last 16 matchup, Dortmund must find form with newly promoted manager Edwin Terzic and figure out their problems at the back, conceding 8 goals in their last 3 games.
On the other hand, people forget that Sevilla won the Europa League last year. This team is used to making deep runs in European competitions and has way more experience than Dortmund in competitions of this nature. Jesùs Navas, Ivan Rakitic and Lucas Ocampos will look to take Sevilla into the quarterfinals for the first time since the 2017-18 season. That year they lost to Bayern Munich 2-1 on aggregate score.
Prediction: Sevilla on aggregate 4-3
Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea
Frank Lampard’s men are hitting their stride. Before last Saturday’s loss against Everton, Chelsea were on a 10-match unbeaten streak in all competitions. Sitting 5th in the Premier League, Chelsea are in position to make a push for the title, currently only 3 points back from league leaders Tottenham. The return of Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech in a week will only strengthen this Chelsea squad’s chances of making a splash in Europe. The only question is how will Frank Lampard manage this team against the best in Europe? Will the pressure of the Champions League be too much?
On the other side, you have the gritty, scrappy, Diego Simeone-managed Atletico Madrid. Losing Uruguayan international Josè Giménez at the back hurts, but it will not stop Simeone from doing everything necessary to win this tie, even if it’s ugly. Last year, the round of 16 saw Simeone use tactics that got under the skin of Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool. Ultimately, Simeone’s men pulled off the upset at Anfield 4-2 on aggregate score. Can the Argentine manager turn back the clock and produce the same magic as last year?
Prediction: Atletico on away goals 2-2
Barcelona vs PSG
Last but not least, we have Barcelona vs PSG. In this draw, Messi will square up against his good friend Neymar (if healthy) and French International Kylian Mbappé. This year has not been good for Barça at all. Between the Messi saga and financial troubles at the club due to COVID-19, Barça are looking for anything to soak their season and this matchup just might be it. If Barça are going to advance, they’re going to need a masterclass performance from Lionel Messi. It’s just that simple. The supporting cast of Frankie De Jong and Antoine Griezmann will need to put a stamp on this tie as well. If Barça lose this draw, you really have to wonder what they will make with the rest of their season. This would be the first time they’ve lost in the round of 16 since the 2006-07 campaign against Liverpool.
The time for PSG to capitalize is now. Barcelona is in bad shape, but PSG has some questions of their own. The injury bug has hit them hard this season. The latest coming when Neymar was stretchered off with an ankle injury over the weekend in a 1-0 loss against Lyon. If this injury proves to be serious and the Brazilian misses this matchup against Barcelona, it would be a huge blow. At the same time, this would open the door for Kylian Mbappè to lead the line. During his time in Paris, Mbappè had his troubles in Europe’s big games. With that being said, what a better time than now to make an impact during the biggest tie in the round of 16.
Prediction: PSG on aggregate 5-3
We’ll see how all 8 matchups play out when the first legs start on February 16th.