The Champions League resumed play last Tuesday, with the Round of 16 matches, with each team facing their opponents twice. This year’s knockout stage is likely to provide some mouth-watering matchups, as we’ll see some Champions League giants square off.
The UEFA Champions League is the world’s most prestigious and elite club football competition. It brings together the continent’s best teams to battle for a single trophy.
With a total of 13 titles, Real Madrid is the most successful team in the competition’s history. AC Milan is right behind them with seven titles. The Spanish giants have also made the most tournament appearances (46), having competed in 457 matches since 1955.
With the competition now in its knockout stages, let’s examine all of the Round of 16 matches to determine which clubs will advance to the quarter-finals.
Lille vs. Chelsea
Many Chelsea fans were dejected following the share of the spoils against Zenit on Matchday 6, as Chelsea finished second in Group H. As a result, they were on the verge of receiving a difficult draw against Ajax, Real Madrid, or Bayern Munich.
However, it seemed as though the draw between Chelsea and Lille was a divine intervention. Chelsea were not only drawn with the French champions in the redraw, but they were also drawn alongside them in the initial draw. As such, Thomas Tuchel’s players will be relieved to have avoided the competition’s top European giants at this point.
Despite their recent fall in form, Chelsea should not be underestimated as an inferior side. Their recent success in the FIFA Club World Cup will invigorate their spirits. They are heavily favored to defeat the Ligue 1 champions in this match.
Juventus vs. Villarreal
The Yellow Submarines, who were paired against Manchester United in the initial draw, have little to cheer about at the moment, since Juventus appear to be more dangerous than Ralf Rangnick’s men. However, Villarreal, as the defending Europa League champions, will offer a threat to the Italian titans.
It should be a competitive battle, despite Juventus’ superior experience and pedigree in the competition. The Old Lady’s results in the last three years of the UCL knockout stages have been terrible, resulting in their elimination against smaller teams. Porto ousted them in the Round of 16 last season, while Lyon and Ajax eliminated them in the Round of 16 and quarterfinals of the previous campaigns, respectively.
Atletico Madrid vs. Manchester United
Atletico Madrid vs. Manchester United is expected to be a tense match between two struggling teams.Manchester United have had a mixed bag of results since interim manager Ralf Rangnick took over. They have dropped out of the Premier League’s top four following back-to-back draws against Burnley and Southampton. Cristiano Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, is on a six-game goalless streak.
Atletico Madrid have likewise been inconsistent since the season began. They’ve won only four of their last eleven matches (one draw and six losses). Additionally, they barely made it past the group stages, coming second in Group B.
Cristiano Ronaldo, on the other hand, is notorious for wreaking havoc whenever he faces Diego Simeone’s players in the Champions League. This tie will bring Ronaldo back to the Wanda Metropolitano and provide him with another opportunity to break Los Colchoneros’ hearts.
If Ronaldo can rediscover his best form, the Spanish champions could be eliminated in the Champions League Round of 16. When the Portuguese were at Juventus, he scored a fantastic hat-trick to help the Old Lady overcome a 0-2 away deficit and advance to the quarter-finals. After all, Ronaldo is the Champions League’s all-time leading scorer. We believe the Red Devils will progress thanks to the Ronaldo factor.
Ajax vs. Benfica
When this year’s Champions League campaign began, the majority of top teams would have welcomed a knockout round matchup with Ajax. That may no longer be the case, since Ajax were unbeatable in the group stages, collecting all 18 points alongside Liverpool and Bayern.
Sebastien Haller, their talisman, is now the leading scorer in the Champions League this season. He also achieved a stunning record by becoming the second player in Champions League history to score in all six group games. Ajax and Benfica last met in the Champions League in 2018-19, with the Dutch team winning once and drawing once in two group stage encounters.
Having said that, Benfica also have a Champions League pedigree, having won two titles. Erik ten Hag’s men will fancy their chances of winning this two-legged match if Sebastien Haller continues to score goals.