The Knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League for the 2019/2020 UCL season are set to commence on the 18th of February, 2020 to conclude on the 18th of March, 2020. The group stages of the Champions League concluded last December with not too many big-name casualties except for Italian giants FC Internazionale Milano and last season’s surprise semi-finalists AFC Ajax who both failed to qualify for the second round. The round of 16 draws for the next round threw up some tasty fixtures to light up the next stage of this competition.
Here are five fixtures of the second round to watch out for:
1. Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool FC
This tie will be a big test for the defending champions Liverpool who will be aiming to emulate the all-conquering Real Madrid CF side of a few seasons back and win the big ears trophy back to back. Liverpool hasn’t been as domineering in the champions league as they have been in their domestic league. Reds manager Jurgen Klopp will however still be confident of his side’s chances going into this match.
The World Club Cup Champions will be glad to still have at their disposal one of Europe’s most deadly strike partnerships with Sadio Mane, Mohammed Salah and Roberto Firmino. The trio are set to be unleashed against Diego Simeone’s side. Simeone is no stranger to knockout stages and will be hoping to orchestrate a surprise win over the Reds. Los Rojiblancos have suffered previous champions league heartbreaks and will do all within their power to finally claim their first trophy starting with a victory over the Reds.
2. FC Bayern Munich vs Chelsea FC
Arguably the tie of the round sees former winners Chelsea and Bayern faceoff in a repeat of the 2012 final in which the West Londoners pulled off an unlikely penalty shootout victory to claim their first and for now only Champions League trophy. Chelsea manager Frank Lampard who as a player, was involved in that famous win will be hoping for a repeat of that result against the Germans. Bayern, on the other hand, will be looking to avenge that loss as Hans-Dieter Flick’s men try to qualify for the next round.
3. Manchester City vs Real Madrid CF
Another blockbuster encounter of the round will see English champions Manchester City battle European giants and record 13-time winners Real Madrid. This is sure going to be a very entertaining affair with both sides boasting a host of attacking talent. With Pep Guardiola going up against Zinedine Zidane in a battle of tactical wits this is one match you dare not miss.
4. SSC Napoli vs FC Barcelona
Italian side Napoli couldn’t have asked for a tougher fixture as they prepare to face Barcelona. Both sides have experienced managerial changes and will go into this tie with new managers at the helm. Napoli manager Gennaro Gattuso will try to guide his charges past a Messi led Barcelona side determined to make up for last season’s capitulation to eventual winners Liverpool. Barca goes into the game as overwhelming favourites but should be wary of the Neapolitans who have shown themselves to be no pushovers with their exploits in the group stages.
5. BVB Dortmund vs PSG
Another game to keep an eye on is this fixture between German side Borussia Dortmund and French Champions Paris Saint Germain. PSG coach Thomas Tuchel goes back to Germany to face his old team Dortmund. He will be hoping to navigate past his former charges as the French giants continue in their search for their first-ever piece of European silverware.
Written By Ayotunde Omolayole