The much anticipated 2019/20 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 was finally made in Nyon, Switzerland, on Monday and it produced some mouthwatering fixtures. Premier League Champions, Man City will lock horns with Real Madrid, PSG face Borussia Dortmund, while Barcelona will square up against Napoli. Newcomers, Atalanta will slug it out with Valencia, while Lyon will face Cristiano Ronaldo-led Juventus. Elsewhere, Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham faces RB Leipzig with defending champions, Liverpool, getting Athletico Madrid. Lastly, there will be a repeat of the 2012 final with Chelsea coming up against Bayern Munich.
Here, TOP SOCCER BLOG looks at the winners and losers from the draw.
WINNERS: FOOTBALL VIEWERS
Football lovers surely relish watching blockbusting encounters and this season’s UCL round of 16 matches won’t be short of it. Almost all the matches will be tantalising, but fans will surely be more excited with fixtures like Real Madrid vs Man City, Athletico Madrid vs Liverpool and Chelsea vs Bayern Munich.
Paris Saint Germain have dominated the Ligue 1 since the Qatar Sports Investment group took over, but they have been unable to replicate their domestic dominance on the continent with the club regularly getting eliminated at the round of 16 despite their huge investments on players.
Thomas Tuchel’s side will relish the chance of playing Borussia Dortmund —who are struggling to perform up to the standards they displayed last season.
Neymar and Co. will also be relieved to have avoided the likes of Athletico Madrid, Tottenham and Chelsea.
LOSERS: MANCHESTER CITY
Like PSG, City has also been unable to extend their domestic dominance to the European stage. With the league title slipping away to Liverpool, Pep Guardiola’s side will like to salvage their season by winning Europe’s premier competition. City were lucky to be drawn against Atalanta, Shaktar and Zagreb in the group stages but found the going tougher this time around as they have been paired against the most successful club in the competition’s history, Real Madrid!
City’s most successful campaign in the champions league was in 2016 where they reached the semi-finals and got eliminated by Real Madrid!
WINNERS: MAURIZIO SARRI AND JUVENTUS
Having finished as runners-up in 2015 and 2017, Juventus are eager to go one step further. “Mr Champions league” Cristiano Ronaldo was signed for this reason. Although the club failed last season, they have moved to avoid a repeat of such by replacing Maximiliano Allegri with Maurizio Sarri in the dugout. Juventus couldn’t have wished for a better draw after getting matched up against Lyon—avoiding Real Madrid, Chelsea and Tottenham in the process.
The team hasn’t totally adapted to Sarri’s style so far, but the Italian will be confident of making significant improvement before February.
The Blues’ defence has been very poor this season having kept just a single clean sheet in their six matches in the group stage. Chelsea have been paired with Bayern Munich, and their defence will come up against the in-form Roberto Lewandowski— who has already fired in 33 goals in just 29 games this season for club and country!
Last season’s runners-up, Tottenham, started the season poorly and manager, Mauricio Pochettino was subsequently axed and duly replaced by Jose Mourinho, who has quickly turned the team’s fortunes around. The Portuguese will be happy to have avoided PSG, Juventus and Barcelona and instead, got drawn against Bundesliga side, RB Leipzig.
LOSERS: ATHLETICO MADRID
Diego Simeone’s men are in a transition into a new era after seeing some of their most experienced stars depart in the summer. Their worst fears were realised after getting paired against Jurgen Klopp’s all-conquering side who are the competition’s defending champions and also targeting their third consecutive appearance in the Champions League final.
WINNERS: BARCELONA AND MESSI
Barcelona last won the UCL in 2015, and are hungrier than ever to lay their hands on the trophy once more. Messi recently won his record sixth Ballon D’or—one more than Ronaldo. The Argentine will also be eager to pull level with his rival on 5 Champions league titles.
Messi’s Barcelona will face struggling Napoli in the round of 16.
The first legs of the matches will take place on 18th, 19th, 25th and 26th of February while the return legs will be on 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th of March.
*Written by Muftaudeen Abdullahi Ishola*