The road to the 2020-21 Champions League final in Istanbul has now reached the knockout stage and the draw for the round of 16 has sparked some heavyweight encounters, with Barcelona delivering the standout game against Paris Saint-Germain Lionel Messi and Neymar Fight head to head for a place in the quarterfinals.
Atletico Madrid versus Chelsea will see Diego Costa Return to Stamford Bridge for Diego Simeone’s side Cristiano Ronaldo has the chance to play again in Portugal after Juventus’ pairing with FC Porto.
Jump to: Europa League draw reaction
Reigning champions Bayern Munich are set to reach the quarter-finals against Lazio, while Real Madrid and Manchester City believe they have great chances to make progress at the expense of Atalanta and Borussia Mönchengladbach. There is also an exciting match between RB Leipzig and Liverpool, while the reigning Europa League champions Sevilla take on Borussia Dortmund.
But ties that look like they’re going a certain way now could be a whole different story when the Games hit February. So much can change – shape, fitness, manager – as the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic ensure nothing can be taken for granted. But with two months to go until the Champions League returns, ESPN’s here is far too early a look at how the connections develop and play out.
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Borussia Mönchengladbach versus Manchester City
Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens from ESPN FC discuss the draw for Man City with Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Manchester City has developed into an experienced Champions League team under Pep Guardiola, but never exceeded the quarter-finals under the former coach of Barcelona and Bayern Munich and only reached the semi-finals in 2015/16 under Manuel Pellegrini. At some point it must surely be her year. City have had an unconvincing start to the Premier League this season, but they emerged from Group C with five wins and one draw and are relieved to have avoided Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the round of 16.
But Gladbach will worry Guardiola because of her unpredictability. Marco Rose’s side scored ten times in their two group matches after Shakhtar Donetsk and held Real Madrid in Germany before losing their last two home games to Inter Milan and Madrid. French striker Alassane’s plea is the threat to City after scoring five goals in the group stage but the reality is that the English team should comfortably win this draw.
Who Qualifies? Manchester City
Lazio versus Bayern Munich
It will be the shock of the 2020-21 Champions League so far when Lazio can eliminate champions Bayern in the knockout phase for the first time since 1999-2000 when the two clubs meet for the first time in competition. Simone Inzaghi’s team was unbeaten in Group F and finished second in Dortmund, but only managed two wins in six games. However, the 3-1 home win over Dortmund will alert Bayern to Lazio’s skills and the Italians will always face a threat in the storm Ciro Immobile is fit and available.
But Bayern look like the team again to beat in the Champions League. They scored 18 goals in six games in Group A and led the section by a staggering seven points over Atletico Madrid. If the fans can be back at the Stadio Olimpico in large numbers by the first leg in February, Lazio may score a surprise win, but it is almost impossible to imagine Bayern getting stuck from that two-leg draw.
Who Qualifies? Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid versus Chelsea
Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens discuss the pressure on Chelsea to draw with Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea have shown signs of becoming a force again this season under Frank Lampard but the Atletico draw will be an acid test of their progress. Former Chelsea striker Diego Costa is struggling with injury issues that have kept him on the verge of the Champions League so far this season. However, he hopes to be fit within a month and could still face his old team Luis Suarez. However, the real threat from Atletico is Joao Felix, the Portuguese striker who justifies the € 126m price tag after moving from Benfica in 2019.
Atletico beat Liverpool over two legs at this stage last season and are confident of a similar result against Chelsea that is still developing under Lampard. Two months later, it feels like a game where Atletico and Simeone’s experience becomes too much for Chelsea and Lampard, but it’s close.
Who Qualifies? Atletico Madrid
RB Leipzig versus Liverpool
Gab Marcotti says RB Leipzig’s unpredictability will be a challenge for Liverpool.
Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp will be careful about the clash with Julian Nagelsmann’s Leipzig as the German team is a dangerous opponent who is not afraid of reputation or tradition. They’re resilient too, as evidenced by their ability to overcome a 5-0 defeat at Manchester United in the group stage before eliminating Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side with a 3-2 home win in the final. Leipzig also defeated Paris Saint-Germain in Group H and have clearly overcome the star striker’s loss Timo Werner to Chelsea this summer.
Left behind Angelino is a great threat to the future and his encounter with Trent Alexander-Arnold will be a highlight of the tie, as will the middle of the half Dayot Upamecanothe ability to contain Liverpools Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino. Leipzig beat Spurs 4-0 overall last season so they know how to beat English teams. After conceding 12 goals in six group matches they will give Liverpool chances and that will be the main factor behind this draw.
Who Qualifies? Liverpool
Porto versus Juventus
Sergio Conceicaos Porto shouldn’t be underestimated in this tie as they demonstrated their tenacity and ability to frustrate a highly rated opponent by keeping Manchester City 0-0 in the group stage. You have the experience of Pepe on the back and the target threat from Moussa Marega and Luis Diaz up front and while they will be the underdogs against Juventus, Porto will see to it that this draw is close in the 180 minutes.
However, Juve absolutely wants to win the Champions League. After a round of 16 against Lyon last season, this could be the last shot for this team and Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be 36 in February. Ronaldo scored one of the best goals of his career with a 40-yard goal for Manchester United against Porto at the Estadio do Dragao in 2009 and wants to leave his mark on Portugal. Juve beat Porto 3-0 over two legs in this phase in 2016/17 and Ronaldo has to be fit and fired to get a similar result this time.
Who Qualifies? Juventus
Barcelona versus Paris Saint-Germain
This is an epic tie and deserves the final itself, but thanks to luck in the draw, a Champions League heavyweight will be eliminated early, which could have a huge impact on the losing side coach. It’s hard to see Barca’s Ronald Koeman or PSG coach Thomas Tuchel survive in their jobs if they lose that tie. With ongoing uncertainty over the future of Lionel Messi in Barcelona and Neymar in Paris, this could be the last chance for both players to win the Champions League with their current employers.
Barca are a declining force, as evidenced by their 8-2 win against Bayern last season and the chances are good that PSG will be preferred. The firepower of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe Should be too much for Barca’s unconvincing defense but Barca have won their last 13 round of 16 games and PSG will still have the scars of their 6-5 defeat in the round of 16 in 2016-17 when they were eliminated despite a 4-0 first leg win. Four years later, PSG appear poised to avenge this humiliation.
Who Qualifies? PSG
Sevilla versus Borussia Dortmund
This is a tie where Seville will have a real experience of winning European trophies against a team with rising stars in Dortmund. Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla team showed their nous and big game mentality by defeating Manchester United and Inter Milan to win last season’s Europa League – their sixth Europa League title of the century – but they could never implement their success in this competition the Champions League.
If they can handle the scoring chance of Erling Haaland and Jadon Sanchoand the star talents of teenagers Gio Reyna and Jude BellinghamSevilla will make progress, but much also depends on the situation in the position of coach in Dortmund after Lucien Favre’s sacking. Assistant Edin Terzic has since taken command and hopes to keep the upheaval in Dortmund to a minimum if he tries to change the league form.
Who Qualifies? Seville
Atalanta versus Real Madrid
Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens from ESPN FC discuss Atalanta’s chances against Real Madrid in the round of 16.
Few teams in Europe are as unpredictable as Atalanta and Gian Piero Gasperini’s team, who are saving their best and worst performances for the Champions League. They reached last season’s quarter-finals despite scoring just one point in the first four group matches and booked their spot in this year’s round of 16 with a 5-0 home loss to Liverpool with a 2-0 win at Anfield three weeks later .
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane will be concerned about the dangers lurking for his team against Atalanta, who have the creative power of Papu Gomez # 10 and the scoring opportunity of Duvan Zapata front. Real made it with a home win in the final against Borussia Mönchengladbach, so they have to improve quickly or have to be before a third elimination in a row in this phase. Atalanta’s attacking ability will cause real problems but this is a tie the Spaniards should win. It’ll be fun, but it turns out.
Who Qualifies? real Madrid
Mark Ogden believes David Silva could pursue Man United in what he thinks is a very difficult game.
The knockout phase of the Europa League promises tougher than ever with the draw for the round of 16, including the leaders of the English, French, Spanish, German and Italian leagues.
With the winners of the competition directly qualifying for next season’s Champions League, the race for the final in Gdansk with such a big prize will be intense. And the biggest clubs in the Europa League had a mixed fate when the draw for the round of 16 took place on Monday.
Wolfsberger AC versus Tottenham
After Spurs defeated the Austrian league high-flyer LASK Linz in the group stage, he shouldn’t have any concerns about the Austrian club Wolfsberger AC, which is in the national competition in the midfield and outside the European places.
Midfielder Michael Liendl will pose the greatest threat to Spurs with four goals in five group games, but Jose Mourinho will be able to rest his star players for this draw and still look forward to it with confidence.
Who Qualifies? Spurs
Real Sociedad versus Manchester United
The tie of the round, but also the worst tie for two clubs with real ambitions to win the Europa League this season.
La Real are the surprise leaders of La Liga. Former Manchester City midfielder David Silva inspires the team to the top of the table. Former United midfielder Adnan Januzaj is another player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team should see.
After leaving the Champions League for the Europa League, United would have hoped for a much easier game and they have to do their best to pass this game.
Who Qualifies? Manchester United
Benfica versus Arsenal
A Champions League game in the Europa League – that’s the harsh reality for these two big clubs before their round of 16.
Benfica are currently second in Portugal while Arsenal are in sixth after their worst start to a Premier League season. But by the time the game hits in February, Arsenal will certainly have emerged from the slump. Do not you want?
Who Qualifies? arsenal
Red Star Belgrade versus AC Milan
A setback between two European Cup winners from the 1990s, in which the unbeaten front runners of the Serbian SuperLiga compete against the undefeated front runners of the Italian Serie A.
Red Star will be tough opponents for Milan but with Zlatan Ibrahimovic still going strong at 39, Italian giants should be favorites.
Who Qualifies? AC Milan
Royal Antwerp vs. Rangers
Steven Gerrard’s Rangers are undefeated in all competitions this season and on track to win the Scottish title for the first time since 2011. However, her progress in Europe was an unexpected bonus for the former Liverpool captain.
The Rangers are expected to win this draw and make it to the round of 16, where they could secure a Battle of Britain match against one of the four remaining Premier League teams.
Who Qualifies? Rangers
Slavia Prague versus Leicester
It looks good for Leicester, but Czech champions Slavia have an up-and-coming team of local players who beat German Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen in the group stage and recorded home and away wins against Nice.
Brendan Rodgers has a team more than capable of making progress, but Slavia is dangerous and Leicester will pay the price for any complacency.
Who Qualifies? Leicester