The Champions League is starting to get critical. After three months of group stage motion, the groups have been whittled right down to 16 and we’re prepared for knockout soccer.
There’s a full Premier League contingent nonetheless concerned with Liverpool, Manchester Metropolis, Manchester United and Tottenham all making it by means of their teams.
Liverpool and United face probably the most troublesome last 16 ties, drawing Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain respectively.
Spurs go up towards Borussia Dortmund whereas Metropolis face maybe the simplest activity with a tie towards Schalke.
Last 16 draw in full
The Champions League last 16 draw befell at Uefa’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland (Getty Pictures)
12/13/19/20 February: Spherical of 16, first leg
5/6/12/13 March: Spherical of 16, second leg
15 March: Quarter-last & semi-last draw
9/10 April: Quarter-finals, first leg
16/17 April: Quarter-finals, second leg
30 April/1 Might: Semi-finals, first leg
7/eight Might: Semi-finals, second leg
1 June: Remaining – Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid
Former Southampton man Dusan Tadic might be a hazard for Ajax (Getty Pictures)
Erik ten Hag has had an fascinating profession path, working inside Bayern Munich’s youth set-up through the Pep Guardiola years earlier than being appointed at Ajax in January after a profitable two-yr spell as boss of Eredivisie aspect FC Utrecht.
Returning to Ajax in the summer time after an extended spell with Southampton in the Premier League, Dusan Tadic has settled again into life in the Netherlands with ease. Throughout the Eredivisie, Champions League correct and qualification levels, the Serbia worldwide has netted 17 objectives and laid on 11 assists in 28 appearances, which means that he has participated in a objective per recreation since heading again to Amsterdam.
Season to date
Ajax are vying with PSV in a two-horse Eredivisie title race, sat in a great place to construct upon their early-season type and problem for silverware come the top of the marketing campaign. Boasting a really robust defensive report and sufficient firepower to trigger groups issues, their three-three group draw with Bayern Munich on the ultimate Group E matchday caught the eye.
Having reached the Europa League remaining in 2017, it’s time for Ajax to take additional steps ahead on the continent’s largest stage. Their mix of youth and expertise ought to make an fascinating contribution to the knockout part.
Antoine Griezmann is of additional significance to Atletico Madrid this season given Diego Costa’s damage issues (Getty Photographs)
Since arriving at his former membership in a training capability in 2011, Diego Simeone has guided Atletico Madrid to a league title, two Europa League titles and two Champions League finals.
Antoine Griezmann was named the third greatest participant in world soccer on the newest version of the Ballon d’Or and will probably be of additional significance provided that Diego Costa is about to spend a number of months on the sidelines.
The France worldwide provides creativity and intelligence in possession, however identifies with Simeone’s type when off the ball too, unafraid to work onerous, drop deep and monitor again to assist his midfield out in troublesome spells. A Champions League trophy can be one other large addition to his assortment after World Cup glory.
Season up to now
A goalless draw in their ultimate Group A recreation towards Membership Brugge value Atleti prime spot, which has left Los Colchoneros with the state of affairs of drawing a a lot harder opponent in the knockout levels. In La Liga, Simeone’s aspect have been strong however unspectacular, dropping simply as soon as.
Regardless of bringing in the likes of Gelson Martins, Nikola Kalinic and Thomas Lemar through the summer time, scoring objectives and blowing groups out of the water has been one thing of a problem for Atleti, however in a Champions League of tighter video games, greater high quality and finer margins, they’re arrange properly (as ever) to offer a resilient check for any opponent.
Lionel Messi continues to be the primary man for Barcelona (Getty Pictures)
Ernesto Valverde, who secured La Liga’s title throughout his first season in cost at Camp Nou, virtually going unbeaten in the method.
Although he might have completed in fifth place in the newest version of the Ballon d’Or, Lionel Messi’s begin to the 2018-19 marketing campaign has been sometimes spectacular.
Capable of swing shut video games and break down probably the most resilience of defences, the Argentine’s free-kick prowess has additionally been on present in current months. Even in probably the most making an attempt of circumstances, Messi can information Barça to 3 factors.
Season thus far
After a shaky begin to La Liga, which noticed defensive issues and a scarcity of stability hamper the Blaugrana in the early weeks of the season, issues have settled down for Valverde’s aspect. On the shut of the Champions League group stage, they sit on the summit of the Spanish prime flight and have discovered their ft. Arthur has been an ideal addition in central midfield, whereas Ousmane Dembele confirmed his high quality towards Tottenham after a lot off-area criticism.
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi are each scoring objectives and wanting sharp, compensating for a few of the defensive woes that the Catalan aspect have suffered throughout the marketing campaign – however they’ve tightened up since a patchy begin.
Robert Lewandowski has been on hearth this season (Getty Pictures)
Niko Kovac, the previous Bayern midfielder who was beforehand at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Whereas it’s been a difficult season for Bayern, Robert Lewandowski appears to have largely ignored the turmoil round him. The imposing No 9 has scored 22 objectives in 22 appearances in all competitions this season, together with eight in six in the Champions League.
Kids Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Sule and Serge Gnabry have all proven glimmers of excellence this time period, however the previous guard appear to be on the best way out at Bayern. Manuel Neuer has been singled out for specific criticism for his performances, whereas Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery look set to go away the membership in the summer time.
Season to date
Bayern completed prime of Champions League Group E with no loss to their identify, although solely two factors forward of Ajax who additionally went undefeated. For Bayern, the group stage offered welcome respite from a season of wrestle domestically.
Regardless of their large monetary dominance in the Bundesliga, the reigning champions are at present third in the desk and 9 factors behind league leaders Borussia Dortmund. Having gained the league for the last six seasons operating that represents a full-blown disaster for Bayern, who look unusually fallible even when their type in Europe has been comparatively unaffected.
Borussia Dortmund shall be harmful opponents (Getty Pictures)
Lucien Favre, the previous Hertha Berlin, Lyon and Borussia Monchengladbach coach who took over from veteran custodian Peter Stoger initially of the season.
A lot to the thrill of England followers, Camberwell-born Jadon Sancho has been the breakout star of the season for Dortmund.
With 5 objectives and seven assists in the Bundesliga – although solely certainly one of every in the Champions League – the technically gifted winger has been an enormous a part of BVB’s early success. Marco Reus, again from a string of debilitating accidents, has additionally been in fantastic type, as has summer time signing Paco Alcacer.
Season thus far
Dortmund narrowly squeezed out Atletico Madrid for prime spot in Champions League Group A. Regardless of each ending on 13 factors, Dortmund edged Atletico on head-to-head having thrashed them four-zero on the Westfalenstadion – a recreation in which Sancho scored – and misplaced 2-zero on the Wanda Metropolitano, their solely defeat of the group stage.
Domestically, Dortmund have been wonderful this season and they’re at present prime of the Bundesliga. They lead second-positioned Monchengladbach and previous rivals Bayern Munich by 9 factors, with the reigning champions in third.
Favre has Dortmund enjoying an aggressive fashion of attacking soccer, however with respectable defensive stability. They’ve scored greater than anybody else in the Bundesliga thus far, but in addition have the second greatest defence behind solely RB Leipzig. Favre’s aspect conceded solely two objectives in the Champions League group stage, each in their single defeat to Atletico. Enjoying with confidence, Dortmund will probably be a troublesome opponent and could have excessive hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals.
Can Cristiano Ronaldo declare one other Champions League trophy? (Getty Pictures)
Massimiliano Allegri has led Juventus to the last 4 Serie A titles, in addition to to the Champions League remaining on two totally different events since taking the job again in 2014.
Cristiano Ronaldo value Juventus over £100 million in the course of the summer time. The 33-year-previous is probably the crowning jewel required to see the Previous Woman go all the best way to Champions League glory, after two shut shaves in the last few years.
The Portuguese star has scored 11 objectives in his first 20 appearances for the Bianconeri, and all the time had a fame for getting sharper because the season progressed at Actual Madrid. He ought to show very important as we get right down to the enterprise finish of the competitors.
Season up to now
Juventus are nonetheless defending an unbeaten document in Serie A and topped Group H with 12 factors, however defeats towards Manchester United and Younger Boys depart margin for enchancment. Conceding simply eight occasions in the Italian prime flight, the Bianconeri have gotten strong foundations. After the acquisition of Ronaldo, they’ve assured further objectives that could possibly be the distinction between heartbreak and triumph this time round.
Tanguy N’Dombele impressed towards Manchester Metropolis in the group stage (Getty Pictures)
Bruno Genesio is a house-grown expertise who has represented Lyon as a participant, assistant and supervisor over an in depth profession. Since being appointed in 2015, he has been unafraid to take a progressive strategy with a youthful squad.
Tanguy N’Dombele has grabbed the headlines over the last calendar yr, displaying composure and calm in possession past his years on the age of simply 21. An aesthetic central midfielder, able to dictating play and receiving the ball beneath strain, the Frenchman stood out towards Manchester Metropolis in the group stage and seems to have an enormous future forward of him.
Season up to now
Group F’s draw specialists, Lyon ended their six-recreation stick with 5 attracts and one win, remaining unbeaten and foiling one of many favourites for the event in Manchester Metropolis. A part of the pack chasing European qualification behind Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, armed with a squad full of younger expertise, the French outfit ought to solely enhance as they mature. Their unbeaten document in a troublesome Champions League group factors in the direction of them being a possible banana pores and skin for a much bigger aspect.
PSG hope Neymar can cause them to a primary Champions League triumph (Getty Photographs)
Thomas Tuchel, as soon as Borussia Dortmund boss and the hippest man in soccer however now a prepared servant to PSG’s voracious company empire.
It’s arduous to look previous Neymar right here, the smugly grinning face of the financially absurd PSG undertaking. He has scored 16 objectives in 19 appearances this season, together with 5 in six matches on the Champions League group stage.
Fellow forwards Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe would certainly lay declare to ‘star man’ standing in another aspect, with 12 and 15 objectives in all competitions respectively. Certainly, in a team made up virtually solely of ludicrously costly signings, choosing a ‘star man’ is considerably redundant.
Season to date
Although removed from infallible on the group stage, with their erratic defence an unresolved situation, PSG have been nonetheless vaguely terrifying at occasions. Having misplaced three-2 to Liverpool at Anfield in their Champions League opener and drawn twice with Napoli – not essentially a terrific omen provided that these have been their fundamental rivals in the group – they nonetheless scored 17 objectives all advised, eight greater than Jurgen Klopp’s aspect.
Having solely deigned to drop factors in Ligue 1 come early December – this after profitable their first 14 league video games in a row – Les Parisiens have established full home dominance in France. So devalued is the Ligue 1 title at this level and so monumental their funding, nevertheless, that the Champions League actually is the one competitors which issues to them.
Moussa Marega has been Porto’s most dependable supply of objectives this season (Getty Pictures)
Former Porto and Portugal winger Sergio Conceicao, who led the membership to their first Primeira Liga title since 2013 last season.
After a sluggish-burn begin to his profession, Moussa Marega has been the driving pressure behind Porto’s development to the last 16.
Having graduated from the French decrease leagues and Tunisian soccer, the 27-year-previous joined Porto in 2016 and – after a modest first season – scored 23 in all competitions last time period and has 5 objectives in six Champions League fixtures this season.
Season up to now
Whereas Group D was in all probability the least aggressive of the Champions League group stage, Porto however did properly to complete prime by 5 factors. Profitable 5 and drawing solely one among their matches – a 1-1 stalemate with Schalke in their competitors opener – they have been considered one of solely 5 groups to finish the group stage unbeaten.
Although some may see the Portuguese champions as a mushy opponent in the last 16, they could possibly be a difficult proposition. Defensively competent and usually properly organised however with Marega as a harmful outlet up entrance, they are going to be as hungry as anybody to progress to the quarter-finals.
Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric could have his work minimize out to encourage Actual Madrid (Getty Photographs)
Former Actual Madrid participant and ex-Castilla coach Santiago Solari, who was appointed after an interim spell as coach following the sacking of Julen Lopetegui in October.
Luka Modric broke the Messi-Ronaldo Ballon d’Or hegemony this month, and might be anticipated to offer some thrust and creativity from midfield as Actual Madrid look to overcome the Champions League for the fourth consecutive time. Vitally, this time they may have to take action with out Cristiano Ronaldo. Modric can be requested to tug the strings and dominate in the engine room, serving to Los Blancos go toe to toe with the most effective on the continent.
Season thus far
It has been a rollercoaster season for Actual Madrid. Lopetegui solely made it from his appointment in the summer time to October, with a 5-1 thrashing in El Clasico sufficient to see the previous Spain boss sacked. Since then, Solari has managed to enhance confidence ranges and return to a few of the fundamentals that noticed Zinedine Zidane persistently lead the membership to European glory.
Managing individuals is extra necessary than getting the tactical particulars proper on the Bernabeu. Extra objectives are wanted from their entrance three, nevertheless, and their underperformance in La Liga makes Champions League progress of paramount significance.
Edin Dzeko’s objectives have been very important for Roma (Getty Photographs)
Eusebio Di Francesco has been in cost on the membership because the summer time of 2017, after impressing Roma as Sassuolo boss, however the strain on his shoulders has not often been as intense.
If there’s a man to show Roma’s fortunes round this season, it’s Edin Dzeko. The Bosnia worldwide’s 24 objectives have been very important last season in numerous competitions, however his early type in 2018-19 has been considerably disappointing. The midfield supporting him might have weakened in phrases of expertise, however there’s a wealth of younger, energetic expertise that ought to have the ability to present the previous Manchester Metropolis hitman with ammunition.
Season to date
Ending second in a Champions League group that contained Actual Madrid, Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow, solely qualifying for the knockout part by a two-level cushion was somewhat too shut for consolation. Underperforming in each European competitors and Serie A, the place the Giallorossi are at present one in every of a horde of sides chasing a Europa League place, Di Francesco is beneath heavy strain to show the state of affairs round.
A big turnover of gamers from last season to this has made it robust for Roma to quiet down and discover their ft as soon as extra, as key midfielders comparable to Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan have left for pastures new. All just isn’t properly on the Stadio Olimpico, however a Champions League run would definitely assist to paper over the cracks.
Former Spurs man Nabil Bentaleb has starred for Schalke this season (Getty Pictures)
Domenico Tedesco was given the prospect to maneuver into prime-flight teaching on the age of 32. He has since guided Schalke on an upward trajectory after a few seasons in the wilderness, securing Champions League participation this season.
Able to masking a variety of various roles in midfield, Nabil Bentaleb has been an essential performer throughout Schalke’s current droop in type. Chipping in together with his justifiable share of objectives in a aspect that’s actually struggling to hit the again of the web domestically and in Europe, the Algerian midfielder has the technical potential to take a seat deep or supply a menace in and across the penalty space.
Snug on the ball and additionally possessing ferocious lengthy-vary capturing, Bentaleb will probably be key because the margins turn into smaller.
Season thus far
Schalke have struggled to stability their European and home obligations this season, with Die Konigsblauen now mired in the decrease-mid desk of the Bundesliga. Within the Champions League, nevertheless, they got a fairly sort group.
Qualifying in second place behind Porto, dropping only one recreation from six, discovering the again of the web has been a problem. Six objectives in six European outings shouldn’t be on the degree required to significantly fear the highest-positioned sides left in the knockout levels.