After the lightning tempo of the Champions League group stage, the draw for the final 16 appeared to be on us in a flash too and there have been fireworks. Holders Bayern Munich will be fairly proud of their tie towards a harmful however restricted Lazio, perennial hopefuls Manchester City should fancy their possibilities of rolling over an thrilling younger Borussia Mönchengladbach facet and Juventus are clear favourites towards Porto, who they play at this stage for the second time in 5 years. The draw highlights, nonetheless, are elsewhere.
Klopp v Nagelsmann, half two
It’s outstanding to suppose that it was solely three years in the past that Jürgen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann confronted one another for the first time, in an thrilling however fairly one-sided Champions League qualifier between Liverpool and Hoffenheim. So a lot has modified for each since then.
Nagelsmann will stand out as the instance of metamorphosis having moved golf equipment and brought Leipzig to the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time, disposing of Tottenham and Atlético Madrid on the approach earlier than beating each Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United on this time period’s group stage. Yet Klopp was nonetheless attending to grips with Anfield then, and few would have backed them to achieve the Kyiv remaining at the finish of that 17/18.
Now he is rightly recognised as one among the biggest coaches on the planet, with the trophies to show it in an period of ultra-competition. Yet Leipzig and Nagelsmann will have their say on this. He’s a flexible, imaginative coach with the streak of vanity to go toe-to-toe with the greatest. Leipzig will have Dayot Upamecano, their greatest defender who missed out towards United, again for this and maybe a brand new signing in Dominik Szoboszlai so as to add to their wonderful midfield.
Lampard’s newest take a look at in Madrid
This seems to be powerful on paper for Chelsea, notably with Atlético Madrid prime of La Liga at current. The Blues have impressed in Europe this season, although, with their defence coming collectively round Thiago Silva and loads of completely different options obtainable in the remaining third. In reality, there are an interesting bet for the trophy outright at 16/1.
Atlético made the group stage tougher for themselves than they may have accomplished, drawing each video games towards Lokomotiv Moscow, however beat a great RB Salzburg staff twice to safe secure passage. Despite their wonderful home defensive file they’ll swap off from set items specifically, and Chelsea will get alternatives over the two legs.
There are two questions over the Londoners’ potential development – firstly, how a lot will their option-replete assault have improved by February, and has Lampard acquired the tactical nous to undo Diego Simeone in the similar approach that Nagelsmann did in the Lisbon Final 8? He fell brief towards Bayern at this stage final yr – which is comprehensible – so Chelsea should hope the further yr makes the distinction towards one among the competitors’s previous fingers.
Paris out to proper remontada wrongs
There aren’t a few years wherein gamers with an curiosity in profitable the Champions League would cheer the prospect of drawing Barcelona in the competitors’s final 16, but it surely would not be a shock to listen to that there had been murmurs of anticipation, not less than, in the Camp des Loges altering rooms when Paris Saint-Germain have been paired with the Catalans.
This will be the first assembly between the pair since 2017 when, after Unai Emery’s facet pummelled Barça in Paris – a masterclass that’s usually forgotten given the context – Neymar led la remontada at Camp Nou. It is a scar that has by no means healed for PSG, and that solely direct revenge will fulfill.
This is their likelihood. There is at all times a level of hypothesis in providing prognostics for video games that are two months away, with transfers, health and type all factoring in. Not solely do PSG have Neymar and Kylian Mbappé this time, although, however they face a Barcelona in disarray on and off the pitch – and with many followers in a temper the place they’d be grateful for a prime 4 end in La Liga, Ronald Koeman‘s facet are there for the taking, with the sense it’s going to worsen earlier than it will get higher. Even Ferencvaros and Dynamo Kiev had their alternatives at Camp Nou this season, so one wonders what Thomas Tuchel’s stars can do.