Last year’s triumph in the Champions League by Chelsea arrived as much of a surprise for the masses, with sports betting sites such as Asiabet.org predicting previous year winners Bayern Munich to grab the title, ahead of second favourites Manchester City, who eventually lost the final to the Blues in Porto’s Estadio do Dragao.
However, this season has pit in a lot more contenders for the coveted European trophy in 2021/22. The Round of 16 is dawning upon us in February/March and the mouthwatering fixtures at hand seem to have already got everyone biting their nails, with two months still to go.
Here is the full list of fixtures for the competition’s premier knock-out round –
1. Sporting Lisbon vs Manchester City – February 15 / March 9
2. Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid – February 15 / March 9
3. RB Salzburg vs Bayern Munich – February 16 / March 8
4. Inter Milan vs Liverpool – February 16 / March 8
5. Villareal vs Juventus – February 22 /March 16
6. Chelsea vs Lille – February 22 / March 16
7. Benfica vs Ajax – February 23 / March 15
8. Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United – February 23 / March 15
The sixteen teams still in the tournament are all heavyweights in their own right, but a handful few do possess the charisma, courage and chemistry to go all the way in the competition.
Can Chelsea repeat their feet?
The Blues were extremely good from a defensive standpoint enroute their second Champions League title last season. Added confidence this season from the Premier League campaign has pushed them in contention for at least one major trophy. French champions Lille will be no walk in the park in the last 16. However, one can foresee other European giants struggling to unlock Thomas Tuchel’s stingy defence once again, just like Real Madrid in last year’s semi-final.
Will Real Madrid rise to familiar glory?
Los Blancos have emerged a rejuvenated side under veteran coach Carlo Ancelotti, who has picked them up from last season’s slump and pushed them back to La Liga’s pedestal. They have also picked themselves up from the early Champions League shock against newbies Sheriff Tiraspol and now face familiar foes in Paris Saint-Germain in the next round. When in full flow, there are few teams that can stop Real Madrid’s hunger and intensity to win their favourite competition.
Are Bayern Munich heading towards their 7th title?
Led by Polish superstar Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich have arguably been the most consistent side in recent memory. The Bavarians under new boss Julian Nagelsmann are an attractive outfit who will relish their chances. Although the Germans parted ways with David Alaba – one of their standout stars – who recently claimed (via SportBILD) that he was proud to be part of the best Bayern side in history in the penultimate season. Mia San Mia will be aiming for the trophy once again.
Can Inter revive lost Italian glory?
As the last team from Italy to have lifted the renowned trophy – back in 2009/10 under Jose Mourinho – Inter are a threatening outfit yet to make peace and settle down in Europe’s fiercest club competition. Although they have lost stars in Achraf Hakimi and Romelu Lukaku, the Nerazzurri seem unaffected and do possess the teeth to disturb regular odds. Having toppled Juventus’ domestic dominance, they will look to do the same in Europe, against Liverpool next.
Will star-studded PSG live up to expectations?
In a recent interview, as relayed by ESPN, ex-Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos recently commented that he would ‘die for PSG’ against his former club in the last 16 encounter. With stakes and expectations extremely high at the French club after the arrival of Messi, Ramos, Donnarumma and Wijnaldum, PSG would beat themselves with a stick if they do not progress further than the quarter-finals stage. However, the meeting against the Spanish giants poses a gigantic barrier to overcome.
Do Liverpool possess Champions League pedigree?
It’s not simply by fluke that Jurgen Klopp’s outfit have risen to upset European heavyweights in recent years. The Reds are a fantastic side who suffered from a slow start to the season, but of late, they have emerged as worthy contenders for the Champions League trophy, wherein they take on Simone Inzaghi’s high-flying Internazionale. A victory over two legs will certainly boost their morale for lifting the title in May 2022.
Can Guardiola lead City to their first ever European title?
Manchester City’s disappointment last season culminated with Chelsea taking the title to London, as the Cityzens succumbed to a hapless 1-0 loss in the final. Nonetheless, City are a side extremely hard to beat when in full flow and they fully stand a chance to go all the way in the competition with the experience they possess. Sporting Lisbon can be overcome without doubt but it remains to be seen how Pep’s men approach the latter stages of the competition.