The UEFA Champions League returns on February 18th and 19th with its round of 16. Four great match ups kick off this round in which some of the most powerful clubs in the world, incluiding the reigning champs, will look to get an advantage:
Atlético Madrid vs Liverpool
Defending champions Liverpool get their Champions League knockout campaign underway with an away tie against Atlético Madrid. Retrospective league form suggests Liverpool should win the tie with Liverpool continuing their undefeated campaign thus far with a 1-0 win against Norwich over the weekend. With the Premier League almost certainly making its way to Anfield for the first time, Liverpool will be aiming to retain their Champions of Europe status.
Atlético failed to win once again at the weekend resulting in only one win in five. La Liga has turned into a two-horse race this season with Barca and Real battling it out at the top leaving Atlético competing for the Champions League spot. Atlético's cup campaign took a huge shock last month when they were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by third-division side Cultural Leones, making the Champions League their only chance to secure silverware this season. To make matters worse, they will be without star Joao Felix who is missing the first leg due to illness.
Atalanta vs Valencia
New boys Atalanta will face up against Spanish side Valencia in the first-ever knockout match in their history. Atalanta booked their place in the last 16 on the final group stage game when they beat Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0. Atalanta are currently sat in the final Champions League spot in Italy with a six point cushion over Roma.
Valencia topped their group which consisted of former Champions League winners Chelsea and last year's semi-finalists Ajax. The last time they made the last 16 was way back in 2013 when they were unsuccessful against PSG who narrowly beat them 3-2 on aggregate. Valencia will be hoping for better luck this time around. These two sides have only ever met once in their entire history, during a pre-season friendly three years ago.
Borussia Dortmund vs PSG
Dortmund finished second in arguably the toughest group of this years tournament. Expected to be one of the most entertaining ties of the round and potentially the hardest to call fixtures on paper, this is surely one not to be missed. Rising star Erling Håland has already proven to be a tremendous signing for Borussia Dortmund, producing a scary ratio of 11.8 goals per minute. Whilst playing for RB Salzburg during this season’s group stages, Håland became the first teenager to score in every group game in the Champions League. Can the 19 year old help conquer Dortmund’s 23 year wait to lift the infamous Champions League?
However, wonder-kid Mbappe will be hoping to disrupt the German side in order to help PSG capture the one trophy that has eluded the French champions. With the possibility of a fourth domestic treble in five years, PSG will be aiming to progress in Europe and beat Dortmund. They are cruising in Ligue 1 with a healthy 10 point league over second Marseille but PSG were stunned at the weekend playing out an emphatic 4-4 draw against second bottom Amines. Thomas Tuchel is facing his former club for the first time since he was sacked by Dortmund back in 2017. He will be hoping he can manage his current side to a victory and guide them into the quarter-finals for the first time in three seasons.
Tottenham vs RB Leipzig
Elsewhere, last year's runners up Tottenham have a potential slip up tie against RB Leipzig; however, Spurs are slight favourites to win the tie. Last year's runners-up will be hoping to go one better in this season's campaign and lift the trophy for the first time in their history. Spurs finished comfortably in second in their group behind another German side, Bayern Munich. This tie will be the first time these two sides have ever faced one-another. Spurs are theoretically occupying the “newest” Champions League spot in the Premier League following Manchester City’s two year ban. Tottenham will be disappointed not to gain a victory against Leipzig at home but their fans will be hoping for a trip to Turkey in May and wanting to go one better this year.
RB Leipzig are experiencing their first knockout tie in the Champions League. Leipzig only lost once during the group stages, however, not having any of Europe’s elite in their group potentially playing a factor. Leipzig are only one point behind German leaders Bayern and will be aspiring to stop Bayern from claiming their eighth title in a row. Highly sought after Leipzig striker Timo Werner, who is heavily linked with a move to Liverpool in the summer, will be looking to improve his already impressive goal tally against Spurs and hoping to make it a tricky tie for Mourinho’s men.