After this weekend, the attention of European’s biggest clubs will turn to the Champions League and Europa League once again. The knockout phases of both competitions get underway this coming week with the Round of 16 starting in the Champions League and the Round of 32 in the Europa League.
To ensure that both competitions are at the same point onwards from the quarterfinals stage, the Europa League teams will be in action both this week and a next week to complete the Round of 32, then there will be another double header a couple of weeks after that. The Champions League however is split up, with four Round of 16 first leg ties played this week and the remaining four the following week, with the second leg of these ties then played over a further two-week period a couple of weeks after this.
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Let’s now take a look at the key games coming up in the Champions League over the next few weeks as we begin the Round of 16.
Champions League Round of 16
Set 1 Fixtures (18th & 19th February & 10th& 11th March)
Atletico Madrid v Liverpool (18th Feb) – Liverpool v Atletico Madrid (11th Mar)
Atletico’s defensive fortitude will be put to the test against holders Liverpool. The Spaniards have find goals a problem in the league and this is a tough test against an in form Liverpool. The Reds usually find another gear in this competition when the knockout phase starts and I expect them to progress from this tie, although I can’t see too many goals being scored. (Liverpool to qualify – 2/7).
Borussia Dortmund v Paris St Germain (18th Feb) – PSG v Dortmund (11th Mar)
PSG are the hot favourites to make it through against a Dortmund side that will be able to field Alf Inge Haaland for this game as he will no longer be cup tied due to a rule change. That is massive for Dortmund as they will need him to stand a chance in this one. PSG are the smart pick but something tells me Dortmund can pull off a shock here. (Dortmund to qualify – 9/4)
Atalanta v Valencia (19th Feb) – Valencia v Atalanta (10th Mar)
There’s no doubt that any team making it into the quarterfinals would likely want the winner of this game as their opponent. Atalanta are a decent team but inexperienced at this level and only just made it through the group stage. Valencia have more experience and as such, I’d pick them to qualify though it will be close. (Valencia to qualify – 19/20)
Tottenham v Red Bull Leipzig (19th Feb) – Red Bull Leipzig v Tottenham (10th Mar)
Can Spurs come through this game without Harry Kane of Christian Eriksen? That is the key here as last year’s finalists face a tricky task in German outfit Red Bull Leipzig. This is one I feel will be very close and could come down to away goals or even penalties, but I am just going for Spurs given their greater experience. (Tottenham to qualify – 21/20)
Set 2 Fixtures (25th & 26th February & 17th & 18th March)
Chelsea v Bayern Munich (25th Feb) – Bayern Munich v Chelsea (18th Mar)
Chelsea will once again meet the team they beat in the final a few years ago to claim their Champions League title. Munich went out to English opposition last season in Liverpool and they will find Chelsea tough, but I think the German side have enough quality against their relatively inexperienced opponents to get the job done here. (Bayern to qualify – 2/9)
Napoli v Barcelona (25th Feb) – Barcelona v Napoli (18th Mar)
Neither of these teams are in particularly inspiring form heading into these two games but Barcelona have Lionel Messi and a wealth of experience at this level. Napoli less so but they have proven to be a stubborn team to beat this season. This is a tricky one and though Barcelona are the massive favourites here, I am backing Napoli to pull off a stunning upset. (Napoli to qualify – 10/3)
Lyon v Juventus (26th Feb) – Juventus v Lyon (17th Mar)
The French side did well to reach this stage of the competition but I think they are the massive underdogs against a Juventus side who will feel that this competition owes them a result or two. With Ronaldo in great form this ia a tough one for Lyon and I feel it will be the experienced Italians who progress. (Juventus to qualify – 1/9).
Real Madrid v Man City (26th Feb) – Man City v Real Madrid (17th Mar)
Perhaps the biggest game of the round as Real Madrid and Manchester City clash and Pep Guardiola renews his battles with Zinedine Zidane. For me, City are the better team but Real have that vast experience at this level which City have struggled with in recent seasons. That said, if both teams play their best, I feel City wins, so I am backing the English side here. (City to qualify – 8/15)
Europa League Round of 32
There are 16 ties in the Round of 32, with the first leg this week, followed by the second leg next week in a quick turnaround of games. We have given you the full list of games here with the team displayed in brackets who we think will qualify from the fixture for the Round of 16 after the two legs have been played.
CFR Cluj v Sevilla – (Sevilla)
Club Brugge v Man Utd – (Man Utd)
Frankfurt v FC Salzburg – (E.Frankfurt)
FC Copenhagen v Celtic – (Celtic)
Getafe v Ajax – (Ajax)
Ludogorets Razgrad v Inter – (Inter)
Shakhtar Donetsk v Benfica – (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Sporting Lisbon v Istanbul Basaksehir – (Sporting)
Ian has been a lifelong avid poker player, and is also well-versed in the worlds of online sports betting, casino gaming, and the burgeoning eSports industry. UK-based Ian has written for several years for a wide variety of online publications, and is especially adept at bringing readers inside the latest and greatest games.