The Champions League last 16 draw has been made and I might not be as excited as I have been in recent years with Chelsea missing from the competition, but we’ve got some exciting ties to look forward to next year when the Europan stage opens up again.
Arsenal vs Porto is a fixture to look forward to, with Arsenal being in great form and the current Premier League leaders they could go further than some might expect. The squad doesn’t have all the European experience but they’ve got the talent in nearly every area of the pitch and you’d like to think they will be competitive against most of the so-called big clubs. They needed character in their team and Declan Rice has brought that along with a lot of quality.
Porto are no pushovers either having scored 15 goals in the group stages, as these two teams meet for the first time since 2002.
Barcelona vs Napoli is a battle of the Spanish and Italian champions, but both teams have struggled to live up to the high of last season and have dropped some form this season. it will still be an interesting matchup to see which defence and attack has the focus and goals to move into the next round.
Meanwhile PSG vs Sociedad will be expected by most to end with a Paris win, but Newcastle showed they are beatable if Sociedad can get the tactics right.
Atletico vs Inter is possibly one of the closest battles on paper, with Inter missing out on the trophy to Man City last season, and leading Serie A so far this season. Atletico have always looked strong under Simeone and that’s no different this season, so this one is perhaps one of the hardest ties to call and might have plenty of twists and turns.
PSV have a perfect record of 16 wins in 16 games in the Eredivisie but haven’t looked as convincing in Europe. Their opponents Dortmund have not had the best season so far domestically, which was expected by many after Billingham’s departure, while their rivals Bayern face Lazio and will be expecting to progress with Harry Kane firing, although they have shown defensive problems this season that Lazio will hope to capitalise on.
Man City take on the surprise package of the group stage in Copenhagen and despite a rocky spell in the Premier League they will expect to win comfortably across the two legs. They and Real Madrid were the only two teams to win all of their group games, and Madrid face Leipzig who are a strong side with Dutch talent Simons and goal threat Openda, but they might not have enough to beat Real, with Bellingham shining at the moment.