Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

On Monday the UEFA Champions League draw took place and some interesting matchups will be played in the Round of 16 of the competition next February and March. Napoli will face Barcelona, in one of the most iconic clashes of the year, while 2023 finalists Inter will play against Atletico Madrid of the former Nerazurri player Diego Simeone, who will face his former Italian club for the first time since he took charge of the Spanish team in 2011. Let’s take a closer look at the games and let’s rank the eight clashes of the Round of 16: 

8. Copenaghen vs. Manchester City 

A lucky draw for Manchester City as they face FC Copenaghen in the Round of 16. The prohibitive favorites to win the tournament, the side coached by Pep Guardiola will play against the Danish team considered the weakest in the knockouts. The English team is facing a difficult moment in the league but are expected to be back at their best level in two months when they will face Copenaghen and should make it quite easily with players such as Erling Haaland and especially the comeback of Kevin de Bruyne, who only played one game this season before suffering a muscular injury which has forced him out up to now. Manchester City won their first Champions League trophy last season after beating Inter in Istanbul. 

7. PSV vs. Borussia Dortmund

The Dutch side will face Borussia Dortmund in the Round of 16, after the German team ended up topping a group with PSG, AC Milan and Newcastle. Edin Terzic’s side had a surprising and exciting group phase and should not be underestimated, but it will be a close one with PSV, who finished second, advancing alongside Arsenal, ahead of Sevilla and Lens. It’s a clash between two underdogs in the competition and even if BVB are slight favorites, we can expect some surprises out of this matchup. While PSV are living a dream season so far (16 wins in 16 games in the Eredivisie), BVB are struggling in the Bundesliga and are currently fifth in the table, but at the same time managed to qualify as leaders in the most challenging group of the competition. 

6. Porto vs. Arsenal 

An interesting clash between Porto and Arsenal, as Mikel Arteta’s team will face the team coached by Sergio Conceicao. The Gunners have to be considered as the favourites, but the Portoguese side have enough experience to create issues for the English team. Porto, in fact, last year were knocked out by Inter in the round of 16, and this year want to make it to the quarterfinals of the competition, but it won’t be an easy one against the Premier League leaders. Speaking of that title challenge, it will be crucial to understand where Arsenal will stand in February as they might prioritize the domestic league this season over the Champions League. However, they have a roster able to face both competitions at the same time, at least on the paper. 

5. Lazio vs. Bayern Munich 

A very unlucky draw for the Italian side that will face one of the strongest candidates to win the tournament. Maurizio Sarri’s team managed to go through the group stages for the second time in their history after 2021 and for the second time they will face the German giants. Bayern are one of the strongest teams of the competition and Lazio have little chance to beat them, especially after they signed Harry Kane in the summer and Lazio’s biggest weaknesses is a defense which has conceded 18 goals in 16 Serie A games up to now. 

4. PSG vs. Real Sociedad 

Despite ending up at the top of the group with Inter, Real Sociedad will face PSG in the knockouts as their reward. The French side were quite lucky this time, but should not undermine the qualities of the team coached by Imanol Alguacil, who showed all their potential in the group stage. However, if PSG play at their best level they should not be too worried about Real Sociedad, but need to win the first game at home as they second clash will take place in San Sebastian, one of the most heated atmosphere around European soccer. 

3. RB Leipzig vs. Real Madrid

An exciting matchup with Real Madrid expected to prevail over the German side that impressed so far in the European campaign. Players like Xavi Simons, Lois Openda and Spanish star Dani Olmo can create some issues for Real, who are also facing multiple injuries, most recently David Alaba who is set to miss the rest of the season after he tore his ACL on Sunday’s game against Villarreal. Despite the injuries and all the issues, Real Madrid are still one of the strongest candidates to win the entire competition and should make it quite easily against the German team. 

2. Inter vs. Atletico Madrid

For the first time since he became the Atletici manager, Diego Simone will face Inter in one of the biggest games of the Round of 16. Inter were the 2022-23 Champions League finalists and only lost to Manchester City in the final last year, while Atleti showed this season that they are back at their usual level. Inter’s captain Lautaro Martinez will face what was supposed to be his club, as he signed a pre-contract with the Spanish giants before agreeing to join Inter in the summer 2018 from Racing Avellaneda. Lautaro’s unofficial debut with Inter was (in the same summer 2018) against Simeone’s side when he scored a stunner at the Wanda Metropolitano in a friendly match between the two teams. 

1. Napoli vs. FC Barcelona 

The game we are all waiting for this round. Napoli will face FC Barcelona and this is still remembered as the game of Diego Armando Maradona, after the former soccer idol joined the Azzurri from Barcelona in the summer 1984. The current Serie A title holders had a challenging start to the season and already replaced the manager, with Walter Mazzarri taking over for Rudi Garcia while the Blaugrana have struggled recently and are currently out of the league title race. Since both teams had a disappointing league start, they can put a lot of effort in the Champions League campaign. If Napoli stars Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia are back at their level, it won’t be an easy matchup for Barcelona. 

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The post Champions League draw matchups ranked: Napoli vs. FC Barcelona, Arsenal vs. Porto, Inter vs. Atleti, more. appeared first on WorldNewsEra.

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