Three Champions League Last 16 Ties We’d Love to See8 min read
The Champions League Group stage is over – and now all eyes are on the Champions League Draw for the first knockout round.
There’ll be more interest from Premier League fans than ever before, as for the first time there will be 5 teams from the English top flight in the Last 16.
But who will be pitted against who when the draw is made in Nyon? What would be the ideal draw for the neutrals?
We’ve taken a look and chosen some of our dream draws for the first knockout round of European club football’s premier competition.
Liverpool v Real Madrid
Both teams boast an array of attacking talent, and this would be an end-to-end tie with goalmouth action guaranteed.
Before the start of the season, the prospect of facing back-to-back Champions League winners Real Madrid would have seemed a lot more daunting than it does now for Liverpool.
Real Madrid’s forward line is really struggling – albeit more so on the domestic side of things than on the European stage, and they haven’t yet found the same balance which saw them win a Champions League and La Liga double last term.
Real’s defensive crisis continues to mount after Raphaël Varane’s injury against Borussia Dortmund. Liverpool are the kind of team who could exploit Zidane’s sides’ weakness at the back.
Liverpool have now scored 22 goals in the group stage of the Champions League, beating the English club record of 21 previously held by Manchester United.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) December 6, 2017
Part of the reason why Klopp was brought to Liverpool was to create more special European nights at Anfield. A victory over a heavyweight such as Real Madrid would be a watershed moment for his reign.
Equally, a big night at an historic stadium such as Anfield could be just the motivation that Real Madrid need to give their season lift-off. It is worth noting that Los Blancos also finished second in the Group Stages last season before going on to lift the trophy in Cardiff.
It’s a tie that has all the makings of a Champions League classic.
Tottenham v Bayern Munich
Even though their team wouldn’t be playing, this could turn out to be a nightmare draw for Arsenal fans.
If the Gunners arch-rivals Spurs put in a good showing against the Bundesliga champions, it would make Arsenal’s back-to-back 10-2 aggregate humiliations against Bayern look even worse.
A tie against a side which almost always start the season as one of the competition’s favourites is one that Mauricio Pochettino’s side should relish.
The London side have come on leaps and bounds in the Champions League this season – no side bettered their Group Stage haul of 16 points, which is an incredible achievement for a relatively inexperienced team, especially considering the strength of their group.
Bayern look revitalised under Jupp Heynckes, and his experience in winning this competition should prove vital to a side who have been knocked out in the semi-finals in three of the last four seasons.
The three teams that Bayern have lost to so far this term – Hoffenheim, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Paris Saint-Germain – all achieved victory by utilising young, fleet-footed players in attack whose constant movement caused their back line no end of problems.
Spurs stars Delle Alli and Harry Kane come under this category – and the tactical battle between the two sides would be fascinating for the purists.
If Tottenham managed to beat Real Madrid at White Hart Lane and come away from the Bernabéu with a draw, why wouldn’t they be confident of getting past Bayern?
Sevilla v Paris Saint-Germain
Although this doesn’t look like a ‘glamour tie’, there are plenty of storylines which would make it an intriguing match-up.
PSG manager Unai Emery would be up against the club where he made history, winning three consecutive Europa League titles for Sevilla in the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
According to reports, Emery’s future in the French capital is all but certain. The Paris club’s multi-millionaire owners are apparently keen to bring in a big name to replace the Spaniard.
After back-to-back defeats against Strasbourg and Bayern Munich, Emery’s job is sure to come under increased scrutiny. The French media were critical of his tactical approach in the defeat in Munich.
Star player Neymar was also criticised for his inability to deal with the Bayern players’ physical approach.
In addition to this, there are claims of divisions within the PSG squad – so the competition favourites have several problems that could undermine their progress.
Sevilla, on the other hand, are a team who have great character and togetherness. This was apparent in their incredible 3-3 draw against Liverpool in Matchday 5 in the Group Stage, when they rallied to come back from three goals down.
The La Liga side have, more often than not, flattered to deceive so far this season. Having said this, they still managed to progress from their Champions League group, and sit just three points of second place in their domestic league.
They will surely have improved even more when the Round of 16 arrives in February, as manager Eduardo Berizzo further instills his ideas into the Andalucian side.
Sevilla are unbeaten at home in 26 games all competitions, and a trip to the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium would be a test of PSG’s bottle and nerve as well as their footballing ability.
There’s no doubt that on paper, it’s a tie which PSG should win with relative ease. But a physical side who chase every second ball, such as Sevilla, would force PSG out of their comfort zone and give them a difficult time.
A shock elimination to his former employers in the last 16 could be the final nail in Emery’s coffin.