The UEFA Champions League fever is running high with eight scintillating clashes awaiting us in Europe’s most prestigious cup competition’s Round of 16 starting from Tuesday. Current holders Liverpool face a daunting task against Atletico Madrid whilst Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain will lock horns in a mouth-watering encounter.
Continuing their fairytale run in a first-ever Champions League appearance, high-flying Atalanta will face Spanish opponents Valencia whilst Spurs and Leipzig go head-to-head in the other exciting match on Wednesday. Round of 16 action will continue into next week when 2011/12 finalists Chelsea and Bayern Munich clash alongside Barcelona’s trip to a struggling Napoli side. In the last set of matches, Lyon host Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus and Pep Guardiola reunites with his old foes Real Madrid, this time with Manchester City.
The return fixtures will again be played over two weeks starting from March 10th. In this section, we preview and predict each and every 2019/20 Champions League Round of 16 tie.
Atletico Madrid v Liverpool
Liverpool have shown no signs of stopping since the start of last season as they look set to secure their first Premier League trophy in three decades. Jurgen Klopp’s men already laid their hands on a first Champions League trophy after 14 years last season when they beat league rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the final and are currently on course to retain that feat, potentially becoming the first English team to do so in 39 years.
But the relentless Reds do not have a straightforward task of going through to their third consecutive Champions League quarter-final because Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid will not go down easily. The Spanish heavyweights are not having their best season so far, currently placed fourth in the La Liga table, 13 points behind their cross-town neighbours Real Madrid. However, Atleti are one of Champions League’s most-feared giant-killers, knocking out the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the knockout stages of recent seasons.
Both teams are excellent defensively and have two of the world’s best goalkeepers in Alisson and Jan Oblak in their respective goals. However, Liverpool’s attack is much more potent than their Spanish counterparts having scored 61 times in 26 league games compared to the latter’s 25 in 24. Both sides have some quality players on display, with the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk comprising of Liverpool’s go-to men while Diego Costa, Saul Niguez and highly-rated teenager Joao Felix constituting the Spanish outfit’s creme-de-la-creme.
In what should be a fascinating encounter between two tactical maestros, it would not be a surprise if Jurgen Klopp gets the better out of Diego Simeone over two legs.