Monday morning saw UEFA complete the draw for the knockout stages of the Champions League and Europa League.
There were a pick of excellent matchups in either competition. Fans can now see routes to a potential final. Consequently, some of the bigger teams are worried about the difficulty of their task.
There was no repeat of the chaos which surrounded previous UEFA draws. Last year, there were mistakes over which team could play who, causing a redraw of teams.
The Europa League’s knockout stage playoff round also returns. Third-place teams in Champions League groups take on second-place teams from Europa League groups. Despite the necessary drops in form from Champions League sides, there are titanic matches in this playoff round.
UEFA Champions League draw yields great ties
Carlo Ancelotti got the better of Jurgen Klopp in Paris. Given the Reds’ poor domestic form, Liverpool’s best chance of success this term is in the Champions League.
How will a struggling Trent Alexander-Arnold cope with Vinicius Jr? Will Virgil van Dijk rediscover his best form to keep Karim Benzema quiet? There are tantalizing individual battles all across the pitch.
Both Bayern Munich and PSG are good enough to win the competition, but as a result of the draw, one of them will fall before the quarter-final.
This is of particular interest to Manchester City, the best team in Europe. Pep Guardiola has an easy draw against RB Leipzig and knows two of Real Madrid, Liverpool, PSG and Bayern Munich will be gone by the next round.
UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Draw in full:
- AC Milan – Tottenham Hotspur
- Borussia Dortmund – Chelsea
- Eintracht Frankfurt – Napoli
- Club Brugge – Benfica
- Inter – Porto
- PSG – Bayern Munich
- Liverpool – Real Madrid
- RB Leipzig – Manchester City
Which Europa League ties have fans excited?
The Europa League play-off round housed a number of former Champions League teams, hence there are a lot of stars involved.
This is the absolute pick of the ties. Consequently, there are many narratives at play.
Frenkie de Jong didn’t want to join Manchester United and drop into the Europa League, and he will now face them in that very competition after Barcelona’s awful showing in the Champions League Group Stage.
Another aspect comes with Erik ten Hag getting a chance to see just how far his Manchester United team have progressed.
Their Premier League form has been impressive, thus facing Barcelona provides a test against one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
Ajax also dropped down after finishing third. They struggled in a group containing Napoli, Liverpool and Glasgow Rangers. Erik ten Hag’s former club have struggled since he left, and as a result will have a challenging tie against Bundesliga high-flyers Union Berlin.
UEFA Europa League Knockout Round Play-Off Draw in full:
- Barcelona – Manchester United
- Juventus – Nantes
- Sporting CP – Midtjylland
- Shakhtar Donetsk – Rennes
- Ajax – Union Berlin
- Bayer Leverkusen – Monaco
- Sevilla – PSV Eindhoven
- Red Bull Salzburg – Roma
PHOTO: IMAGO / Moritz Müller
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