After the long winter break and the huff & puff of a crazy summer transfer window, all the teams are geared up for the UCL Round of 16. All of the football enthusiasts are ready to witness the 2017-18 knock-out stages following a winter without any continental competition. European teams are done and dusted after revamping their roster. With the ongoing and upcoming players, teams look set and have already confirmed their Champions League Squads. Now, they are ready to take on some of the best teams in Europe at the most anticipating competition of club football. Not just the teams, the official matchball sponsors ‘Adidas’ has unveiled the new official ball for the knockout stages on February 12, 2018.
The wait is over and the stage is set. Let’s get buckled up for the thrilling ride of Europe’s best clubs.
This one's for you World Cup 2018 fans. check out the World Cup 2018 match-ups and groups here.
All of Europe's elites have whittled down from 32 teams to the last 16. Now the remaining teams will seize the center stage for the second step toward the European silverware.
* England (ENG) – 5 Teams (Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City & United, Chelsea, and Liverpool)
* Spain (ESP) – 3 Teams (Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Sevilla)
* Italy (ITA) – 2 Teams (Juventus and AS Roma)
* Germany (GER) – 1 Team (Bayern München)
* Turkey (TUR) – 1 Team (Beşiktaş)
* Portugal (POR) – 1 Team (FC Porto)
* Switzerland (SUI) – 1 Team (FC Basel 1893)
* Ukraine (UKR) – 1 Team (Shakhtar Donetsk)
* France (FRA) – 1 Team (Paris Saint-Germain)
These 16 Europe’s bests will battle it out for the European Glory on a Road to Kiev. The draw was held at the UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland on 11 December 2017. The later placed some of the top contenders against each other for the knockout stages.
The First leg of the prominent tournament took off last night. After the illustrious start of the knockout rounds late last night, I’ve picked out some of the top matches of this year’s competition:
Champions League is never discontent and always treats us with some of the best fixtures. This year we have given the opportunity to witness the hot-blooded, big time spenders PSG against the retaining Champions Real Madrid.
This is by far the most drooling fixture of UCL 18, but Real Madrid is the worst possible draw for PSG on paper. PSG has racked up 25 goals in the group stages, which included a 3-0 win over Bayern Munich, but personally, Unai Emery has plenty of work to do if he is willing to take down the 12 times UCL champions.
Zinedine Zidane’s men are keen to retain their European title after being been dumped out of the La Liga and Copa del Ray race.
PSG – The newly formed strike force of Neymar Jr., Kylian Mbappé, and Edinson, Cavani along with the stronghold of Thiago Silva and Dani Alves.
Real Madrid – The flamboyance of Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Isco, Toni Kroos, Luka Modrić, and Marcelo Vieira.
My Pick: Paris Saint-Germain
This fixture has got everyone’s mouth watering, but the alleged ‘GOAT’ Lionel Messi would prefer a different opponent. The Argentine maestro has scored more than 525 goals for Barcelona and has tons of individual honors, but his stats against Chelsea are somewhat exasperating. He has a duck with the 29 recorded shots against Chelsea, a record he would like to break in 2018.
With Philippe Coutinho at their disposal after the crazy transfer of Neymar, Barcelona is ready for some heavy hits again this year.
Meanwhile, Antonio Conte’s men are sitting in the fourth position of their domestic table and are struggling to find their last season flair. Leaving Batshuayi, arriving Giroud, and controversies of sacking the manager are clouding the form of Chelsea which they plan to overcome in the upcoming fixture.
Chelsea – Eden Hazard, David Luiz, Willian, Cesc Fàbregas, and Andreas Christensen.
Barcelona – The ‘Magician’ Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, Philippe Coutinho, Ivan Rakitić, and Marc-André ter Stegen, all are available for the matches.
My Pick: Barcelona
Tottenham has shown their class by winning the group H which included the reigning champions Real Madrid. They count themselves unfortunate to draw Juve who have contested the final in two of the last three years.
The Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino recently stated that the statures of the two teams cannot be compared and wants the team to aspire up the level of Bianconeri. This is just the second appearance in the last eight of the Champions League for Tottenham, but their form suggests they can upset the Old Lady.
Juventus has reached two of the past three finals, eventually losing to Real Madrid and Barcelona. Juve was crowned champions in 1996, and have been unable to get their pride back since then. Their hot streak forward Paulo Dybala has lost his race to be fit for the encounter, but I believe that Massimiliano Allegri has enough depth in his squad to cover for key absentees.
The first leg took off in Juve home ground and started the knockout stages with all the pyrotechnics. Higuaín scored a brace and missed great chances (including a penalty) while Kane became the first player to score nine goals in as many outings pounding the joint record held by Didier Drogba, Diego Costa, Simone Inzaghi, and Ronaldinho, who scored eight in their first nine appearances. He also drew level with Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard's tally of 7 goals in a single campaign for an English player (2008-09). Eriksen's mindful freekick equalized the scoreline and gave Tottenham an away goal edge for the second leg.
It's all or nothing for Tottenham.
Tottenham: 2017’s European top scorer, Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Son Heung-min, and Eric Dier.
Juventus: The rising star, Federico Bernardeschi, Gianluigi Buffon, Gonzalo Higuaín, Douglas Costa, and Giorgio Chiellini.
My Pick: Tottenham Hotspur
This fixture will be hard on nerves as it features the arrogance and resilience of two world giants. Sevilla has dominated the Europa League by winning it 3 times on the bounce (2014, 2015, & 2016) and a total of 5 times. But, they are still at a duck at the Champions League.
They have never faced each other in the Champions League history, which makes this fixture more tempting for the football world.
Manchester United is one of the powerhouses of football universe with 3 Champions League trophies in the bag and 2017 Europa League Cup. José Mourinho has won the prestigious crown twice and is on the verge of leveling the record of most UCL wins with different teams. Mou has raised the bar of United again, making the team one of the potent contenders to the finals.
Both teams did not have issues passing the group stages, but they still lack the finesse of their previous seasons.
Manchester United: The hottest EPL property, Alexis Sánchez, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, David de Gea, Marcus Rashford, and Juan Mata.
Sevilla: Emerging start, Paulo Henrique Ganso, Steven Nzonzi, Joaquin Correa, Éver Banega, and Wissam Ben Yedder.
My Pick: Manchester United
Eight teams were knocked out at Group Stages, and the other eight dropped to Europa League including Borussia Dortmund (2013 Finalists) and Atletico Madrid (2016 Finalists). There are some intriguing match-ups in the last 16, with Bayern München, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, and Paris Saint-Germain all battling it out for supremacy.
Juventus (ITA) v Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)
1st Leg – Tue, Feb 13, 2018 2:45p ET/ Wed, Feb 14, 2018 1:15 AM IST - Allianz Stadium - Turin, ITA.
[Juventus 2: 2 Tottenham]
2nd Leg – Wed, Mar 7, 2018, 2:45p ET/ Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 1:15 AM IST - Wembley Stadium - London, ENG.
Real Madrid (ESP) v Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
1st Leg – Wed, Feb 14, 2018 2:45p ET/ Thu, Feb 15, 2018 1:15 AM IST - Santiago Bernabéu - Madrid, ESP.
2nd Leg – Tue, Mar 6, 2018 2:45p ET/ Wed, Mar 7, 2018 1:15 AM IST - Parc des Princes - Paris, FRA
Chelsea (ENG) v Barcelona (ESP)
1st Leg – Tue, Feb 20, 2018 2:45p ET/ Wed, 21 Feb, 2018 1:15 AM IST - Stamford Bridge - London, ENG.
2nd Leg – Wed, Mar 14, 2018 3:45p ET/ Thu, Mar 15, 2018 1:15 AM IST - Camp Nou - Barcelona, ESP.
Sevilla (ESP) v Manchester United (ENG)
1st Leg – Wed, Feb 21, 2018 2:45p ET/ Thu, Feb 22, 2018 1:15 AM IST - Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan - Sevilla, ESP.
2nd Leg – Tue, Mar 13, 2018 3:45p ET/ Wed, Mar 14, 2018 1:15 AM IST - Old Trafford - Manchester, ENG.
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