WITH THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE knockout stage fixtures confirmed, it’s going to be a long wait until February when the contest returns. And there were certainly some headlines made when the ties were drawn, with English teams facing a real mix of challenges in the next round.
Now at the business end of the competition, read on to find out everything you need to know about the Champions League knockout stages:
Chelsea vs Barcelona
One of the biggest battles in this season’s knockout stages is Chelsea vs Barcelona. The sides have had numerous run-ins, with the latest being in 2012 when a 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou sent Chelsea through to the final of the Champions League – one which they ended up winning against Bayern Munich on penalties.
This time around, they face off for the sixth time in the knockout stages, with Barcelona being dubbed favourites according to current betting odds. Chelsea, however, do have a knack when it comes to stopping Barça talisman Lionel Messi. He has failed to score against the Londoners in eight of their previous meetings.
It’s certainly going to be an uphill slog for Chelsea as their opponents have won six of their previous seven knockout ties against Premier League opposition.
1st Leg: 20th Feb 2018, Stamford Bridge
2nd Leg: 14th Mar 2018, Camp Nou
Odds to win Champions League: Chelsea (28/1), Barcelona (7/1) – Via BetFred
Juventus vs Tottenham
Two sides who have never faced each other in European competition are set to take part in one of the most watchable knockout matches. Tottenham qualified top of the Group of Death (Group H), beating European giants Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund along the way.
They come up against Italian champions Juventus in the last 16, a side who have a poor recent record against English opposition in the knockout stages. Juventus, however, have progressed to the final of this competition in two of the last three seasons and will have in their favour the experience of playing in the latter stages.
1st Leg: 13th Feb 2018, Juventus Stadium
2nd Leg: 7th Mar 2018, Wembley Stadium
Odds to win Champions League: Juventus (20/1), Tottenham (25/1) – Via Ladbrokes
Porto vs Liverpool
Even though Liverpool finished top of Group E, they’re certainly going to be cautious heading into the knockout stages. Liverpool finished first with 12 points, but drew on three occasions, throwing away a lead in two of them. With away goals coming into play, The Reds will need a watertight defence.
Porto, their opponents in the last 16, finished second in Group G, with a respectable 10 points from six games. Liverpool will have good memories of playing Porto, as their 2-0 quarter-final aggregate victory in 2001 led them to UEFA Cup glory.
1st Leg: 14th Feb 2018, Estádio do Dragão
2nd Leg: 6th Mar 2018, Anfield
Odds to win Champions League: Porto (150/1), Liverpool (14/1) – Via Coral
Sevilla vs Manchester United
Another one of the favourable ties for English sides is that of Sevilla vs last season’s Europa League winners Manchester United. These two sides have never faced each other in European competition. United will be looking to improve their form against Spanish opposition, after winning just two of their previous 10 meetings.
Sevilla are currently fifth in LaLiga, and will prove a threat to United. However, as Liverpool showed in the group stages, Sevilla are prone to mistakes at the back and will have to knock that on the head if they’re to have any chance against a rampant United side who already have over 50 goals to their name this season.
1st Leg: 21st Feb 2018, Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán
2nd Leg: 13th Mar 2018, Old Trafford
Odds to win Champions League: Sevilla (150/1), Manchester United (14/1) – Via Betfred
Basel vs Manchester City
Bookies odds would suggest that Manchester City should remain in this tournament to the very end. Just like their rivals United, they’ll look at their draw against Basel as one of the best possible outcomes they could have had.
Online bookmakers make Basel the side least likely to win the competition out of the 16 remaining teams. Despite this, they still came second in Group A behind Manchester United, defeating City’s rivals 1-0 at home in the penultimate group game.
Basel will be hoping to continue their good form against English sides, losing only four of their last 14 encounters. Regardless of Basel’s great record, if there are any free bets currently available, it would be wise to put your cash on City to be hailed this season’s Champions League victors.
1st Leg: 13th Feb 2018, St. Jakob-Park
2nd Leg: 7th Mar 2018, Etihad Stadium
Odds to win Champions League: Basel (250/1), Manchester City (3/1) – Via Betway
Real Madrid vs Paris Saint-Germain
Now to the most talked about knockout stage tie so far. It’s the current holders versus this season’s top scorers – Real Madrid vs Paris Saint-Germain.
PSG were the favourites for the Champions League this season but were demoted to most bookies’ second pick after they drew European Champions, Real Madrid. The Parisians have been waiting a number of years to taste European glory and finally, with the additions of Neymar and French star Kylian Mbappé, they could prove to be the real deal this season.
Real will be hoping that their experience in winning the competition a record 12 times will see them past one of the red-hot favourites for the competition. They’ll be hoping that Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo can replicate his form in last season’s competition, when he scored 10 goals in the knockout stages alone.
1st Leg: 14th Feb 2018, Santiago Bernabéu
2nd Leg: 6th Mar 2018, Parc des Princes
Odds to win Champions League: Real Madrid (8/1), Paris Saint-Germain (9/2) – Via BetVictor
Bayern Munich vs Beşiktaş
Despite being pipped by PSG in group B, Bundesliga Champions Bayern Munich would have been happy to dodge some of the bigger names in pot 1.
Their opponents in the last 16, Beşiktaş, made history earlier in the competition, becoming the first Turkish club to ever finish top of a Champions League group. They trumped Group G ahead of Porto, Bundesliga runners-up RB Leipzig and French champions Monaco.
Beşiktaş aren’t expected to make it to the quarter-finals, but they’ll be boosted by the fact they’re hosting the second leg. Keeping the score down at the Allianz in the first leg would be the main objective.
1st Leg: 20th Feb 2018, Allianz Arena
2nd Leg: 14thth Mar 2018, Vodafone Arena
Odds to win Champions League: Bayern Munich (5/1), Besiktas (150/1) – Via BetFred
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Roma
In arguably the most low-key knockout tie, Group C winners Roma will face Group F runners-up Shakhtar Donetsk in the next round. Roma were the unexpected winners of their group after being joined by Premier League champions Chelsea and Atlético Madrid. However, they left the group with 11 points, only losing one of their six matches and will feel optimistic of qualification against Shakhtar.
Shakhtar’s qualification, like Roma’s, looked bleak early doors, after being paired with Manchester City and Napoli, however a 2-1 victory over the runaway Premier League leaders in the final group game secured their place in the knockout stages. The likes of Willian, Douglas Costa and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were in the Shakhtar side that knocked Roma out of the Champions League at the same stage in 2011, 6-2 on aggregate.
The same quality of star power no longer exists at the Ukrainian side, however it’s a strong reason why last season’s Serie A runner-up should not take them for granted.
1st Leg: 2sth Feb 2018, Metalist Oblast Sports Complex
2nd Leg: 13th Mar 2018, Stadio Olimpico
Odds to win Champions League: Shakhtar Donetsk (80/1), Roma (50/1) – Via Ladbrokes
The Champions League returns on 13 February next year, and with five Premier League sides through to the knockout stages, the chances of an English winner or an all-English final look better than ever