Champions League Draws: An analysis
The draws this year are simply magnificent as they will challenge the big teams and will give the smaller, more inexperienced teams a chance to prove their worth, writes Ananya Das
The Champions League this season has particularly been exciting for reasons quite obvious. There are five English teams this year who have reached the Round of 16, of course, Arsenal is not one of them, surprisingly but Tottenham Hotspur, their rivals are. The draws of the CL Ro16 was taken out this Monday with exciting results. Manchester United will meet Sevilla, Chelsea will battle it out with Barcelona, Tottenham will see Juventus, Real Madrid will face off with Parisian giants PSG. These are the main draws for all the major clubs – Liverpool will face off with Porto and Manchester City will see Basel for their campaign.
The thing that's most interesting about this year's draw is that all the matches are going to be played between the giants of their respective countries.
Manchester United will play Sevilla, a team they have never played against in European capacity. After the 3-3 ordeal against Liverpool, Sevilla will want to beat Manchester United with great measures but that won't be easy as Paul Pogba is expected to be back to the squad with full force. Manchester United's derby defeat set them back in the league but they will be determined to perform well in the Champions League. Players like Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard will be expected to be on the score sheet from Manchester's side. While United are on a good European record, Sevilla has an impeccable impact on Europe. It will be interesting to see what both the teams come up with. United will have to raise their game after sailing through the group but should have enough to step up and see off Sevilla.
Barcelona matched with Chelsea and this will be one of the most top ticket games in the competition. Both the teams will be determined to beat one another. This should be looked in as one of the "clash of the Titans" matches.
Morata will play an important role in the London club's squad. Barcelona is on a brilliant run in the La Liga and there is no reason to believe that they won't be able to beat CFC. However, Conte has considerable experience in the CL and he will know how to handle the ropes around. Saying, Lionel Messi, is the key figure for Barca is very obvious - and his new contract at the club is a huge cause for celebration - but Gerard Pique is almost of equal importance; they are not the same without him at the back.
Real Madrid will face off with PSG and that will be a game that the people will want to hold their breaths to. This is unquestionably the tie of the round. If PSG finally, handles the pressure they can progress – and Real will be the ultimate test. Though the analysis is strongly in favour of PSG.
Manchester City's form has been at their peak and they are rampaging every club they face. Last week's derby against Manchester United stands testament. They have drawn with one of the easiest clubs – Basel. Though they did beat Manchester United, with Kun Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne's form – it is a certainty that Basel will face a defeat against City.
Liverpool has had quite a season. Their advancement to the round of 16 means more to the German boss than expected. They have matched with Porto this time, the team managed by Jose Mourinho in the past. Porto is one of the top teams in Portugal and holds a very important place in European football. Talk to any Liverpool fan for 30 seconds and you will be made well aware of their European heritage. The 2005 champions, however, will be in the knockouts for the first time in nine years this season.
Liverpool rose to the occasion when needed to dismiss Spartak Moscow and book their last 16 place. The 'Fab Four' should fire again here.
Other teams like Bayern Munich will face Besiktas who have been in brilliant European form but the Germans will be determined to reach to the semi-finals, at least. This is the first time Besiktas – still holders of the worst ever Champions League defeat from their 8-0 beating off Liverpool in 2007 – have ever made the knockout stage. Besiktas will look to impress, but they are inexperienced at this level and could be exposed by a ruthless Bayern team.
One of the other intriguing draws this year will be the Tottenham-Juventus game. The English team will put all their guns out to beat the Italian giants. Juventus' Paulo Dybala will be a threat to the London based team and will turn out to be the man they need to mark the most, although he has failed to score in any of Juventus' CL games, he still remains an important player to beat. Juventus haven't fared well recently against English teams in the knock out stages of European competition – having been eliminated in their last five appearances against English competition.
Lastly, Shakhtar Donetsk drew with Roma. Roma will look to win this one. The two sides have a history in this competition, but it makes for mixed reading. Back in 2006, in the group stages, Daniele De Rossi was among the scorers in a 4-0 drubbing dished out in the Olimpico before a single goal defeat in the return match. Fast forward five years, however, and Shakhtar were good enough to triumph both home and away – a warning signal of the progress the club has made.
For, make no mistake, this is a golden opportunity for this team to confirm the good impression made in the group stages by going deeper in Europe's elite competition. By winning a group that included heavyweights like Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, Roma sent out a message that they meant business. It would be a shame to spoil that now with elimination after what looks – on paper – a manageable draw.
All in all, the draws this year are simply magnificent. They will challenge the big teams and will give the smaller, more inexperienced teams a chance to prove their worth. All of this will be worth the wait to understand as to who really reigns over Europe when it comes to football.