After two-and-a-half months of pulsating football, the 16 teams who will compete in the first knockout round of the UEFA Champions League were finally confirmed on Wednesday night.
It was a clean sweep for the Premier League sides, with Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea and current holders Liverpool all progressing from the group stage.
Last year we witnessed the first all-English final since 2008 and for this feat to be repeated again this season, all four teams will require a favourable draw when the last-16 ties are confirmed on 16 December.
Premier League clubs cannot be drawn against each other until the quarter-finals and teams from the same group also won’t face each other. With that established, 90min have ranked each English team’s best and worst case opponents in the Champions League round of 16.
After scraping second-place in Group H by a single point at the expense of last year’s semi-finalists Ajax, Chelsea have a few daunting opponents potentially awaiting them in the next round.
The best-case scenario for Frank Lampard’s men would be drawing RB Leipzig, who ran out winners in a relatively weak Group G.
Although Julian Nagelsmann has transformed Leipzig into genuine Bundesliga title contenders this season, this is their first taste of Champions League knockout football and the Blues will hope to use this inexperience against them if they are paired together in the last 16.
Obviously, Barcelona aren’t what they once were – three La Liga defeats already this season is testament to that.
However, they still managed to go unbeaten in a UCL group that included Inter and Borussia Dortmund, demonstrating that they remain a force to be reckoned with.
Also, the last time the two sides met in Europe, Barca ran out comfortable 4-1 winners on aggregate, which does not bode well for Lampard’s young side.
After sneaking first place in Group E, Liverpool will be hoping to draw competition newbies Atalanta in the next round.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side completed an unlikely qualification by defeating Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 on Wednesday night, but surely a trip to Anfield would prove a bridge too far for the entertaining upstarts?
Liverpool were matched with Bayern Munich at this stage last season so drawing La Dea would be quite the treat.
Who’s up for Mohamed Salah vs. Sergio Ramos round two? Well, everyone except Liverpool I would imagine.
Two seasons removed for the infamous final in which Ramos broke Salah’s arm in the first half the Reds could meet Real Madrid again in the Champions League.
Real didn’t look that imperious in qualifying with Paris Saint-Germain topping Group A, but Liverpool have lost each of their last three meetings with Zinedine Zidane’s side and will surely want to avoid them at such an early stage of the competition.
The Champions League is a notable absence from Manchester City’s trophy cabinet and in order to give themselves the best possible opportunity of progressing, Pep Guardiola will be hoping to draw Lyon later this month.
Rudi Garcia’s side are struggling this season and currently sit seventh in Ligue 1, below the likes of Nantes, Bordeaux and Rennes.
With his side low on confidence, Lyon would provide the ideal last 16 opponents for Guardiola.
A tie against Dortmund would likely witness the return of in-form Jadon Sancho to the Etihad Stadium.
I can imagine it now…Sancho – the one that got away – jinxing past City’s lumbering defence in the last minute of the second leg, before scoring to knock his former club out of the competition.
It would make for an incredible piece of sporting storytelling but I don’t the Citizens would enjoy it too much. Probably best to avoid Dortmund for now then lads?
Two time Champions League winner José Mourinho will be looking to win his third tournament with new side Tottenham this season.
With that in mind, Spurs will be hoping for a straightforward last 16 tie to get their run to the final started and in their case the easiest scenario is drawing Valencia.
Los Ches are currently eighth in an extremely tight La Liga table and have been leaking goals. A prospect sure to excite Harry Kane.
Tottenham’s defensive frailties have been exposed frequently this season so I would imagine they would not relish a trip from Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in the last 16.
Comfortably top of Ligue 1 the Parisians look set to clinch yet another French title, barring a major slip up in the second half of the season.
Questions remain over how suited the PSG team is for European fixtures, due to its top-heavy, offensive composition, but their wealth of attacking talent would surely prove too much for the Lilywhites.
Original Author : 90min