After a tough six game European campaign had left teams hoping for a kind draw in the last-16 of the Champions League, we can expect to see several really close match-ups in the next stage of Europe’s elite competition.
Obviously one stand out tie of the draw is Arsenal’s clash with Bayern Munich, but it is far from the one-sided battle that some might think, despite this fixture being inevitable. With Bayern not hitting the heights that we’ve seen from them in the past, despite being in good form, Arsenal’s free-flowing attacking football is a sure boost to the north Londoners.
But this game could be more tactical and mental than in the previous years, having faced each other in four of the last five years, Bayern Munich have progressed in each of the last three encounters. This time Carlo Ancelotti’s experience could bolster Bayern’s chances.
But Arsenal will take confidence from their unbeaten run in the Champions League group stage so far, having only achieved this once before, which was when they reached the Final in 2006. Although Bayern could say that the last time they didn’t top their Champions League they also went onto the final, despite losing it against a treble-winning Inter Milan side.
Obviously, this game will not be played on form and statistics, and both sides will be hoping to build momentum in the coming weeks so that they can edge the other side in a tense knock-out game.
Another big game is Manchester City’s clash with Monaco, a game that might be one of the hardest fixtures in the round to predict. The Ligue 1 team are playing with flair, attacking prowess whilst being built on defensive stability. Pep Guardiola’s side are looking very frail however, and are likely to be susceptible on the counter especially.
But with talents like Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, you can never dismiss the Premier League side despite their stuttering form.
It will be an interesting battle in what will be Manchester City’s first ever clash with Monaco, but the French side are familiar with English competition, having knocked out Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal in their three knock-out encounters with English sides.
Another high-profiled game will be PSG’s fixture versus Barcelona, where superstar players will be on show under the lights; Cavani, Di Maria, Veratti, Messi, Suarez and Neymar just to name a few.
The odds will firmly be in Barcelona’s favour as the Spanish side are beginning to build impetus and pressure Real Madrid in the title race. With PSG never keeping a clean sheet against Barcelona, they will have to rely on a hit and miss Edison Cavani and unusually poor performances from Enrique’s side if they do want to progress.
Elsewhere, we will be expecting Real Madrid, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus all to make it through to the Quarter-Finals of the competition, ahead of the final in Cardiff.