With 16 teams settled into their spots for Monday’s UEFA Champions League draw, what would be the most tantalizing octet of matches for February’s Round of 16.
We’ll include a full list of seeded and unseeded teams at the bottom so you can pair ’em up however you like, but let’s start with our best ideas.
Remember: Teams can neither be drawn against teams from their own domestic leagues, or against the other advancing team from their group stage quartets.
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Let’s begin with the reigning champions. Real Madrid is unseeded, and cannot draw Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Borussia Dortmund. Our vote would be Juventus and a reprisal of the 2015 final in Berlin.
Real boss Zinedine Zidane would not be pleased.
Staying in Spain, seeded Barcelona only knows it will avoid Manchester City, Real Madrid, and Sevilla. We’re interested in attractive soccer, so how about a bombastic battle with Bayern Munich.
Manchester City is the lone Premier League team in the unseeded pool, and cannot face Arsenal, Leicester City, or Barcelona. We’re thinking Sky Blue vs. Sky Blue, and a match-up with Napoli.
Leicester City completes the Premier League trio. Given our above draw and group mates Porto, that leaves Benfica, Bayer Leverkusen, Sevilla, and PSG as potential rivals. We’ll chose Bayer Leverkusen as the match-up likely gives the Foxes their best chance to hit the snooze button and keep dreaming.
The biggest name left is Paris Saint-Germain (with apologies to BVB). Unai Emery’s bunch would be left with Atletico Madrid as the lone option, and another tete-a-tete between the ex-Sevilla boss and Diego Simeone works for us.
Now Arsenal… who do you draw with the hopes of a quarterfinal berth in ages? The remaining options are Benfica, Sevilla, and Porto. We’ll give Benfica a trip to the Emirates, leaving Porto to face Monaco, and Sevilla on the road to Borussia Dortmund.
Our final draw:
Arsenal vs. Benfica
Monaco vs. Porto
Borussia Dortmund vs. Sevilla
Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Napoli vs. Manchester City
Leicester City vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Juventus vs. Real Madrid