Both Liverpool and Manchester United were handed mouth-watering draws on Monday as the UEFA Champions League set up the first stage of matches in the Round of 16.
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Liverpool drew Bayern Munich while Manchester United faces Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain. Elsewhere in the Premier League, Manchester City drew Schalke 04 and Tottenham drew Borussia Dortmund. Let’s take a closer look at each of the eight matchups:
Liverpool v. Bayern Munich
It’s a return to Germany for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who brings his Premier League-leading side into a match with a struggling giant. In a way, this game sets up perfectly for the Reds. While it is a huge matchup on paper, Bayern’s aging defense continues to fail to deal with speedy attackers in big games. The likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane should have a field day with lumbering centerbacks such as Mats Hummels and Niklas Sule, and while anything is possible, Liverpool should come through this tie unscathed.
Paris Saint-Germain v. Manchester United
Manchester United’s failure to win its group has left it with a difficult task – stopping Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani. The PSG trio could have a field day against Manchester United’s leaky defense, which has allowed 33 goals between the Premier League and Champions League so far this season. It’s hard to know exactly what either team will look like in two months time, a lot can happen, but if Man United’s defense doesn’t improve, it can be in for a long 180 minutes. Interestingly, with the title out of reach for Man United and PSG likely locking up the Ligue 1 title, both teams’ energies will be focused on this match and every Champions League tie moving forward.
Schalke v. Manchester City
Manchester City may have landed one of the best draws in the pot. Schalke, while finishing second in their group, are struggling mightily in the Bundesliga this season. The club have just 15 points from 15 games and have one win in its last five games in all competitions. American Weston McKennie has remained a regular in the squad this season and Los Angeles native Haji Wright is beginning to break into the first team, but goalscoring has been a problem for Schalke in recent times, with just five goals in its last five matches.
All in all, assuming Manchester City doesn’t suffer any more tough injuries – losing de Bruyne again, for example – Pep Guardiola‘s side should be able to manage this tie.
Tottenham v. Borussia Dortmund
Aside from Manchester United, Tottenham may have one of the more difficult draws in this Champions League Round of 16. Borussia Dortmund has climbed to the top of the Bundesliga and is still unbeaten after 15 games, including wins over rivals Schalke and Bayern Munich. Marco Reus is a true star in attacking midfield and new signing Paco Alcacer, when on the field, continues to score goals in bunches. At the other end, defensively the team has improved by leaps and bounds. However, Tottenham seem to have raised their game recently when they need it – see matches against Inter Milan and Barcelona – so this tie could really go any way.
Atletico Madrid v Juventus
Lyon v Barcelona
Roma v Porto
Ajax v Real Madrid