The UEFA Champions League draw has been held, and Premier League sides face Bundesliga and La Liga tests.
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
What awaits them? Read on…
- Liverpool v. Atletico Madrid
Feb. 18 at the Wanda Metropolitano
March 11 at Anfield
Atletico Madrid may be six points off La Liga’s leaders with one more match played, but no one doubts Diego Simeone’s acumen in Europe. Yes, that’s even true after Atleti needed the final day to escape a group stage with Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen, and Lokomotiv Moscow.
The Madrid side has made the knockout rounds in six of seven seasons, twice losing the final to derby rivals Real.
Atleti have allowed a miserly 10 goals in 18 league matches, and five in six in the UCL.
The problem has been finding an attacking chemistry following the departure of Antoine Griezmann. Alvaro Morata leads the way with eight goals in 19 matches, while Joao Felix is second with four in 17. No one else has more than two.
The reigning champions get a tournament-savvy opponent, and Jurgen Klopp versus Simeone has to be near the top of the Round of 16’s managerial dog pile.
- Tottenham Hotspur v. RB Leipzig
Feb. 19 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
March 10 at Red Bull Arena
Current Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig have scored Germany’s most goals while conceding the fewest, and won Group G with Benfica, Lyon, and Zenit Saint-Petersburg. Timo Werner leads the way with 21 goals and nine assists in 23 matches, and American fans will hope healing midfielder Tyler Adams is back in the fold and firing by February.
Jose Mourinho will match wits with 32-year-old managerial phenom Julian Nagelsmann, who led Hoffenheim to the Champions League groups stage in 2018-19. You might remember their twice scoring first in 2-1 losses to Man City.
Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann on facing Spurs: “They’re one of Europe’s top teams, playing in a fantastic city with star players who have a lot of experience. It won’t be easy but we’re really looking forward to it, especially playing in that stadium. Spurs have a world-class manager in Jose Mourinho. The games will be exciting and we’ll need to put in two top performances. We’re more than capable of doing that. What a tie! We can’t wait!”
- Chelsea v. Bayern Munich
Feb. 25 at Stamford Bridge
March 18 at the Allianz Arena
It’s been an off season for Bayern Munich at home in Germany, the fifth place side nevertheless stream rolling Group B of the UCL with 24 goals scored and just five conceded versus Spurs, Olympiacos, and Red Star Belgrade.
Frank Lampard doesn’t really know his opposing manager yet, as Bayern handed the interim tag to Hansi Flick through the end of 2019 after firing Niko Kovac.
Bayern has not been great at the back in league play and has suffered numerous injuries, but Chelsea has plenty to worry about in 29-goal Robert Lewandowski. The Polish center forward is having one of the best seasons in the world.
- Manchester City v. Real Madrid
Feb. 26 at the Bernabeu
March 17 at the Etihad Stadium
Real Madrid is currently second in La Liga on points, trailing rivals Barcelona on goal differential ahead of Wednesday’s El Clasico. Real was clearly second best in its UCL group, taking just one point from PSG while struggling with Club Brugge and sweeping the points from Galatasaray.
Los Merengues can certainly score, but their league strength this season has been in defense.
Man City has not beaten Real Madrid in four meetings all-time, but its manager has a fine record against his longtime Spanish rivals.
Pep Guardiola is 9-4-4 all-time against Real Madrid, the club he’s faced joint-most in his managerial career (Arsenal). However, he’s lost his last three against Los Merengues: one Clasico and the 2013-14 UCL semifinals as Bayern Munich boss.
Wouldn’t Real relish the chance to sour Guardiola’s tenure at the Etihad?