With the Champions League round of 16 draw now in the books, let's take a look at the winners and losers. The remaining 16 participants were drawn against each other on Monday, and there are some clear ties as to who is expected to win while some other, like Juventus vs. Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich vs. Liverpool, are expected to be tight, physical affairs. As a result of the draw, here are three winners and three losers, but first the complete draw results:
Real Madrid got Ajax and Barcelona got Lyon, and both Spanish clubs are the clear favorites entering their knockout stage games in February. If any were likely to pull the upset, it's Ajax over Real Madrid due to the poor form of Santiago Solari's squad. This club may have won the Champions League the past three seasons, but the drop-off has been drastic without Cristiano Ronaldo. Barca should be fine against Lyon, but as the French club showed in upsetting Manchester City in the group stage, they are to be taken seriously.
Just when you thought you had probably seen the last of Cristiano Ronaldo, a guy who terrorized the club, especially in UCL finals, Atleti gets him again in his first knockout stage tie with Juventus. Nightmares for sure, but Atleti will embrace the challenge as they always do under Diego Simeone. Another elimination at the hands of a Ronaldo-led team will be a tough pill to swallow. Don't be shocked of Atleti pulls it off, though.
We are going to be treated with Bayern Munich vs. Liverpool, Juventus vs. Atletico Madrid and Tottenham vs. Borussia Dortmund -- three world-class battles that are incredibly enticing for a variety of reasons. The attacking talent in Bayern vs. Liverpool is just unreal. Juve vs. Atleti is a defensive battle that should be satisfying from tactical standpoint. Tottenham vs. Dortmund is full of speedy players who are great with the ball on their feet, and that may end up being the best of the eight games.
How does facing Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani over 180 minutes sound for the likes of Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling? Yeah, that can't possibly end well. If you were to inject Jose Mourinho with truth serum, he was probably hoping to land one of the "minnows" on Monday. Instead, he reeled in one of the biggest fish in the Champions League sea. It's hard seeing United being able to keep a clean sheet in either leg, and it is even tougher envisioning this team being able to go through. This isn't the Manchester United of old, and PSG should have a field day, as United entered the drawing allowing at least two goals in four of their last five games.
With all of the injury issues Manchester City has faced, getting Schalke is great for them because they can probably handle this team with most of their reserves. The German club hasn't looked sharp, despite American Weston McKennie continuing to improve his stock, and with City hoping to get healthy to win this competition, this gives them even more time to get their guys back. They'll play whoever they need to win, especially with the club just getting Kevin De Bruyne back from injury, but Pep Guardiola can be a bit cautious when it comes to fielding his team in the first leg in February.
While it's hard not to get excited about seeing these matches, we are still two months away from them arriving. The round of 16 officially begins in February. with the exact schedule set to be announced on Monday. So enjoy the holidays and look forward to some absolutely wild match-ups in two months.
The runners-up play the first game at home, with the second game being played at the home of the group winners. The first legs will take place on Feb. 12-13 or Feb. 19-20, with the return legs on either March 5-6 or March 12-13.
The knockout stage can be viewed on fuboTV (Try for free).