Whilst Manchester City’s unbeaten run in the Premier League has become strangely predictable, we can look ahead to next year’s Champions League clashes to provide us with plenty of thrilling football.
February sees the last sixteen sides in the tournament competing, and with a place at the final in Kiev in May almost within reach, it will be fascinating to see how events unfold. So alongside games like Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma, and Bayern Munich v Besiktas, here’s a look at some of the most thrilling encounters.
Basel v Manchester City
With all Premier League sides being unable to stop Manchester City, it looks like Basel face a formidable challenge. The Swiss team are the weakest side left in the final sixteen, and the two matches on 13 February and 7 March should be easy pickings for Pep Guardiola’s side. Although forwards like Ricky van Wolfswinkel might prove difficult for Manchester City to contain, it’s clear that Basel should prove to be little real threat for City.
Juventus v Tottenham
If Manchester City are a club who have it easy, the same can’t be said for Tottenham who have to play against Juventus on 13 February. Although Tottenham’s surprise win against Real Madrid will give them plenty of confidence, it’s clear that a trip to the Juventus Stadium is a challenge that no team would want to face. However, Spurs did beat Juventus 2-0 in a friendly earlier this summer, and so the home match on 7 March could be a very memorable evening at White Hart Lane.
Porto v Liverpool
Porto might seem like one of the easier clubs for Liverpool to face, but there is plenty of evidence that this Portuguese team could provide an upset. Thanks to the formidable presence of their striker, Vincent Aboubakar, Porto could prove to unsettle a Liverpool team who have a tendency to slip into complacency. But with Jürgen Klopp’s side showing great recent form, they are the current favourites with odds on Betway Sports of 21/10 to reach the next round.
Sevilla v Manchester United
Jose Mourinho’s side face a tricky challenge when they take on Sevilla on 21 February and 13 March. The Spanish side have managed to show plenty of team spirit, and already Mourinho has expressed his concern about the timing of the fixture as it lands close to two tough Premier League matches against Liverpool and Chelsea. Despite this, Manchester United will be glad that they avoided some of the real European heavyweights.
Real Madrid v PSG
There aren’t many matches that will be as closely fought as these clashes between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain on 14 February and 6 March. Whilst the Valentine’s Day showdown won’t be the most romantic of affairs, it does give us a fantastic opportunity to see how Ronaldo and Neymar will face up to each other. The reigning champions, Real Madrid, have had a frustrating season so far, and so there will be plenty to play for when they take on the in-form Paris St Germain who feature the formidable likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani.
Chelsea v Barcelona
And if all of these Champions League clashes weren’t thrilling enough, then we can look forward to Chelsea taking on Barcelona on 20 February and 14 March. This will reignite a famous rivalry between the two clubs after a five-year absence, and Chelsea will certainly be hoping for a repeat performance of their 2012 semi-final victory. But seeing as Barcelona dominated their group and are currently riding high in the La Liga table, it seems that Chelsea have pulled the shortest straw of the English clubs. Much of this is down to their star player, Lionel Messi, who will be certain to give Antonio Conte’s side plenty to worry about. But if they can keep Messi quiet, then Chelsea could be back on track for European glory.