The premier European competition, the Champions League, returns in February for the round of 16.
The two-legged ties will continue through to March when there will then be just eight teams left in the hunt for the trophy. Here is a look at some of the highlights we can look forward to in the last 16 encounters.
Defending champions set to take on Liverpool
Real Madrid lifted the trophy at the end of the 2021/22 Champions League campaign and the defending champions have been given a tough draw in the last 16 against Liverpool. It is a repeat of the 2019 final where the Spanish side came out on top 3-1.
The La Liga winners finished top of Group E in the opening stage of this year’s competition. They won four of their six matches, ending the campaign with 13 points, one point clear of RB Leipzig.
Carlos Ancelotti’s side were beaten in the final of Supercopa de Espana by rivals Barcelona in January. After 17 games of the La Liga campaign, they also trail their opponents by three points.
Liverpool are having one of their worst Premier League campaigns in many years. A goalless draw against Chelsea at Anfield was their third straight game in the league without a win. They have a lot of work to do to finish in the top four this season, and they may find it tough against the Madrid team.
Prediction: Real Madrid to qualify
PSG and Bayern lock horns
Heavyweights of European football, PSG and Bayern Munich, were drawn against each other in the last 16, which means one of those teams will not reach the quarter-finals. The French champions have reached the semi-finals or better in each of the last two seasons in this competition.
PSG have one of the best attacking lines in world football, with Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and recent World Cup winner Lionel Messi leading their line. The trio of forwards is going to take some stopping by any team in the Champions League this season.
Since losing to Augsburg in September, Bayern has gone 15 games unbeaten in all competitions. Despite that record, they were held to a draw in their opening two Bundesliga matches since the league returned, against RB Salzburg and RB Leipzig.
The German team will fancy their chances of getting past PSG as they have a formidable attack too. This is likely to be a high-scoring game, and if it does become a shoot-out, PSG’s trio can outscore their opposite numbers.
Prediction: PSG to qualify
Manchester City set for Leipzig test
As of the 23rd of January, Manchester City are the 7/4 favourites in the football betting for the European competition this season. They have been given a favourable draw against German side RB Leipzig.
Erling Haaland is the hottest striker in Europe right now, as he showed when scoring his fourth league hat-trick of the season against Wolves. His record in the Champions League is just as good as the English league.
Pep Guardiola has been desperate to win the Champions League ever since he joined Manchester City in 2014. RB Leipzig are very capable of scoring goals, but it is hard to see them causing an upset in this tie over 180 minutes.
Prediction: Manchester City to qualify
Chelsea meet Dortmund
Both Chelsea and Dortmund are having difficult seasons in their respective domestic leagues. They will be hoping for a change in fortunes in Europe. The Premier League club has invested heavily in the January transfer window, with Joao Felix and Mykhailo Mudryk both joining the Blues. Those two players can be registered to play in the knockout stages for the English club.
Dortmund have not been as dominant since losing Haaland in the summer transfer window. They finished second behind Manchester City in Group G in the opening stages of the competition. A 4-1 victory against Sevilla in Seville was the pick of their results.
Chelsea have a lot of pedigree in the Champions League with their latest recruits, so they can edge their German opponents in this tie.
Prediction: Chelsea to qualify
The final of this year’s Champions League competition takes place on the 10th of June, and it will be played at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.