Champions League Round of 16 Draw
Champions League is taking a break until February now that the group stage is complete. But before it does, they needed to determine the pairings for the next round of matches.
The draw took place on Monday afternoon at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. As a reminder, here’s how the eight groups were settled during group play:
|Group||Winners (seeded in draw)||Runners-up (unseeded in draw)|
|A||Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)||Real Madrid (ESP)|
|B||Bayern Munich (GER)||Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)|
|C||Manchester City (ENG)||Atalanta (ITA)|
|D||Juventus (ITA)||Atlético Madrid (ESP)|
|E||Liverpool (ENG)||Napoli (ITA)|
|F||Barcelona (ESP)||Borussia Dortmund (GER)|
|G||RB Leipzig (GER)||Lyon (FRA)|
|H||Valencia (ESP)||Chelsea (ENG)|
This will be the final round of the tournament where clubs from the same association cannot be drawn against each other. Likewise, if they played in the same group during the last round, they also cannot meet again until the quarterfinals. The seeded clubs will host the second match of the upcoming two-leg Round of 16, and the first leg will begin on 18 February 2020.
This year’s knockout round is dominated by the top associations in UEFA, with no club from outside the top five associations – Spain, England, Italy, Germany, and France – making an appearance. Last season’s Round of 16 featured Ajax (Netherlands) and Porto (Portugal) from outside the top countries. Instead, this season will feature matches this round between some of the true pedigrees in Europe, with nobody more than 80% favored to advance to the quarterfinals.
Repeating last year’s feat, England advanced all four clubs through to the knockout stage. In a departure from last year, two did so as group winners. Last season, England made history by placing four clubs in the quarterfinals; this year might be a little more difficult.
Manchester City and Liverpool are favored in their matchups, and I expect both to prevail against their Spanish opponents. City also remains the current favorite to win the whole thing (per FiveThirtyEight), winning in 23% of simulations. Liverpool, currently on a nearly unprecedented run in Premier League this season, is the third favorite club (14%) in the tournament, and favored in 69% of simulations against Atlético Madrid.
Tottenham Hotspur is about a 40/60 proposition against RB Leipzig, a surprise group winner, albeit in a relatively weak group. Last season’s title game loser to Liverpool, the Spurs only have a 6% chance of reaching that pinnacle again. Chelsea, the Europa League champions from last season, has the pleasure of playing Bayern Munich, the second favorite club (21%) to win the entire tournament.
Spain also qualified four clubs for the knockout round after seeing only three clubs do so last year. Only Barcelona came through and reached the quarterfinals, with Real Madrid (lost to Ajax) and Atlético Madrid (lost to Juventus) falling in this round last season. That said, only Barcelona is favored in this round.
Barcelona drew Napoli, and is a 3-to-1 favorite to advance. Valencia is a slight underdog against Atalanta, a surprise qualifier to this round, if not the Champions League overall. Still, Valencia has struggled a bit in La Liga this season, which has slid them a bit behind Atalanta in this matchup. As mentioned above, Real Madrid gets to meet up with Manchester City, while Atlético Madrid meets their English compatriot. Both clubs currently have about a 30% chance of advancing, though they do have the pedigree to do some damage in the tournament.
Three clubs each reached the round from Germany and Italy, including the aforementioned Bayern Munich and their 21% chance of winning it all. RB Leipzig is also favored in their matchup against the Spurs, and could be catching the London club at the right time to send them home for the rest of the year.
The third German club is Borussia Dortmund, who had the luck of drawing the French champion Paris Saint-Germain. This unfortunate draw moved Borussia towards the bottom of the advancement odds list, with only a 28% chance of reaching the quarters and barely a 1% chance of winning the whole thing. They are no slouch, however, finishing a competitive second in Bundesliga last season (behind Bayern Munich) and near the top of the table again thus far. A strong opening match at Westfalenstadion will obviously be very important, and they might yet end up surprising some people this round.
Italian champions Juventus join the previously mentioned Atalanta as favorites this round, being expected to beat Lyon 77% of the time. But the Juve is probably already looking ahead to the quarterfinals, hoping to improve on last season’s loss to Ajax. Cristiano Renaldo and friends are still trying to justify his huge price tag and are hoping that 2020 is the year that Juve returns to the top of European football.
Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon are representing France, just like they did last season. Last season’s Round of 16 was not good for the Ligue 1 clubs, as they fell to Manchester United and Barcelona, respectively. PSG’s loss was especially disheartening as they entered leg 2 up 2-0 against the Red Devils, only to fall 3-1 in Paris and lose on away goals. And the less that is said about Lyon’s throttling at the hands of Barca, the better.
France is the fifth-ranked association for a reason; a French club has not reached the quarterfinals since Monaco did during the 2016-17 competition, and have not reached the final since Monaco lost to Porto in 2004! PSG’s European history is even more empty at this point, but with one of their deeper clubs ever, they too hope that 2020 is the year that they finally break through. They just have to get past that plucky Borussia Dortmund club first.
At this point, Manchester City and Bayern Munich are pretty much co-favorites overall, with Liverpool and PSG (11%) joining them at the top and over 10%. I would not be surprised, however, to see some weird results in at least leg one of the round, especially considering a lot of the firepower that qualified for the round.
Here’s the complete draw match dates. Team 1 will host the 1st leg, with Team 2 hosting the other:
|Team 1||Team 2||1st leg||2nd leg|
|Borussia Dortmund||Paris Saint-Germain||18 February 2020||11 March 2020|
|Real Madrid||Manchester City||26 February 2020||17 March 2020|
|Atalanta||Valencia||19 February 2020||10 March 2020|
|Atlético Madrid||Liverpool||18 February 2020||11 March 2020|
|Chelsea||Bayern Munich||25 February 2020||18 March 2020|
|Lyon||Juventus||26 February 2020||17 March 2020|
|Tottenham Hotspur||RB Leipzig||19 February 2020||10 March 2020|
|Napoli||Barcelona||25 February 2020||18 March 2020|
Until next time…