The group stages of UEFA’s club competitions came to an end last week. The draw for the Round of 16 in the Champions League and the Playoff Round of the Europa League took place on Monday.
There are multiple exciting matchups in each competition. Below are a few of the matchups that could be the most interesting in each competition.
FC Barcelona vs. Manchester United
Manchester United and FC Barcelona have a history of important games between the two teams. The most recent time these two teams played each other in European competition was in the quarterfinals of the Champions League in 2019.
In 2019, Manchester United reached the quarterfinals after a dramatic comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16, which included a Marcus Rashford penalty in the fourth minute of added time. However, in the next round, Barcelona defeated Manchester United 4-0, eventually losing to Liverpool in the semi-finals of the tournament.
Prior to that, the two teams met in two finals in three seasons from 2009-2011. Barcelona won both finals, and as a result, Sir Alex Ferguson finished his career at Manchester United with two Champions League titles instead of a potential four.
The two teams also have recent history with each other off of the field, with extended negotiations taking place between the two teams regarding a potential transfer for Frenkie de Jong taking place this summer. De Jong should play an important part in this season’s matchup.
In the group stage, Manchester United failed to win the group after a 1-0 loss to Barcelona’s fellow La Liga side Real Sociedad on the opening matchday. FC Barcelona finished third in their Champions League group, behind Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, after earning only one point from their combined four games against the two teams.
This is undoubtedly the most important matchup of the Playoff Round of the Europa League. Whichever team wins will be one of the favorites to win the entire competition.
Borussia Dortmund vs. Chelsea
Only a few months ago, this matchup between Borrusia Dortmund and Chelsea would have meant that Thomas Tuchel would have faced his former team, Dortmund, with Chelsea, where he began this season as manager. However, Chelsea has since hired Graham Potter to coach the team after the start of the season.
Chelsea played extremely well during the group stage, winning four of their six games. They beat AC Milan twice during the group stage by a combined score of 5-0 and are undefeated in the Champions League so far during Tuchel’s tenure.
Meanwhile, Borrusia Dortmund finished second in their group behind one of the favorites Manchester City, but only won two of their games during the group stage. However, their 0-0 draw against Manchester City a few weeks ago will build confidence in the team ahead of the Round of 16.
The two games these teams will play against each other in the Round of 16 will be the first time they have played each other in the Champions League. Both teams will expect to win and compete to win the entire competition.
Bayern Munich vs. PSG
A rematch of the 2020 final of the competition, Bayern Munich and PSG will play each other in the Round of 16. Both teams are among the best in the sport.
Bayern Munich won the 2020 final 1-0 after a 59th-minute goal from Kingsley Coman. However, the two teams have played each other more recently, in the 2021 Champions League quarterfinals, which PSG won 3-3 on away goals.
PSG finished second in Group H behind Benfica due to tiebreaking rules. The two teams had the exact same record in the group stage, including 1-1 draws both times they played each other, but Benfica won the group due to scoring more away goals across the entire group stage.
The result is one of the best matchups in the Champions League, as PSG will play Bayern Munich, who won all six games in Group C, including a 3-0 win on the road against Barcelona and a 2-0 win on the road against Inter Milan.
These two teams have combined for only one combined loss in the Champions League, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1 this season. The winner of this matchup will instantly become a favorite to win this season’s Champions League.
Liverpool vs. Real Madrid
Liverpool and Real Madrid played each other in the final of last season’s Champions League. Real Madrid won that game 1-0 and completed an incredible season in the process.
This season, Liverpool finished second in Group A behind Napoli, who beat Liverpool 4-1 at home in the game that ended up determining Group A’s winner. Real Madrid, meanwhile, won Group F, but actually finished the group stage with fewer points, 13 than Liverpool had, 15.
However, the two team’s seasons in their leagues have been completely different. Liverpool is currently eighth in the Premier League and has lost two of their last three matches in the league, while Real Madrid is currently second in La Liga and has only lost one league game this season.
Jurgen Klopp has time to improve how Liverpool is playing before this matchup takes place after the World Cup, but it will be difficult for the team to beat Real Madrid. No matter what, this should be one of the best games of the Round of 16 of the competition.
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