We had some great matchups last season with Arsenal facing Bayern Munich again, Manchester City up against Barcelona and AC Milan facing a red-hot Atletico Madrid.
5 best UCL knockout games
Champions League: 5 most intriguing matchups of the round of 16
Paris Saint-Germain vs Chelsea
A rematch of last year’s quarterfinal encounter, this is definitely one game to look out for.
When the teams met last season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was injured in the first leg and missed the second leg as Chelsea went through thanks to a late minute winner from Demba Ba that saw the Blues progress 3-3 on away goals.
Now fit and firing, the Swede will be looking to be fit for both games as he seeks to end a personal wait for the Champions League, a trophy which has eluded him all these years.
The tie will also have a certain significance this time with the transfer of David Luiz over the summer.
Signed from Chelsea in a huge £50 million deal, it’s fair to say that Chelsea benefited much more from the sale. With that said though, there’s bound to be good feelings about this reunion especially as Luiz was adored by the Chelsea faithful despite his occasional erratic performances.
What will also be intriguing about this rematch is the fact that Chelsea are considerably stronger than last year with the notable additions of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas while Nemanja Matic won’t be cup-tied like he was last season.
(Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Arsenal vs Monaco
For once, Arsenal fans can finally be happy with their round of 16 draw. After repeatedly being handed tough ties since 2010, the Gunners can be deemed really lucky to draw a lackluster Monaco side.
Arsenal have never faced Monaco in a European competition before but Gunners manager, Arsene Wenger requires no introduction to his former side.
However, that doesn’t mean it’ll be an easy ride for Arsenal – while the French side haven’t been scoring bucket loads of goals (topping their group with just four goals scored), Leonardo Jardim’s side have been defensively solid.
Les Rouges et Blancs only conceded one goal in the entire group stage in six games while they’ve been hard to penetrate in Ligue 1 as well, conceding 19 goals in 24 games – one goal less than PSG.
To make things even more impressive, Monaco didn’t concede a goal in 842 minutes of action until their recent 1-0 defeat to Guingamp – the longest streak in Europe.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how Wenger’s side deal with Monaco’s discipline tactically, we could be in for a great game. Arsenal though, seem to be clicking at the right time as well with the return of Mesut Özil and Theo Walcott, having scored 16 goals in their last six games in all competitions while the presence of Alexis Sanchez is always a game changer.
(Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Manchester City vs Barcelona
Another rematch, Manuel Pellegrini’s side will be looking for revenge after the Catalans knocked them out last season 4-1 on aggregate with a City player getting sent off in both games.
Both teams have had mixed seasons and as it stands, look like they’ll finish second in their respective leagues. If that is the case, the Champions League will no doubt be given utmost importance especially as expectations are high with Pellegrini and Barcelona manager, Luis Enrique.
City, despite their millions, are yet to go past the round of 16, something former Barcelona player, Yaya Toure wants to change.
La Blaugrana meanwhile could only salvage a quarterfinal exit last year and so, this game has all the potential to be one of the best in this round.
The additions of the likes of Luis Suarez, Wilfried Bony, Ivan Rakitic and Fernando will also make the tie all the more interesting as well.
(Photo by Miguel Ruiz/FC Barcelona via Getty Images)
Juventus vs Borussia Dortmund
This is one game where we could witness a potential goalfest.
The two teams will be facing each other for the first time since the 1997 Champions League final where the Germans emerged victorious 3-1 winners.
Dortmund this season, have been disappointing in the Bundesliga and look highly unlikely to make the Champions League spots. However, they have been impressive in the Champions League, benefiting from facing foreign teams not accustomed to their style as they topped their group which also featured Arsenal.
Juventus meanwhile, are topping Serie A like they’ve done the last few years and currently look set for a fourth straight league title, leading Roma by seven points.
Because of the two teams’ circumstances, the importance to this round of 16 tie will be undoubtedly high. Dortmund will be desperate to win the Champions League not only to win it, but to make sure they remain in the competition next year due to their erratic league performance this season.
I can guarantee that every single Dortmund player will have the best game of their season against Juventus
Juventus on the other hand, have performed way below expectations in the Champions League the last two seasons and will be looking to go further.
It’ll certainly be a cracker of a game with the Italian side’s creativity in midfield and tactical discipline against Dortmund’s relentless pressing and speed.
(Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich will be the favorites but this game has the potential to be an entertaining one nonetheless.
Pep Guardiola will be looking to win the Champions League for the first time with the Bavarians after reaching the semifinals last season. Bayern Munich will be facing Shakhtar for the first time in the competition, however, history dictates that the Germans don’t do so well in Ukraine with just one win in their last five visits to the country.
However, it’s the same case with Shakhtar who haven’t beaten a Bundesliga side at home since 1980.
Bernard (Shakhtar) "We respect Guardiola's Bayern, but we don’t fear them. We play to win to advance further!. I'm sure we can do it" #Pep
Both teams have scored a lot of goals in the competition this year though with Bayern scoring 16 goals in their six games while Shakhtar have scored 15 in their six games (albeit 12 of them coming in the two games against BATE). If that’s anything to go by, we should be expecting quite a few goals in this encounter.
Prediction: Bayern Munich
(Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
And this year, it's no different with mouth watering rematches, tactical battles and potential goal-fests as we take a look at five of the most intriguing match-ups to come.
If you're not familiar with this stage of the competition, the top two teams in each group have been drawn to play two leg encounters. Each team will a home and away game and whichever team has the highest aggregate score at the end of the two games will advance to the the quarterfinals.
The rest of the competition will follow this format until the final which will be decided on the night at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany. It's that time of the year again. The Champions League is back after a two-month hiatus and the business end of the competition is upon us.