After the completion of the group stage, there are 16 teams remaining. Europe’s elite clubs will now battle it out in the knockout rounds, to see who will be crowned as the best team in Europe for 2016.
Last 16 Draw
Gent – Wolfsburg
Roma – Real Madrid
Paris Saint-Germain – Chelsea
Arsenal – Barcelona
Juventus – Bayern Munich
PSV Eindhoven – Atletico Madrid
Benfica – Zenit Saint Petersburg
Dynamo Kiev – Manchester City
Wolfsburg’s 3-2 victory over Manchester United sealed their qualification to the last 16, and set up a winnable game against Belgian side Gent. Both teams will see this as a great opportunity to reach the quarter finals. The German side will start as favourites, they have the stronger team. and also play their domestic football in a much more competitive league. Gent have done fantastic to get this far, although I don’t see them progressing any further than this stage. Wolfsburg to win by two goals on aggregate.
Real Madrid are going through a difficult period, but they will fancy their chances against Roma. The Italian side have a good team, I just don’t believe that they are ready to beat one of Europe’s elite. They struggled to get out of their group, and haven’t shown enough in this seasons competition to suggest that they can pull off a big upset. The attacking flair of Madrid should be enough to see them safely through to the last 8. If Madrid’s attack hit top form they are capable of ripping any defence to shreds. Real Madrid to win by three goals on aggregate.
Chelsea have been given the toughest draw possible, against big-spending French champions Paris Saint-Germain. They met in this competition last season, which PSG emerged from victorious. On current form, PSG should win this game comfortably. Chelsea will need to improve massively from their recent performances, if they are to stand a chance. I wouldn’t write Chelsea off just yet, especially with a team playing for their next manager (at the time of writing undecided). I expect it to be a closely fought contest, with not too many goals. PSG to win by one goal on aggregate.
Arsenal produced a great performance in Greece to book their place in the last 16. Their reward for that is a clash with reigning European champions, Barcelona. The Gunners are capable of beating anyone in a one-off game, but over two legs against the current best team in the world it will be tough. There should be plenty of goals in this one, with the attacking talent on show from both sides. Arsenal have improved over the past few seasons, but not enough to come through this test. Barcelona have a great chance of retaining their trophy. Barcelona to win by 3 goals on aggregate.
Last season’s finalists Juventus have been given a tough draw, against Bayern Munich. Bayern will go into this game as favourites, as they have been in fantastic form this season. If Bayern play to their potential, only a few teams are capable of stopping them. Juventus will have to recapture the form which took them to last season’s champions league final if they are to stand any chance of progressing. Munich should possess too much firepower for the Italian champions, but Juventus have an excellent defence, so they can’t be ruled out. Bayern Munich to win by 2 goals on aggregate.
Atletico Madrid are once again this season’s dark horses to lift the trophy. They will be pleased with the draw for the knockout round, where they will play Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven. PSV did well to come through a difficult group, but they are yet to face a team as good as Atletico in this competition. Atletico don’t score as many goals as some of the other top teams in Europe but they have an outstanding defence, and it should be enough to see them safely through to the quarter-finals. Atletico to win by 2 goals on aggregate.
Zenit Saint Petersburg have been this season’s surprise package. They topped their group, with five wins from six games. They now have a great chance of reaching the last 8. Benfica are a decent team, who can give anyone a good game on their day. This game is a genuine 50/50. Both teams are evenly matched, it will come down to who plays the best over the two legs. If it is a high scoring contest, I would go for Benfica. If it is a low-scoring contest, I fancy Zenit to nick it. Benfica to win by 1 goal on aggregate.
Manchester City need to start challenging to win this competition. A last 16 clash with Dynamo Kiev gives them a good chance of getting through to the qquarter-finals. Kiev have a decent defence, only conceding four goals in the group stage. I just can’t see them being able to cope with Cities strike force, especially now that City are beginning to get their best players back from injuries. I think this could be a high-scoring encounter, with City coming out victorious. Manchester City to win by 2 goals on aggregate.