From Tuesday, 7pm, BT Sport 2/HD (CH 532/528) and BT Sport 3/HD (CH 533/529)
It’s back! Those epic European nights return to BT Sport on Virgin TV from Tuesday, as the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League kicks off in scintillating style.
Some of the continent’s biggest hitters will be in first-leg action, with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund all looking to put a fluorescent boot in the quarter-finals of this glitzy tournament. But competition is fierce at this stage and nobody wants cold water poured over their dreams of reaching the final. That would just be embarrassing.
From Madrid’s pursuit of history, to the possibility that Arsenal might actually cause hell to freeze over by reaching the next round, there’s plenty to be keeping an eye on across this initial quartet of last-16 clashes. Here, we answer the big questions…
Can the Gunners triumph in Bavaria?
It’s a funny old game. Unless you support Arsenal. This season the Gunners finished top of their qualifying group for the first time in yonks, which would normally have given them a favourable last 16 draw. Except here’s the thing – they were drawn against the mighty Bayern Munich, who finished behind Atlético Madrid in Group D. Arsène Wenger’s side have suffered six consecutive eliminations at this stage of the competition, but they’ll be ever so slightly encouraged by the fact that Bayern aren’t quite what they used to be.
Are MSN unstoppable?
It’s bad enough dragging yourself out of bed in the morning to go to work, but just imagine waking up knowing that you’ll have to face Barcelona’s attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar. You’d call in sick and spend the day watching Homes Under The Hammer, wouldn’t you? French giants Paris Saint-Germain have a solid chance of getting something out of their clash with the Catalans on Tuesday, but they’re going to need an énorme slice of luck if they want to keep Barca’s free-scoring trio quiet.
Will you well up when you hear the music?
Yes, it bears more than a passing resemblance to Handel’s “Zadok The Priest”, but is there a more stirring piece of music in sport than the UEFA Champions League theme tune? Cristiano Ronaldo has been caught singing along to it before games, while Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri claimed earlier this season that this piece of orchestral brilliance inspired Riyad Mahrez to a match-winning performance against Club Brugge. It has that sort of power. Just try to hold back the waterworks when it returns on Tuesday night.
Can Madrid make history?
Since the competition was rebranded in 1992, no team has won consecutive UEFA Champions League titles. But is that about to change? Real Madrid are looking tasty in La Liga and recently saw a 40-game unbeaten run in all competitions come to an end. They’ve been handed a very winnable last-16 tie against Napoli and, let’s face it, anything is possible when you can call upon such defence-destroying stars as Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos.
Are Dortmund dark horses?
The determined have-nots to Bayern Munich’s have-it-alls in Germany, Borussia Dortmund cruised to first place in their group with four wins and two draws. While they’ve been less than sparkling in the Bundesliga this season (they currently sit in fourth place) they’ve been saving their best stuff for the UEFA Champions League. Portuguese champions Benfica stand between them and the quarter-finals (not an easy tie at the best of times), however, Dortmund are more than capable of throwing a spanner in the works this year.
Watch on the go
Virgin Media customers with BT Sport can watch the UEFA Champions League on the go with the TV Anywhere app. Just download it from the App Store or Google Play and log in to the app to start watching.