Big teams. Big names. Even bigger matches. The continent’s elite club competition is all set up for an explosive knockout phase
UEFA Champions League last 16, from Tuesday 18 February, BT Sport
The UEFA Champions League is back. With the group stage settled back in December, the tournament is about to go turbo with the last 16 – and you can follow all of the action exclusively live on BT Sport.
And would you just look at the irresistible showdowns? Defending champions Liverpool are taking on Atlético Madrid; Chelsea are going head to head with Bavarian behemoths Bayern Munich in a repeat of the 2012 final; Spurs meet Bundesliga title hopefuls Red Bull Leipzig; and Manchester City face off against the mighty Real Madrid.
But that’s just the half of it. Throw in Borussia Dortmund versus Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona’s clash with Napoli, Juventus against Lyon and Valencia’s tussle with Atalanta and you’ve got one of the strongest last 16s in recent memory.
Want to get clued up about the runners and riders left in this season’s UEFA Champions League? Here are 16 things to know about the teams battling it out in the last 16…
1. Barcelona’s home record is ridiculous
The five-time winners haven’t suffered a UEFA Champions League defeat at the Camp Nou in 35 matches. The last team to overcome Barca on their own patch was Bayern Munich in 2013.
2. Liverpool have a score to settle
Defending champions Liverpool’s last meeting with Atlético Madrid ended badly for the Merseysiders. A 2-2 aggregate draw in the 2009-10 Europa League semi-finals saw the Spaniards make it through to the final, where they beat Fulham.
3. Ronaldo is out of sorts
With just two goals in the group stage for Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t having the best UEFA Champions League campaign. So expect him to come alive against Lyon, because we’ve just written him off.
4. It’s new ground for Red Bull Leipzig
Not only are Leipzig disrupting the Bundesliga (they are firmly in the mix for the title), they’re also shaking up European club football’s elite competition. This is the first time they’ve been in the last 16.
5. Beware of Napoli
Barcelona may be the favourites for their tie with Napoli, but the Serie A side must not be underestimated. The Italians are one of only two teams to beat Liverpool in a competitive match this season, alongside Aston Villa.
6. City aren’t so slick against Real
The Premier League champions have failed to beat the Spanish giants in four attempts. Two draws and two defeats make up their disappointing record, but you could argue this is their best chance yet of putting one over Madrid.
7. José’s still special
José Mourinho became the first manager in history to guide six different clubs into the UEFA Champions League knockout stage by overseeing Tottenham’s progression to the last 16.
8. Frank loves it against Bayern
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard scored three goals in four UEFA Champions League appearances against last-16 opponents Bayern Munich. He also captained the Blues when they beat Bayern in the 2012 final.
9. Atlético are defence maestros
Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid boast one of the meanest defensive records in this season’s competition. They conceded just five times in the group stage, at an average of 0.83 goals per game. Opponents Liverpool are leaking an average of 1.33 per game.
10. All hail Gasperini!
Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini was made an honorary citizen of Bergamo after leading Atalanta into the UEFA Champions League for the first time this season. The Italians edged through their group with just seven points.
11. Bayern Munich are dangerous on the road
The bad news for Chelsea is the Bundesliga champions are just as formidable away from home as they are on home turf. Bayern are unbeaten in 12 UEFA Champions League away matches, four shy of Manchester United’s record of 16.
12. Unhappy memories for Paris Saint-Germain
PSG set an unenviable record in 2017 when they surrendered a 4-0 first-leg lead to Barcelona, eventually losing 6-5 on aggregate. It’s the biggest last-16 turnaround in UEFA Champions League history. Sacré bleu!
13. Valencia need to up their game
Having found the net nine times in the group phase, Valencia are among the lowest-scoring teams left in the UEFA Champions League. (Borussia Dortmund are the least potent with eight goals.)
14. Benzema is closing in on a Real legend
While Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi continue their ding-dong battle to be the competition’s greatest ever marksman, Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema is just seven goals behind Raúl in third place on the list of all-time leading goalscorers.
15. Don’t mess with Dortmund’s deadly striker
Erling Braut Håland scored eight goals for Salzburg in the group phase, before Borussia Dortmund snapped him up for around €20 million in January. In years gone by, this lethal striker (who scored a hat-trick on his Dortmund debut) would have been cup-tied for the knockout phase, but a rule change in 2018 means he’s free to play.
16. Lyon continue their stellar record
Only nine teams have appeared more than times than Lyon in the UEFA Champions League last 16: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Juventus, Arsenal, Porto, AC Milan and Olympiacos. Pretty good company, if you ask us.
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