this is a repost from my sapien.network account - @casperbgd
Champions league round of 16 draw was today and pairs are interesting, with Real Madrid playing with Manchester City in a derby match, where Pep Guardiola is back to fight against Real, just this time with Manchester City, instead of Barcelona. Real is record number title holder, and always with top aspirations, despite playing a bit slower this year. City is already behind in Premier league title battle, since Liverpool is dominating the league table this season, and their chance to save the season is Champions league. In case of falling out, Pep will probably have to change his appointment.
In other pairs, Liverpool, as title holder, will play against another Spain giant, Atletico Madrid, but Liverpool is in much better position, compared to team from Madrid. Reds are playing great in Premier league, they had few unexpected results in Champions league, but confirmed next round against Salzburg, when it was important, and Atletico will be next in the line on the road for title. Another interesting pair is between Chelsea and Bayern Munich, in a 2012 final reprise. Bayern played well in group stage, but opponents were not that good, expect Tottenham, that they destroyed on their Stadium, 2:7. Chelsea was second, behind Valencia CF in their group, that left last year semi finalist Ajax to play Europa league. Chelsea won the final in 2012, but Bayern is a bit of favourite in this pair, based on performance in the group stage.
With two matches between Spain and England clubs, there is also two between Spain and Italian clubs, first one between Napoli and Barcelona, which is interesting since Napoli has a young team, that certainly wants to go further and had good matches with Liverpool in group stage, while Barcelona kicked-out Inter in group stage and Napoli is a bit easier to get. Nevertheless, in two matches everything is possible. Second duel between Valencia CF and Atalanta Bergamo is probably the lowest quality duel in this round, but Valencia is a bit closer to QF, which shall be a great success for them, since they were sitting in lower part of the table in March, somehow reached Champions league qualification through position four, get a Cup title against Barcelona, and now reached kick-out round of Champions league, with a good chances to reach next round as well. Atalanta started with 0:4 against Dinamo in Zagreb, and two more loses, to finish second in the group, with a win in Ukraine, but it will be hard to jump over Valencia CF in next round.
Paris SG is playing with Dortmund, which should be easy one for Paris this season, but Dortmund will fight to the end, Lyon rival is Juventus, seen as a clear favourite in this one, and to reach further rounds and last pair is between Tottenham and RB Leipzig, which shall be interesting. RB Leipzig finished as a group winner, above Lyon, while Tottenham was second, below Bayern, but with two easy loses against Bavarians.
At the end, after a bunch of seasons, this season we have only clubs from top five leagues in Europe in this stage of Champions league – four from England and Spain, three from Germany and Italy and two from France, which could be seen as degradation of football in other countries.