The UEFA Champions League elimination round starts in February with first-rate matches: ManCity vs. FC Barcelona, Real Madrid vs. Schalke and PSG vs. Chelsea.
The group stage played between September and December shows the first hints about which teams may be eligible for winning the League. But now comes the hour of truth, with the direct elimination stage
: two all-or-nothing matches to determine which team says goodbye to Europe, and which one continues on the road that leads to the grand final on June 6th in Berlin
The Champions League is the most prestigious football club competition in the world, and this is evidenced in the long and hard road that the teams must go through. The round of 16 has true early finals in store for us, almost three months away from declaring the new champion, like in the case of the matches between City and Barça, or PSG and Chelsea
: four favorites to take home the “big-eared cup”
, of which only two will be left in the competition by the end of March.
The Manchester City – FC Barcelona
match feels like a re-run, because both teams faced each other last year in the same elimination. Although we can expect to see two very equal clashes, the Catalonian team can be considered favorites
, because they made it through the group stage in a better condition, they will play the second-leg match on their home ground, they have already eliminated Manchester City last season, and, in theory, they have the best team: Messi, Neymar, Luis Suárez, Iniesta, Xavi… Luis Enrique Martínez has a true stellar squad.
Manuel Pellegrini, the coach of the English team, must have taken note of what happened last year, because he has good arguments to try and surprise Barça
: Nasri, author of the decisive victory in Rome on the last matchday of the league, Silva, and, especially, ‘Kun’ Agüero, who is currently out injured but will be ready for the round of 16. On the other hand, Yaya Touré, key element in the midfield of Manchester City and former Barcelona player, will miss the first leg match due to a sanction.
The first date is on Tuesday, February 24th at the Etihad Stadium
, and the elimination will be decided on Wednesday, March 18th at Camp Nou
. Two games that no one will want to miss.
There will also be tension at the matches between Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea
: two coaches with opposite styles – the controversial José Mourinho on the English bench against the elegant Laurent Blanc on the French side – and a huge scorer duel between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Diego Costa
. Let’s not forget, of course, that both “nines” play very well in the company of their teams: Cavani, Lavezzi, Lucas Moura and Thiago Silva on PSG; Fàbregas, Hazard or Mikel on Chelsea.
February 17th at the Parc des Princes
, and March 11th at the Stamford Bridge
are the dates of this must-see Anglo-French match.
German rivals for Real and Atlético
Real Madrid, the current Champions League champion, is facing Schalke 04
. A theoretically easy rival for Cristiano Ronaldo, Bale, Kroos and company, who also run with the advantage of playing the second-leg match at Santiago Bernabéu, on Tuesday, March 10th
Draxler and Frafán, who are currently out injured, and the former Real Madrid player Huntelaar are the outstanding players on the Gelsenkirchen team.
Their neighbor, will also play against a Bundesliga team: Atlético de Madrid, last year’s finalist and current Spanish champion, will play against Bayer Leverkusen
. As first teams in their group on the first stage, Atlético will also run with the upper hand because they are playing the second-leg match at home, at the Vicente Calderón stadium, on Tuesday, March 17th
. The team lead by Diego Simeone is the clear favorite to go through to the quarter-finals before a block that is solid, but lacks renowned stars.
should also not have any problems moving on to the next round, because their potential is clearly above that of Shakhtar Donetsk
. The first-leg match will be played in Lviv, due to the current conflict in Ukraine affecting the Donbas region, home town of the team led by Mircea Lucescu. Pep Guardiola and his Bayern, the current Bundesliga champion, may decide the elimination round at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday, March 11th
As official ticket sale agent for FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atlético de Madrid, and Manchester City, we are proud to have our teams among the best 16 teams in this Champions League.
The remaining matches will be Juventus vs. Borussia Dortmund, Basilea vs. Oporto, and Arsenal vs. Monaco. The draw for the Champions League quarter-finals will be held on March 20th in Nyon
. Which eight great European football team names will be included in the drum?