With the Champions League group stage in the books, the Round of 16 draw produced some juicy matchups.
Highlighting the results is a trio of clashes between English and German sides, plus Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Madrid.
Based on current form, competitiveness and best storylines, we’ve ranked each of the eight final 16 clashes from worst to best:
8) FC Schalke 04 vs. Manchester City
Schalke did what needed to be done in a weak Group D but scored just six goals doing so, the lowest goal total for any of the teams that advanced to the knockout stage. With all due respect, Manchester City should progress to the final eight with relative ease.
7) AS Roma vs. FC Porto
Roma is not the same side that advanced to the semifinals in last year’s competition, and expectations should be tempered as a result. Porto, meanwhile, enters the Round of 16 as just one of three undefeated group stage teams and could be a dark horse to make a surprise run.
6) Olympique Lyonnais vs. FC Barcelona
Lyon gave Manchester City fits in Group F, handing the defending English champion its only loss of the group stage and playing to a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture. And though they lead La Liga, this is not the dominant Barcelona of years past so we could see a closer tie than expected.
5) AFC Ajax vs. Real Madrid
Real Madrid ended the group stage in disgrace, falling 3-0 to CSKA Moscow for the title holder’s worst-ever European defeat on home soil. And another upset could be in the cards: led by highly-touted Dutch youngster Frenkie de Jong, Ajax challenged Bayern Munich in the group and came within minutes from finishing above the German giants. If Real Madrid is going to challenge for a fourth straight European title, it will have to get past this tricky tie.
4) Manchester United vs. Paris Saint-Germain
There is some concern for PSG going into this one. Both Neymar and Cavani are out because of injuries. It now all comes over the shoulders of Mbappe to lead his team to victory. At the same time, it will be on Jose Mourinho shoulders to lead the Red Devils past the french squad and guarantee his job security.
3) Atletico Madrid vs. Juventus
Ronaldo’s return to Madrid against his former club’s arch-rival will be sure to dominate the headlines in the lead-up to this mouth-watering Round of 16 tie. And it’s likely CR7 will be a difference-maker here, as these are two of Europe’s stoutest teams – goals will be at a premium.
2) Tottenham Hotspur vs. Borussia Dortmund
Spurs got into the knockout stage by the skin of their teeth and are rewarded with a clash against the current Bundesliga leaders, who are off to a scorching start under new manager Lucien Favre. Tottenham boasts loads of English talents, but one of the country’s most exciting young talents plays for the opposition: Jadon Sancho, who leads the Bundesliga with seven assists.
1) Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich
The best tie of the Round of 16 features the Premier League leaders and the only remaining undefeated club in England’s top flight against six-time defending Bundesliga champions Bayern, who are struggling in third place in the league. Munich is a team Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp knows well from his time on the Dortmund sidelines.