Champions League round of 16: meet the contenders
Tuesday, 16 February 2021
UEFA.com profiles the UEFA Champions League round of 16 contenders.
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Champions League round of 16 ties
16 February & 10 March
Leipzig (GER) vs Liverpool (ENG)
Barcelona (ESP) vs Paris (FRA)
17 February & 9 March
Porto (POR) vs Juventus (ITA)
Sevilla (ESP) vs Borussia Dortmund (GER)
23 February & 17 March
Lazio (ITA) vs Bayern (GER)
Atlético (ESP) vs Chelsea (ENG)
24 February & 16 March
Borussia Mönchengladbach (GER) vs Manchester City (ENG)
Atalanta (ITA) vs Real Madrid (ESP)
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Manchester City
UEFA ranking: 53
Group B: runners-up (W2 D2 L2 F16 A9)
Last season: did not qualify
European Cup best: runners-up (1977)
Who's in charge? A defender who plied his trade under Klopp at Mainz, former Salzburg coach Marco Rose has got his charges playing dynamic football. Fair to say he has made a real impression in his first season and a half at the helm.
Their campaign in ten words: Goals come easily for a side who play without fear.
James Thorogood, UEFA.com Mönchengladbach reporter: History was made in Madrid on Matchday 6 despite Gladbach’s loss. In their third UEFA Champions League campaign, the Foals’ courageous and captivating brand of football attested to their ambition of progressing from such a challenging group. They needed help to get over the line, but are fully deserving of a place in the last 16.
Manchester City (ENG)
UEFA ranking: 6
Group C: winners (W5 D1 L0 F13 A1)
Last season: quarter-finals (L vs Lyon)
European Cup best: semi-finals (2016)
Who's in charge? In 11 seasons as a first-team boss, Pep Guardiola has lifted eight league titles, but the last of his two managerial UEFA Champions League winners' medals came in 2011.
Their campaign in ten words: Initially inconsistent in the Premier League, familiarly formidable in Europe.
Simon Hart, UEFA.com Man. City reporter: City have progressed as group winners for a fourth season running; they have done it with assurance and with two games to spare. A run of clean sheets is another cause for satisfaction given the defensive failings which have cost them in this competition in the past, so too the contributions of new boys Rúben Dias and Ferran Torres. That said, the failure to convert more of their many chances created is something to address.
Mönchengladbach: W1 D2 L3 F8 A13
Man. City: W3 D2 L1 F13 A8
Lazio vs Bayern
UEFA ranking: 36
Group F: runners-up (W2 D4 L0 F11 A7)
Last season: did not qualify
European Cup best: quarter-finals (2000)
Who's in charge? Former Lazio striker Simone Inzaghi took the reins – his first managerial appointment – in 2016. Under his command, Lazio have taken three domestic trophies and reached the group stage this season for the first time since 2007/08.
Their campaign in ten words: Showed some class in adversity after illness ravaged their squad.
Vieri Capretta, UEFA.com Lazio reporter: Lazio return to the knockout stage for the first time since 1999/2000 – and they did so in style. The Biancocelesti are still undefeated, have beaten Pot 1 side Dortmund, managed two wins out of three at home and boast a top-level striker in Ciro Immobile (witness five goals in four matches). Inzaghi said they wanted to rewrite the history of the club, and they certainly have.
UEFA ranking: 1
Group A: winners (W5 D1 L0 F18 A5)
Last season: winners
European Cup best: winners (1974, 1975, 1976, 2001, 2013, 2020)
Who's in charge? Ex-Germany assistant Hans-Dieter Flick was placed in interim charge last season and oversaw a remarkable transformation that saw them sweep away all before them, rewriting the record books as they went.
Campaign in ten words: No sign of slowing down; the Bayern juggernaut powers on.
Jordan Maciel, UEFA.com Bayern reporter: Bayern’s title defence has continued in the same vein as the last campaign, sweeping aside anything in their way. Without yet reaching the same relentless intensity we saw last summer, Flick’s men have overcome several hurdles en route to winning Group A with two games to spare. Be it the fearlessness of Salzburg’s press, the stubborn fight of Lokomotiv or Diego Simeone’s well-drilled Atlético, no team have found a formula to stop this Bayern side.
Lazio and Bayern have never met before.
Atlético vs Chelsea
Atlético de Madrid (ESP)
UEFA ranking: 5
Group A: runners-up (W2 D3 L1 F7 A8)
Last season: quarter-finals (L vs Leipzig)
European Cup best: runners-up (1974, 2014, 2016)
Who's in charge? After more than nine years and 500 matches at the Atlético helm, Diego Simeone has created a side in his image and they remain as resolute and determined as ever.
Their campaign in ten words: Home form came to rescue after resounding defeat at Bayern.
Graham Hunter, UEFA.com Atlético reporter: Atleti are nothing if not a stubborn, competitive, bloody-minded squad built to compete by the ultimate competitor in Simeone. How very like them to draw the reigning European champions, to be rather taken apart by them in Bavaria on Matchday 1, only to end up qualifying with a flourish. Not the most dominant group performance from Los Rojiblancos in recent history but they are growing.
UEFA ranking: 14
Group E: winners (W4 D2 L0 F14 A2)
Last season: round of 16 (L vs Bayern)
European Cup best: winners (2012)
Who's in charge? Appointed in January, new Blues manager Thomas Tuchel guided Paris to the UEFA Champions League final last season, as well as back-to-back Ligue 1 titles in 2019 and 2020. Before moving to France, he had success in Germany, leading Dortmund to German Cup glory in 2017.
Their campaign in ten words: Impressive progress and growing maturity with the odd defensive blow-out.
Jon Phipps, UEFA.com Chelsea reporter: Chelsea’s European success has been built on a solid back line – no one went longer than their 355 minutes from the start of the tournament without conceding – and they have, by and large, taken their chances. This is a much more balanced side than last season, with quality and depth in every position. And with Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech still settling, there is surely more to come.
Atlético: W2 D3 L2 F11 A11
Chelsea: W2 D3 L2 F11 A11
Leipzig vs Liverpool
UEFA ranking: 21
Group H: runners-up (W4 D0 L2 F11 A12)
Last season: semi-finals (L vs Paris)
European Cup best: semi-finals (2020)
Who's in charge? Unfailingly noted for his precocity and sartorial sharpness, 33-year-old Julian Nagelsmann was widely lauded for guiding Leipzig to the UEFA Champions League final four during his first season in charge, 2019/20 – earning third place in the UEFA Men's Coach of the Year award.
Their campaign in ten words: Brash newcomers are dark horses again after navigating difficult group.
Jordan Maciel, UEFA.com Leipzig reporter: Leipzig suffered heavy blows in Manchester and Paris that put their knockout hopes at risk, but the path to qualification from this testing section was always in their hands. The groundwork was laid with two hard-fought victories over Başakşehir, including an added-time winner in Istanbul, but home wins against Paris and United ultimately made the difference. The latter, in particular, was a performance defined by courage and character in an all-or-nothing showdown for the last 16.
UEFA ranking: 10
Group D: winners (W4 D1 L1 F10 A3)
Last season: round of 16 (L vs Atlético)
European Cup best: winners (1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005, 2019)
Who's in charge? Jürgen Klopp led Dortmund to successive Bundesliga titles and a UEFA Champions League final before guiding the Reds to a sixth European Cup in 2019. His Liverpool stock rose higher still after delivering a first top-flight title since 1990.
Their campaign in ten words: Not without its difficulties, but Jota has fitted in perfectly.
Matthew Howarth, UEFA.com Liverpool reporter: Despite several high-profile injuries, Liverpool managed to reach the last 16 with relative ease. The Reds have defended well in the absence of Virgil van Dijk, while Diogo Jota has slotted seamlessly into their attack. Klopp's team are well equipped to make inroads into the tournament's latter stages once again.
Leipzig and Liverpool have never met before.
Porto vs Juventus
UEFA ranking: 15
Group C: runners-up (W4 D1 L1 F10 A3)
Last season: did not qualify
European Cup best: winners (1987, 2004)
Who's in charge? A three-time Portuguese top-flight winner across two playing spells with Porto, former Portugal winger Sérgio Conceição has steered the club to two more championships since rejoining from Nantes in 2017.
Their campaign in ten words: Overcame an opening setback to prove class at either end.
Carlos Machado, UEFA.com Porto reporter: Porto achieved their main goal of qualifying, doing so in second place with a match in hand. Following an opening defeat at City, Porto managed three consecutive wins. A solid defence – going four consecutive games without conceding – allied with two hard-working and clever midfielders in Sérgio Oliveira and Matheus Uribe played a major part, as did the experience of Jesús Corona and Otávio.
UEFA ranking: 3
Group G: winners (W5 D0 L1 F14 A4)
Last season: round of 16 (L vs Lyon)
European Cup best: winners (1985, 1996)
Who's in charge? Former fans' favourite Andrea Pirlo, a classy No10 whose velvet touch helped AC Milan and Juve to a combined six league titles and two UEFA Champions Leagues. Pirlo was promoted from the U23s in July to see if he could inspire similar as a coach.
Their campaign in ten words: Solid if unspectacular, difficult to beat but lacking killer instinct.
Paolo Menicucci, UEFA.com Juventus reporter: Álvaro Morata, who scored Juve’s goal in the 3-1 final defeat by Barcelona in 2015, has played like a man with a mission since his return to Turin. Pirlo’s Juve may still be a work in progress but with Cristiano Ronaldo and this Morata up front, the Bianconeri have the potential to go far in the competition.
Porto: W0 D1 L4 F2 A8
Juventus: W4 D1 L0 F8 A2
Barcelona vs Paris
UEFA ranking: 2
Group G: runners-up (W5 D0 L1 F16 A5)
Last season: quarter-finals (L vs Bayern)
European Cup best: winners (1992, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2015)
Who's in charge? Celebrated former Netherlands defender and set-piece expert Ronald Koeman is seeking to rekindle early coaching success at the club where he spent six golden years as a player.
Their campaign in ten words: In transition; well-oiled machine in Europe but misfiring at home.
Graham Hunter, UEFA.com Barcelona reporter: When I interviewed Koeman about his appointment he spoke of the squad needing to work for one another, to get a new system that favoured the skills available in this playing group, and about regeneration. Tick all three boxes after their group display: not only their five straight wins, but the confidence, hard work, pressing, fluidity of performance and frankly, when things went against them, the excellence of Marc-André ter Stegen at home to Dynamo Kyiv.
UEFA ranking: 7
Group H: winners (W4 D0 L2 F13 A6)
Last season: final (L vs Bayern)
European Cup best: final (2020)
Who's in charge? Mauricio Pochettino ended his 13-month coaching hiatus when he took the Paris reins on 2 January. The 48-year-old Argentinian reached the UEFA Champions League final with Tottenham in 2019 but departed before the end of the calendar year – the same feat befell previous Paris boss Thomas Tuchel in 2020.
Their campaign in ten words: Gutsy win in Manchester eased pressure after uncertain opening run.
Chris Burke, UEFA.com Paris reporter: Stodgy at the start, strong at the finish. That about sums it up for Paris, who kicked off with a mental and physical hangover from their run to the final in August. The French champions had to dig deep to stave off total disaster at times, before ultimately rediscovering their poise in a campaign spearheaded by Neymar at one end and Marquinhos at the other. Could that triumph at Old Trafford now serve as a springboard?
Barcelona: W5 D3 L3 F22 A16
Paris: W3 D3 L5 F16 A22
Sevilla vs Dortmund
UEFA ranking: 9
Group E: runners-up (W4 D1 L1 F9 A8)
Last season: UEFA Europa League winners
European Cup best: quarter-finals (1958, 2018)
Who's in charge? Former Spain boss Julen Lopetegui is in his second season at Sevilla and has got his career back on track after an ill-fated tenure at Real Madrid, signing a contract extension until 2024 in January.
Their campaign in ten words: Sluggish start to Liga but winning know-how evident in Europe.
Simon Hart, UEFA.com Sevilla reporter: Sevilla’s second string were left with red faces against Chelsea on Matchday 5 but prior to that Lopetegui’s main men had showed plenty of positives in qualifying with two games to spare. The two wins against Krasnodar captured the resilience and character of a fiercely competitive team who (as proved in last term’s UEFA Europa League) know how to win in Europe.
UEFA ranking: 13
Group F: winners (W4 D1 L1 F12 A5)
Last season: round of 16 (L vs Paris)
European Cup best: winners (1997)
Who's in charge? Edin Terzić is the new man in the hot seat after taking over in December as interim coach until the end of the season. A former BVB youth coach and analyst for Klopp, the 38-year-old had been assistant to previous boss Lucien Favre, whose reign ended following a 5-1 home loss to Stuttgart.
Their campaign in ten words: With Erling Braut Haaland leading the line, anything is possible.
James Thorogood, UEFA.com Dortmund reporter: After making a false start on Matchday 1, Dortmund turned things around with three straight victories. Haaland's record-breaking goalscoring exploits have stolen most of the headlines, but the progress made by BVB's dynamic young squad as a whole has laid the foundations for another strong run.
Sevilla: W1 D1 L0 F3 A2
Dortmund: W0 D1 L1 F2 A3
Atalanta vs Real Madrid
UEFA ranking: 29
Group D: runners-up (W3 D2 L1 F10 A8)
Last season: quarter-finals (L vs Paris)
European Cup best: quarter-finals (2020)
Who's in charge? Known for his attacking approach, Gian Piero Gasperini was made an honorary citizen of Bergamo in 2019 before guiding his swashbuckling side to the quarter-finals in their first ever UEFA Champions League tilt.
Their campaign in ten words: Win at Anfield was highlight of another entertaining qualification success.
Vieri Capretta, UEFA.com Atalanta reporter: Atalanta have done it for the second year in a row! This time they won all three away games, becoming just the second Italian team to win at Anfield in the process. There were ups and downs, but a place in the last 16 is well deserved, with the likes of Duván Zapata and Alejandro Gómez (now at Sevilla) shining once again. The question is: can they now go beyond the last eight?
Real Madrid (ESP)
UEFA ranking: 4
Group B: winners (W3 D1 L2 F11 A9)
Last season: round of 16 (L vs Manchester City)
European Cup best: winners (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018)
Who's in charge? One of the most vaunted players of his generation, Zinédine Zidane's reputation as a coach was equally high after coaching Madrid to three successive UEFA Champions League crowns. He quit in 2018, but returned for a second spell the following year.
Their campaign in ten words: Set aside a shaky start before proving their European pedigree.
Joseph Walker, UEFA.com Madrid reporter: It wasn't what you might call a vintage group stage campaign from the 13-time winners, getting off to a slow start with a draw and a defeat. However they knuckled down, squeezed out the results they needed and finished first in the group to top it all off.
Atalanta and Real Madrid have never met before.