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UEFA Champions League: What to look out for in the round of 16

The omens look good for Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Sporting CP as the knockout stages kick off on 15 February.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Pedro Gonçalves

The UEFA Champions League knockout stages commence on 15 February with the round of 16 offering Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Sporting CP the chance to extend impressive records.

Presented by Expedia, we pick out the potential headline-makers from the opening instalment of knockout encounters.

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Tuesday 15 February
Sporting CP vs Manchester City
Paris vs Real Madrid

Wednesday 16 February
Salzburg vs Bayern
Inter vs Liverpool

Meet the Champions League last 16

Tuesday 22 February
Chelsea vs LOSC Lille
Villarreal vs Juventus

Wednesday 23 February
Benfica vs Ajax
Atlético vs Manchester United

All kick-offs 21:00 CET.

History on Sporting's side against City

Sporting CP may be regarded as underdogs by many when they face the might of Manchester City but the Portuguese outfit appear to be the chameleon of the knockout stages when it comes to facing English opposition.

The Lions have failed to win any of their seven group stage matches in European competition against Premier League sides but have progressed on all eight occasions they have faced off in two-legged affairs. Even more remarkably, seven of those successes have come against teams from the north of England: Manchester United, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Bolton, Everton and, most recently, Manchester City in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League round of 16.

Bayern braced for improved Adeyemi

Watch all of Adeyemi's Champions League goals

Karim Adeyemi has come a long way since he joined Bayern at the age of eight but his ascent since facing his hometown club in last season's group stage has bordered an astronomical. A 71st-minute substitute in a 3-1 Salzburg defeat at the Fußball Arena München that day, Adeyemi had found the net just once for the Austrian side.

Just over a year later, the forward is scoring for fun, struck on his international debut for Germany and is one of the hottest prospects in European football. His rapid rise has drawn comparisons with former Salzburg striker Erling Haaland so the Bundesliga champions will be well aware of the potential their former prodigy possesses.

Messi renews rivalry with Real Madrid

Lionel Messi, who has scored more Champions League round of 16 goals than any other player, is set to face old rivals Real Madrid yet again. The former Barcelona talisman played in 45 Clásico matches during his time with the Blaugrana, the joint-most in the fixture's history along with current Paris team-mate and former Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.

The serial record-breaker is also the highest scorer in meetings between the teams with 26 strikes – a tally that includes two hat-tricks and both goals in Barcelona's 2-0 Champions League semi-final first-leg success at the Santiago Bernabéu in April 2011.

Atlético eye end of Ronaldo curse

Watch all seven of Ronaldo's goals against Atlético

Manchester United talisman Cristiano Ronaldo is no stranger to Atlético from his nine seasons in the Spanish capital playing for their city rivals. The competition's all-time top scorer has been paired against Diego Simeone's men on five previous occasions in the Champions League knockout stages, and helped his side eliminate Atlético in every instance – including Real Madrid's 2014 and 2016 showpiece successes.

The Portuguese international must rank Atleti as among his favourite opponents, having netted 25 career goals against them – only notching more versus Sevilla (27).

Key dates

Knockout stage
15/16/22/23 February & 8/9/15/16 March: Round of 16
18 March: Quarter-final & semi-final draws
5/6 & 12/13 April: Quarter-finals
26/27 April & 3/4 May: Semi-finals
28 May: Final (Gazprom Arena, St Petersburg, Russia)

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