After technical difficulties yielded a 2021-22 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 draw that seemed to break several of the draw’s rules, UEFA conducted a second draw at nine AM this morning which yielded the following match-ups: Bayern Munich v Red Bull Salzburg, Sporting Lisbon v Manchester City, Atletico Madrid v Manchester United, PSG v Real Madrid, Chelsea v Lille, Villarreal v Juventus, Inter Milan v Liverpool, and Benfica v Ajax.
The new draw meant that Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool are likely to be around for the quarterfinals but left competitive clashes for the rest.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the long-time nemesis of Atletico Madrid in UEFA Champions League matches, will have a chance to play boogeyman once more in what will doubtless be a tough match-up. This being CR7’s favorite stage, expect ManU to progress and for the Portuguese to provide the necessary fireworks.
Lionel Messi will have a chance to face his most formidable La Liga opponent once more, and hopefully do so with his ex-Barcelona teammate, Neymar, should he recover in time. These two teams will be entering their clash on the ascendancy and the encounter should be one to savor. Though either side could lay claim to the next round it would seem PSG, particularly with Neymar healthy again, will progress and in no small part due to Ney, Messi, and Kylian Mbappe doing their things.
Villarreal and Juventus seem like the most balanced of opponents with either capable of a poor performance one night and a sublime one the next. Let us hope it is the latter they have in reserve for us. Juve, though, is due to pull out a “season-saving performance” and as their chances in Serie A seem dim at this point, the continental opportunity looms as their one last chance. Papa sees them seizing it, particularly when they realize making out of the quarterfinals will be a step beyond their grasp.
Benfica and Ajax have been playing some good football and are meeting each other at a time both should feel capable of progressing and of doing well in their next round matchups. This one could provide another enthralling clash. Either side, though, will become the minnow of the next round, but Ajax seem to have the shine this year.
An early crystal ball gaze might yield the following quarterfinals crop: Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Manchester United, PSG, Chelsea, Juventus, Liverpool, and Ajax—nearly half of the would-be Super League—an unremarkable repeat of the collection of the usual suspects.
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