The Champions League knockout stage kicks off this week with 16 teams still fighting for the crown of Europe. Here is the schedule for all the leg one matches and a couple previews of the more exciting matches.
Leg One Schedule
Juventus vs Tottenham: Feb.13 @ 2:45 p.m.
FC Basel vs Manchester City: Feb.13 @ 2:45 p.m.
Porto vs Liverpool: Feb.14 @ 2:45 p.m.
Real Madrid vs PSG: Feb.14 @ 2:45 p.m.
Bayern Munich vs Besiktas: Feb. 20 @ 2:45 p.m.
Chelsea vs Barcelona: Feb.20 @ 2:45 p.m.
Sevilla vs Manchester United: Feb. 21 @ 2:45 p.m.
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Roma: Feb. 21 @ 2:45 p.m.
Real Madrid vs PSG:
This two-legged affair will have some of the best forward-thinking players in the world on show. Real Madrid’ frontline of Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale will be led by Cristiano Ronaldo, while PSG’s lethal attack has Edinson Cavani, Neymar, Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe. Real Madrid are currently 17 points behind Barcelona in La Liga and will now try to focus on winning their third straight Champions League. Meanwhile, PSG are cruising in Ligue 1 and they finally feel that they have a team capable of winning the Champions League. There are not many better tests for PSG to prove that they are finally ready to take the next step up in Europe either. With the attacking talent on display, this two legged matchup should be exhilarating. As an added twist, there have been rumors floating around that Neymar will play for Real Madrid when he is done with PSG. Those might just be rumors, but it will be interesting to see how Neymar deals with all the questions surrounding his future.
Chelsea vs Barcelona:
It is a shame that these two teams meet so early in the Champions League. Chelsea and Barcelona have had some of the most exciting encounters in recent Champions League memory. Two of the most exciting games had to have been the semi final matches in 2011/12 and 2008/09. Fernando Torres stunned Barcelona in 2011/12 on the road to Chelsea’s only Champions League title, while Andres Iniesta scored late at Stamford Bridge in Barcelona’s Champions League title campaign of 2008/09. As great as this matchup has been, this one might disappoint. Barcelona have yet to lose in La Liga this year while their opposition Chelsea are struggling to remain in the top four of the Premier League. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has been under immense pressure recently and he will need to rally his players if they want to avoid getting steamrolled by Lionel Messi and co.
Juventus vs Tottenham:
Tottenham forward Harry Kane has been the best striker in the world over the last year, and he’ll look to lead Spurs into the last eight of the Champions League for the first time in their history. Juventus historically have had some of the best defenses in Europe. Although this matchup might not have the glamor of PSG vs Real Madrid or Chelsea vs Barcelona, it should still be an exciting one. Juventus are part of the old guard in the Champions League. They always seem to find a way out of the round of 16. Meanwhile, Tottenham have played exceptionally well at Wembley Stadium in the Champions League this year. Even though leg one will be played in Italy, if Tottenham can get back to London tied or ahead, then they will like their chances. It will also come down to whether or not Tottenham’s supporting cast of Christian Eriksen, Heung Min Son and Dele Alli support their star striker.
Lock to Advance
Manchester City over FC Basel:
I would like for everyone to say a prayer for Basel. Manchester City have lost one game all season across four different competitions. Let me reiterate that, ONE game in FOUR competitions. They have scored more than four goals 11 times in all competitions this year. City manager Pep Guardiola has one of the best squads in soccer, and they have been playing some of the best soccer all year. It would be an upset if Basel draw the first leg. Crazy upsets are not a new concept to the Champions League, but it likely will not happen here. However, if it did then it would be the biggest Champions League upset of all time.