The top three in Spain are all in left in Europe’s elite competition, and today at 11am (GMT), they found out who their opponents would be for the round of 16 stage in the competition. After all 3 teams finished top of their group, the available teams they could face where Manchester City, PSG, Bayer Leverkusen, Monaco, Porto, Shalke 04, Juventus or Shakthar Donetsk.
The first Spanish team to come out of the draw where 4 time winners Barcelona, who face Manchester city in the last 16. This will be a difficult task for Barca, who haven’t got the greatest of defensive records this season, coming up against the man who scored 3 against Bayern Munich in the group stages in Sergio Aguero.
Next came, current La Liga champions and last year’s Champions League runners up, Atletico Madrid. They have been drawn against Bayer Leverkusen, who have been less than impressive in this season’s competition and narrowly finished second in their group behind Monaco. It looks to be a good draw for the red and whites, who will be favourites in the match-up.
The last Spanish side were last year’s winners Real Madrid, who eased through the group stage with 6 wins out of 6 and who are on a rich vein of form this season. They have been drawn against German club Shalke, who finished second behind Chelsea in Group G, and are sitting 6th in the Bundesliga after 15 games played. This is another tie where the Spanish side will be the favourites and looking to progress into the last 8 of the competition.
Let’s look at how each of these sides match-up, and some of the history between the teams.
Manchester City vs Barcelona
Starting off, we have a rematch of last season’s round of 16 match, in which Barcelona progressed, winning 4-1 on aggregate. The first leg at the Etihad saw the Catalan club score 2 away goals, effectively creating an impossible task for the Blues of last season to achieve. When back at the Nou Camp, Barca finished the job by securing a 2-1 win with Messi and Dani Alves both scoring.
This season, Manchester City have hit a run of form as of late, with another Argentinian talisman scoring their goals in Sergio Aguero. He has netted 5 goals in 5 games in the Champions league so far, as well as 14 in 15 in the Premier League. However, it is predicted that he will be injured for up to 6 weeks after going off against Leicester last weekend.
Barca on the other hand are also sitting second in the domestic league, behind Real Madrid by 3 points. Their Argentinian talisman is now the top scorer in Champions League History, overtaking Los Blancos’ Raul which takes Messi’s total to 75 in the competition. Messi has inspired Barcelona to many victories this season, and the battle between these two fellow countrymen will be very interesting throughout both legs.
Barcelona are the slight favourites between the two sides, but if both have a fully fit squad then it will be a close match-up and difficult to call over two legs.
Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid
These two have met before in a European competition, the 2010/11 Europa League group stage to be precise. Both meetings ended in 1-1 draws between the sides, and this will be the first time they have met in the Champions League.
Leverkusen struggled in what seemed to be an easier group than some. With none of Europe’s top 5 leagues’ champions in their group, they picked up 3 wins, one draw and 2 losses in which was a mixed set of results for the German side. Leverkusen’s furthest reach in the competition was when they reached the 2001/02 final against the other side in Madrid, Real. On that occasion they lost 2-1, but don’t be fooled in thinking that this current squad is anywhere near them capabilities, Atletico are still the firm favourites.
The red and whites, last year’s runners up, will be pleased with the draw. They will go into the tie looking to make a statement to other clubs left in the competition, and will hope to replicate their success from last year in the competition. A steady run of results have left Atletico in third in the Primer division, with a home loss against Villarreal this weekend ending a unbeaten run of home matches which lasted 28 consecutive games, their last defeat at home coming in May 2013 when they lost to Barcelona. Simeone’s men have had a strong start, and will look to push on come the New Year.
Shalke 04 vs Real Madrid
Shalke should be worried; 6 games, 6 wins, 18 goals and only 2 conceded is Real Madrid’s record in this season’s Champions League, and the stats reflecting their League form are also as formidable. Los Blancos have won the competition a record 10 times and are the current holders of the competition. Remember last season’s meeting at the same stage? Madrid won 6-1 and 3-1 to progress with an aggregate of 9-2!
Shalke came second behind Chelsea in their group, and suffered a heavy home defeat to the London side in Matchday 5, losing 5-0. This is what they will need to learn from coming into the Madrid game, and if they can reduce the score-line in the first leg they can hope that in Spain they could grab an away goal. They have an excellent youth setup, one of the best in the world, and a number of players from the academy will be on show, such as Arsenal target Julian Draxler and teenager Maximilian Meyer to name just a few. They will look to improve on last year’s result, but Madrid have strengthened which is utterly frightening.
Los Blancos will be very happy for a repeat of last year’s round of 16 tie. They have hit top form this season and have a current record of 20 straight wins in all competitions. How long they can hold this time will tell but with Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema s their front 3, it doesn’t look like it will change in the near future. They will be odds-on favourites in the clash and it’s difficult to see how Shalke could come away with anything but a defeat.
So, the round of 16 draw has been done and the Spanish sides have done fairly well with two rematches from last year’s competition. It seems as though at least 2 will progress into the quarters, with the stumbling block potentially being Barca’s match against Manchester City.