The group stages have been resolved and the fixtures are in for the Round of 16 to begin on Feb. 18th.
Looking forward to the knock-out stages there remains ample opportunity for upsets, but frontrunners have already presented themselves. Find below previews for the first four scheduled matches coming up next week.
Borussia Dortmund v Paris Saint-Germain
Borussia Dortmund (GER)
UEFA Ranking: 14
2018-19 Finish: Round of 16
Qualification for the Champions League knock-out stages was a nervous road for Borussia, coming down to the outcome of FC Barcelona’s with Inter Milan. This stumble into qualification raises structural questions regarding the teams at times jittery defense and an over reliance on key players Roman Burki and Julian Weigl. However, the recent signing of Erling Haaland, a promising young scorer, suggests Lucien Favre’s team primarily consists of young talent and stars in the making. BVB will need to recoup their confidence and momentum in order to hold up against PSG next week.
Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
UEFA Ranking: 7
2018-19 Finish: Round of 16
The French capital team enjoyed an exemplary performance in the group stages, starting with a 3-0 win over Real Madrid and remaining undefeated with only two goals conceded. Recently an underperforming side in the Champions League, Neymar has publicly said he believes this year could be their year. PSG is an underdog favourite among many, and the scoring power of Kylian Mbappé is there to justify it. Coming from a top spot in Ligue 1, the Parisians may very well surpass their best 94-95 quarter finals finish this year.
Odd (1X2): 2.8 / 3.8 / 2.25 @ William Hill
Atlético Madrid v Liverpool
Atlético Madrid (ESP)
UEFA Ranking: 4
2018-19 Finish: Round of 16
Atlético was likely unhappy with their being drawn against Liverpool this season. Their second place group stage finish behind Juventus has been attributed to shakiness in the defense, likely due to inexperience. Diego Simeone has had several of his veteran defenders sold off this year, and the loss of Antoine Griezmann has taken the edge off the counter-attack. If the Spaniards are to advance it will be by the strength of Joao Felix’s attack and the miraculous interventions of goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
UEFA Ranking: 8
2018-19 Finish: Winners
The Reds appear unstoppable, and the defending champions have seen a near perfect season thus far. It is already assumed they’ll take the Premier League title for themselves, and many credit Jurgen Klopp with grooming this once lackluster club into something to truly behold. Winning last year in Madrid, Klopp reported they occupied the home dressing room at Wanda Metropolitano and has wondered aloud if they could ask Atlético for that room again. With top scorers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane heading Liverpool’s attack, many expect the English side to advance past Atlético and perhaps to the finals once again.
Odd (1X2): 3.3/ 3.3 / 2.2 @ Betfair
Atalanta v Valencia
UEFA Ranking: 56
2018-19 Finish: Europa League Play-offs
Despite beginning with three group stage losses, Atalanta has scraped their way into a first time Champions League qualification. Taking thrashings at Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar, they qualified as a distant second behind Manchester City. With their unsteady showing in Serie A this year as well, Gian Piero Gasperni’s club could be considered the weakest in the knock-out stages. A great deal will depend on returning Mattia Caldara and Golden Boot runner-up Duvan Zapata if Atalanta is to survive this tie.
UEFA Ranking: 25
2018-19 Finish: Group Stage
Valencia qualified this year at the top of the group, beginning their campaign with victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. After suffering a brutal 3-0 defeat to Ajax in Spain, an additional two draws and a victory stood between Valencia’s taking revenge on Ajax with a 1-0 win in Amsterdam. Their talented lineup features new additions Jasper Cillessen and Maxi Gomez but is counterbalanced with the loss of Neto and Zimone Zaza. While Valencia is expected to advance to the final eight (for the first time since 2007), if they are to progress further shrewd tactical decision-making will need to compensate for their lack of resources compared to other clubs.
Odd (1X2): 1.83 / 3.75 / 4.02 @ Bet-at-home
Tottenham v RB Leipzig
Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)
UEFA Ranking: 12
2018-19 Finish: Finals
Despite last season’s runner-up finish, the distance between the Spurs and champions Liverpool has drastically widened in the past year. A trailing performance in the Premier League with significant league losses led to the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino in favour of Jose Mourinho. Harry Kane has been confirmed in the North London lineup despite a persistent injury, while Wanyama has been surprisingly dropped from the squad. Ex-Benfica player Gedzon Fernandes has been signed to bolster the lineup in addition to efforts made to recruit forward Krzysztov Piatken from AC Milan. Tottenham faces an uphill battle against RB Leipzig, but there is time to recover momentum.
RB Leipzig (GER)
UEFA Ranking: 37
2018-19 Finish: Europa League Group Stage
In his first season as manager, Julian Nagelsmann has brought Leipzig their first Champions League qualification. A thoroughly young club, the squad sports many a young star meeting an English opponent for the first time. Emil Forsberg, Marcel Sabiter, and especially Timo Werner have carried the goal count. Leipzig’s high-octane, goal-obsessed playing style maximizes opportunities to score, and has proven them to be a rising force in Germany. Group stage victories over Benfica and Lyon ensure that Tottenham is not in for an easy tie.
Odd (1X2): 2.3/ 3.55/ 3.00 @ Interwetten