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Champions League draw a nightmare for Man United, but a dream for Man City

The path to the 2019 Champions League final in Madrid has now become clear following the draw for the round of 16, which has thrown together some of Europe's biggest clubs.

Heavyweight clashes between Liverpool and Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid and Juventus, and Ajax and Real Madrid ensure that some of the most successful clubs in the game will be facing elimination at the first knockout stage.

The draw has been kinder to leading contenders such as Manchester City and Barcelona, but who will come out on top when the Champions League returns in February?


It may lack glamour, but Manchester City's pairing with Schalke is a dream draw for the Premier League champions. Schalke, who qualified as runners-up behind Porto in Group D, are languishing in the bottom half of the Bundesliga having won just four league games all season. Coach Domenico Tedesco has a squad low on the quality needed to worry City and this tie should be a formality for Pep Guardiola's team.

Leroy Sane will return to Germany to face his former club and it really should be a happy homecoming for the City winger in what is likely to be a mismatch. As for omens, City's only European title -- the 1970 Cup-Winners' Cup -- came after beating Schalke en route to the final.

Who will go through? Manchester City


Arguably the tie of the round, with two of the Champions League's unluckiest clubs colliding. Both Atletico and Juventus have reached, and lost, two finals during the last decade, yet both have pushed the boat out financially to ensure that 2019 is their year.

Atletico, who host the final at their own Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, have spent big on Diego Costa and Thomas Lemar, as well as retaining the services of Antoine Griezmann and Diego Godin; Juventus have gambled heavily on Cristiano Ronaldo.

This tie is very close to call. Both possess outstanding defences, terrific workrate and quality forwards, but Atletico's determination to play in their own final might just swing the tie in their favour.

Who will go through? Atletico Madrid

Man United will face PSG.
Jose Mourinho is under serious pressure and won't relish playing PSG.


A heavyweight clash, but one that could become an embarrassingly one-sided affair if United fail to resolve their defensive problems before February.

Can United's dismal defence cope with the threat of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani? Will Paul Pogba be back in the United team in time to make an impact against the French champions? And will Jose Mourinho still be in charge at Old Trafford when United host the first leg in February?

There are many questions to answer ahead of the first competitive meeting between the two clubs, but PSG will go into the tie as strong favourites as they attempt to improve on their unimpressive Champions League record. United may have to win to keep alive their hopes of playing in next season's Champions League by winning this year's competition, but that has become an even tougher task with this draw.

Who will go through? PSG


Tottenham scraped into the knockout stages with a late revival in Group B that culminated in a last-gasp draw against Barcelona at Camp Nou. But having made it, Mauricio Pochettino's team will fancy their chances against Dortmund after beating them home and away in last season's group stage.

Lucien Favre's team are unbeaten at the top of the Bundesliga, however, and they qualified as group winners ahead of Atletico Madrid in Group A. They possess exciting young talent in England's Jadon Sancho and U.S. midfielder Christian Pulisic, as well as seasoned experience with Axel Witsel, Marco Reus and Mario Gotze. Dortmund will believe they can avenge last season's losses, but Spurs should have the edge in this one.

Who will go through? Tottenham


Barcelona still regard last season's Champions League as a missed opportunity after being humiliated by Roma in the quarterfinals, crashing out after a 3-0 defeat in the Stadio Olimpico. But their mission to make amends by winning this season's competition in Madrid has been boosted by the pairing with Lyon, who will see qualification for this stage as success in itself.

Lyon beat Manchester City at the Etihad and drew with the English champions in France during the group stage, but they will be heavy underdogs against Lionel Messi and company in this tie.

Barcelona's biggest danger will not be the unpredictable talents of Lyon's Memphis Depay, it will be the threat of complacency. But after the defeat in Rome last season, don't expect Barca to fall short again.

Who will go through? Barcelona


Roma, last season's semifinalists, are struggling in sixth position in Serie A, while Porto are two points clear at the top of the Portuguese Primeira Liga, so this tie will depend on the form of the two teams once the Champions League resumes in two months' time.

Roma's greater experience throughout their squad and the memories of last season's run to the last four should make them slight favourites, especially with Porto proving difficult to gauge having qualified as winners of the weakest group ahead of Schalke, Galatasaray and Lokomotiv Moscow.

If Roma can rediscover last season's form by the time this tie comes around, then the Giallorossi will be favourites. But Porto are still unbeaten in this season's competition and Moussa Marega is a forward in Champions League form, with five goals in six games so far.

Who will go through? Roma

In Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, Ajax have two stars of the future.


A real clash of European heavyweights, with the reigning champions Real coming up against Erik ten Hag's resurgent, young Ajax team.

Ajax emerged as runners-up behind Bayern Munich in Group E and they did so with an unbeaten record, despite the inexperience of their team. Matthijs de Ligt (19) and Frenkie de Jong (21) are the young stars driving Ajax back to prominence, with the experienced Dusan Tadic netting eight goals in 12 European games this season.

Real, meanwhile, have been poor in defence of their trophy, with managerial upheaval and the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo both hitting them hard. They qualified as group winners, despite losing twice to CSKA Moscow, and should have the pedigree to beat this young Ajax team, but don't rule out the Dutch outfit.

Who will go through? Real Madrid


A tie worthy of the final, with both clubs possessing the pedigree to target success in Madrid.

Bayern are in disarray under Niko Kovac, however, with the perennial German champions in third position in the Bundesliga, nine points adrift of leaders Borussia Dortmund. They will be without Thomas Muller for the first leg at Anfield following his red card against Ajax, although Liverpool will also miss the suspended Virgil van Dijk in that game.

Liverpool, still unbeaten at the top of the Premier League, will be favourites on current form and former Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp will relish a return to Germany. But it is a tough draw for both teams and the pendulum could swing back towards Bayern, who are unlikely to be fazed by the Anfield atmosphere in the first leg by the time the game comes around.

Who will go through? Bayern Munich


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