The Champions League returns with the ‘Last 16’ games kicking off this month and running through to the 18th March. Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City are all hoping to make it through to the last eight; however, Europe’s elite squads stand in their way.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea are at a crossroads. Still in a fight for fourth place in the Premier League, it would never be easy for Lampard’s young squad this season. However, with the goals of Tammy Abraham and a solid core of Kovacic, Kante and Jorginho in midfield, on their day they can beat anyone. They face Bayern Munich on the 25th Feb and the 18th March. Bayern aren’t having it all their own way in the Bundesliga this season, despite the frankly ridiculous form of Robert Lewandowski who already has over 30 goals to his name.
Champions League holders Liverpool have run away with the Premier League this season. Jurgen Klopp’s men have gone from strength to strength and as opposed to previous years, they seem to have the belief that they won’t let it fall through their fingers. However, does the Premier League title mean that much to them they may take their eyes off the prize when it comes to the Champions League? Their opponents, Atletico Madrid, are keeping pace with Real Madrid and Barcelona in La Liga, so the games on the 18th Feb and 11th March should be some spectacle.
Pep Guardiola’s Citizens have released their grip on the Premier League this year, with some unexpected results. However, key players Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Fernandinho have hit form coming into the second half of the season. Does this mean Guardiola has now prioritised Champions League success for this season? It’s the last trophy missing from his time with City, but with his old foes Real Madrid waiting on the 26th Feb and the 17th March, it will not be easy. Sergio Aguero is back leading the line and will hope, like Guardiola, to add the one trophy missing from his cabinet.
Pochettino’s celebration at the end of last years’ incredible semi-final is a distant memory, replaced with the sombre, sulking figure of Jose Mourinho. The new manager bounce has come and gone and it’s fair to say, compared to last year, their season has been disappointing. Struggling for a top-four finish, Mourinho will know the best chance to keep Champions League football next season will be to go one better than his predecessor and win this years’ competition. Captain Harry Kane is injured and will not return for the rest of the season including their matches against RB Leipzig on the 19th Feb and the 10th March.
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