UEFA Champions League Round of 16 starts Tuesday

Soccer’s premier competition returns with 16 teams battling for glory


Courtesy of Ben Sutherland

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be looking to lead Paris Saint Germain past Chelsea and into the quarterfinals.

Stephen Sanicola and Jeremy Beren

On Feb. 16, the first cluster of games in the UEFA Champions League knockout stage Round of 16 will take place, commencing what should be an intense round of matches between world-class teams.

The group stage of this season’s Champions featured high-scoring matches and surprises galore, and the play in this season’s knockout round will surely be of a similarly high caliber. Starting on Feb. 16, every Tuesday and Wednesday will be home to the Champions League knockout stage games. Two-legged ties (or matchups) will be staged each Tuesday and Wednesday for a month straight until the quarterfinals begin in March.

The first two teams to play Tuesday will be Portuguese champions Benfica and Russian champions Zenit Saint Petersburg, followed by French champions Paris Saint Germain hosting English champions Chelsea. This will be the third year in a row that PSG will face off against Chelsea in the knockout stages, the second in a row in the Round of 16. Chelsea eliminated PSG in dramatic fashion in 2014, but PSG exacted revenge in London last season to advance to the quarterfinals.

On Wednesday, Belgian minnows Gent will face German side Wolfsburg while Roma will have their hands full as they go up against Cristiano Ronaldo and his Real Madrid teammates. As of right now, Ronaldo is the 2015/2016 Champions League’s top goal scorer, as he notched 11 goals in only six games during the group stage.

The following Tuesday, Feb. 23, two top-tier fixtures will take place. Lionel Messi and last year’s winners, FC Barcelona, will travel to North London to battle Arsenal. Also taking place next Tuesday will be the first leg between 2015 finalists Juventus FC and the reigning German champions FC Bayern Munich. The next day, Dutch side PSV Eindhoven will play host to Atlético Madrid while Manchester City face a difficult trip to Ukraine, where they will play Dynamo Kiev.

This year’s Round of 16 is sure to be filled with intensity throughout every second of every game, right from the very first kick-off. The winners will play in the last eight of the Champions League in March and April. Stick with NEVN for coverage of future Champions League rounds.