The UEFA Champions League last 16 starts this week with top teams set to go at each other on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.
With some top teams already dumped out of the money spilling club competition, the game between Paris Saint Germain vs Real Madrid and Sporting Lisbon vs Manchester City will get us all in the mood today.
Champions League 2022: What To Expect In The Knockout
Another Great Opportunity For An English Team To Win The Trophy
Last season Chelsea who are now the World Champions having won the Club World Cup just last weekend after beating Brazilian side Palmeiras in extra time won the Champions League, and as such they would be looking forward to defend the title they won last season.
With the knockout rounds set to kickoff today, it will interest you to know that for the fourth time in five seasons there are at least four English teams in the Champions League last 16 all getting there with a game to spare.
As such this season three of them are among the four favorites to go on and win the competition, with Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea tipped as the English teams that could win the title.
With City set to kickstart their quest in the Champions League away at Sporting Lisbon today, they’re the number one favorite to go on and win the trophy.
A Mix Of Leagues In The Knockout Rounds
This season last 16 teams come from eight different leagues including knockout debutants Red Bull Salzburg.
The Austrian giant have never moved close to the round of 16, but this season they punched above their weight while the likes of Ajax, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon also booked their place in the knockout rounds.
Interestingly this season there are more teams from outside Europe’s top five leagues than in the previous three years combined since Porto in 2019, 2021 and Ajax in 2019.
Top Goal-scorer Race
Sebastian Haller leads the goal scorer chart with 10 goals from six games with RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku joint third on seven goals.
With the group stages done and dusted and the knockout rounds set to kickoff, it will be expected that the Ivorian continues from where he left it in the group stages where he scored 10 goals.
Establish player like Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe, Messi and other top players will be expected to score more goals should they scale through their respective opponents in the knockout rounds.
No Away Goals
Previous Champions League knockout rounds was all about the away goals rules, but this season Champions League will be the first knockout stages since UEFA scrapped the away goals rules.
With the away goals rules scrapped, ties with level scores after two legs will now go into extra time and then penalties.
So with the new rules expect teams to want to throw in everything they’ve got into their respective games for them to qualify into the next rounds when the games kickstart today.
Players Expected To Light Up The Knockout Rounds
Lionel Messi hasn’t been 100 percent scintillating for the Parisians since he joined from Barcelona on a free transfer, however with Paris Saint Germain set to face King of Champions League Real Madrid all eyes will be on the Argentine.
Karim Benzema is expected to feature today having missed out on some of Los Blancos games, and with him leading the goal chart in LaLiga the French will be expected to get a goal for himself today in Paris.
KDB and Raheem Sterling were both brilliant for City at the weekend, so with the confidence still very much high in their camp City fans will hope to see their darling team go into the game and pick up the maximum win.
Kylian Mbappe and Neymar Jr will also be expected to shine against Real Madrid, but nothing is confirmed yet if the Brazilian star will feature today.
Teams Expected To Qualify Into The Next Rounds
Bayern Munich will be expected to outrun and outplay their opponent Salzburg who are a debutant in the knockout rounds, should they lose or been dump out by the Austrian giant it will be a big shock.
Real Madrid though will be facing a difficult opponent in Paris Saint Germain with great players in their team, however with a champion like Carlo Ancelotti in the Los Blancos dugout and an experience players in the team the Spanish giant have a chance to oust Paris Saint Germain in the knockout rounds.
Chelsea were lucky with the quality of team they will be facing, but then they needs to prepare well for their Ligue 1 opponent in Lille who has shown they can also flex muscle with the big team.
Both Atletico Madrid and Manchester United are not in the best of form right now, however comparing both teams results in their respective leagues in recent time we can actually say Los Rojiblancos has got what it takes to dump out the Red Devils.
It’s going to be the battle of 2010 and 2019 champions between Inter Milan and Liverpool when they face off in the round of 16, Liverpool no doubt looks more like the favorite in this encounter but then the Nerazzurri’s won’t make it easy for them.
Europa League champions Villarreal will face Serie A giant in Juventus and you will expect the Old Lady to come out triumphant in the encounter, however the Yellow Submarine has shown they can beat the so called big boys on the biggest of stages when they beat United in final of the Europa League.
Benfica and Ajax is an encounter that looks evenly poised, however with Ajax’s group stages form you will expect them to outrun the Portuguese giant but then Benfica also have what it takes to triumph over Ajax and move to the next round.