After another fascinating Champions League week that saw several upsets and entertaining games such as Real Madrid’s 3-0 defeat, Bayern’s epic 3-3 draw with Ajax, and Juventus losing at the hands of Young Boys, the round of 16 is now set.
Tottenham sealed a place in the knockout rounds by tying with Barcelona, a game that Ernesto Valverde’s men should have handily won with Philippe Coutinho hitting the post twice. Looking forward now, we will go over Barcelona’s dream matchup, their nightmare, and everything in between.
Champions League rules dictate that each team that finished first in their respective group will be separated and drawn against teams that finished second in their respective groups. In addition, Barcelona will not be able to face off against the team that finished second in their group (Tottenham), or any team from La Liga. Because of this, Tottenham and Atletico Madrid are out as possible opponents, leaving Barcelona with six possibilities – Liverpool, Schalke, Ajax, Lyon, Roma, and Manchester United.
❗Confirmation of the possible rivals in the @ChampionsLeague Round of 16— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 12, 2018
Liverpool and Manchester United
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Out of those six teams, the most frightful matchup would most likely be Liverpool. Over the years, Barcelona have been exploited by teams who are willing to concede possession and then take off on lightning-quick counter attacks. That description aptly describes Liverpool, whose front three might be the most devastating trio on the counter. A mixture of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and Sadio Mane can be scary for any opposition – need proof? Just ask Pep’s Manchester City squad who were dismantled over two legs in last year’s Champions League competition.
In addition to Liverpool, Manchester United, the other team from the Premier League could be viewed as a matchup that could give Barcelona some trouble. Of course, this season has been pretty awful for the red side of Manchester, but over two legs, Jose Mourinho could find a way to exploit this Barcelona team and Old Trafford is still a hallowed ground for upsets.
The remaining four teams present Barcelona with a much better chance of qualifying for the next round of the Champions League. While Roma beat the Blaugranes in the competition last year, that defeat could serve as motivation to the squad to squash their demons from the previous year. Lyon, Ajax, and Schalke all boast talented squads, but should be nothing compared to Barcelona. The teams are younger and don’t boast the experience in the Champions League that the Barcelona squad possesses. An upset with any of those four seems unlikely.
To summarize, Barcelona will be anxious to find out their round of 16 opponent. All the teams qualified have already proven their talents and desire, but the two Premier League squads could potentially give Barcelona the most trouble. Staying away from England and drawing a team that doesn’t have the experience or as much quality as our current squad would be ideal. Though to be fair, when Lionel Messi started off this campaign with a promise to bring back the coveted Champions League trophy, he sent a message. No matter who is drawn against Barcelona, they’re in the way of his goal – and when the best player in the world has that sort of motivation, so does the entire team. Irrelevant of the draw, expect a Barcelona team aiming to destroy everything in their site, Premier League or not. Visca Barca.