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Wayne Lumbasi

The much awaited 2021-22 season of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) returns after a break with 8 mouth-watering contests in the Round of 16.

The European Cup was reformed into the UEFA Champions League in the year 1992 and since then, it’s been the biggest Cup competition in European club football. The UEFA Champions League (abbreviated as UCL) is an annual club football competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and contested by European clubs of the top division.

It is considered one of the most prestigious football tournaments in the world and the most prestigious club competition in European football.

In 2013, Cristiano Ronaldo scored one of the greatest headers of all time against Manchester United in the Champions League  /Getty Images/

The initial knockout stages of the 2021-22 tournament are upon us and with 16 of Europe’s best teams still in the race to win the coveted UCL trophy.

Sporting CP vs Manchester City

Most look at this pairing and see it as the most lopsided tie this round. They very well may have a point. A City side that has run through everyone standing in their way so far meets a rather inconsistent Sporting. Pep Guardiola’s side are the overwhelming favorites and for a good reason.


RB Salzburg vs. Bayern Munich

A clear favorite to win the title yet again, Bayern Munich appear to never skip a beat when it comes to showing just how dominant they can be. Now with Coach Julian Nagelsmann at the helm and with players like Robert Lewandowski and company all firing on all cylinders, it doesn’t matter who’s in front of them, without any offence to Red Bull Salzburg.

The only thing that matters is that in this matchup, the advantage is 100% for Bayern Munich.

Inter Milan vs. Liverpool

Here’s a matchup that looks much more even, at least on paper. On one hand, we have Inter Milan, who are sitting atop the Serie A table and who have shown promising signs of great football all around.

On the other hand, we have Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool squad which, with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah leading the attacking core and Virgil Van Dijk commanding the defense, are always one of the toughest opponents to come across in Europe. While they might be behind City in the Premier League, the advantage here goes to Liverpool.

Chelsea vs. LOSC Lille

Retuning UCL Champions Chelsea look like they are more than ready to make another title run this year, even if it means having to knock out French side Lille, who have put on some very respectable matches during the UCL season.

Chelsea in pomp and glory when they won the 2020-21 champions league /Getty Images/

At the end of the day, trying to stop Thomas Tuchel’s blue football machine is something that not many teams can do, and it clearly looks like it’s something that Lille will not be able to do. An advantage to Chelsea.

Villarreal vs Juventus

The Yellow Submarines have shown resilience in recent times after a disastrous start to their Liga season. Earning their spot in this round on Matchday 6, Unai Emery’s troops will once again have their hands full. They have kept clean sheets in their last three, winning two of them. Should they keep up this form, they will not be a pushover.

Benfica vs Ajax

Two former winners of the Champions League will meet in what many may perceive to be an uninteresting affair.  These two are more than capable of providing an entertaining pair of matches.

Atletico Madrid vs. Manchester United

It’s Rangnick vs. Simeone, Ronaldo vs. one of his favourite rival teams to score against, it’s Atletico Real Madrid against a Manchester United squad that is still trying to find the best way to propel themselves back into football stardom and dominance.

While Ronaldo and United can be a true threat, at the end of the day Simeone’s experiences coaching Atletico Madrid in stages like these will end up paying up in great dividends for the Spanish champions. 

PSG vs. Real Madrid

With an attacking core composed of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar — that’s without taking into account the rest of the myriad of stars that compose this team — they would be the outright favorites from the get-go to move on to the next round of competition. 

Real Madrid did struggle initially in the tournament but managed to bounce back and make their way into the round-of-16 stage, and with Karim Benzema leading the way alongside head coach Carlo Ancelotti and company, PSG will have a seriously hard time trying to get rid of them.

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Wayne Lumbasi