The Champions League draw took place on Monday, with both Liverpool and Manchester City being assigned tough Spanish opponents in the Round of 16.
Liverpool will face off against Atletico Madrid in the first knockout round, while Man City will take on Real Madrid.
Liverpool Returns to Site of Champions League Glory
With only teams from Europe’s big five leagues remaining in the competition, the Champions League draw was certain to produce some mouthwatering matchups. Even with that caveat, Monday’s draw included a surprising number of competitive matchups between clubs that have realistic chances of winning the tournament.
For Liverpool, the matchup against Atletico Madrid gives the Reds the chance to head back to the site of their Champions League final victory last year at Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid. Liverpool heads into the two-leg contest as a -310 favorite to advance to the quarterfinals over Atletico Madrid (+210), according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Liverpool could have gotten easier matchups this early in the competition, but manager Jurgen Klopp says getting challenged early is exactly what he wants for his squad.
“It’s a tough one, but if you go through all of the draws, there are pretty much four or five potential finals already in the last 16,” Klopp told reporters in Qatar, where Liverpool is preparing to play in the Club World Cup. “So, really, really good; a good draw. A difficult game like it should be, but how we most of the time think and say, I don’t think [Atletico manager Diego Simeone] is running through his living room and is happy that he got Liverpool.”
Man City (-290) also faces a tough test in its Round of 16 matchup with Real Madrid (+200). Real has won four of the past six Champions League titles, one of the most dominant stretches in the history of European soccer. City Director of Football, Txiki Begiristain, previously played and worked at Barcelona, giving him plenty of insight into the significance of the challenge that faces his current team.
“They’ve won this competition 13 times, so they are the best – so we have to try to beat them,” Begiristain told BT Sport. “If you want to be the best you have to beat them. It’s always a pleasure to go to play Real Madrid, and also to play in a big stadium like the Berrnabeu, we are happy to go there. We know them well but they know what we are doing, they know our manager, our team.”
Minnows Avoid Favorites in Round of 16
Other European titans are also facing off in the first knockout round. The Champions League draw paired up Dortmund (+210) against Paris Saint-Germain (-310), while Chelsea (+270) faces a difficult test in the form of Bayern Munich (-430).
Champions League Odds to Advance to Quarterfinals
- Atletico Madrid (+210) vs. Liverpool (-310)
- Dortmund (+210) vs. Paris Saint-Germain (-310)
- Tottenham (-126) vs. RB Leipzig (-110)
- Atalanta (+116) vs. Valencia (-164)
- Napoli (+370) vs. Barcelona (-650)
- Chelsea (+270) vs. Bayern Munich (-430)
- Lyon (+340) vs. Juventus (-550)
- Real Madrid (+200) vs. Manchester City (-290)
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
In terms of mismatches, Barcelona (-650) comes in as the biggest favorite in the Round of 16, as they take on Napoli (+370), while Juventus (-550) is also a heavy favorite over Lyon (+340). Meanwhile, some of the relatively weaker teams remaining in the Champions League will likely think they have been given an opportunity to advance to the quarterfinals: RB Leipzig (-110) is considered nearly equal to Tottenham Hotspur (-126), while Valencia (-164) is only a slight favorite over Atalanta (+116).
The first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 will take place in late February, with the second leg of each match taking place in March.