Tom Williams

Part 1: UEFA Champions League draw most exciting fixtures

With the Champions League draw now complete, there are a lot of fantastic draws to look forward to in mid-February. Any Division take a look at some of the most exciting looking ties ahead.

Manchester United vs Paris Saint Germain 

There’s nothing to be said about United that hasn’t been iterated and reiterated over the last few months. 

Once a bastion of England’s hopes in Europe, United are now little more than a distraction. A decade ago, they were lining up against their domestic rivals Chelsea and they pulled through an enthralling final on penalties. 

But their fall from grace has been spectacular.

Look back a year ago, even. United crashed out of a seemingly favourable last-16 leg against Sevilla and this year, having been drawn against PSG, all they can hope for is an incredible turn of form to give themselves even a hint of a chance against France’s top team.

PSG, meanwhile, look incredible. Having faced a tough group containing last season’s runners-up Liverpool and the ever-dangerous Napoli, they finished top and looked relatively comfortable doing so. Unsurprisingly with a team consisting of Mbappe, Neymar and Cavani, they’re also top scorers for this year’s UEFA Champions League. 

The real test for them is whether they can get into the semi-finals for the first time in their history.

Aggregate scoreline prediction: Manchester United 1 – 4 Paris Saint Germain. 

Olympique Lyonnais vs FC Barcelona

This is one of those ties where the team you expect to get trounced absolutely will, or we’ll be given one of the best ties in recent memory.

Barca are a bit self-explanatory. Top of their league. The have Messi. Oh, and Saurez, Dembele, Coutinho, Ter Stegen…. You get the idea. They’re a fantastic team who ooze class (on the pitch, anyway), will dominate the ball and create the closest thing you’ll see to footballing art. But they aren’t the Barcelona of old and they can be got at, if you have the bravery and brains to do it.

Lyon just might.

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Having inflicted Manchester City’s first loss of the season, and almost beating them at the Etihad, they left a huge impression of City’s Catalonian manger.

He told BT Sport: “They’re one of the toughest teams I have ever faced. They’re physical, they’re strong and their counter-attacking is incredible.”

It’s incredibly high praise for the largely underrated French side and it’s this underdog status that’ll give the Lyon players the opportunity to write themselves into their team’s history.

(They probably won’t, though.)

Aggregate scoreline prediction: Olympique Lyonnais 3 – 6 FC Barcelona.

Liverpool vs Bayern Munich

For Liverpool fans, and many footballing traditionalists, this is the perfect tie. It’s a battle between two of Europe’s most prestigious clubs. 

Liverpool are currently leading their league by a solitary point and are widely viewed as being caught-up in a two-way battle with Manchester City for their first ever Premier League title. Bayern Munich, however, are – and it’s very strange to call it this – languishing in third place in the Bundesliga. 

Many view Bayern’s squad as ageing and in need of a serious overhaul, but there can be no denying their quality. It’s almost destined to be a classic and with Virgil van Dijk out of the first leg at Anfield, Bayern will look to capitalise on his sizeable absence. 

Much of the build-up surround the fixtures will be focussed on Klopp’s Dortmund losing the Champions Final against Bayern, with the words “revenge” likely to be tossed around. But it’s unlikely to factor much in his mind. What may prove to be a distraction is where Liverpool lie in the Premier League table come February.   

Aggregate scoreline prediction: Liverpool 3 – 3 Bayern Munich (Liverpool through on away goals.)

 

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