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UCL 2021/22: 5 Matches You Shouldn’t Miss In The Round Of 16

Mbappe and Messi celebrate after scoring a goal
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With the UEFA Champions League group stage done and dusted, it’s now time to shift our attention to the knockout stages of Europe’s most prestigious award. As always, the group stage had plenty of surprises, the biggest one of course was Barcelona failing to qualify for the knockout rounds for the first time in 17 years. Whereas teams like Bayern Munich, Liverpool, and Ajax advanced with a 100% record. 

With just 16 UCL teams remaining in the competition, we are set for a month packed with entertainment starting from the 16th of February and going on till the 17th of March after which only eight UCL teams will remain in the competition. 

Today at Man’s Life, we’ll take you through five matches that you should not miss:

5. Benfica VS Ajax


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First Leg: 24th February – Estadio da Luz
Second Leg: 16th March – Johan Cryuff Arena

Ajax were one of the three UCL teams to have a 100% in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League. The side from the Netherlands eased their way to the top of Group F after defeating Sporting, Dortmund and Besiktas, scoring 20 goals in six games. By contrast, Benfica’s road to the last 16 was a difficult one with the Portuguese side recording two wins, two draws and 2 losses to finish second with 8points, one ahead of Barcelona. A man to watch in this tie will be Sebastian Haller who has netted 10 of Ajax’s 20 goals in the UEFA Champions League this season and it seems like the Dutch side will ease past Benfica onto the next round.

4. Villareal VS Juventus


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First Leg: 22nd February – Estadio de la Ceramica
Second Leg: 22nd March – Allianz Stadium

If you would have asked who will win this tie a couple of years ago, everyone would have gone with Juventus. As things stand, there is no secret that the side from Turin are going through a transitional phase and are not the same team as they were. Allegri’s men currently sit 5th in the Italian league which underlines their fall. On the other hand, Villarreal have been wildly inconsistent compared to other UCL teams this season and stand 7th in La Liga with 8 draws and 6 defeats but somehow managed to beat Atlanta and BSC Young Boys to qualify for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League. In all honesty, this tie could go either way but we’ll go with Juventus considering the experience of the two-time UEFA Champions League winners hold against their opponents.

3. Atletico Madrid VS Manchester United


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First Leg: 23rd February – Estadio Wanda Metropolitano
Second Leg: 15th March – Old Trafford

Manchester United and Atletico Madrid are drawn against each other for the first time since 1991. The last time these two faced each other in the UEFA Champions League, the side from Spain came out victorious but that was a long time ago and lots of things have changed since then. A player to look out for in this fixture is Manchester’s Cristiano Ronaldo who just loves scoring against Atletico. Cristiano Ronaldo has taken the field against Atletico more times than any other player scoring a total of 25 goals against a team who were a derby opponent during his stay at Real Madrid. On the flip side, we have seen United struggle in defending all season which could be the real difference-maker in the tie.

2. Inter Milan VS Liverpool


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First Leg: 16th February – Giuseppe Meazza
Second Leg: 8th March – Anfield

This one is an even-steven matchup with both sides looking to bring back European glory to their iconic cities. Inter Milan finished second in Group D with three wins in their bag and despite losing their manager Antonio Conte and goal-scorer Romelu Lukaku at the start of the season, the Seria A champions have managed to cope without them. Liverpool on the other hand has had a 100% in the UEFA Champions League this season, despite their group being termed as the” Group of Death” after the initial UCL draws. Mohamed Salah has been the key behind Liverpool’s success this season scoring seven goals in six appearances and is a player Inter should keep their eye on if they want to win this tie.

1. Paris Saint-Germain VS Real Madrid


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First leg: 15th February – Parc des Princes
Second leg: 9th March – Estadio Santiago Bernabeu

One of the standout ties in this season’s UCL draws has to PSG versus Real Madrid. PSG, who are still looking to lift their first UCL title are hungrier than ever. In the 2020 season, PSG made it all the way to the finals only to lose to Bayern Munich. But this time out, alongside Neymar and Mbappe, Messi will be eager to fire the powerhouse from France to its first UEFA Champions League title. As for Real Madrid, they have a special connection with the knockout stages of the competition. We expect PSG to go the distance against Los Blancos but at the same time, the Spanish side look more composed compared to their opponents and it seems like Ancelotti’s side will advance to the next stage.


[Featured Image Credit: UEFA Champions League]