- Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 February 2022 is a busy week for football lovers as the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 promises exciting fixtures.
- Premier League sides Chelsea and Manchester United will look to do what Manchester City and Liverpool did last week in their Round of 16 ties when they won comfortably.
- Chelsea will host Lille while Manchester United travels to Wanda Metropolitano to face Atletico Madrid.
The remaining four Champions League last 16 first leg ties take place this Tuesday and Wednesday, with Manchester United, Juventus and Chelsea among the sides looking to secure their place in the quarter-finals.
Manchester City, Liverpool and PSG were the big winners of last week’s four games, the latter having dramatically overcome Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes thanks to a wonderful stoppage-time goal from Kylian Mbappe.
The standout tie of this week pits Atletico Madrid against Manchester United, but there are plenty of other exciting matches to tuck into should you be looking for slightly different scenery.
Chelsea vs Lille
A late Hakim Ziyech winner at Crystal Palace was exactly the momentum boost Thomas Tuchel would have been looking for ahead of Chelsea’s side’s last 16 meeting with Ligue 1 Champions Lille.
The reigning champions of the Champions League have been stuttering of late despite victory over Palmeiras in the Club World Cup, though they’re arguably in far better shape than Ligue 1 holders Lille, who are in the bottom half of the table after a questionable title defence.
Colliding at Stamford Bridge in the first leg, Chelsea should have enough about them to overcome a side who topped Group G despite scoring just seven goals in a span of six games.
Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United
Remarkably, Atletico Madrid and Manchester United have only ever met twice in European competition, in the now-defunct European Cup Winners’ Cup. The two-legged affair, played in late 1991, resulted in a 4-1 aggregate victory for Atletico, but the pair have been kept apart since despite being Champions League regulars in the subsequent years.
For Diego Simeone, it could be the last chance opportunity to win the big one with Atleti, while the game also marks Ralf Rangnick’s first venture back to Europe’s top table for a decade, with his last match ironically coming against Manchester United when he was Schalke boss.
The two sides will clash on Wednesday at Wanda Metropolitano.
Villarreal vs Juventus
Juventus aren’t yet back to their free-flowing best under manager Max Allegri, but things are up looking up in Turin after a difficult first half of the season.
Juventus head into the clash without one of their star forward in Federico Chiesa who remains sidelined due to an injury.
Allegri’s side is difficult to beat right now, getting them back in contention for a top-four finish in Serie A, and they will be confident of coming out on top in their last 16 tie with Villarreal after winning Group H ahead of Chelsea.
Unai Emery’s side, current Europa League holders, are no pushovers though and will be fancy their chances of securing at least a draw in Spain.
Benfica vs Ajax
It may not be a hyped tie of the Round of 16, but Benfica’s clash with Ajax could prove to be one of the most exciting games of the knockout stages.
The match is also another opportunity for Erik ten Hag to put himself in the managerial shop window, for those who aren’t yet sure that his incredible Eredivisie record is worthy of a job at one of Europe’s giants.
Ten Hag’s side have scored an incredible 108 goals in all competitions already this season, Sebastien Haller bagging 28 of those and ten in the Champions League, and it’s difficult to look past them adding more here, Benfica on the other hand surprised many in the group stages, coming second in the group that had Bayern Munich and Barcelona, defeating the latter in Camp Nou forcing Barca to play in the Europa League for the first time since 2004.