What We Learned From Champions League Draw – The Athletic

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Barcelona will take on Paris Saint-Germain in a mouth-watering Round of 16 clash after the Champions League draw was made in Nyon, Switzerland on Monday.

Liverpool will face Manchester United’s Champions League conquerors RB Leipzig in the last 16 next year, while Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will also come up against Bundesliga opposition in the shape of Borussia Monchengladbach.

The Premier League’s other remaining representatives, Chelsea, will meanwhile take on Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid in another tantalising matchup.

Join our experts from across the continent to discuss the draw and the eight ties we have to look forward to in 2021.


12.00pm (7.00am ET / 4.00am PT): That concludes our live coverage of today’s Champions League draw. Thank you very much for reading. For a full round-up of today’s draw, click here. And scroll down to read reaction to the Round of 16 draw from our team of reporters and correspondents.


11.53am (6.53am ET / 3.53am PT):Pep Guardiola failed to beat Gladbach in any of his last four Bundesliga meetings with them during his time as Bayern Munich coach, having won both encounters in his opening season in Bavaria in 2013-14.

His record with Manchester City is much better, however. City beat Gladbach 4-0 at the Etihad in the 2016-17 group stages, and drew with them 1-1 in Germany.

To find out more about City’s next Champions League opponents, read a detailed analysis of Gladbach here.


11.42am (6.42am ET / 3.42am PT): Reaction from our Chelsea correspondent, Liam Twomey: “So it’s Atletico Madrid for Chelsea! If their group stage draw was kind, this is Champions League karma biting back.

“Much of the pre-match narrative will be around Diego Costa’s long-awaited return to Stamford Bridge, but style-wise this is the worst kind of opponent for Chelsea: a well organised, physically imposing, Diego Simeone-coached team with the speed and skill to pick off Frank Lampard’s team in transition. This is about as dangerous a tie as they possibly could have got.

“Chelsea haven’t won a Champions League knockout tie since 2013-14. The team who eventually eliminated them in the semi-finals that season? Atletico Madrid.”

To find out more about Chelsea’s next Champions League opponents, read a detailed analysis of Atletico Madrid here.


11.30am (6.30am ET / 3.30am PT): Reaction from our Liverpool FC correspondent, James Pearce: “Leipzig are clearly a real threat going forward but last week’s game against Manchester United showed how vulnerable they can be defensively. They leaked 12 goals in total in the group stage. By mid-February, Jurgen Klopp will hope his squad is in much better shape, with key personnel back from injury.”

To find out more about Liverpool’s next Champions League opponents, read a detailed analysis of RB Leipzig here.


11.25am (6.25am ET / 3.25am PT): The Champions League Round of 16 draw in full:

  • Atalanta vs Real Madrid
  • Sevilla vs Borussia Dortmund
  • Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain
  • Porto vs Juventus 
  • RB Leipzig vs Liverpool
  • Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea
  • Lazio vs Bayern Munich
  • Borussia Monchengladbach vs Manchester City

Stay with us as we will be bringing you reaction and analysis from our team of correspondents across the continent.


11.13am (6.13am ET / 3.13am PT): Here we go! The various UEFA officials are on stage and the Champions League Round of 16 draw is about to begin.


11.05am (6.05am ET / 3.05am PT): Simon Johnson, Chelsea correspondent: Chelsea will obviously hope finishing top of the group gets them a favourable draw. But it is worth noting that three of their six last 16 exits followed after going through as group winners. They lost to Inter Milan in 2010, and PSG twice in 2015 and 2016. They weren’t exactly rewarded with easy opponents on those occasions. Atletico Madrid, Barcelona (yes they’re not what they were but it’s still Barcelona and they’ve knocked out Chelsea twice in the last 16 – 2006, 2018) and RB Leipzig are three clubs they’d prefer to avoid.”


11.00am (6.00am ET / 3.00am PT): The ceremony is about to begin at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland.

A reminder of the two pots for today’s Round of 16 draw:

Seeded teams

  • Bayern Munich (GER, Group A)
  • Real Madrid (ESP, B)
  • Manchester City (ENG, C)
  • Liverpool (ENG, D)
  • Chelsea (ENG, E)
  • Borussia Dortmund (GER, F)
  • Juventus (ITA, G)
  • Paris Saint-Germain (FRA, H)

Unseeded teams

  • Atletico Madrid (ESP, A)
  • Borussia Monchengladbach (GER, B)
  • Porto (POR, C)
  • Atalanta (ITA, D)
  • Sevilla (ESP, E)
  • Lazio (ITA, F)
  • Barcelona (ESP, G)
  • RB Leipzig (GER, H)

10.45am (5.45am ET / 2.45am PT): James Horncastle, Italian football correspondent: Juventus‘ fine 3-0 win in Barcelona last week clinched top spot in the group. As the only top seeds from Serie A they have a favourable-ish draw although memories of last season and their elimination at the hands of Lyon in the Round of 16 are still fresh.”


10.30am (5.30am ET / 2.30am PT): Some very sad news coming out of France this morning. Gérard Houllier, who won the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup with Liverpool in 2001, has died aged 73.


10.15am (5.10am ET / 2.10am PT): Dermot Corrigan, Spanish football correspondent: “After all the jokes about Real Madrid in the Europa League, etc, things have turned out quite nicely for Zinedine Zidane’s team, who are quite looking forward to seeing which of Porto, Leipzig, Lazio or Atalanta they get in last 16.

“Meanwhile, Barca, Atletico and Sevilla might be more worried ahead of the draw. -They would all quite like Dortmund, but Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Liverpool are looming…”


10am (5am ET / 2am PT): Atalanta are one of the more fascinating teams in today’s draw. Gian Piero Gasperini’s side memorably reached the quarter-final stage last season — conceding two stoppage time goals to Marquinhos and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to lose 2-1 against Paris Saint-Germain in agonising fashion — but they have not been as impressive this term.

Atalanta currently sit eighth in Serie A and have not won consecutive league matches since the third weekend of the season. They have fared better in Europe and did well to qualify ahead of Ajax, although a heavy 5-0 defeat at home to Liverpool in November prompted plenty of soul searching in Bergamo.

There have also been reports in the Italian press of plenty of off-field drama. Here, our Serie A expert James Horncastle analysed their erratic start to the 2020-21 season, as well as the perceived tactical rigidity of manager Gasperini.


9.35am (4.35 ET / 1.35 PT): James Pearce, Liverpool FC reporter: “Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool players are eagerly awaiting today’s Champions League draw.

Seven possible opponents for the 2019 European champions: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Monchengladbach, FC Porto, Sevilla, Lazio, FC Barcelona and RB Leipzig.

Porto is arguably the one you want. Lazio would also be decent, setting up a reunion with Lucas Leiva.

“A revenge mission against Atletico could be on the cards but I don’t think you want to meet Diego Simeone’s side at this stage. Sevilla would meanwhile bring back memories of the 2016 Europa League final.”


9am (4am ET / 1am PT): Barcelona have failed to top their Champions League group for the first time since 2006–07 — when they finished second behind Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea and were eventually eliminated by Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool in the Round of 16.

They are also finding it tough going in La Liga this term. The 26-time Spanish league champions have won just five of their opening 11 matches to sit eighth in the table.

Nevertheless, they are undoubtedly the team to avoid from pot two. But they are far from their best and here, The Athletic’s Dermot Corrigan explains why.


8am (3am ET / Midnight PT): There are no easy opponents for the eight teams who finished runners-up in this season’s group stages, with the first pot containing the likes of defending champions Bayern Munich, 13-times winners Real Madrid and reigning FIFA Club World Cup champions Liverpool.

A quick glance at league tables across Europe, however, tells you that the Champions League is unusually open this year. Bayern Munich are not top of the Bundesliga, for example. An injury-ravaged Liverpool lost 7-2 to Aston Villa earlier this season. And even Paris Saint-Germain — who have won seven of the last eight Ligue 1 titles — are being kept off of top spot, by both Lille and Lyon respectively.

Obviously, this is a strange and unique season. Circumstances have never been more mitigating. But it is nevertheless worth noting that the continent’s most powerful teams are not as strong as in previous seasons. It is a trend that has not gone unnoticed by The Athletic’s Jack Lang and Tom Worville, who last month attempted to work out who  exactly is now Europe’s strongest team.


7am (2am ET / 11pm PT): Paris Saint-Germain are in pot one for today’s draw, with impressive victories in their return fixtures against RB Leipzig, Manchester United and Istanbul Basaksehir earning them top spot in Group H. PSG are one of the favourites to win this season’s tournament after coming so close last year, but the Ligue 1 champions are anxiously awaiting news on the fitness of star player Neymar, who injured his ankle in a 1-0 defeat by Lyon on Sunday.

Neymar was injured by a poor challenge from Thiago Mendes, with the Brazil international screaming in agony and clutching his ankle following the incident in stoppage time. Mendes was subsequently shown a red card.

After the match, PSG boss Thomas Tuchel said Neymar would have tests to establish how serious the injury was. “He’s with the physio and the doctors and we have to wait for the tests tomorrow (Monday),” he told French broadcaster Telefoot. Any serious injury could see Neymar miss PSG’s return to Champions League action, with the Round of 16 matches scheduled to begin in late February.

PSG made a rocky start to this season’s Champions League, losing 2-1 at home to Manchester United and slipping to a shock 2-1 defeat by RB Leipzig in Germany. They rallied to finish top of the group, however, and given the calibre of their attacking players are one of the teams to avoid in today’s draw.


6am (1am ET / 10pm PT): Of all the European heavyweights in pot one — which contains the seeded group winners — Borussia Dortmund are currently in the most amount of turmoil and perhaps one of the more attractive possible opponents for pot two teams.

On Sunday the club sacked manager Lucien Favre in the wake of a 5-1 thrashing by newly promoted VfB Stuttgart — Dortmund’s heaviest defeat since Favre’s arrival in 2018.

Dortmund have won just 19 points from the opening 11 Bundesliga matchdays — the same as they had managed at this stage last season — and have failed to win a trophy under Favre, with their recent European form a rare highlight in an already frustrating campaign.

An out-of-sorts Dortmund began their Champions League campaign with a defeat, falling to a surprise 3-1 defeat by Lazio in Rome. But they comfortably beat both Zenit Saint Petersburg and Club Brugge home and away, with a home draw with Lazio enough to see them top Group F by three points.

Assistant Edin Terzic, a youth coach who has also worked as an assistant at West Ham United and Besiktas, took charge of the Sunday afternoon training session and will remain at the helm “until the end of the current season”. Which means Terzic will be in charge when Dortmund resume their European campaign, with the Round of 16 scheduled to take place with matches at the end of February and beginning of March.


When and where is the draw?

The draw takes place on Monday 14 December at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland.

It will start at 11am GMT (6am ET / 3am PT). 

Who is in the draw?

Seeded teams

  • Bayern Munich (GER, Group A)
  • Real Madrid (ESP, B)
  • Manchester City (ENG, C)
  • Liverpool (ENG, D)
  • Chelsea (ENG, E)
  • Borussia Dortmund (GER, F)
  • Juventus (ITA, G)
  • Paris Saint-Germain (FRA, H)

Unseeded teams

  • Atletico Madrid (ESP, A)
  • Borussia Monchengladbach (GER, B)
  • Porto (POR, C)
  • Atalanta (ITA, D)
  • Sevilla (ESP, E)
  • Lazio (ITA, F)
  • Barcelona (ESP, G)
  • RB Leipzig (GER, H)

How does the draw work?

There are two seeding pots. One consists of the eight group winners. The other of the eight runners-up.

No team can play a club from their own country.

Seeded group winners are away in the round of 16 first legs and at home in the return matches.

Who can Chelsea draw?

  • Atletico Madrid
  • Borussia Monchengladbach
  • Porto
  • Atalanta
  • Lazio
  • Barcelona
  • RB Leipzig

Who can Liverpool draw?

  • Atletico Madrid
  • Barcelona
  • Borussia Monchengladbach
  • Lazio
  • Porto
  • RB Leipzig
  • Sevilla

Who can Manchester City draw?

  • Atalanta
  • Atletico Madrid
  • Barcelona
  • Borussia Monchengladbach
  • Lazio
  • RB Leipzig
  • Sevilla

When are the games?

First legs: 16/17/23/24 February

Second legs: 9/10/16/17 March

(Photo: By Denis Doyle via Getty Images)

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