- Copy link
At 12.00 noon CET on Monday, FC Barcelona will find out which team they'll be meeting in the first knockout round of the Champions League. As one of the seeds, Barça will avoid the winners of the other seven groups. Neither can they play Manchester City again, and will also be separated from fellow Liga clubs Real Madrid and Sevilla.
So although there are another fifteen teams involved in the competition, there are only five that could potentially be coming to the Camp Nou in the next round. We take a closer look at each of them..
Paris Saint Germain
The winners of the last four editions of the French championship, and who have former Barça players Thiago Motta and Maxwell on their books, finished second behind Arsenal in Group A. There’s also a familiar face on the bench – Unai Emery has managed both Valencia and Sevilla in the past – while Di María, Jesé and Krychowiak are familiar faces to Liga fans.
Barça met PSG in the Champions League quarter finals in both 2013 and 2015, advancing both times. Despite regularly being mentioned among the favourites, the Parisians have only made it as far as the semi-finals once, and that was back in 1995.
PSG are currently third in their domestic league, one point behind Monaco and four adrift of leaders Nice.
The Eagles were fortunate to make it into the last sixteen, losing at home to Napoli but qualifying regardless thanks to Dinamo Kiev beating Besktas. Benfica is the side that beat Barça 3-2 in the 1961 final, but have not beaten the Catalans in three meetings since, including the quarter finals in 2006. The last time they met was in the 2012 group stage, when a young Andre Gomes was in the Portuguese side.
Their squad includes former Barça B man Álex Grimaldo.
Benfica have put a halt to Porto’s in dominance in Portugal by winning the last three national leagues, and they're on good course to win the trophy again, being two points clear of Sporting at the top of the table.
Despite finishing top of their group, someone is going to have to face one of the hottest favourites to win the trophy in the round of 16. A lot of people will be hoping it’s not Barça!
Bayern, beaten to top spot in Group D by Atlético Madrid, have been European champions on five occasions. The last of those titles came in 2012–13, when they were 7-0 aggregate winners against Barça in the semi-finals – a defeat that the blaugrana avenged at the same stage two years later.
With Guardiola replaced by Ancelotti on their bench, the Bavarians enjoy the services of such heavyweights as Lewandowski, Müller, Douglas Costa and former Barça man Thiago Alcántara. But although they have won the last four German championships, the most supported team in Germany are currently three points adrift of leaders RB Leipzig.
The 2002 Champions League finalists last won the Bundesliga in 2012. And although they are currently struggling in mid-table on the domestic front, they’re still in Europe after finishing behind Monaco but ahead of Tottenham in their first round group.
They have crossed paths with Barça four times in the Champions League this century, most recently in the group stage last season, when the Catalans won 2-1 at home and drew 1-1 in Germany. The only one of those meetings to come in the knockout rounds was in 2012, when Barça famously won 10-1 on aggregate with Messi scoring five goals in the game at the Camp Nou.
A 5-0 trouncing of the already qualified Leicester City ensured that the 1987 and 2004 champions will be among the teams in the last sixteen. A meeting with FC Barcelona would be the first since the 1999-2000 group stage when Barça won both home and away – although there was a more recent meeting in the European Super Cup of 2001, which the Catalans also won.
This match-up would also mean a return to the camp Nou for goalkeeper Iker Casillas, a veteran of course of numerous Clásicos in his many years defending the Real Madrid net. And it would bring a return to the Estádio do Dragão, where something rather historic happened back in 2003. It was in a friendly played there that a 16-year-old Leo Messi played his first game for the FCB first team!
- Copy link