Pubs and bars can look forward to some big nights in with British interest strong in all three European competitions
(Photo by Richard Juilliart - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
It may have taken two draws to get there, but the line-up for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 is going to guarantee some bumper nights of excitement.
The four Premier League sides will all fancy their chances of progressing to the quarter finals, but will not have it all their own way either.
Add in some thrilling Europa League ties and the adventures of Leicester and Celtic in the Europa Conference League and pubs and bars have plenty of reasons to pull in a crowd come February.
Here’s what’s on the way…
UEFA Champions League
Sporting vs Manchester City - Tuesday 15th Feb, 8pm
The champions of Portugal scraped into the last 16 at the expense of Dortmund, who finished on the same points (nine) but dropped into the Europa League by virtue of their head-to-head record. Sporting will be serious underdogs against last season’s runners up and this season’s favourites to lift the trophy. City will be hoping that the form that saw them top of their group and the top of the Premier League will still be evident when these two meet in February.
Inter vs Liverpool - Wednesday 16th Feb, 8pm
If anyone could feel a little hard done by with the UCL redraw, it would be Liverpool. They had initially been due to play Salzburg in a tie that would have guaranteed goals. Inter could prove to be more stubborn opposition, but again, the Premier League side will be expected to prevail.
(Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Chelsea vs Lille - Tuesday 22nd Feb, 8pm
So good they drew this fixture twice. In fact this game was the only one that came out in both the draw that never was and the follow-up. Either way, Chelsea are likely to be delighted to get the chance to play the ‘Joe Cole’ derby, especially as they could have ended up facing Real Madrid. The champions of Europe will be expected to progress.
Atletico vs Manchester United - - Wednesday 23rd Feb, 8pm
For an hour or so there, it looked like we were going to get to see Messi and Ronaldo share the pitch in what could have been one final dance. Who knows, perhaps that date has merely been delayed. As it is, United face a tough task against the Spanish champions, who have shown real pedigree in the UCL in recent years.
And the rest…
Salzburg vs Bayern Munich
Benfica vs Ajax
Villarreal vs Juventus
PSG vs Real Madrid
First legs are scheduled for February 15, 16, 22 and 23, with the second legs on March 8,9, 15 and 16. Kick-offs are all at 8pm.
UEFA Europa League
There’s a change in format in the Europa League this year. Group winners, such as West Ham, are straight through to the last 16. Whereas group runners-up must face a play-off game against a side that finished third in their Champions League group to progress. Rangers are the only British side this applies to. However, the draw has also thrown-up the prospect of the Diego Maradona derby, with Barcelona facing Napoli, in what is undoubtedly the tie of the round.
Borussia Dortmund vs Rangers - Thursday 17th Feb, 5:45pm
If Barca vs Napoli is the pick of the bunch, then this match isn’t far behind. Ibrox will be rocking when the German’s arrive in Glasgow, with the likes of Jude Bellingham and Erling Haaland set to strut their stuff in Scotland. It’s a tantalising prospect for Giovanni Von Bronckhorst, who knows a thing or two about European competition as a previous Champions League winner with Barcelona.
Fixture due to be played February 17 and 24.
Europa Conference League
Leicester City and Celtic head into new territory. Can one of them become the first name engraved on UEFA’s newest competition?
Leicester vs Randers - Thursday 17th Feb, 8pm
After just missing out on qualification from their Europa League group, Foxes fans could be forgiven for casting jealous glances in the direction of Napoli, who have landed a glamour fixture against Barcelona.
Instead of a trip to the Nou Camp, Brendan Rogers will take his team to Denmark, in a tie they will be favourites to win.
Celtic vs Bodo Glimt - Thursday 17th Feb, 8pm
They might sound like a character from a Tolkien novel, but Bodo Glimt are not to be underestimated. The Norwegians inflicted the worst defeat of Jose Mourinho’s managerial career when his Roma side were defeated 6-1 in the group stages of the competition. Celtic, you have been warned.
Fixtures to be played February 17 and 24
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