The Champions League is back – and it’s knockout time.
The 16 teams remaining in the competition will do battle over two legs to see who makes it into the quarter-finals.
Among the teams leading the charge are defending champions Manchester City, 14-time winners Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Arsenal.
Who will be the key players who could decide the last-16 fixtures?
Copenhagen v Man City – Kevin de Bruyne
However, the Danish side not only pulled off a surprise by qualifying from their group, but did so with some decent results, beating Manchester United, drawing at Bayern Munich, and then winning against Galatasaray to seal second place.
Against Man City, it’s likely to be backs to the wall for Copenhagen, who haven’t played in the league since their last Champions League outing due to their winter break.
Kevin De Bruyne has been pulling the strings for City after his return from injury and expect him to try to run the show over two legs against Copenhagen.
RB Leipzig v Real Madrid – Lois Openda
Lois Openda has thrived on the big stage this season, scoring three times in two Champions League group games against Manchester City and also netting against Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga.
The exciting forward has been in excellent form to start the year too, having scored in his last three games in a row.
Leipzig beat Madrid in the group stage of the Champions League last year and Openda says they will take on the tie “with confidence” that they can cause an upset.
If they are to knock out the serial winners they will need to take their chances, and Openda could be key.
PSG v Real Sociedad – Kylian Mbappe
This shapes up to be one of the most intriguing ties of the last 16.
PSG look set to win the Ligue 1 title as usual, but they only squeaked through to the last 16 of the Champions League after being tested in a difficult group.
Real Sociedad are sixth in La Liga and topped their group ahead of Inter Milan after going unbeaten.
The star player in the tie is Kylian Mbappe, and with more reports swirling about his future, he will be looking to let his football do the talking against Sociedad.
Lazio v Bayern Munich – Harry Kane
Bayern Munich signed Harry Kane last summer for him to fire them to silverware.
Kane is doing his part so far with goals aplenty in the Bundesliga and Champions League, but Bayern as a team have not been totally convincing under Thomas Tuchel this season.
With the quality in their squad they are favourites to progress to the quarter-finals, but Lazio could ask some tricky questions.
Bayern will be banking on Kane delivering if chances fall his way.
PSV v Dortmund – Luuk de Jong
PSV haven’t been to the quarter-finals of the Champions League since 2007, when they knocked out Arsenal in the last 16 and then lost to Liverpool.
This looks a good chance for them to return to the last eight.
They have been flying this season under Peter Bosz and are 10 points clear at the top of the Eredivisie.
Luuk de Jong has been leading the line with 18 goals and seven assists in 20 appearances, and in a potentially high-scoring tie he could bag a few.
Inter Milan v Atletico Madrid – Antoine Griezmann
Who’s calling this one then?
Inter have been bang in form in Serie A this season and have only lost once, but Atletico have proven to be a very tough nut to crack under Diego Simeone.
Not only that, but they have Antoine Griezmann enjoying one of the best seasons of his career.
He’s got 11 goals and six assists in La Liga and will be the danger man for Atletico as they look to reach the quarters.
Porto v Arsenal – Bukayo Saka
Arsenal’s recent last-16 results do not make for pretty reading.
The last seven times they have reached this stage of the Champions League they have failed to progress further, including a 10-2 aggregate thumping by Bayern Munich in 2017.
But they should enter the tie in confident mood against a Porto side who are six points off leaders Benfica in the Primeira Liga.
The Gunners have, though, been guilty of not finishing chances this season and with injury worries over striker Gabriel Jesus, might need Bukayo Saka on form to ensure their safe passage through.
Saka has three goals in his last five games for the Gunners.
Napoli v Barcelona – Victor Osimhen
This should be the tie of the round: the defending Serie A champions against the defending La Liga champions.
But both sides have fallen from the heights they hit domestically last season and will be hoping to extend their Champions League run to lift the mood.
For Napoli, this is their only chance of silverware and the scheduling of the ties has seemingly done them a favour as it has given Victor Osimhen time to return from the Africa Cup of Nations to feature.
The first leg being on February 21, rather than the previous week, should mean Osimhen is back in the fold after helping Nigeria win AFCON and can lead the line for Napoli.
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