The Champions League is finally (mostly) done with the group stage. Here’s what you need to know ahead of Monday’s round of 16 draw.
The Champions League round of 16 draw will take place this coming Monday as Europe’s top 16 clubs continue to battle one another for a shot at club soccer’s biggest prizes.
The eight teams who won their respective groups in the first round will be joined by the eight runners-up when the round of 16 starts on Feb. 15.
So far, there are only six group winners confirmed (Ajax, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Real Madrid) after the Group F encounter between Atalanta and Villareal was postponed to Thursday following heavy snow the previous evening. There are multiple scenarios that can emerge depending on the game’s outcome.
The group stage brought with it some surprises. Barcelona, for example, failed to advance to the knockout phase (for the first time since the 2003-04 season) and demoted to the Europa League.
French side Lille, despite a rocky start, was able to advance as one of the eight group-stage second-place teams, which (for now) also includes defending UCL winners Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Red Bull Salzburg and Sporting Lisbon.
Here’s what you need to know about the UCL’s round of 16 draw.
How will the draw work?
The draw, as mentioned, will feature 16 clubs (the winners and the runners-up from each of the eight groups).
UEFA said on its website that the draw will work as follows: Two seeding pots will be formed, one made up of the eight group winners (which will be the seeded teams) and the other of the eight runners-up.
No team can play a club from their group or their own national association.
When will the round of 16 be contested?
As usual, the tournament will go on an extended winter break and resume in February. The first legs will be played on Feb. 15-16 and 22-23. The return legs on March 8-9 and 15-16.
The draw that will determine the quarterfinal matchups, and therefore the remaining bracket, is scheduled for March 18.
Anything new to consider?
In fact, there is starting this season. The “away goals rule” will no longer be a factor, meaning if both the home and away legs finish in a draw, then extra time (and possibly even a shootout) will be needed to determine which teams advance.
In the past, the number of goals a team scored on the road counted as double.