Manchester City And Arsenal Anticipate Champions League Round Of 16 Opponents Ahead Of Draw

The 2023/2024 UEFA Champions League group stages have concluded and the teams which have qualified for the round of 16 stage have been confirmed.

The draw for the last 16 will take place this coming Monday in Nyon, Switzerland, where representatives of all the remaining teams will be there to witness the confirmation of their opponents for the next stage.

The draw will play out by the seeded teams, which are the group winners, being paired with an unseeded, team, which are the group runners’ ups. Teams will not be allowed to be paired against a team from the same nation or a team they already faced in the group stage.

The two English sides that will represent the Premier League in the knockout stages are the defending champions, Manchester City, and Arsenal, who have made the knockout stages in their first season back in the competition since the 2016/17 campaign. Both sides finished top of their respective groups, so they will be seeded for the draw.

Manchester City advanced from Group G with a perfect record, easing past RB Leipzig, Young Boys and Crvena Zvezda. Arsenal had a minor slip-up on matchday two as they lost away to Lens, but that did not stop them from topping Group B, which also contained PSV Eindhoven and seven-time UEFA Europa League winners, Sevilla.

The other two Premier League sides in this season’s Champions League group stage, Manchester United and Newcastle United, finished bottom of their respective groups and are now out of Europe together this season.

Manchester United put in a disastrous campaign as they won just one game and conceded 15 goals across six games, a record for the most goals conceded by an English side ever in this stage of the competition. Erik ten Hag’s side finished bottom of Group A, as they could not overcome Bayern Munich, FC Copenhagen and Galatasaray.

Newcastle were placed in this season’s most competitive group as they faced off against Paris Saint Germain, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund in Group F. Despite some encouraging displays, Newcastle’s inexperience at this level showed and they picked up just one win across the six games.

Borussia Dortmund and PSG were the two teams to end up qualifying from Group F. The final matchday saw PSG, AC Milan and Newcastle all switching places in the group standings throughout the night, with Newcastle eventually falling to a 2-1 loss at home to AC Milan and PSG securing a 1-1 draw away in Dortmund.

Group C saw 14-time winners of the competition, Real Madrid, go through with a 100 per cent record, whilst Napoli joined them in qualifying. Real Sociedad and Inter Milan were the top two sides in Group D, whilst Atletico Madrid and Lazio advanced from Group E.

Barcelona and FC Porto were the two teams to successfully make it out of Group H and into the round of 16.

The full list of seeded teams for the upcoming round of 16 draws is Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, Atlético Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City and Barcelona. The unseeded teams are FC Copenhagen, PSV Eindhoven, Napoli, Inter Milan, Lazio, PSG, RB Leipzig and FC Porto.

Galatasaray, Lens, Sporting Braga, Benfica, Feyenoord, AC Milan, Young Boys and Shakhtar Donetsk all finished in third spot in their respective groups and will participate in this season’s Europa League knockout stages.

Manchester City are able to draw any unseeded team other than their Group G opponents, RB Leipzig, so Pep Guardiola’s side could face the team they beat in last season’s final, Inter Milan. Also, exciting matchups against PSG or Napoli could be on the cards for the defending champions.

None of the potential round of 16 opponents should cause great concern to Manchester City with many favouring Guardiola’s side to win the Champions League for a second year running.

Arsenal will also have all unseeded teams available to be drawn against apart from their group-stage opponents, PSV Eindhoven. PSG and Napoli will likely be the unseeded teams which Arsenal may want to avoid as the North London club will look to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since the 2009/10 season.

Whoever Arsenal get paired with for the round of 16, they will feel confident about their chances as Mikel Arteta’s squad has developed a strong mentality in recent years and many teams will actually want to avoid them.

Arsenal supporters will be somewhat relieved that their side cannot draw Bayern Munich in the next round as three of the Gunners’ previous five appearances in the Champions League have been halted by the German giants in the round of 16 stage. The meeting between the two sides in the 2016/17 season saw Bayern Munich come out on top with a 10-2 aggregate victory.

Barcelona and PSG could be drawn against one another in what would be a repeat of the dramatic last-16 tie from the 2016/17 season, where the Spanish side staged a dramatic turnaround in the second leg at Camp Nou.

PSG could also be drawn against Real Madrid, with the sides having met two seasons ago at the same stage. Karim Benzema’s stunning second-half hat-trick in the second leg helped Real Madrid to a comeback victory in the tie.

FC Copenhagen and PSV Eindhoven will most likely be the desired draws for the seeded teams as both teams advanced from their groups with just two wins. The unseeded teams will assumably view Real Sociedad as the best group winner to draw as it will present the most favourable matchup.

The first legs of the round of 16 matchups will take place in 2024 across a fortnight on either the 13th/14th of February or the 20th/21st of February. The return legs will then be held on the 5th/6th March or the 12th/13th March.

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