The Champions League round of 16 draw is in, and the three English sides left in the competition now know their fate.
RB Leipzig await Liverpool in the next round, while Manchester City also travel to Germany to face Borussia Monchengladbach. Chelsea, on the other hand, will face arguably the toughest side in Spain in Atletico Madrid.
Three challenging ties, which should throw up interesting battles across the pitch.
Liverpool vs RB Leipzig
Many Liverpool fans will have breathed a sigh of relief when they avoided Atletico Madrid. However, Julian Nagelsmann’s Leipzig side will certainly prove a challenge, if a different one from Simeone’s side.
Sitting in third place, the Red Bull owned team has the meanest defence in Germany, conceding just nine goals this season. Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahim Konate are the star men at the back, with former Reds keeper Peter Gulacsi between the sticks.
Nagelsmann, often thought of as Europe’s best up and coming manager, has set up a tactically versatile and dynamic side. Their home record too, is an intimidating one, with Leipzig winning every game at the Red Bull Arena this season. However, as shown in their Champions League matches, they aren’t invincible.
Their front footed nature has seen them open to the counter-attack on a number of occasions. Manchester United in particular, exploited this to ruthless effect in their 5-0 victory at Old Trafford. Angelino for all his brilliant form can leave space with his rampaging runs up the pitch which Mohamed Salah could well exploit.
Jurgen Klopp could be bringing back the likes of Thiago Alcantara, Diogo Jota and James Milner back from injury by the time these sides meet in February. He’ll be hoping they’re fit and ready to go because Nagelsmann will be more than willing to pounce on an undermanned Liverpool.
Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid
Arguably, the glamour tie of the round, this will be an interesting test for the Londoners. Awash with new talent, Chelsea have been mostly impressive in the Premier League this season, despite their recent loss to Everton. However, Atletico could provide Frank Lampard one of his sternest tests as a manager.
Diego Simeone’s reputation as a top coach is well-founded, with his side recognised as arguably Europe’s top defensive side. Added to his team’s solidity, in Joao Felix and Luis Suarez have added a completely new dimension to his side. With those two and Marcos Llorente in attack, this is not a purely defensive side.
Lampard’s Chelsea are at their best going forward, with clever and pacey attackers throughout their squad. However, these are the exact type of teams Atletico are best at disrupting. Staying narrow, the Rojiblancos will look to soak up pressure and hit on the counter, which is why Chelsea could do with being more pragmatic.
Manchester City VS Borussia Monchengladbach
Unlike Chelsea, Manchester City fans will be satisfied with their draw. Despite boasting players of the calibre of Marcus Thuram, Matthias Ginter and Denis Zakaria, the Foals have been inconsistent this season. Despite their solid form in the Champions League, they are currently sitting in eighth place in the Bundesliga.
What’s worse for the German side is their manager, Marco Rose could soon be out the door. The 44-year-old reportedly has an agreement to take over at fellow Bundesliga side, Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season. They can only hope ay distraction caused by speculation over his future doesn’t hurt their progress.
However, despite their inconsistency, Rose’s side have shown they are more than capable of beating top sides. If their forwards can be clinical, the space left by Manchester City’s high line will afford them chances. City are firm favourites, but over two matches, an upset is certainly a possibility.