If you are expecting any surprises, you will be completely
When the 16 teams remaining in the Uefa Champions League embark on the knockout stages, it will very much be a case of the same old story, as the usual suspects have advanced from the group phase.
The first-leg fixtures of the round of the last 16 will be played midweek over the next two weeks.
The only club to gate-crash the illustrious party is last season’s surprise Premier League winners Leicester City, who seem to have kept all their match-winning performances this season for the lucrative competition.
While the Foxes are struggling in the Premier League and are sitting perilously close to the relegation zone, they made sure to progress in the Champions League at their first attempt before they played their final game.
Their round of the last-16 match against Sevilla is not one of the standout fixtures, but it will leave both teams cautiously optimistic about making the quarterfinals.
A trio of matches is vying for the title of being the main attraction of the round: Manchester City vs AS Monaco; Bayern Munich vs Arsenal; and Paris St Germain vs Barcelona.
The clash between City and Monaco sees two big-spending clubs going head-to-head, with City’s Middle Eastern money taking on the financial muscle provided to Monaco by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.
City’s Spanish coach Pep Guardiola is aware that it will not be easy against the French side.
“My impression against Paris St Germain [Guardiola watched the 1-1 draw between the two sides] and what I’ve seen is ... they’re a really strong team; they score a lot of goals; they are physical,” he said.
“We have to go to the gym in the next few days!”