• Samuel Oni

Your Champions League Knockout Stages 2021 Fact File

With every team that has progressed to this years Champions League Knockout stages, we've created a profile piece to give you all you need to know the impress your mates.


Die Meister

Die Besten

Les grande equips

The Champions!!


Recognise the words? Familiar with this iconic tune?


If yes, that’s because in just over two weeks’ time Europe takes the stage once again, with the Champions League Round of 16 knockout phase. So all roads lead to Istanbul for the Champions League final, but just who are the 16 teams remaining?


Check out the profiles on each of the teams:


Atalanta


Background: Founded in 1907 by high school students in Bergamo, Lombardy, Northern Italy, Atalanta combined with a city rival, Bergamasca – decided by a playoff match to name the team – to form the club. The club name “Atalanta” is taken after the female huntress with the same name in Greek mythology.


Manager: Gian Piero Gasperini (Italian). Appointed in June 2016, after previous works with Genoa and Inter Milan. He led the club to Champions League qualification, for the first time in their history after finishing 3rd in Serie A during 2018-19 season.


European Fact: The I Nerazzurri (The Black and Blues) best ever finish to a Champions League campaign was their debut, in 2019-20, reaching the quarter finals stage, losing to Paris Saint Germain 2-1.


Group stage: Atlanta suffered their heaviest European loss in a 0-5 home defeat by group winners Liverpool

Best player: Duvan Zapata has scored three goals in six Champions League games this season


Round of 16 opponent: Real Madrid


Prediction: Atalanta to progress.

Atalanta will participate in the Round of 16 of the Champions League in successive seasons for the first time in their history (2019-20 and 2020-21)



Atletico de Madrid


Manager: Diego Simeone (Argentinian), a former Atletico player, from 1994 to 1997, is highly regarded for his solid defensive team playing style and good counter attacking awareness expected from his players. He guided the Los Rojiblancos to La Liga triumph in the 2013-14 season. Simeone’s Atletico Madrid reached the 2014 Champions League Final, where they faced arch rivals Real. They lost 4-1 in Cardiff and Real Madrid claimed their 10th Champions League trophy, completing La Decima.


European Fact: The Madrid side are into their 11th European knockout phase, this is their eight in the Champions League competition.


Group stage: Despite a 4-0 humbling by Bayern on Matchday One, home form prove to be a good quality for Simeone’s men and could help in the clash ahead.


Best player: Atletico striker, Joao Felix has scored three goals in the group stages this season, more than many other player in the team.


Round of 16 opponent: Chelsea


Prediction: Atletico Madrid and Chelsea have produce some classic games over the past years and in their seven meetings the two sides have two wins a piece. It gets more interesting as the numbers show that they have both drawn and lost the same amount of games (three draws and two losses) Both sides have each scored 11 and conceded 11 against each other. Atletico Madrid to progress.


Barcelona

Background: Nicked named the Blaugrana, Barcelona were founded in 1899 by Joan Gamper, the club, based in Catalonia, have a motto “Mes que un club” meaning “More than a club”. With a domestic record of 74 trophies, Barcelona have won 26 La Liga titles, 30 Copa del Rey and 13 Supercopa de Espana. In terms of club records, former midfielder Xaxi Hernandez holds the record for total number of games played, with 767 and number of La Liga league appearances at 505. Lionel Messi is second with 755 games in all competitions and 503 in league appearances. The Argentine is the club’s record goalscorer with 650 goals and record La Liga scorer with 456 goals.


Manager: Ronald Koeman (Dutch). Former Barcelona player who played as a defender and midfielder (1989-95). Before moving to Catalonia, he played in his native Netherlands for Groningen, Ajax and PSV. Since starting his managerial career in 2000, Koeman has since managed 11 different clubs from four different countries including Valencia, Feyenoord, Southampton and Everton. He manged the Netherlands from 2018 to 2020. With a great playing career, Koeman won league titles with Ajax (1984-85), consecutive triumphs with PSV (1986-87, 1987-88 and 1988-89) and Barcelona from 1990 to 1994. He won two European Cups with Ajax and Barcelona in 1988 and 1992 respectively.


European Fact: The Blaugrana have won the European/Champions League five times in their history, making them the second most successful Spanish side in the competition.


Group stage: Finished second, level with Juventus, on 15 points only to be knocked off top spot due to lower head to head difference against Juventus between the two games.


Best player: Lionel Messi has scored 114 UEFA Champions League goals, ranking him second on the all-time scoring charts only behind Portuguese rival, Cristiano Ronaldo (128).


Round of 16 opponent: Paris Saint Germain


Predictions: Prior to this encounter, Barcelona have met with Paris 11 times in European competition, winning five of them, with three draws and losing three. They have scored a staggering 22 goals in total. In those 11 games, yes you guessed it, includes the thrilling La Remontada (The Comeback) in March 2017 where the Catalans staged a inspiring 6-1 win in the Round of 16 second leg at the Nou Camp after they lost the first leg 4-0. Fast forward almost four years later the two teams face off again, with an acquainted Brazilian star set to come home. Outcome, is difficult to predict, but I'm going to go with PSG.


Lionel Messi has 36 Champions League assists to his name, putting him second on the all-time charts, only Cristiano Ronaldo has more with 41.


Bayern München


Background: Founded on February 27 1900, Bayern Munich are the most successful German club, winning 30 titles (29 Bundesliga titles). The Bavarians are also dominant in European competitions, winning a total six European Cups, the most recent was 2019-20 Champions League beating PSG in Lisbon. Previous Cup came wins in 2012-13, 2000-01, 1975-1976,1974-1975,1973-1974.


Manager: Hans Dieter Flick (German). Took over the Bayern Munich position in November 2019, after the departure of Niko Kovac. He won his first game in charge, beating Olympiakos 2-0 in the Champions League group stage. Flick led Bayern to win the Bundesliga in 2019-20 season along with the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) and Champions League, completing the treble.


European Fact: The Bavarian club are the defending champions, after winning their second Champions League trophy in seven years – their sixth European Cup overall.


Group stage: Dominant! The German side set the winning tone in Group A, a 4-0 opening win against Atletico Madrid and then rounding off the group beating Lokomotiv Moscow 2-0. They remain one of five clubs to finish their group unbeaten.


Best player: With a passing accuracy of 87%, Joshua Kimmich has a made a total of 204 passes in this season’s Champions League. He’s also joint-ranked third in assists charts, with three alongside Ajax’s Dusan Tadic, Kylian Mbappe of PSG, RB Leipzig’s Angelino and Borussia Monchengladbach striker, Alassane Plea .


Round of 16 opponent: Lazio


Prediction: Bayern and Lazio will meet for the first time in the last 16 first leg, on February 23rd at the Stadio Olimpico in Italy. An easy win for Bayern, and for them to go on and win the tournament.


Bayern Munich, the defending champions, are aiming to become the only the second European club, since the rebrand in 1992, to win the Champions League back-to-back.


Dortmund

Manager: Edin Terzic (German). Between 2010 and 2013, Terzic worked as a scout for the Dortmund youth academy under then previous coach, Jurgen Klopp. He was assistant to Slaven Bilic during his posts at Besiktas and West Ham. Returned to Dortmund in 2018 as assistant coach for the appointment of Lucien Favre. After Favre was sacked in December 2020, Terzic as appointed interim role until end of 2020-21 season.


European Fact: Borussia Dortmund, since the 2010s – with the exception of the 2010-11 season when they were in Europa League - have reached the UEFA last 16 stages seven times in their last nine Champions League campaigns (including the current 2020-21 Champions League season)


Group stage: When you have a Norwegian goal-machine like Braut-Erling Haaland, always scoring goals be assured you’re in a safe pair of hands.


Best player: Haaland’s strong hunger and goal-scoring form clearly demonstrates why he is one of the best young strikers in Europe and who knows…. Maybe, if he keeps this up in years to come he could, one day, be a future Champions League winner.


Round of 16 opponent: Sevilla


Prediction: In the two previous encounters played against Sevilla, Dortmund have never defeated the Spanish side. They have lost one of the two games, conceding three goals. Think this could be a shock, with Sevilla knicking it.


Erling Braut Haaland has scored 22 goals in 21 appearances this season in all competitions, including six strikes in this season’s Champions League.


Borussia Monchengladbach

Background: founded in the year 1900, the name “Borussia” comes from the subordinate of the Kingdom of Prussia, which was part of the German Empire. The club was formed by members of their former association, TC Germania Gladbach. Other teams that took the name from Prussia are Borussia Dortmund and SC PreuBen Munster, the latter play their football in the fourth German division. Monchengladbach have won five Bundesliga titles, three DFB-Pokal Cups and two UEFA Cups.


Manager: Marco Rose (German). Former defender who played for Lokomotive Leipzig Hannover 96 and Mainz. After playing he coached his way through RB Salzburg, from 2017 to 2019 before taking the Monchengladbach position. He led Monchengladbach to Champions league qualification in the 2019-20 season.


European Fact: Under the guidance of the late great Heness Weisweiler, a former player and manager, Gladbach enjoyed success winning two UEFA Cups in 1974-75 and 1978-79 seasons.


Group stage: On paper, with a group containing likes of Real Madrid and Inter Milan, it could be said that Gladbach would not stand a chance to qualify but in this particular group was “every team for themselves” and the German side took advantage of it by drawing 2-2 against both Real and Inter. The Italian side crashed out of the group finishing bottom.


Best player: Alassane Plea, has three assists in the Champions League this season and five goals from the six games played.


Round of 16 opponent: Manchester City


Predictions: Only one win against their Round 16 opponents and they have lost three of their six games played against Manchester City, conceding 13 goals. I see goals in this one, but I think Manchester City will take it.


Borussia Monchengladbach are playing a champions league round of 16 tie for the first time ever. This is their third appearance in Champions League.


Chelsea

Background: Founded in 1905, Chelsea are one of the most successful football clubs in English football, having won six English titles (five coming in the Premier League era), eight FA Cups, five league cups and four Community Shields. The Blues won three Premier League titles with former boss, Jose Mourinho, including back-to-backs in 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons. The other came in 2014-15 season, in the Portuguese third and final time with The Blues.


Manager: Thomas Tuchel (German). Recently appointed Chelsea manager after being sacked at PSG, where he led them to a Champions League final last season. Known for his successful time at Borussia Dortmund where he managed the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and current Chelsea star Christian Pulisic.


European Fact: Chelsea won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (1970-71 and 1997-98) UEFA Champions League (2011-12) and UEFA Europa League (2012-34 and 2018-19), making them one of four clubs to win the European treble. They are the first and only English club to achieve this feat.


Group stage: Chelsea finished Group E with 14 points, one point clear of Sevilla, so far remaining unbeaten.


Best player: Oliver Giroud scored all four goals in their 4-0 away win against Sevilla in matchday five.


Round of 16 opponent: Atletico Madrid


Prediction: Chelsea’s record against Atletico is W2 D3 L2 with 11 scored and 11 goals conceded. Fancy Atletico Madrid.


Oliver Giroud became the oldest player to score hat-trick in the European Cup/Champions League (34 years 63 days), the Frenchman scored all four in 0-4 away win at Sevilla in group stage, since former Real Madrid player Ferenc Puskas in 1965 (38 years 173 days).


Juventus

Background: Juventus were founded in 1897 by students from the city of Torino. The Italian side have worn black and white kit home jerseys since 1900s and have played in the Italian top flight ever since. However, for the 2006-07 season, Juventus were downgraded to Serie B – second division of Italian football – because of match-fixing scandal known as Calciopoli. The Bianconerri are the only Italian club to win the Serie A title (Scudetto) for nine straight seasons from 2011-12 to 2019-20. Juventus have won the Coppa Italia 13 times.


Manager: Andrea Pirlo (Italian). Former AC Milan and Juventus midfielder. He won six Serie A titles with AC Milan (2003-04 and 2010-11) and Juventus (2011-12,2012-13,2013-14 and 2014-15), as well as Champions league twice with Milan and 2006 World Cup winner with Italy. Last appearance in Champions league as a player for Juventus was in the 2015 final, against Barcelona, where his side lost 3-1.


European Fact: Maybe the unluckiest side in European finals, Juventus have lost seven of nine finals they played in. since post 2000, they have lost to Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid.


Group stage: Clashing with fellow European giant, Barcelona was huge in both games. Juventus came out on top in the table topping decider on matchday six, winning 0-3.


Best player: On loan striker, Alvaro Morata has six goals from six games in Champions League group stages, both with his right and left feet as well as two goals with his head. Standout!


Round of 16 opponent: Porto


Prediction: Juventus have won four of their five previous meetings against Porto in Europe, with four wins and one draw. In those games they have scored eight goals. A Juventus win, and for as long as they have a certain Ronaldo playing, who knows how far they can go.

Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) is aiming to take Juventus past the Champions League Round 16 this year, after being eliminated by French side Lyon at this exact stage last season.


Lazio

Background: Founded in the Prati district of Rome, Italy on January 9 2021. As well as being a football club, Lazio are also a trading company since businessman, Sergio Cragnotti was chairman of the club (1992-2004). Despite many relegations and promotions between Serie A and Serie B, Lazio have won top domestic trophies such as Serie A, Serie B, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana.


Manager: Simone Inzaghi(Italian). Former Italian professional footballer and Lazio striker, he’s also the younger brother of Filippo Inzaghi. Since taking charge of his former team in 2016, he has won Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana twice. He’s also been capped by the Italian national team.


European Fact: Lazio have participated in six Champions League appearances in their history since the renaming of the competition.


Group stage: Surprisingly, two group stage wins was just enough for Lazio to land qualification for Last 16, one of those wins was against leaders, Borussia Dortmund.


Best player: Former Dortmund striker, Ciro Mobile hopes to continue his run of goals into the Round of 16, currently has five goals in his four games played.


Round of 16 opponent: Bayern Munich


Prediction: Lazio have never met Bayern in any European encounter, until this year in the 2020-21 Champions League, they meet on February 23 with the 1st leg at the Stadio Olimpico. All I see is a Bayern win.


Lazio have won two and losts two, their record against German clubs in two-legged ties in European competition.


Liverpool

Background: Founded in 1892, Liverpool are one of the most successful football clubs in European football, winning six European Cups/UEFA Champions Leagues . In 2020, the Reds ended their 30 year wait for a league trophy after winning the Premier League.


Manager: Jurgen Klopp (German), reached Champions League final in 2013 with former club Borussia Dortmund, losing out to rivals Bayern Munich. He did enjoy success with the German club, helping them win the Bundesliga in the 2011-12 season. Klopp won the 2019 Champions League with Liverpool after beating Tottenham Hotspur 1-0.


European Fact: Claimed their sixth European Cup/UEFA Champions League after beating Tottenham at the Metropolitano in Madrid in 2019.


Group stage: Liverpool finished ahead of Atalanta by two points, on 13 points and they scored 10 goals during their run with a goal difference of +7.


Best player: Mohamed Salah is second in Liverpool’s all-time Champions League goalscoring charts with 23, only seven goals behind former Liverpool captain and leading scorer, Steven Gerrard.


Round of 16 opponent: RB Leipzig


Predictions: This will be the first ever meeting between Liverpool and RB Leipzig in European competition. It's a case of which Liverpool will turn up, the won who beat Palace 7-0 or the team who got rumbled by Manchester City 4-1. I think Liverpool will win.


Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez (left and right, respectively) have both been added to the latest Champions League squad despite being out with long-term injuries.



Manchester City

Background: They were initially founded as St Marks in 1880, then they became Manchester City in in 1894 adopting their sky blue home shirts which they have used ever since. Their Etihad Stadium is the sixth-largest ground in the Premier League. In 2011, the Citizens made their dominance in English football with silverwares throughout their years and signing players such as David Silva (now Real Sociedad), Yaya Toure (moved into coaching). Carlos Tevez (Boca Juniors) and Sergio Augero.


Manager: Pep Guardiola (Spanish) is a two-time Champions League winning manager with Barcelona (2009 and 2011) and a serial winner in English football with City. However, in almost his five years with the Etihad club, he’s yet to take Champions League victory. He has won the Premier League twice, the EFL Cup three times and the FA Cup in 2019.


European Fact: Man City’s best finish to a Champions League season was reaching the semi-finals in 2016.

Group stage: Won four of their six games in the group, finishing group winners and one of only five teams yet to lose in this season’s competition.


Best player: Sergio Augero has scored 43 goals in 65 games in European football for Manchester City


Round of 16 opponent: Borussia Monchengladbach


Predictions: Scoring 13 goals, Manchester City have only lost once to Monchengladbach in their previous six meetings, winning three of them. I think this could be Manchester City's year to get to the final.


In the 10 Champions League seasons Manchester City have participated in, they will be playing their eighth Round of 16 knockout tie.


Paris Saint Germain

Background: Owned by Qatari multi-billionaire Nasser Al-Khelaifi, PSG were founded in 1970, merged the Paris Football Club and Stade Saint Germain, and quickly grew the dominant powerhouse in French football gaining promotion to Ligue 1 from Ligue 2 in first season.


Manager: Mauricio Pochettino (Argentinian) Former player (2001-2003) managed the in England with Southampton from 2013 to 2014 before spending five years at Tottenham, before he was sacked in 2019.

European Fact: Reached their first ever Champions League final last season, where they lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich in Lisbon.


Group stage: With the likes of Manchester United and RB Leipzig in their group, it was matchday six where the final positions would be decided and all three teams were in the running. However, with Man United’s draw against Leipzig – only a win would secure the English side’s round 16 spot – PSG finished as group H winners after 5-1 win over Istanbul Basaksehir.


Best player: Neymar Jr has scored five goals in six Champions League games for the Parisians this season, including two in the group stage against Manchester United.


Round of 16 opponent: Barcelona


Predictions: This will be the first time, since that 2017 Champions League encounter, the two sides face each other. Brazilian Neymar Jr will return and likely face his former club for the first time since his £200 million move to the French capital in 2018. This will be a fascinating encounter, and I see PSG surprising a few.


Appointed in January this year, Mauricio Pochettino’s first European test with PSG will be a trip to the Nou Camp to meet Barcelona in the first leg of the Round of 16 in the Champions League.


Porto

Background: Founded in September 1893, Porto have participated in every season of the Primeira Liga since it was founded in 1934. Porto’s Estadio do Drogao is their third home stadium, replacing their former Estadio das Antas which was used from 1952 to 2004. They are also one of “The Big Three”, in Portuguese football, along with Benfica and Sporting Lisbon. As the second most decorated side, Porto have won 29 Primeira Liga titles, winning the title on consecutive basis on three occasions (2002-03 and 2003-04, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2010-11, 2011-12 2012-13).


Manager: Sergio Conceicao, former player who use to play as a right winger where he won three league titles in the Portuguese top-flight. He played for Porto in 2004 before leaving for polish side, Standard Liege. He has been in charge of Porto since 2017.


European Fact: Have won the two European/UEFA Champions League titles in 1987 and 2004

Group stage: With their only group defeat coming against Man City, Porto collected four wins against Marseille and Greek side, Olympiacos.


Best player: On-loan Chelsea defender, Malang Sarr made five appearances for the Dragons in the group stage this season.


Round of 16 opponent: Juventus


Predictions: Porto have never beaten Juventus in the last five encounters they have had with the Italians. They have drawn once whilst losing the other four and they have conceded eight goals in that time. One winner, Juventus.


RB Leipzig

Background: Founded in 2009, they made their first season in the fifth tier of German football in 2009-10 and swiftly made their way up promotion after promotion. In May 2016, Leipzig ensured promotion to the Bundesliga top division with a 2-0 win over Karlsrusher and a year later they made their debut in the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League.


Manager: Julien Nangelsmann (German) seen as one of the best young managers in the Bundesliga. In March 2020, he became the youngest coach to win a knockout match after Leipzig beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-0.

European Fact: Leipzig reached their first ever semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League last season, beaten by Paris Saint Germian.


Group stage: To many, labelled as ‘The Group of Death’ paired with Euro giants PSG and Manchester United, seemed like Leipzig wouldn’t have chance to qualify but matchday six drama… anything can happen, including stopping United from taking second spot.


Best player: Angelino, on loan from Man City, has scored more goals (three) in the Champions League than any other player in the team this season.


Round of 16 opponent: Liverpool


Predictions: Leipzig and Liverpool will be meeting for the first time in the knockout phase. Leipzig gave Man United a touch game in the matchday six of group stages…. Don’t take them lightly.


Leipzig’s 3-2 home win against Manchester United on matchday six was enough to snatch second spot with 12 points, ensuring themselves in knockout stages.


Real Madrid

Background: The Los Blancos, founded in 1902, regarded as one of the best clubs in domestic and European football. They have worn their traditional white home stripe ever since the establishment of the Spanish League. The word “real” is Spanish for “royal” and the Madrid club were given the name and emblem by King Alfonzo XIII in 1920. They won five consecutive European cups between 1956 and 1960 with the late former Madrid great, Alfredo Di Stefano. They won a further eight trophies including La Decima in 2014, as well as back to backs in 2017 and 2018.


Manager: Zinedine Zidane (French), three-time Champions League winning manager with Real Madrid, including La Decima in 2014. Won both, the Champions League and La Liga as a player in 2001-02 season. He was part of both the World Cup and Euro Championships winning squads with France in 1998 and 2000 respectively.


European Fact: 13x Champions League winners. What more is there to say?


Group stage: Real Madrid’s unconvincing group stage campaign meant that they could only finish top of the group with 10 points, the lowest amount of points in their Champions League history.


Best player: Sergio Ramos, to this day, has made a staggering 127 Champions League appearances for Real Madrid.


Round of 16 opponent: Atalanta


Predictions: Since these two sides have never met before in an European match, it will be interesting to see what the game produces. This isn't the Real Madrid we've been accustom to seeing, so I think Atalanta will surprise.

Zinedine Zidane is one of only three managers to win three Champions League titles, joining Carlo Ancelotti and the late Robert “Bob” Paisley.


Sevilla

Manager: Julen Lopetegui (Spanish). In his second season at Sevilla after getting his career back on track after his poor spell at Real Madrid. He signed an extension in January for another four years.


European Fact: They have won the UEFA Europa League a record six times in their history of European football.

Group stage: Finished second behind Chelsea in Group E and despite a sloppy start in domestic La Liga, they really know how to play football in European competitions.


Best player: Ivan Rakitic, former midfielder, returned to the club after six years at Barcelona where he won the Champions League in 2015. He won the 2013-14 UEFA Europa League with Sevilla.


Round of 16 opponent: Borussia Dortmund


Predictions: Sevilla have only met Dortmund twice is European competition, coming in the Europa League, and they have won one and drawn the other, scoring three goals and conceding two.


Julen Lopetegui, since his Sevilla appointment in June 2019, has a win rate of 60.4% (52 wins out of 86 games) in all competitions at the Andalusian club.




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