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2018-19 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Match Previews, Leg 1

The matchups are all set for the Champions League Round of 16, and the field includes some of the biggest names in all of Europe. The high-profile nature of the clubs involved will make for an exciting round of soccer, but disappointment is going to be inevitable for the clubs that will go home empty-handed

For starters, Man U vs Paris Saint-Germain will get underway on Tuesday at 2pm EST, while Tottenham vs Dortmund and Ajax vs Real Madrid start their first leg on Wednesday. Meanwhile, arguably the biggest matchups come next week when Liverpool and Bayern go at it on the 19th, followed by Atletico Madrid and Juventus on the 20th. Only four of those eight monster clubs will advance, so the action looks to be intense over this next couple of weeks. The following is a breakdown of what to expect out of each matchup.

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Manchester United vs Paris Saint-Germain: 2/12 1pm EST, Old Trafford

It was bad enough that Neymar wasn’t going to be available to PSG for this matchup, but now Edinson Cavani is the big concern after having gone down with an injury. They don’t have another highly effective finisher without him, but with a great trio up front in Kylian Mbappe, Angel Di Maria, and Julian Draxler they can still compete. PSG is still outmatched in the midfield, however with Marquinhos going up against Paul Pogba. Pogba and the rest of Manchester United have a speedy transition game that should prove problematic for PSG.

Roma vs Porto: 2/12 1pm EST, Stadio Olimpico

Roma has one big advantage going for it in this tournament, and that is experience. Most of the players on this team were also on the team that made a run to the final 4 in last year’s tournament. Porto meanwhile are coming into the round of 16 as winners of the weakest group in the group stage, so they are a bit of a wild card. They were dominant in their domestic league up until their last five games, in which they only have had two wins.

Tottenham vs Dortmund: 2/13 1pm EST, Wembley

This is one of the closest matchups of the round of 16, as these two clubs are very even up and down the lineup. Harry Kane and Dele Alli will miss the first leg for Tottenham, but the biggest injury news is that of Dortmund Captain Marco Reus, who was ruled out for at least the first leg with at thigh injury. Reus will be replaced by Jadon Sancho, who at age 18 is already making a splash in Europe. This will be his chance to really shine. Even without Reus, Dortmund has a quality attack that will be tough for Tottenham to match without Kane and Alli.

Ajax vs Real Madrid: 2/13 1pm EST, Amsterdam

Ajax is on the upswing, after finishing second in group E even though they were unbeaten. They have some emerging talent in Matthijs de Light and Frenkie de Jong who are eager to make their name on the big stage of the Champions League. Real Madrid is heading in the other direction, as they are clearly feeling the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo while at the same time undergoing some changes in the front office. Real did finish first in their group however, so they still have quite a bit of fight in them, not to mention experience.

Lyon vs Barcelona 2/19 1pm EST, Parc Olympique Lyonnais

This is one of the more lopsided matchups of the round of 16; Barcelona is playing with a chip on their shoulder after having been humiliated by Roma in last year’s tournament. Look for Messi and his band of soccer assassins to come out and dominate the overmatched French club. Lyon does not have nearly the firepower that Barcelona has at their disposal and will need a tremendous effort to get through this stage of the tournament.

Liverpool vs Bayern 2/19 1pm EST, Anfield

Jurgen Klopp will get a chance to stick it to his old team as these two juggernauts face off in what will be the most exciting matchup in this round of the tournament. Bayern has not quite played up to form in recent months, as they are behind Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. Liverpool on the other hand are leading the premier league and are the favorites to win, but it will not be easy for either side. Both sides are healthy coming into the match, especially now that Bayern Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer announced that he has been cleared to play after missing Bayern Munich’s last two games.

Atlético Madrid vs Juventus 2/20 1pm EST, Wanda Metropolitano Stadium

Both teams have put all their chips in for a Championship this year, so expect a very tense, tightly contested matchup in this series. Juventus broke the bank to acquire Cristiano Ronaldo, while Atlético went on a spending spree to acquire Diego Costa, Thomas Lemar and Alvaro Morata, all while hanging on to Antoine Griezmann and Diego Godin. These moves have allowed each club to improve their roster substantially. They match up quite evenly, so the result will come down to tactics and pure will. To that point, Atlético is the host of the championship this year, so there will be some motivation to play in their own final.

Schalke 04 vs Manchester City 2/20 1pm EST, Veltins Arena

Alongside Barcelona-Roma, this matchup promises to be one of the most lopsided. City is still the reigning Premier League champion, while Schalke has been floundering in the lower parts of the Bundesliga table for most of the season. To date, they have only won 6 games. With the series being all but a lock for City, they are likely moving one step closer to winning the Champion’s League, which is something the club has never done.