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Previewing UEFA Champions League Round of 16 opening matches

The first slate of Round of 16 matches is coming up as some world powerhouses face off against each other in Champions League play.

Sevilla v FC Barcelona: Copa del Rey Semi Final First Leg Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 is all set, and the first handful of matches kick off on Tuesday the 16th and Wednesday the 17th as some of the world’s best clubs go head-to-head looking for Champions League glory. Let’s take a quick look at each of the first four matches taking place this week. All odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

RB Leipzig v. Liverpool, Tue, Feb 16, 3 p.m., TUDN

RB Leipzig: +245
Liverpool: +110
Tie: +255

While this match would take place at Red Bull Arena in Leipzig under normal circumstances, public health policies set due to COVID-19 have prevented that from happening so the game has been moved to Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hungary. Whether this makes a difference for either team is up in the air, as the match will be played without fans regardless of the location. Leipzig made it to the semifinals last year where they were eliminated by PSG. For the Reds, of course they’re still missing Virgil van Dijk who is out with a long-term injury, and expected to miss the rest of the season. Liverpool currently sit in fourth place in the Premier League while Leipzig are second in the Bundesliga, seven points behind league leaders Bayern Munich.

FC Barcelona v. Paris Saint-Germain, Tue, Feb 16, 3 p.m., TUDN

Barcelona: +105
Paris SG: +225
Tie: +295

Two world powerhouses will go head-to-head as Barcelona will play host to PSG, last year’s runners-up after losing to Bayern Munich in the final of the 2020 UEFA Champions League. PSG finished at the top of Group H in this iteration of the UCL, tied with RB Leipzig on points but easily winning the tie-breaker. Barcelona weren’t so lucky as they also finished tied with Juventus on points in Group G, but fell to second place due to losing out on their tie-breaking procedures. Both teams currently sit in third place in their respective domestic leagues, and the world will be watching as it will be a rematch for the ages. Last time these two sides met in Champions League play was in 2017’s Round of 16, when PSG handily defeated Barca at home in the first leg by a score of 4-0. While everyone assumed Barcelona would be eliminated after leg two, they overcame all odds and demolished PSG in the second leg with a 6-1 score line, advancing on a 6-5 aggregate. Of course, Barca went on to lose to Juventus in the next round. PSG will have to face the La Liga giants without their biggest star Neymar Jr., who will be sidelined for up to four weeks with an injury, leaving the spotlight almost solely on Barca’s Lionel Messi who will hope to take advantage of the Brazilian’s absence.

FC Porto v. Juventus, Wed, Feb 17, 3 p.m., TUDN

FC Porto: +330
Juventus: -103
Tie: +225

Cristiano Ronaldo will travel back to his home country to take on the second-place team in Primeira Liga, FC Porto as Juventus looks to get an early lead in the first leg of their Round of 16 clash. Not only will Ronaldo certainly feature in the clash, but young American Weston McKennie, who is on loan at Juventus from FC Schalke 04, will be expected to make the start as he’s become a regular in the lineup for the Serie A side. 22-year-old McKennie scored his first-ever Champions League goal on December 8th, when he let loose an impressive volley to help his side defeat Barcelona 3-0 in the group stage. Porto will look to find a way to keep Ronaldo and McKennie at bay, but will also need to keep an eye out for other potent attacking threats such as Alvaro Morata and Juan Cuadrado.

Sevilla FC v. Borussia Dortmund, Wed, Feb 17, 3 p.m., TUDN

Sevilla FC: +145
Borussia Dortmund: +195
Tie: +235

Rounding out the first four matches of the Round of 16 will be La Liga’s fourth-place club Sevilla FC playing host to the Bundesliga stalwarts Borussia Dortmund. The black-and-yellow haven’t made it past the Round of 16 since the 2016-17 season when they slipped past Benfica on a 4-1 aggregate. Last year, they fell to PSG on a heartbreaking 2-3 aggregate after winning the first leg 2-1. This year, Dortmund took care of business by finishing atop Group F, a full three points clear of second-place Lazio. For Sevilla, they’re making their return to the Round of 16 for the first time since the 2017-18 season when they edged out Manchester United only to fall to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals. They’ll have their work cut out for them in this two-legged affair, as they’ll have to find a way to stop the Bundesliga’s third-best scorer this season Erling Haaland, who has 14 goals in domestic league play while knocking in six goals throughout the UCL group stage.