The UEFA Champions League draw was held on Monday, December 14, so now three English clubs know who they will be playing when the Round of 16 kicks off in February.
What is the UEFA Champions League?
First, UEFA is the European chapter, if you will, of FIFA, the world’s governing body for football. There are seven of these regions — the US is in CONCACAF with Central America — and I won’t even attempt to explain the abbreviations. Within each region there’s competition between countries for World Cup qualification and for a regional championship. Also within each one there is some kind of club competition; in Europe, that’s the Champions League.
The Champions League starts each fall and draws in top clubs from all over Europe, based on last season’s domestic campaigns, first in a few rounds of qualification, then a group stage which wrapped up last week. Now 16 clubs advance into a knockout stage of two games, one at each ground, with total goals winning and “away goals” the first tiebreaker.
Each English club still involved — Liverpool, Manchester City, and Chelsea — are all seeded, so they will play their second game at home.
Manchester United was also in the group stage, but they failed to qualify for the knockout stage, so they dropped into the second-tier UEFA Europa League draw.
When are the Champions League Games?
It remains for television to work out the actual details, but the first legs will be played on February 16, 17, 23 and 24 — all Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. English teams will all be away on one of those evenings. They will then have home games on March 9, 10, 16 or 17.
The draw for the quarterfinals and semifinals will take place on March 19. At that point, the rest of the tournament will have a bracket.
Let’s take a look at each English team’s draw.
Liverpool in the Champions League
Liverpool, who just won the Champions League in 2019 and lead all English clubs with six titles, actually went out in the Round of 16 to Atletico Madrid last season. This year they face RB (for RasenBallsport) Leipzig, who knocked Man U out this year, made the semis last season and are known for playing a fast-paced, attacking style. That makes this, for us, the tie of the round — never mind the silliness around Barcelona vs PSG, which is basically “faded gold vs expensive plastic.”
Leipzig are also interesting because they are part of the Red Bull franchise, if you will, which includes clubs in New York, Salzburg, Brazil and Ghana. This makes them somewhat controversial in some quarters — including among their own supporters — as this story in The Guardian explains. The club was only founded in 2009 when the energy drink company Red Bull bought a fifth-tier German club and transformed them into a winning team before adding the other cities to their portfolio.
Manchester City in the Champions League
Man City, who have dominated in the Premier League and domestic cups of late, have made only one European semifinal (Champions League in 2016) since their only triumph, the 1970 Cup Winners’ Cup. That competition was basically folded into the Europa League in 1999. (The hero of that team, by the way, was Colin Bell, for whom a stand at their Etihad Stadium is named.)
In the this year’s Champions League draw, City got German club Borussia Monchengladbach, who haven’t even made it this far in the competition since 1978. City will be huge favorites, of course, and there would seem a decent chance their home leg won’t be too suspenseful.
Chelsea in the Champions League
Chelsea got probably the toughest draw of the English clubs: Atletico Madrid, the same team who knocked out then-champions Liverpool at this stage last season, winning both home and away. They are atop the Spanish league this season. Atletico also have tremendous support, so it’s a shame we won’t get the spectacle of having a full stadium for the return leg at Stamford Bridge in London.
The Full Round of 16 Champions League Draw 2020
Borussia Monchengladbach v Manchester City
Lazio v Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid v Chelsea
RB Leipzig v Liverpool
Porto v Juventus
Barcelona v Paris St-Germain
Sevilla v Borussia Dortmund
Atalanta v Real Madrid
Watch the Champions League on Paramount+ in the United States.
Champions League Tickets
Groundhopper Soccer Guides normally has hospitality packages for sale at Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea. As of this writing, we don’t know the status of this for obvious reasons, but if you want to get on our list to find out more and perhaps get to one of these home Champions League games in March, fill out the form below, and we will be in touch.