Tue, Feb 12, 1:19pm by Kevin Pitstock
The UEFA Champions League kicks off the round of 16 on 13 February. The Champions League played down from the round of 32 group stages and continues until there is one champion of Europe.
The 2012 champions, Chelsea of the English Premier League, bowed out of the competition in the group stages. They finished third in their group behind Italian Champions Juventus and FS Shakhtar, which was not good enough to make it into the knockout phase. As the third place club in Group E, however, they did qualify for the Europa competition unlike their fellow countrymen on the Manchester City side. Manchester City finished in last place of Group D, which was considered the “Group of Death”. German Champions Borussia Dortmund and Spanish Champions Real Madrid finished one and two in this group.
Between now and 25 May, the remaining sixteen teams draw an opponent. The teams play a home and home match, which means each team gets one home game in the two-legged match. The combined score, which is known as the aggregate score is used to determine the winner. The winner advances to the next stage and draws another opponent for a two-legged competition. The same stands true for the semi-finals. When two teams remain, the final is played as a single match at a neutral ground. This year, the Champions League final takes place at Wembley Stadium in the UK.
In the two-legged matches, there is often a draw in the aggregate score line. When the aggregate score is even, a tie breaking procedure is put in place to determine a winner. The first tiebreaker in the event of an aggregate draw is “away goals”. This compares which side scored more goals in the two-legged match away from home. If one team scored more goals in their “away” match than the other team did, the team with more goals advances on the “away goals rule”.
If the aggregate score is a draw and each team has scored an equal amount of away goals, the match goes into overtime. For overtime in the UEFA Champion’s League, two fifteen minute halves are played. It does not matter who scores first, as both overtime periods will be played to completion. At the end of the second overtime period, if there is a winner on aggregate goals, that team advances and wins the two-legged match. If there is not a winner, the winner is decided by penalty kicks. It is important to note that only the last leg of the respective knockout stage matches can go into overtime or penalty kicks. If the first leg of the tie ends in a draw, the match still ends upon conclusion of the 90th minute and injury time. The second leg and obviously the final can go into overtime.
Leg 1-A of the Round of 16 knockout stage plays on 12 and 1B on 13 February. Below we are going to look at the 1A matchups, following up with previewing the 1B matches tomorrow. Next week, we will break down the 1C and 1D matchups, which play on 19 and 20 February. The reverse fixtures for the Round of 16 are held on 5-6 March and 12-13 March respectively.
In the Champions League, Celtic are extremely tough at home – especially against Serie A competition. It has been eight games and nearly 14 years since Celtic have lost to an Italian side in European competition. Over the last nineteen matches overall against Italian opposition, Celtic have lost only seven, whilst winning five and drawing seven times.
To find their way to the round of 16, Celtic finished second in Group G, just behind Barcelona. In the group stages, Celtic defeated Barca at home in a shock 2-1 victory against the La Liga Giants. They also defeated Spartak Moskva at home and played to a bore draw against Benefica.
The Italian Champions are on a sixteen match unbeaten run in all Champions League matches. Their last defeat came in 2009 when they dropped a match to Chelsea 1-nil at Stamford Bridge. Juventus won their Group E outright. On the road, they played Chelsea to a 2-2 draw and FC Nordsjaelland to a 1-1 draw. They defeated Shakhtar 1-nil away from home.
In their last eight matches, Juve are unbeaten with five draws and three wins. When travelling to Scotland, they have lost three times, whilst winning twice and drawing once. When playing head to head in Scotland, Celtic have emerged victorious on both occasions.
Valencia are a perfect eight for eight in home matches against Ligue 1 Visiting sides. Spanish side Valencia finished second in Group F, whilst PSG finished on top of Group A. This is only the second time that these two clubs have met, with their first encounter (in 2007) resulting in a 3-nil PSG win in London against Valencia. In the group stages, Valencia defeated FC Bate Borisov and LOSC, whilst drawing with Bayern Munich. Overall, Valencia are unbeaten in 9 Champions League home matches, with their last defeat coming by the hand of Manchester United in 2010.
PSG were the fourth highest scoring club in the group stages behind only Bayern, Chelsea, and Real Madrid. Over the last sixteen matches against Spanish opposition, PSG have dropped five, whilst winning eight and tying three. When playing in Spain they are 3 wins – 1 draw – 3 losses.
We will return tomorrow to look at the matchups between Shakhtar – Dortmund and Real Madrid – Manchester United.
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