Champions League

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Preview: Club Brugge vs Benfica

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The 2022/23 UEFA Champions League took a hiatus in early November, shortly before the start of the World Cup and there has been a lull for more than two months now. The Champions League, inarguably Europe’s greatest competition returns to almost half a billion viewers and millions of screens in less than a month from now.

A tournament which never fails to deliver, the Champions League has always been full of surprises and no doubt, this current spell is no exception.

So far in this edition of the Champions League, the back of the net has been found 304 times in 96 matches, averaging 3.17 goals per game, with Paris Saint Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah sitting at the top of the goalscoring charts with seven goals each.

On the back of a quite interesting Round of 16 draw in November, the entire football universe is set to experience some sensational match-ups in February and March. A couple of heavyweight fixtures have been thrown up for this round of Europe’s most illustrious tournament.

Defending champions and 14-time winners, Real Madrid, are heavily in the mix, as they look to add the quinzième UEFA Champions League to their trophy gallery in either Real Madrid City or the Santiago Bernabeu when they take on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, a remake of the 2022 final in Saint-Denis.

This series will look at the next round of matchups!

AC Milan vs Tottenham Hotspur

Chelsea vs Borussia Dortmund

Eintrach Frankfurt vs SSC Napoli

Inter Milan vs Porto

PSG vs Bayern Munich

RB Leipzig vs Manchester City

Real Madrid vs Liverpool

Club Brugge vs Benfica

https://twitter.com/ChampionsLeague/status/1589585248815308800?s=20&t=OZL4_IEjob5rW9DsUVdhYA

The fixture of the underdogs, two dark horses going up against each another. Both sides are relatively inexperienced compared to the others when it comes to contesting at the knock-out stages of the Champions League so this should be a bit open for any of the two to advance.

Following the recent pattern of UEFA Champions League history, we may infact see one of them in the last four of the competition but who’s will it be?

Club Brugge

The Belgian side exceeded expectations by beating both Spanish giants, Atletico Madrid and Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen to make it to the Round of 16 of the Champions League behind FC Porto.

Blauw-Zwart are not even a consistent side in terms of Champions League appearances so their qualification to this stage must have come as a huge surprise. Their amazing run includes a 4-0 thrashing of Porto and a 2-0 victory over Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid.

They conceded only one defeat, a 4-0 home loss to Porto and were really solid in punching their tickets through.

Benfica

Even though both Club Brugge and Benfica may appear to be underdogs, Benfica are definitely the stronger and tougher of both sides and may have the advantage going into this tie. Credits to Roger Schmidt and his men for holding a very strong Paris Saint Germain side to both home and away draws. They topped the group and are the reason Paris Saint Germain may have to train harder considering the fact that they’re facing Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern Munich.

The Portuguese outfit are also the side that enjoyed a promising run to the quarter-finals of last season’s Champions League where their fire was eventually put out by Liverpool, Darwin Nunez being the star man of their enterprise.

Players to watch for:

Goncalo Ramos(SL Benfica)

Ever since Darwin Nunez’s summer departure to Liverpool, Ramos has stepped in to fill the gap left behind by the Uruguayan. He’s become the centre of attraction for Benfica this season, racking up 18 goals in 27 appearances ahead of Joao Mario and Rafa Silva(eleven each).

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Goncalo Ramos is one player who can step up to big occasions, he proved that at the World Cup in Qatar, scoring a hat-trick as his home nation dismantled Switzerland 6-1.

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Jesuyemi is an avid fan of sports, especially football. He also enjoys WWE and athletics. He's been writing for a few years now and is a supporter of FC Barcelona.

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