UEFA Champions League Trophy
UEFA Champions League Trophy Via uefa.com/Getty Images

ALABAMA - The draw for this year's UEFA Champions League Round of 16 took place on Monday morning, leaving a combination of interesting matchups to start the Knockout Stages.

In a balanced Round of 16, eight of the teams qualified are previous UCL champions while the other eight are looking to win the competition for the very first time. The only matchup between former champions in the Round of 16 is the PSV Eindhoven-Borussia Dortmund tie.

According to Gracenote Live projections, Julián Álvarez's Manchester City are the clear favorites to win the competition for a second straight season. Three of the 16 teams remaining (Man City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich) have a combined probability of more than 60% to win the title, while there's around a 21% chance that we have a new champion in 2024.

Real Madrid, 14-time winners of this competition and featuring Uruguayan Federico Valverde and Brazilians Vini Jr. and Rodrygo, among others, will face RB Leipzig for a place in the Quarterfinals. Both teams faced each other during last season's group stage. Real Madrid's 3-2 defeat to Leipzig last year remains as the team's only loss against German teams in the competition since 2016, when they lost 2-0 against Wolfsburg in the QF rounds. (8-1-2 W-L-D).

The Spanish giants have had plenty of experience against German opponents throughout the years. RB Leipzig will be their 5th German opponent in the Round of 16, and the only time they failed to progress to the next round was when they faced Bayern Munich in 2006-07.

The 'Merengues' will hope to rely on Jude Bellingham's incredible form this season, as the Englishman keeps on setting records every time he steps onto the pitch. During the group stage, Bellingham accomplished feats that not even Cristiano Ronaldo was able to do while at the Santiago Bernabéu. He became just the 2nd player in Real Madrid's history to score on his first three UCL games for the club, joining Karambeu in 1998.

He also reached 10 UCL goals with a strike against Napoli last month, becoming the first English player to score such an amount before turning 21 years old.

Perhaps the two most attractive -and even- ties during this round are the ones involving teams from Italy and Spain. One of them will see Napoli facing LaLiga champions Barcelona, in a repeat of their UEFA Europa League Play-off tie from last year, in which the 'Culés' dominated Napoli 5-3 on aggregate.

The Serie A champions, led by Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen and Georgian winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, will seek their first-ever win against Barcelona when the competition resumes in February. It will not be an easy task, as the 'Partenopei' have a negative track record against Spanish teams in the Round of 16 (eliminated the previous 2 times they faced a team from LaLiga).

Kylian Mbappé will try to finally deliver a UEFA Champions League title to Paris during this year's edition, as Paris Saint-Germain take on Real Sociedad. The French superstar finished the group stage with just three goals, his lowest in a group stage since 2020-21 when he only scored two. Although he has not been on the scoresheet, he remains one of Europe's most dangerous and rapid strikers. Mbappé registered the 2nd-fastest top speed by any player this UCL campaign, recording a top speed of 36.1 km/h.

For more information regarding the remaining UEFA Champions League Round of 16 ties, click here.

Latinos to keep an eye out for the Round of 16

Real Madrid - Vinícius Júnior (BRA): most UCL goals scored by any South American player since the start of last season (12)

Inter Milan – Lautaro Martínez (ARG): 15 goals for Inter in European competitions (ranks 3rd all-time in club history).

Arsenal - Gabriel Jesús (BRA) – 4 UCL goals this season; 5th most by a Brazilian player in the history of the competition.

Atlético Madrid – Nahuel Molina (ARG): 3 assists; most by a defender this season.

FC Porto – Galeno (BRA): 4 assists; leads all players.

Manchester City – Julián Álvarez (ARG): 4 goals in the group stage.

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