It's Bracket Time in the Champions League
Group play is done and dusted, so bring on UEFA's Surviving 16.
That batch of names may have been tossed into the hat with equanimity, but the usual prey in this process fell victim again.
Who knew Arsenal would top its group?
As they say in the UK, the last time that happened was donkey's ears ago, and apparently, nobody noticed.
Here's what's in store for the first leg of competition, lovingly laid out for logo likers everywhere:
So, right now, you're probably asking yourself:
Und zo, FC Bayern gets a shot at knocking Arsenal outta the brackets for a fourth time.
Cheer up, dudes. The one thing you know in sports is that you never know.
The Bovada futures have FC Bayern's title odds for this event at +400.
And the Arsenal? Try +2200.
- Manchester City vs Monaco
This is a cash-vs-cash clash. Monaco are quite clearly playing the best football in France, and City, not that much. The only notable fact on City's side is they're unbeaten in their last three meetings against French sides.
- Real Madrid vs Napoli
Los Blancos are the real winner here. Amazingly, they also were a second-place finisher in group play. That could've meant a tougher draw, but as they say, luck favors the bold. Napoli surely realizes that any club facing UEFA's reigning champions are in deep trouble already.
- Benfica vs Borussia Dortmund
Der BVB may be the clear favorites here, given their recent performance against Real Madrid to top the group stage, but like most almost there clubs, they tend to lose unexpectedly. Still, Benfica need to bring their A game to this one, in a big way.
- FC Porto vs Juventus
Juvo would've been the clear favorite a few years back, but they've lost most of their big names anymore, so chalk this one up as an even clash.
- Bayer Leverkusen vs Atlético Madrid
These are both hard working teams, but Atlético are accustomed to defeating tougher opponents.
- Paris St Germain vs Barcelona
The French side win the Gunners Memorial Black Cloud Trophy, just edging out Arsenal. All they're missing is the North Londoners' story line against the same opponent. PSG couldn't have imagined a tougher draw. The Champions League also seems to mess with this crew, and this time, it messed them up royally.
- Sevilla vs Leicester
The English fairy tale team meets the most succesful underdogs in Spain. Other matches may have big names grabbing all the headlines, but this pairing will surely be a pure footballing encounter.