The Champions League is back – and it’s elimination time.
The 16 teams remaining in the competition will face off over two matches to determine who advances to the quarter-finals.
The top teams include reigning champions Manchester City, 14-time winners Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Arsenal.
Who will be the key players who could decide the round of 16?
Copenhagen vs Man City – Kevin de Bruyne
However, the Danish team not only caused a surprise by qualifying from their group, but did so with decent results, beating Manchester United, drawing against Bayern Munich, and then winning against Galatasaray to seal second place.
Against Man City, Copenhagen will probably have their backs against the wall, who have not played in the league since their last outing in the Champions League due to their winter vacation.
Kevin De Bruyne has been pulling the strings for City after returning from injury and is expected to try to run the show over two matches against Copenhagen.
RB Leipzig vs Real Madrid – Lois Openda
Lois Openda has thrived on the big stage this season, scoring three times in two Champions League group matches against Manchester City and also netting against Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga.
The exciting striker has also been in excellent form to start the year, having scored in his last three consecutive games.
Leipzig beat Madrid in the Champions League group stage last year and Openda says they will go into the match “with the confidence” of being able to cause an upset.
If they want to take down serial winners, they’ll have to take a chance, and Openda could be the key.
PSG against Real Sociedad – Kylian Mbappé
This is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing matches of the round of 16.
PSG look set to win the Ligue 1 title as usual, but they only managed to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages after being tested in a tough group.
Real Sociedad are sixth in La Liga and top their group ahead of Inter Milan after remaining unbeaten.
The star player in the tie is Kylian Mbappe, and with more and more reports surrounding his future, he will look to let his football do the talking against Sociedad.
Lazio vs Bayern Munich – Harry Kane
Bayern Munich signed Harry Kane last summer to fire them back to silverware.
Kane is doing his part so far with plenty of goals in the Bundesliga and Champions League, but Bayern as a team have not been entirely convincing under Thomas Tuchel this season.
With the quality of their team, they are favorites to reach the quarter-finals, but Lazio could ask themselves some tricky questions.
Bayern will count on Kane to succeed if the opportunity presents itself.
PSV vs Dortmund – Luuk de Jong
PSV have not reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League since 2007, when they eliminated Arsenal in the round of 16 and then lost to Liverpool.
This seems like a good opportunity for them to return to the round of 16.
They have been flying this season under Peter Bosz and are 10 points clear at the top of the Eredivisie.
Luuk de Jong led the line with 18 goals and seven assists in 20 appearances, and in a potentially high tie he could score a few.
Inter Milan vs Atlético Madrid – Antoine Griezmann
Who calls this one then?
Inter have been in great form in Serie A this season and have only lost once, but Atletico have proven to be a very difficult problem to solve under Diego Simeone.
Not only that, but they allow Antoine Griezmann to enjoy one of the best seasons of his career.
He has 11 goals and six assists in La Liga and will be Atletico’s danger man as they look to reach the quarters.
Porto vs Arsenal – Bukayo Saka
Arsenal’s recent round of 16 results are not pleasant reading.
The last seven times they have reached this stage in the Champions League they have failed to progress further, including a 10-2 aggregate victory over Bayern Munich in 2017.
But they should go into the match with confidence against a Porto side who are six points behind leaders Benfica in the Primeira Liga.
The Gunners have, however, been guilty of failing to take advantage of their chances this season and, with injury concerns surrounding striker Gabriel Jesus, they may need the fit Bukayo Saka to ensure their safe passage.
Saka has three goals in his last five games for the Gunners.
Napoli vs Barcelona – Victor Osimhen
This should will be the tie of the round: the reigning Serie A champions against the reigning La Liga champions.
But both teams have fallen from the heights they reached domestically last season and will be hoping to extend their Champions League run to boost morale.
For Napoli, this is their only chance of winning silverware and the fixture schedule has seemingly done them a favor as it has given Victor Osimhen time to return from the Africa Cup of Nations to feature.
With the first leg taking place on February 21, rather than the week before, should mean Osimhen is back in the fold after helping Nigeria win the AFCON and can lead the line for Napoli.