Football Features

Champions League last-16 draw: Man City’s best and worst possible opponents

By Harry Edwards

Man City best and worst opponents for the Champions League draw 2019/20

Published: 9:15, 16 December 2019

Manchester City’s quest for Champions League glory has taken them to the last-16 of the competition for a sixth consecutive season.

Pep Guardiola’s side finished top of Group C, unbeaten, with four wins and two draws and ended the stage with a 4-1 win over Dinamo Zagreb.

As always in the Champions League last-16, teams are unable to draw other sides from their domestic league or their group. Given Chelsea and Tottenham’s presence as runners-up plus Atalanta, Man City have five possible opponents: Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Napoli.

There certainly will be some teams Man City may fancy more than the others, but the stage is also full of opponents trying to achieve similar goals to the defending Premier League champions. So, who will Man City want to avoid in the last-16 and which side would give them the best chance of advancing?

We’ve taken a look below…

What’s the best draw Man City could get for the Champions League last-16?

Napoli

Best Champions League finish: Last-16 (three times)

Current domestic league position: 7th in Serie A

Head-to-head: Man City wins: 2 Draws: 1 Napoli wins: 1

Napoli secured their qualification to the last-16 of the Champions League with a comfortable 4-0 win over Genk, finishing second in Group E behind Liverpool. They celebrated that win by sacking manager Carlo Ancelotti, replacing him with Gennaro Gattuso.

Despite their qualification, life hasn’t been great at the Stadio San Paolo with off-field problems and poor form creating a toxic mix. Of course, that form could have changed by the time the last-16 kicks off, but Gattuso has his work cut out for him.

The former AC Milan midfielder has been less than impressive since his move into management and that’s exactly why Man City will want to face Napoli, even after a few months. Guardiola’s side also have a good record against Napoli, having faced off in previous group stages.

Napoli might be unbeaten in the Champions League so far, conceding just four goals, but that was the Partenopei under Ancelotti. Gattuso’s Napoli will be a different beast, and potentially more tameable, not to mention their poor record in England.

What’s the worst draw Man City could get for the Champions League last-16?

Real Madrid

Best Champions League finish: Winners (13 times)

Current domestic league position: 1st in La Liga

Head-to-head: Man City wins: 0 Draws: 2 Real Madrid wins: 2

Of the biggest unseeded teams ahead of the draw, there is one Man City will want to face less than the rest.

The complete opposite in terms of glory in the competition, Real Madrid are looking to win the Champions League for the 14th time, trying to wipe away last season’s poor defence. Prior to their last-16 exit to Ajax, Real Madrid had won three Champions Leagues in a row and with Zinedine Zidane back at the helm, Los Blancos will back themselves to push on.

Despite finishing second in their group behind Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid were one of the better runners-up with only Napoli gaining more points than their 11. This is form they’ve carried into La Liga, currently sitting second only behind Barcelona on goal difference, with the pair yet to face off.

There’s also history between Guardiola and Real Madrid, with the Catalan native facing Los Blancos 17 times as a manager. Although he has won nine of those games, Guardiola has fallen on four occasions. Only Liverpool (five) have had more success against a Guardiola-managed side than Real Madrid.

Guardiola has also lost his last three games against Real Madrid by an aggregate score of 7-1, including a 2-1 defeat with Barcelona in his final Clasico before losing 5-0 over two legs in the 2013/14 Champions League final while in charge of Bayern Munich.

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