Football Features

Chelsea and PSG receive short straws: Winners & Losers from Champions League round-of-16 draw

By Muhammad Butt

Champions League odds: PSG & Chelsea receive short straws | Last-16

Published: 15:51, 14 December 2020

The Champions League draw for the round of 16 has been made.

As European competition enters its winter hibernation, the clubs left in Europe’s premier cup competition do so knowing who their opponents will be when football resumes in February. And there’s some epic matches to look forward to including two of Germany’s hottest coaches facing off, a rematch of a Champions League classic, and the most decorated side in the competition’s history taking on its most refreshing newcomers.

But who are the winners and losers of the 2020/21 Champions League draw? We had a look!

*Odds correct as of 15:30 on 14/12/2020. You have to be 18+ and GambleAware to sign up to SBK.

Winner: Real Madrid

As always, Real Madrid win in the Champions League. The 13-times champions of Europe just seem to find a way to get the results they need. This season they were rubbish for more than half of their games in the group stages, showing up precisely twice as they dominated Inter and Borussia Monchengladbach, and this, incredibly, was enough to top the group.

Their reward for basically passing the test while hungover off just one night of revision? A tie against Atalanta. That would have been a tricky prospect but the Italian club seem to be going through a bit of a crisis right now as manager Gian Piero Gasperini and star player Alejandro “Papu” Gomez have fallen out, to the extent that the latter is expected to leave the club in January.

Atalanta with Papu would have been a formidable opponent for Madrid, one that could have pushed them to their limits with organised and lethal counter-attacks (the way Shakhtar did) but without Papu leading the way? They will simply struggle to have enough production in the final third to make their good play count and may well get steamrollered by Los Blancos.

SBK Champions League 2020/21 outright winner odds:

  • Real Madrid: 5.41%
  • Atalanta: 0.67%

Loser: Chelsea

Chelsea won their group thanks to a scintillating performance in Spain as Olivier Giroud bagged four goals in one game. Well, Frank Lampard is going to need something similar from his Frenchman in February because the Blues drew the shortest of short straws and will face Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid.

Now, Atleti haven’t been all that great in the Champions League this season but they are a phenomenal side who are flying high atop La Liga. They just lost the Madrid derby rather convincingly but while Chelsea are the Real Madrid of England, that doesn’t mean they have the same kind of psychological hold over Atleti.

Unless you’re playing for Los Blancos or have Cristiano Ronaldo in your team you never, ever want to draw Atlético Madrid in the knockout rounds of the Champions League. It doesn’t tend to end well. Just ask Liverpool.

SBK Champions League 2020/21 outright winner odds:

  • Chelsea: 5.88%
  • Atlético Madrid: 5.26%

Winner: Manchester City

Manchester City won their group with ease and will be rewarded for that by facing off against Borussia Monchengladbach. Marco Rose’s side do appear to be exactly the kind of tactically aware yet non-elite opponent that routinely gives City problems (look at Lyon last year) but the difference here, and the reason why City have been picked as winner of the draw, is that Gladbach can’t see things through.

The Germans were comfortably the best side in their group yet their only two wins came against Shakhtar Donetsk. They conceded late goals against Inter and Real Madrid to drop points early on and then capitulated shamefully in their last two games. Man City’s major problem is their lack of resolve under pressure but they may have finally found a side even more brittle than they are.

This will be one hell of a tie with lots of attacking and goals galore but don’t count on Gladbach holding their nerve.

SBK Champions League 2020/21 outright winner odds:

  • Manchester City: 18.18%
  • Gladbach: 0.67%

Loser: Lazio

Lazio fought so hard to get into the knockout rounds, battling against their own inadequacies to pick up the points they needed to make the round of 16. They never lost, albeit they won only twice. All that, just to get fed to the Bayern Munich juggernaut.

Look, it had to happen to someone. One of those poor runners-up was being handed a guaranteed L when the draw came up Bayern, none of them had what it takes to beat the Bavarians (an organised back-line, solid midfield and pace on the counter) so one of them had to lose, and it just so happened to be Lazio. They’re a good side, no doubts, but they’re probably about to get demolished.

SBK Champions League 2020/21 outright winner odds:

  • Lazio: 1.67%
  • Bayern Munich: 25.97%

Winner: Juventus

Of all the sides left in the knockout rounds, all the group-winners would have wanted to draw Porto. It’s not that they’re bad, but they’re obviously the least good of the teams left. Decent defensively (they conceded just three goals in their group games) but there’s nothing that really stands out for them and any of the group winners would have expected to beat them.

Well it turns out that Juventus had the good fortune of drawing them, giving Andrea Pirlo a potential soft route into the quarter-finals in just his first season as a manager. The tie is a homecoming of sorts for Cristiano Ronaldo as he gets to return to Portugal, but also to the site of his legendary 40-yard thunderbolt for Manchester United back in 2009 at the infancy of his goalscoring golden era.

Possessing Cristiano, as well as the competition’s top creator right now in Juan Cuadrado, not to mention the apparently not-finished Gianluigi Buffon should give Juve too much heat for Porto to handle.

SBK Champions League 2020/21 outright winner odds:

  • Juventus: 6.67%
  • Porto: 0.62%

Loser: PSG

You have to feel for PSG, they rebound from that miserable matchday one loss to Manchester United in order to top the group and their reward is to draw Barcelona. Even with the Blaugrana in something of a state, having to face Leo Messi is never an easy ride. Not to mention that PSG will head into the clash with memories still stinging from the sensational 6-1 remontada that Barcelona dropped on them in 2017.

Sure since then they acquired Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, but who knows if Neymar will even be fit and Mbappé can’t do it all himself. Meanwhile, they face a Barcelona side loaded with talent if not the acumen to use it; although Ronald Koeman is exactly the kind of tactical dullard that someone like Thomas Tuchel has problems with because he’s trying to out-think a guy who is running off instinct and vibes. And while they’re a mess right now, who knows how they’ll be playing come February? If Messi rediscovers his scoring touch…

Finally, Barcelona have two French forwards who will be just itching for a chance to truly establish themselves as Blaugrana legends. Ousmane Dembélé and particularly Antoine Griezmann are desperate to find an occasion, a performance, to justify themselves and what better an opportunity than against the top side from their homeland?

Obviously PSG could still make the quarter-finals, but this draw against Barcelona is loaded with reasons why they might not, and that is enough to make them losers from what could have been a much kinder draw.

SBK Champions League 2020/21 outright winner odds:

  • PSG: 7.41%
  • Barcelona: 4.55%
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