Arsenal Champions League

UCL Round of 16 returns this week

The second week of first leg fixtures in the round of 16 of this season’s UEFA Champions League are set to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Last week saw the first round of first leg matches take place in the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League. It saw some enthralling football take place across the European continent; from reigning European Champions Manchester City 3 – 1 victors in their tie against Danish Champions Copenhagen, to Lazio’s surprise 1 – 0 victory over German champions and 6 time European Champions Bayern Munich.

Since this is a two legged tie, it is, of course, preferable to take a win into the second leg in order to give yourself a distinct advantage as to who is going to go through to the next round of this season’s competition. For some, it is more desirable to play away from home in the first leg, as should they be behind going into the home leg, they will have the advantage of attempting a comeback in front of their own fans.

One such club that plays their away leg first is Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, who are the only English side playing in the Champions League this week, and the Gunners are the only other English Premier League side that still remains in this competition alongside Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Arsenal are set to face Portuguese heavyweights FC Porto at the club’s Estádio do Dragão ground on Wednesday night in what will be an 8pm kick-off. Italian Champions Napoli play FC Barcelona in the only other game on Wednesday – this tie will be played at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples (8pm kick-off).

The Champions League action this week does, however, take place the day before, with there being two matches on Tuesday too. Inter Milan host Atletico Madrid at the iconic San Siro, whilst Eredivisie league leaders PSV Eindhoven face German Bundesliga Giants Borussia Dortmund at the Dutch Giants’ Philips Stadion in a 20:00 kick-off.

Here, we are going to preview the action from across all four 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 matches that are set to take place this week, starting with Inter Milan coming face to face with Spanish heavyweights Atletico Madrid at the San Siro on Tuesday evening (20:00 Kick-Off).

Inter Milan (Italy) vs. Atletico Madrid (Spain) – San Siro, 20:00 Kick-Off

First, we go to the iconic and historic San Siro, where we will see the first leg of the Round of 16 tie between Simone Inzaghi’s Inter Milan and an Atletico Madrid side led by their Argentine Head Coach Diego Simeone.

Starting with Inter Milan, they are flying high in the Italian Serie A table, with the Nerazzurri sitting pretty at the top of the table with no less than 63 points from their 24 matches. They are 9 points ahead of Juventus in second place. As for Atletico Madrid, they are currently sat in 4th place with 51 points having been accumulated from their 25 matches to date. They are 3 points behind FC Barcelona in third, and they are also 5 points adrift of 2nd place and surprise package Girona.

This will be the first time in the history of the UEFA Champions League that Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid have ever met in this competition.

PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands) vs. Borussia Dortmund (Germany) – Philips Stadion, 20:00 Kick-Off

We now move on to the second and only other 2023/24 UEFA Champions League match to be taking place on Tuesday, 20th February 2024. This game will be taking place at the home of the runaway Eredivisie leaders, PSV, at their Philips Stadion home.

As mentioned, Dutch Giants PSV Eindhoven are currently sat at the top of the current season’s Eredivisie table, having so far accumulated no less than 62 points from their 22 matches, and they are currently unbeaten in the league. As for Borussia Dortmund, BVB are currently sat in 4th place with 41 points to their name to date from their 22 German Bundesliga matches so far. They are 5 points adrift of VFB Stuttgart in third place and 9 points adrift of arch rivals and reigning Champions Bayern Munich.

PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund have only ever met twice in the entire history of the UEFA Champions League, with both encounters coming in the 2002/03 Group Stages. BVB won 3 – 1 in Eindhoven on Matchday 3 before being part of a 1 – 1 draw in Dortmund on Matchday 4.

FC Porto (Portugal) vs. Arsenal (England) – Estádio do Dragão, 20:00 Kick-Off

The first 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg tie that will take place on Wednesday evening will see Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal make the trip to Portugal to face FC Porto at their Estádio do Dragão ground in a 20:00 Kick-Off.

FC Porto, led by Head Coach Sérgio Conceição, are currently sat third in the Liga Portugal with 48 points from their 22 matches. They are 4 behind Sporting CP in second place and 7 points behind Benfica in first. As for Arsenal, the Gunners currently occupy second place in the Premier League with 55 points from 25 matches – 2 points adrift of league leaders Liverpool.

FC Porto and Arsenal have met on 6 previous occasions. It is the Gunners with the superior record of 3 victories compared to Porto’s 2 wins to date. There has been 1 draw between them. They most recently met at the Round of 16 in the 2009/10 season, where Arsenal won 5 – 0 at the Emirates Stadium to establish a 6 – 2 aggregate win for the club.

Napoli (Italy) vs. FC Barcelona (Spain) – Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, 20:00 Kick-Off

Reigning Italian Serie A Champions Napoli are set to welcome 5 time European Champions FC Barcelona to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples for the first leg of their 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Wednesday in an 8pm kick-off.

Napoli are led by former Watford Head Coach Walter Mazzarri, and the Blues are currently occupying 9th place in the Italian top flight with 36 points from their 24 matches to date. 5 points separate them and the top six. As for Barcelona, they are currently in 3rd with 54 points – 2 behind Girona in second and 8 behind league leaders Real Madrid.

Napoli and FC Barcelona have only ever met twice in the entire history of the UEFA Champions League, with both encounters coming in the Round of 16 in the 2019/20 campaign. The first leg was a 1 – 1 draw in Naples before Barça came away as 3 – 1 winners at the Camp Nou in the second leg to establish a 4 – 2 aggregate win.

Excitement and anticipation are building ahead of the resumption of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 this week.

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