Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, and (of course) Man City are all alive and in the round of 16, which starts in about a month (Feb. 16). The path to the quarters for Chelsea and City appears to be a little easier — the former play LOSC, a team they beat twice in the 2019-20 group stage, and the latter face Sporting Portugal — than their EPL compatriots.
With the round a month away, Chelsea has time to mend the Romelu Lukaku situation (or make it worse). The Blues fiery start cooled off quick enough, with the relationship between manager Thomas Tuchel and the striker devolving.
Liverpool face Serie A-leading Inter Milan who just added a Supercoppa trophy to their locker via a 120th minute goal from Alexis Sanchez (Yes, that Alexis Sanchez) in a 2-1 win over Juventus in the final. Inter has scored the most goals in Serie A (51) and allowed the second fewest (16), and will most definitely utilize Italian soccer tactics — shithousery and bus parking — the longer the matches stay even.
Coincidentally, evenly matched is how I’d describe Man U and Atletico, who are both having down seasons by their standards. Silver linings are all United have left in the 2021-22 campaign and advancing in the Champions League would be a massive win for them because they sure a shit aren’t winning it.
Other than strong competition, the only case against City is Pep has yet to win this trophy as their manager, and he has a poor habit of overthinking and tinkering, leading to unexpectedly early outs or upsets in the final.