Cristiano Ronaldo is going back to Madrid – and he will no doubt will see Juventus’ draw with Atletico Madrid as the chance for him to test-drive the stadium venue for the final.
The draw is cruel on Atletico because if there is one player even more determined to reach the showpiece game next May in the Spanish capital than their own players it is Ronaldo who would see it as his grand vindication after leaving Real Madrid last summer.
Juventus spokesman Pavel Nedved said:
‘Atletico have a very good squad and it will be a very difficult game for us. Ronaldo is a player for the Champions League. He has great experience in this competition.’
Spanish football pundit and former Real Madrid player and manager Jorge Valdano said:
‘Juventus are not happy either. Atletico Madrid is not a nice rival for them.’
Roma, meanwhile, have scores to settle against Porto, who triumphed 4-1 on aggregate to deny the Giallorossi access to the 16-17 Champions League group stage.
“We were lucky to avoid other teams, but we mustn’t underestimate Porto, who are a strong team,” Francesco Totti told Sky Sport Italia.
“We’ll face a difficult team and we also know that the field is different from what we talk about before the game.
“We have two months to get back to the Roma we want to be. We’ll try to get back to our best.
“Two months isn’t a long time, so we must stick together in these times of difficulty and get out of it.
Atlético Madrid v Juventus Preview
Juventus finished ahead of Manchester United in their group but will be wary of facing Diego Simeone’s side as Cristiano Ronaldo makes his first return to Madrid since leaving their bitter rivals in the summer. Atlético’s Wanda Metropolitano will host the final on 1 June, perhaps making them an even tougher nut to crack than usual in a competition in which they have finished as runners-up three times. In nine home matches this season, Atlético have conceded only five goals but showed a new vulnerability on the road in the 4-0 thrashing by Borussia Dortmund during the group stage that denied them top spot. Juventus remain one of the favourites and with Ronaldo in their ranks should have just enough firepower to find a way through Simeone’s miserly defence, led by Jan Oblak and Diego Godín.
Roma v Porto Preview
Last year’s semi-finalists finished behind Real Madrid in the group stages, with Roma’s young side struggling down in sixth place in Serie A. Eusebio Di Francesco has been under pressure in recent weeks but will hope that he can survive the winter months to lead his side into what looks a great opportunity to reach the last eight. Porto dropped only two points on their way to topping an admittedly weak Group D and have a narrow lead in the Portuguese league under manager Sérgio Conceição, perhaps making them slight favourites to progress in a competition they have won on two previous occasions. But Roma’s experience at this level could tip the balance in their favour if they can resolve their domestic issues.
Elsewhere, Paul Pogba’s Manchester United face Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool lock horns with fellow giants Bayern Munich.
The first legs will be played across February and 12-13 and 19-20, with the return games scheduled for March 5-6 and 12-13.
Champions League Round of 16 First Leg
Schalke v Manchester City – Buy Champions League Tickets
Atletico Madrid v Juventus – Buy Champions League Tickets
Manchester United v Paris St-Germain – Buy Champions League Tickets
Tottenham v Borussia Dortmund – Buy Champions League Tickets
Lyon v Barcelona – Buy Champions League Tickets
Roma v Porto – Buy Champions League Tickets
Ajax v Real Madrid – Buy Champions League Tickets
Liverpool v Bayern Munich – Buy Champions League Tickets
Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg
Manchester City v Schalke – Buy Champions League Tickets
Juventus v Atletico Madrid – Buy Champions League Tickets
Paris St-Germain v Manchester United – Buy Champions League Tickets
Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham – Buy Champions League Tickets
Barcelona v Lyon – Buy Champions League Tickets
Porto v Roma – Buy Champions League Tickets
Real Madrid v Ajax – Buy Champions League Tickets
Bayern Munich v Liverpool – Buy Champions League Tickets