The Round of 16 of the 2012-2013 season of the UEFA
Champions League offers more entertaining clashes than usual, both from current
form and historical point of view. As always, some matches stand out more than
others. Manchester United vs. Real Madrid, Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich and AC
Milan vs. Barcelona.

For obvious reasons or not, all eyes would be focused on the
clash between Manchester United and Real Madrid. The clubs have more than the
second best player in the world in common; they also have two of the most
outspoken and entertaining managers in soccer. First thing that comes to mind
is Jose Mourinho’s victory sprint at Old Trafford when his Porto, which he then
coached, eliminated Man United in 2004.

There are even rumors that the Mourinho will be ruling Old
Trafford once Sir Alex Ferguson retires (whenever that might be). The Special
One never denied his desire to go back coaching in the Premier League and the
relationship between the two has always been friendly and respectful. This
elimination round won’t be an audition for Mourinho, although many may look at
the game as one.

It’s more likely that this round would be an audition for
Mourinho to stay at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Real Madrid is currently third
in La Liga with 33 points in 17 matches. That is seven points behind Atletico
in second and 16 points trailing the top team in La Liga and archrival

The more evident reason as to why this match would be one of
the books (other than simply the recognizable and glamorous names of both
teams) is Cristiano Ronaldo. The superstar striker will be facing his former
team for the very first time since he left Manchester for Madrid in 2009. 

In the second most anticipated matchup, AC Milan had the bad
luck, according to several media outlets, drawing arguably the best team in the
world. Barcelona played the Rossoneri last season in the group stage and again
in the quarterfinals. AC Milan did not win even once.

This big clash is not so interesting in terms of star
players. There are no obvious or long-term rivalries among the players now that
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in Paris. However, Barcelona and AC Milan have been team
rivals since 1959 on this international stage. AC Milan has not beaten the
Catalan side since 2004. The superior team is obvious in this matchup but it’s
worth pointing out that the Rossoneri have been getting better and that if for
any reason Lionel Messi is not his 100 percent during the game, Barcelona could
be in big trouble. AC Milan is, after all, the team with the second most titles
from football's premier club competition. As ESPN points out, between them,
these two clubs have won five of the past 10 European Cups.

The third on the list of “do not miss this game under any
circumstances” is Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich. The clubs don’t have a long
Champions League history and no team really dominates the stats. Everyone’s
first thought is that the Gunners have had a bad season so far in the Premier
League as opposed to the Bavarians who seem to have completely forgotten about
their heartbreaking and recent two Champions League finals. They are currently
way ahead every other team in the Bundesliga. However, Arsenal have been
performing well in the group stage of the Champions League this season and
their attacking style in England have helped them gain more confidence and
points as well.

The obvious connection between the two clubs is Lukas
Podolski. The German veteran striker had spent three seasons in Munich prior to
moving to London this season from Cologne. Podolski certainly has something to
prove against his old team and his recent goal against Newcastle on Saturday
only gives him momentum. The match would be interesting to watch also because
of the managers and it’s not because the game is viewed as potentially “job-saving”
for Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger. According to reports, this season is the last for
Bayern’s boss Jupp Heynckes. The Bavarians have in the past tried to lure
Wenger to Munich. Rumors will certainly renew but given his shaky position in
London, fewer people may be surprised if the gossips actually get confirmed.

All Round of 16


Galatasaray AŞ (TUR) v FC Schalke 04 (GER)

Celtic FC (SCO) v Juventus (ITA)

Arsenal FC (ENG) v FC Bayern München (GER)

FC Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) v Borussia Dortmund (GER)

Milan (ITA) v FC Barcelona (ESP)

Real Madrid CF (ESP) v Manchester United FC (ENG)

Valencia CF (ESP) v Paris Saint-Germain FC (FRA)

Porto (POR) v Málaga CF (ESP)


Video courtesy of TyT Sports