The draws for the UEFA Champions League round of 16 will see some of Africa’s biggest stars line up for their respective clubs in the first phase of knockout matches scheduled to be played over two-legs – the first on 18, 19, 25 and 26 February with the return fixtures on 10, 11, 17 and 18 March.
Last season’s winners, Liverpool with a considerable African contingent which includes Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, Senegal’s Sadio Mane, alongside Naby Keita of Guinea and former Cameroon international Joel Matip will be looking to continue their title defence when they square-up against Atletico Madrid who have Ghana’s Thomas Partey in their ranks.
Among the big fixtures is one that will see Algerian international Riyad Mahrez and his Manchester City side pitted against 13-time winners Real Madrid led by Zinedine Zidane.
Barcelona along with 17-year-old Bissau-Guinean-born winger Ansu Fati who recently became the youngest goalscorer in Champions League history will travel to Italy when they face Kalidou Koulibaly of Senegal and his Napoli team for their first leg encounter.
And Moroccan defender, Achraf Hakimi alongside his Borussia Dortmund side are up against French Champions PSG who have the duo of Cameroun striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Senegalese midfielder Idrissa Gueye.
Ivorian defender Serge Aurier and Tottenham lost out to Liverpool in season’s final under former boss Mauricio Pochettino, but are now led by a two-time Champions League winning manager in Jose Mourinho and will welcome the Mali international Amoudou Haidara with RB Leipzig to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
French outfit Olympique Lyon will have the ensemble of Bertrand Traoré of Burkina Faso, Ivorian international Maxwel Cornet and Youssouf Koné of Mali in a stern test against Cristiano Ronaldo alongside Italian giants Juventus.
And the other round of 16 fixtures sees Champions League debutants, Atalanta with the Italian outfit to have their first taste of knockout action in Europe against Spanish side Valencia. And Frank Lampard’s Chelsea to face German Champions Bayern Munich.