The Champions League returns with the introduction of VAR
It’s that time of year again. As February arrives, the return of the Champions League approaches, with the first legs of the knockout stages getting underway next week.
This year brings a twist to proceedings as VAR will be used for the first time ever in this competition, starting from next Tuesday’s round of 16 ties.
The video assistant referee system will be used in every game during the knockout rounds and UEFA has briefed all clubs about it.
Half of the last 16 fixtures take place on the 12th and 13th of February, whilst the other half are played a week later on the 19th and 20th.
All English sides remain in the competition, with Spurs and Manchester United playing their first legs this week and Liverpool and Manchester City next week.
There’s a sense of historic rivalry with Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester City all facing German opposition.
Liverpool host German champions Bayern, Spurs face high-flying Dortmund at Wembley and Manchester City travel to Schalke.
Meanwhile Manchester United face the french giants PSG in a clash of the superpowers at Old Trafford next Tuesday.
Two of the favourites to win the competition, Juventus and Barcelona, both face tough away fixtures, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s new side facing Atletico Madrid and Barca taking on Lyon.
Ronaldo’s former side and winners of the last three Champions Leagues, Real Madrid, take on Ajax away from home on February 13th.
Last but not least, Roma host Porto, both sides were knocked out by eventual runners-up Liverpool last year. Both clubs will be looking to remain dark horses throughout.
There was some fantastic games in the round of 16 last year, with Sevilla stunning Manchester United, Barcelona knocking out Chelsea and Juventus coming back to beat Spurs.
Liverpool also thrashed Porto and Real Madrid saw off PSG thanks to three from Ronaldo across both legs. With those two winners eventually advancing to the final.
The last five winners of the Champions League have been Spanish sides, where this years final takes place. Will it be different this year? The knockout stages begin next Tuesday where you can find out.