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Champions League draw roundtable

Jeremy, Martin and Robert give their thoughts on the last 16 and the best way forward for Atlético

FC Bayern Muenchen v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

How much confidence should the team take from their group stage performances as we head into the knockout stages?

Martin: They should take a good bit of confidence from their achievements in the group stage. After struggling and risking elimination last year, Simeone was keen to ensure that didn’t occur this time around. Another 1-0 win over Bayern exemplified the defensive strengths of this side, and while only scoring 7 goals is a bit of a concern, the blueprint for success is still there. After such a successful group campaign, Atleti should fear no-one in the upcoming round.

Robert: Overall, the group stage of the Champions League has been fantastic compared to Atleti's league campaign thus far. As we've seen, Cholismo is far more successful in the CL, and the club clearly want to make a deep run in the competition.

Jeremy: Atlético should be quite confident entering Monday's draw. This is a team that won its first five games in a very challenging group and has made two finals in three years. Atlético have proven very, very difficult to beat in this competition - even as the Round of 16 ties have come down to penalties the past two seasons.

What is the best case scenario for Atleti on Monday?

Martin: I think in terms of travel, a trip to Portugal to face either Benfica or FC Porto sounds good. Neither team looked like world-beaters in the group stages, and if it wasn’t for some fortuitous match day scheduling which seen an already qualified Leicester travel to Porto, then they might not even find themselves in the draw. If Atleti face either of these teams, I’d really fancy their chances of making the quarter-finals.

Robert: The best case scenario is either of the Portuguese teams, Benfica or Porto. It's a short trip, and Atleti should be able to handle either comfortably.

Jeremy: Best-case? Probably Porto, which had to wreck a rotated Leicester just to make the knockout stages. Likely, Atlético would be favored in any but one last 16 tie.

What is the worst case scenario?

Martin: Manchester City, despite their mini-struggles in the Premier League at the moment, wouldn’t exactly be an ideal match-up. Like I said above, Atleti should fear no-one but if you offered Simeone the chance to play City or the other 4 teams in the draw, I’m confident in saying he wouldn’t choose Pep Guardiola’s side. It would be an exciting contest for the neutral, but for Atletico, there are “easier” opponents out there.

Robert: The teams Atleti want to avoid are either PSG or Man City. Those are probably the most dangerous second place teams Atleti could draw, and both have their strengths and weaknesses. PSG and Man City are fairly even in terms of quality in my book, but I could see this Atleti side getting past either if they play at their best level.

Jeremy: Manchester City. Despite City's somewhat wobbly form of late, this would be the worst-case scenario for Atlético in the Round of 16. Pep Guardiola's bunch were semifinalists last season and are the most talented opponent Atleti could face. City would be favored in this tie.

In terms of dream match-ups or exciting battles, are there any potential opponents you would like to see Atleti draw?

Martin: I think PSG would be a fun contest over the two legs. Unai Emery isn’t setting the world alight in France but if given enough time, I believe he’ll eventually make Paris a legit European contender. Just looking at his record with Sevilla, he knows what it takes to be successful at this level, even if the group stages ended in a disappointment as his side finished second. Diego Godin up against his fellow countryman in Edinson Cavani would make for an exciting battle in itself.

Robert: Drawing Benfica would be interesting because of Nico Gaitan, maybe a return to his former club could kick him into gear, and it'd be a reasonable bet for him to score in that tie. Leverkusen would be interesting, their league form has been bad as well, but that could be a totally different situation come Feburary.

Jeremy: PSG are a side I've wanted to see los colchoneros play for a couple years now. Diego Simeone has history with Unai Emery, Edinson Cavani and Diego Godín are national teammates and Kévin Gameiro had a pretty unhappy time at that club. A rematch against the high-intensity Bauer Leverkusen - with Champions League nemesis Javier Hernandez - would also be tasty.