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Who could Tottenham Hotspur play in the Champions League Round of 16?

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The field is set for the first knock-out round, and there are a couple tricky potential match ups for Spurs.

Tottenham Hotspur v APOEL Nicosia - UEFA Champions League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

With the conclusion of yesterday’s matches, the field is now set for the 2017-18 Champions League Round of 16. All that’s left is the draw to determine who plays who.

This is the first time Tottenham Hotspur have made it this far in the competition since they went to the quarterfinals in 2011 and got blown out by Real Madrid. Now, like then, Spurs gain some (theoretical) small advantages by virtue of winning their Champions League group, but its not a guarantee of success. There are still some potentially tricky match ups that they could face in the next round.

When is the draw?

The Champions League draw will be held on Monday, December 11 in Nyon, Switzerland. The draw takes place at noon CET (11:00 a.m. GMT, 6 a.m. ET)

What are the rules of the draw?

It’s pretty simple, though there are some restrictions. Group stage winners are randomly drawn against the pool of second place finishers to determine the first knock-out round. The teams play home and home, with the winner advancing on aggregate goals. The first stage is always at the home of the second place finisher. Group stage winners cannot be drawn against clubs from their own league in this round, nor can they be drawn against the club they faced in the group stage.

Who can Tottenham be drawn against?

Because they also play in the Premier League, Spurs cannot be drawn against Chelsea. They also will avoid Real Madrid, since they played them in the group stage. That leaves the following as potential opponents:

  • Basel
  • Bayern Munich
  • Juventus
  • Sevilla
  • Shakhtar Donetsk
  • Porto

Who are the favorable/unfavorable opponents in that group?

In some ways, the answer to this question is a Rorschach test for Tottenham Hotspur fandom. It depends on whether you’d rather see Spurs play the best team available (because that’s what Champions League competition is about), or if you’d like an easier opponent to give Tottenham a better chance of advancing to the next round.

Bayern Munich and Juventus are the two giants that improbably finished second in their groups and that Spurs could potentially draw. Neither would be fun — Bayern is, well, Bayern even though they seem to have dipped slightly from past seasons, and Juventus are the Champions League runners-up from last season. Both would be extremely challenging, but either of them drawing Tottenham would be one of the prime match-ups of the draw.

None of the remaining teams that Spurs could face are easy opponents, but all of them are more manageable.

Basel is currently the second-lowest ranked team left in the competition (behind group-winners Besiktas), according to FiveThirtyEight.com. They’re a smallish club playing in a non-elite European league, and are currently four points behind Young Boys in the Swiss Super League. They’re not pushovers, but they’re probably the most favorable draw for Spurs.

Shakhtar are perennial Champions League contenders, but rarely go past the group stage in the competition. They have some decent players, but the hardest part would be the away leg in Ukraine, which is far away and imposing.

Sevilla are fifth in La Liga (tied with Madrid) and are far from pushovers in Europe, having won the Europa League three years in a row before last season. They are a good side, but aren’t yet at the level of the elite teams in the competition.

Porto finished second behind Besiktas in what turned out to be not as intense a group as what was expected, but they’re still 18th in FiveThirtyEight’s rankings and will be formidable at home.

What happens if Spurs win?

The names all go back into a hat and it’s a free-for-all draw for the quarterfinals. At that point, Spurs can draw anyone, including Premier League teams, or Real Madrid.

Can I simulate the draw?

You sure can! There’s an online draw simulator here, complete with circular graphics that look kind of like ping-pong balls. Have fun! (I drew Basel twice and Shakhtar once.)

Who would you like to see Spurs draw in the competition? Have your say in the comments.