Either Gio Reyna or Christian Pulisic will see their Champions League campaign come to an end in February, as Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea are set to face off in the final 16 of the competition.
Monday’s Champions League draw was either a dream or a nightmare for American fans. On the one hand, the chance to see American stars Gio Reyna and Christian Pulisic square off will be a rare treat (assuming Pulisic remains with Chelsea through the winter transfer window and finds playing time), whereas on the other, one of these players will be already be eliminated by mid-March.
Chelsea will likely come into the two-legged play-off as slight favorites over the Germans, and will have the advantage of playing the second leg at home in London. However, as both teams are counted amongst the best in the European game, only a fool would place a hefty wager on either team.
What is clear is that Reyna has slowly become more integral to Dortmund’s plans as he has returned to health, starting four of their last five games across all competitions. The same cannot be said for Pulisic, who only started one of Chelsea’s six group games, and has mostly featured in a late clean-up role.
For American fans already bitter that arguably the country’s two biggest pure talents are already facing off at this stage of the knockout stage, the real possibility that they might not share any field time over the two legs would only add insult to injury.
Elsewhere in the draw, Sergiño Dest and AC Milan will face off against English team Tottenham. Dest’s loan to the Italians has been far from a wildly successful one. He did play in all six of the Rossoneri’s Group E games, however is hardly an everyday preferred starter of head coach Stefano Pioli.
Barring injury or an unexpected early termination of his loan, Dest should play a part in the two games, which will see the Italians as clear favorites.
Owen Otasowie will likely play no part when surprise Group B second-place finishers Club Brugge face off against Benfica over two rounds. Similarly, John Brooks is technically on the books for the Portuguese team and usually in uniform when they play, however has rarely taken the field so far since arriving late in the summer transfer window.
Finally, Tim Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt were rewarded for their second-place finish in Group D with a pair of games against current Italian leaders Napoli. The American rarely takes the field for his long-time hometown team, with only 11 minutes throughout the six group games, and will likely also watch the two games from the bench.
The games are set to take place over two legs in February and March. The first leg will occur on Feb. 14/15 or 21/22, with the second approximately three weeks later in early-/mid-March.
Champions League Round of 16 Draw
Club Brugge (Owen Otasowie) – Benfica (John Brooks)
AC Milan (Sergiño Dest) – Tottenham Hotspur
Eintracht Frankfurt (Tim Chandler) – Napoli
Borussia Dortmund (Gio Reyna) – Chelsea (Christian Pulisic)