The two biggest surprises of the group stages will go head to head in one of the better ties of the round
In the aftermath of fine performances in their respective Champions League groups, a few people were suggesting that Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Dortmund could be outsiders for the trophy. Although that view is a bit excessive, there's no denying that this will be a clash between two very exciting young teams who like to play an open brand of football. Shakhtar are more reactive and will play predominantly on the counter-attack, but they'll have to be careful of not inviting too much pressure from the combinations of Dortmund's magical attackers. All in all, this should be a thrilling tie.
Marco Reus - The obvious choice, and why not? The German forward has integrated nicely into the Dortmund unit and represents their evolution into a more vertical side, with his clever runs into the channels and outstanding goal-scoring ability covering for the loss of Shinji Kagawa. Although the reigning champions have struggled somewhat on the domestic front, they've turned in some majestic performances in European competition to emerge winners in what was a very scary 'Group of Champions'. Reus was brilliant on the left, and he'll come up against Shakhtar's enterprising Darijo Srna, whose willingness to bomb forward can leave his side exposed down the right. It's hard not to see Reus revelling in those spaces for some part of this tie.
Matchup to watch
Gundogan/Bender vs. Fernandinho/Hubschmann - Both sides are quite similar in their use of a double pivot featuring a box-to-boxer alongside a more defensively minded midfielder, and the clash between the four will be fascinating. Fernandinho was outstanding in Shakhtar's 2-1 victory over Chelsea where he was a constant menace going forward, on top of neutralising Chelsea's obvious attacking talent. He'll have to turn in a similar performance if Shakhtar are going to progress, although he'll be carefully tracked by either Sven Bender or Sebastian Kehl, who'll look to free up Gundogan to charge forward and support the attack. How either side deals with these respective threats will shape the tie.
Extra time - If Shakhtar play like they did in the group stage - bar the final match against Juventus - then they are definitely in with a shot here against a Dortmund side, although fun to watch, swing dangerously on the side of recklessness. The Ukranian champions are capable of luring them up the pitch and then quickly pouncing on the exposed gaps using the quality of Willian and Henrik Mkhitaryan, but equally likely is Dortmund steamrolling them with a display of pace and power.