Champions League returns with knock out phase! 16 of the best teams in Europe are left to fight it for the lucrative title of the best on the continent!
All contestants left are well known to the general public and used to compete in the latter stages of the competition.
Champions League round of 16 fixtures
I guess you’re all informed how the draw works but we’re quickly sum it up. Group winners are seeded teams with the advantage to play the return game at home.
Second-placed teams are non-seeded and play first match at home. At this stage two criteria that need to be considered when pairing is:
- Clubs that played in the same group can’t meet in the round of 16
- Clubs from the same country can’t meet in the round of 16
The principles really narrowed the possibilities for English clubs since all 4 of them progressed from the group stage. Spanish and German competitors also had limited options left with 3 clubs from each country earning promotion.
France and Italy managed 2 participants each. Last spots were secured by Dutch and Portuguese representative.
This is what the urn in Nyon prepared for us:
Schalke 04 (GER) – Manchester City (ENG)
Atletico Madrid (SPA) – Juventus (ITA)
Manchester United (ENG) – Paris SG (FRA)
Tottenham (ENG) – Borussia Dortmund (GER)
Lyon (FRA) – Barcelona (SPA)
Roma (ITA) – Porto (POR)
Ajax (NED) – Real Madrid (SPA)
Liverpool (ENG) – Bayern Munich (GER)
Final triumph favorites
Based on what we saw till now in Champions League alone front-runners are Juventus and Barcelona.
Juventus didn’t have overly tough group even if Manchester United was part of it. But we all know how United performed in the autumn under the previous manager.
Despite some shaky moments and 2 defeats, the Italian giants showed impressive strength in depth and real desire to finally get their hands on the trophy! Well, at least until
Healthy advantage in Serie A allows Allegri to rotate his players domestically in order to focus on the Champions League.
In the last few years Juventus was competitive but every time lacked something. That crucial little detail that eventually swings the fortune your way.
That detail has been taken care of in the summer with Ronaldo’s acquisition. Now they can’t hide anymore. The squad is complete and it’s up to the manager to make it perform as it can.
Barcelona is a mainstay in the knock-out stages in the competition for nearly 2 decades. Not much can be said about the Catalans that hasn’t been said already. Several times!
Group wasn’t the easiest on paper with Tottenham and Inter, returning to Champions League after a prolonged period. PSV rounded it up but never had realistic chances of progression.
Squad on Valverde’s disposal is balanced, talented and experienced. Beside the natural will to win every competition they enter, this year additional motivation is to finally dethrone the arch rivals from the Spanish capital.
Whatever domestic success Barcelona accomplished in the last 3 years, Real Madrid overshadowed it by winning Europeans’ prime competition.
Real Madrid, as reigning champion, has to be viewed as a favorite. At least in the wider circle.
Losing the technical leader and best scorer along with one of the most successful managers in club’s lustrous history left scars. Deep ones! The voids weren’t filled adequately and it shows!
There is still abundance of quality in the team, even unused. However, despite recent upturn in form, Real lost some of its fear factor.
Abysmal first part of the season granted group top spot only due to Roma’s inability to hit the target from sitters!
Managerial change improved the performances and results, however, hardly enough to regain the crown. Other team are better equipped for final triumph!
It’s hard to predict what to expect from Manchester City in Champions League! Dominant and ruthless in Premier League, yet somewhat struggling in international competition.
A balanced group started with a shocking home defeat to Lyon and continued with hard-fought victories against Shakhtar and Hoffenheim.
Nevertheless the Citizens managed to win the group. Final standings would suggest with ease but actually it wasn’t easy. At all!
Schalke won’t give any indication on City’s real strength, the gulf in class is just to big. However in the quarter finals we should have an answer which is the real City.
The one that gives Lyon the only win in Champions League or the one that blows Liverpool and Chelsea away.
Whatever the draw for next stages will say, if anyone beside the mentioned 4 teams wins, it’ll be a huge surprise!