What a fascinating end it was to the UEFA Champions League group phase on Wednesday, as all the big guns of European football lost to minnows. However, it had a little impact to their Champions League qualification as the teams lost, confirmed their round of 16 berth on match day 5. Current champions Real Madrid, top contender for the title this season Juventus and three-time champions Manchester United ended their Champions League group stage on a sorry note, however they all qualified and it’s now time for another scintillating Champions League knockout phase, starting from February 12, next year. The draw for the round of 16 will take place on Monday at UEFA headquarters in Switzerland. Let’s try to predict how the round of 16 will pan out for the big teams.
The current holders and record 13-time UCL winners are performing like a sleeping giant and throughout the group stage they have been a shadow of themselves from last season. However, they did qualify as with top spot. Even without Cristiano Ronaldo can never be counted out on the biggest stage. They can face any of Spurs, Liverpool, Schalke, Ajax, Lyon, Roma and Manchester United on last 16.
Led by magician Lionel Messi, the Spanish giants went unbeaten through a tough group (group B). As always, the team is among the main favorites as it tries to win a sixth title, and first since 2015. They can face any of Liverpool, Schalke, Ajax, Lyon, Roma and Manchester United.
The Italian champions finished ahead of Manchester United in Group H despite losing its last two group matches. Now with world’s best player Cristiano Ronaldo on their side, Juventus are one of the favourites to lift the trophy in Madrid final next year. They can face any of Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Spurs, Schalke, Ajax, Lyon and Roma.
Paris Saint-Germain (PSG)
The big-spending French club is still looking for an elusive Champions League triumph to firmly establish itself among the European elite. Led by Brazilian star Neymar and French sensation Kylian Mbappe, this could be their best chance yet. They can face any of Atletico Madrid, Spurs, Schalke, Ajax, Lyon, Roma and Manchester United.
The three-time Champions League winners will need to something miraculous if they want to win the title this year. This might also be their only hope to salvage this horrendous season so far, with United languishing in sixth place in the Premier League. Advanced thanks to a surprising win at Juventus that showed they can still beat top teams of Europe, but this United is a far cry from the sides that were perennial title contenders under Sir Alex Ferguson. Mourinho’s two Champions League triumphs came with underdogs and less star studded team, FC Porto and Inter Milan in 2004 and 2010 respectively. Who knows, whether he can pull out another Mourinho master class by winning the Champions League with Manchester United.
They will face any of these tough competitors, Dortmund, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG
Having conquered the Premier League last season, coach Pep Guardiola’s main target is now to deliver a first European triumph to the blue half of Manchester. Many view this City team as the best in the world, but the club has only made it past the quarterfinals once. They might face any of Atletico Madrid, Schalke, Ajax, Lyon and Roma.
Having reached the final last year, Juergen Klopp’s side needed a tense 1-0 win over Napoli in the last round just to advance. Has struggled badly away from Anfield in Europe and will need to make full use of its home games in order to make a deep run. They will face any of these tough competitors, Dortmund, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich Porto and Juventus.
The London club scraped through by the thinnest of margins thanks to a late equalizer at Barcelona in the final round. Was knocked out by Juventus in the round of 16 last season and will be hoping for an easier draw this time. They might face any of Dortmund, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG, Porto and Juventus.