The Champions League group stage has ended, and 16 lucky teams have qualified for the Knock-outs. However, only one will lift the CL Trophy. Let’s take a look at which teams could achieve European glory, and write themselves in the history books.
For your reference, here is the list of ties obtained from The Guardian!
- Atalanta v Real Madrid
- Sevilla v Borussia Dortmund
- Barcelona v PSG
- Porto v Juventus
- RB Leipzig v Liverpool
- Atlético Madrid v Chelsea
- Lazio v Bayern Munich
- M’Gladbach vs Manchester City
16.Porto — 2/10
No offence to Porto fans, but it just doesn’t look like they could possibly win the Trophy, or beat Juventus. Kudos to Porto for qualifying, but they simply lack the squad depth available in all the other competitors. They have many talented players, however, and they should try to become the dark horses of the competition By beating Juventus. One to watch for Porto is Jesus Corona, who is a pacey and skilled winger with a knack of whipping in amazing crosses.
15. Atalanta — 2.5/10
Again, Atalanta are a decent team, but they really do not have the squad depth or the ability to beat more competent opponents. They could also be a dark horse, but I doubt they can handle the likes of Real Madrid. Frankly, after last year’s win against Valencia, I would not be crazy to say that there is chance they could defeat their Round of 16 opponent too. One to watch is Josep Illicic, who may have lost his edge recently due to personal issues, but still remains a credible goal threat due to his elite movement, timing and finishing.
14. Lazio — 3/10
The Italians may be performing well in Italy, but there is no way they could possibly win the whole competition.It seems unlikely they will defeat Bayern and I really doubt they have the ability to defeat bigger teams to reach and then win the CL finals even if they do beat the Germans. One to watch for the Italians has to be Ciro Immobile, Golden Shoe winner, and last season’s top scorer in Serie A.
13.Sevilla — 3.5/10
Sevilla are Europa League legends, but on paper, they just can’t match the levels of Bayern or Juventus. One crucial factor Sevilla have which stands out though, is their elite mentality, unmatched by any team except for last year’s champions Bayern. They are also lucky to have drawn a more manageable team, Borussia Dortmund. One player to watch for is Jules Kounde, who has attracted interest from many big guns after bossing the Europa League with his hard tackling, and solid defending.
12.Borussia Mönchengladbach — 3.5/10
When it comes to beating big teams, M’Gladbach have plenty of experience, defeating the likes of Inter Milan and Real Madrid in the group stage. They have a plethora of skilled players, but I am not quite sure they can actually win the Champions League. However, they are an impressive team, and may surprise many by potentially conquering bigger teams, for example their round of 16 opponent Man City. One to watch in their team is Marcus Thuram, Lillian Thuram’s son, a talented and prolific centre forward who looks set for a move to a bigger team within the next two windows.
11.Borussia Dortmund — 4.5/10
Surprised, aren’t you? This may be an absurd choice, but hear me out. Dortmund have the BEST young talents in the world currently, but i doubt they have the mentality to win such a major trophy. I could be totally wrong, but the way they tend to sizzle out at the end of each Bundesliga season for quite a while now simply highlights my point. Their tie isn’t exactly frightening, but since Lucien Favre has been sacked with the club in a dire state, who knows what could happen?A player to watch from the Dortmund squad is tough to pick , but I will have to go with 16 year old Youssoufa Moukoko. He is so highly rated by the Dortmund staff that he joined the senior squad immediately upon turning 16! He could very well be Dortmund’s X factor of the season, with his classy strikes and great dribbling.
10. Barcelona — 5/10
Barcelona have had an almost perfect start in European football, as they lost only once, that too after qualification. My only doubt is, how long will this streak last? Barcelona have been appalling in La Liga this season despite their recent wins, and my worry is that this slump in league form could return and spread into their cup form too. On top of this, they have a tough tie against PSG! Messi has been dropped on a couple of occasions, which is worrying considering that he is Barca’s best player. Koeman may have turned the likes of Griezmann, Coutinho and Braithwaite into Barca standard players, but they aren’t exactly Messi, are they? Negatives aside, Barca’s One to Watch has to be Phillipe Coutinho. He won the CL last year, and will be hungry for more trophies. With his being close to his prime form, he could possibly lift the trophy again this year, except this time for Barcelona.
9.Leipzig — 5.5/10
Julian Nagelsmann’s men were so close to the trophy last year, and I don’t see why they can’t reach the semis again. The issue, however, is that many clubs who were in a mess last year have returned to their best form. Juventus no longer struggle to break down counter-attacks, Man City have solved their defensive woes satisfactorily (for now) and Real Madrid have regained the form which helped them win La Liga. RB Leipzig remain a team which could challenge for the trophy, but they face tougher opposition, and will only get to do so if they conquer Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool first. One to watch for them is Marcel Sabitizer, the Austrian midfielder of many talents, who also has an amazing work rate.
8.Real Madrid — 6/10
Another controversial choice, the reason I am ranking Los Blancos at 8th is because they are simply too inconsistent of late to keep up any sort of form- good or bad. I am not even sure if they can easily beat Atalanta like the Real of the past would have. Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid of 2015–2018 thrived on consistency, the same starting 11 and having a fixed style of play, none of which the current Real have. I admit finishing top of the group was mighty impressive, but can their saviour Benzema remain this prolific throughout the season? One to watch for Real, is Brazilian forward Rodrygo. He is a huge talent, with sensational crossing abilities and great skills. He will be Real’s X factor, and will play a important part in a potential trophy challenge.
7. Atletico Madrid — 6.5/10
You’d probably be perplexed on why I ranked Atletico ahead of Real even after Real’s derby win just yesterday, but I just can’t see why A.Madrid are less likely to win the CL compared to Los Blancos. Diego Simeone’s men have come close to winning the CL multiple times in the past ten years, and now they have the added talent of Luis Suarez and Joao Felix. The only potential issue I can see in Atletico is their tactical rigidity, which was shown when they struggled to break down RB Leipzig in last season’s quarter finals. They also face Chelsea, a top class team who will be tough to beat. One to watch from the Atleti squad is Joao Felix, who is finally showing why he had a price tag of 126 million Euros with his prolificacy, creativity and smooth dribbling.
6.Liverpool — 7/10
Liverpool are only 6th due to their injury woes, but still remain one of the best teams in Europe. Jurgen Klopp has handled their crisis better than many would have thought, rotating academy talents and recently recovered first teamers to prevent further injury. They do, however, face a decently tough tie against Klopp’s fellow germans RB Leipzig. One player to watch from the Scousers is Diogo Jota, who has proved to be a shrewd signing for them after ripping up both Premier League and Champions League opposition.
5. Chelsea — 7/10
Chelsea have been a force to reckon with of late, with new signings and veterans combining to create a formidable team to play against. They may face a defensively solid Atletico, but the likes of Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech and Eduourd Mendy have hit the ground running and have had a huge impact in most games.While players like Timo Werner and Kai Havertz haven’t been in the best of form, they remain vital to the Blues, and hopefully rediscover their form. Frank Lampard has shown he is not tactically blunt like many suggest by playing the right players and formations in the right games, and being unafraid to bench star players for those in better form. One to watch for Chelsea is Ben Chilwell, who has solved Frank Lampard’s left back dilemma by playing exceptionally well offensively and defensively.
4.Manchester City — 7.5/10
As mentioned before, City have solved their defensive woes, which has helped them to improve their league form massively, and their Champions League form has also been quite decent. The only worry now is whether they can keep their nerves in the Knockouts, as they face a tough opponent in M’Gladbach. The Sky Blues have been the regular bottlers alongside Barcelona, and will be praying they don’t bottle it again and actually win the trophy this year. And while many have categorised them as favourites this year, that happens every year, so I don’t really see why they need to be ranked no.1. One to watch from their squad has to be Spaniard wizard Ferran Torres, who has performed exceptionally well for the Sky Blues in the Champions League so far.
3. PSG — 8/10
PSG did reach the finals last year, but I am unsure whether they will go one step further and win the trophy, or get knocked out in the eliminator rounds, as they have received a blockbuster opponent in Barcelona. PSG have blown hot and cold this season, being world class one day and lethargic on another. They have also had one crucial player or another injured, which really harms their chances. On the plus side, however, they have massively improved their squad depth, and will be hoping this factor helps them to win the treble, or at least the CL this season. One to watch for the Parisians is Moise Kean, who has been on fire since joining them on loan in the summer.
2.Bayern — 9/10
This one is certainly surprising, since Bayern have had virtually no faults till now, but the reason they are second is only because of the form and my belief in the first placed team. Bayern have been consistently world class for the past two seasons, and are well placed to win the treble again. However,I fear they may suffer second season blues and become incapable of winning the treble again. It could be possible that I am completely wrong, but we’ll have to see and find out. One to watch for Bayern is Benjamin Pavard, who upon recovery from injury, has made the right back slot his, and looks to be a threat both defensively and offensively to the opposition.
- Juventus — 9.1/10
The Italian team may have faltered against Lyon last season, but that was due to the absence of Juve’s superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.This season, however, while the team still relies on Ronaldo for goals, Andrea Pirlo has tweaked the tactics of the team to allow others to chip in with some goals too. Summer loan signings Fedrico Chiesa, Weston McKennie and Alvaro Morata have been proven to be shrewd ones, as they have contributed massively to the team with goals and assists aplenty for all three of them. While last year’s team under Sarri were relatively decent, the only issue was that they lacked quality back up players, one which has been resolved with the signings made this summer.They have to face a limited Porto in the Round of 16s, which will certainly boost their chances in going through to further rounds. If everything goes Juve’s way and no injury crisis or loss of form occurs, this year could very well be the year they (finally) win the CL! One to watch from their Squad has to be Alvaro Morata, who has been surprisingly Prolific since joining on loan from Atletico Madrid.
So, that’s my ranking of each Round of 16 team based on their likeliness to win the CL. My favourites to win it is Juventus, but I would love to know your favourites and why you think they will win too! I hope this was a informative and meaningful read, and I hope to write again soon!