With the exception of the English Premier League, most European leagues will stop during the Christmas period. But teams are already planning ahead for the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16. We’ll see some of Europe’s finest squads battle for the title starting in February. However, only a few teams have a real shot to lift the trophy that Real Madrid won last season.
First of all, let’s look at the matches we’ll see in the UCL’s Round of 16. Games will be played between February and March:
Paris Saint-Germain vs FC Barcelona
Benfica vs Borussia Dortmund
Bayern Munich v Arsenal
Real Madrid vs Napoli
Manchester City vs AS Monaco
Bayer Leverkusen vs Atletico Madrid
Sevilla vs Leicester City
FC Porto vs Juventus
It’s certainly tough to analyze and predict what will happen in the upcoming matches. The fact that four contenders (PSG vs Barca and Bayern vs Arsenal) will collide against each other makes things even more interesting. But the Spanish and German giants are certainly favorites in their respective ties.
Elsewhere we see Juventus, Sevilla, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid are favorites to reach the quarterfinals. And if that’s the case, only a handful of teams seem capable of advancing with no problems. Again, Bayern, Barcelona, Manchester City and Real Madrid look like the main favorites in a hypotetical quarterfinals round.
However, the other sides can’t be ruled out easily. Dortmund and Atletico Madrid have reached the UCL Final in the past five years. Juventus also reached the Final a few years ago. And Sevilla might be the weakest team on paper, but Jorge Sampaoli has done a good job with Los Nervionenses. The team has plenty of experienced players who know what’s like to play in the latter stages of the competition.
However, If there’s one problem with the UCL is that the same teams seem to make it to the final rounds year in and year out. After all, Real Madrid has Cristiano Ronaldo, Barcelona has Lionel Messi, Bayern Munich has almost the entire German National Team and Juventus is the same with Italy.
As if that wasn’t enough, Manchester City have deep enough pockets to strengthen the team considerably during the January Transfer Window. It’s highly likely that we’ll see familiar names in the UCL’s final rounds once again.
If we had to name a favorite, though, then Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester City are favorites. Barcelona is a step below them mainly because they haven’t been as good as they’ve been in recent years this season. And both Sevilla and Dortmund are considered sleepers.
And you? Who do you have as the favorite?