The English clubs are back!
Following a number of spectacular performances throughout the group stages, Premier League clubs have made Champions League history as five sides have made it through to the knockout stages.
Liverpool signed off in style with another high scoring game as they put seven past Spartak Moscow. Liverpool and Spurs remained unbeaten, with the latter showing they can compete with the best by topping a group containing Real Madrid.
Both Manchester sides also finished top, whereas Chelsea finished behind Roma on head-to-head, having fallen to defeat against their group stage rivals in Rome earlier in the campaign. No English side has won the Champions League since Chelsea lifted the trophy at the Allianz Arena back in 2012, but this season there appears to have been a power shift.
With the confidence flowing through the sides, they all possibly face a tough draw in the round of 16. Here’s each side’s potential opponents in the next round…
1. Manchester United
Possible Opponents: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Sevilla, Shakhtar Donetsk, Porto, Real Madrid.
Jose Mourinho looks like he is building a side capable of winning multiple trophies per season. United nearly signed off with a perfect record in the group stages, with only second-placed Basel getting the better of the Red Devils. And having conceded the second least amount of goals throughout the campaign, United look like a solid outfit, and one teams will be keen to avoid.
The Red Devils will be *hoping to avoid the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, although if current form is anything to go by Mourinho will fancy his chances against his old side.
*they will definitely avoid the big teams and face Sevilla.
2. Manchester City
Possible Opponents: Basel, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Sevilla, Porto, Real Madrid.
Much like their Manchester rivals, City finished the group stages with five wins and one defeat. Pep Guardiola’s side have looked unbeatable in all competitions this year, but they were undone by a strong Shakhtar side who managed to defy to odds to finish above Napoli.
City put up a good fight against Madrid last year, just missing out on a place in the Champions League final thanks to a Fernando own goal. But coming up against Madrid, Juventus or Bayern may give Guardiola a headache.
Possible Opponents: Basel, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk, Porto, Real Madrid.
With only PSG scoring more, Liverpool have been great entertainers in this season’s competition. The Reds topped their group with 12 points, scoring 23 goals and being involved in a number of ridiculous games along the way. They netted seven twice, both against Maribor and Spartak, but also collapsed while three goals up to draw away to Sevilla.
The Reds will be full of confidence going into the last 16, but should they be drawn against one of the big guns, their defence may be their downfall. Klopp says that everyone would want to avoid them, but Bayern, Juve and Madrid will definitely fancy their chances.
Possible Opponents: Basel, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Sevilla, Shakhtar Donetsk, Porto.
Finishing top of a group that contained both Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund shows that Spurs are now serious challengers in the Champions League. Wembley has become somewhat of a fortress in the European competition, as not only did they top the group, but they remained unbeaten during the six games.
Having already beaten Real Madrid, Spurs may face Bayern or Juventus, which will be their toughest test in the next round. Other than those two, Mauricio Pochettino’s men will fancy their chances against the likes of Basel and Sevilla.
Possible Opponents: PSG, Barcelona, Besiktas
Chelsea are the only English side to finish second in their group, sitting just behind Roma on head-to-head. The Blues performed well to knock Spanish giants Atletico Madrid out, and despite finishing second, they are confident of taking on the likes of PSG and Barcelona. Following their home draw against Atleti, Eden Hazard claimed that the French and Spanish giants will fear his side, stating that they can do “everything”.
The Blues will look back with fond memories in their most recent tie with Barcelona, with Ramires’ chip and Torres’ last gasp goal sealing a place in the 2012 final. But they shouldn’t ignore the form of Besiktas, who topped a tough group containing Porto, Leipzig and Monaco.