CONTENDERS OR PRETENDERS? UCL R016 PREVIEW

The UCL group stages has ended with 16 teams moving on-to the next round of the Champions League, some are title favorites while other are just there to make up the numbers. This year UCL has four major favorites, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Bayern Munich. These are the mighty four in Europe, they always tend to pick up their best forms during the Champions League knock out stages.
Top 16 teams that qualified for the round of 16 below:


CONTENDERS:

Barcelona: With the array of stars the Catalan giants has lined up, all lead by Lionel Messi will push to win the UCL for the 6th time in their history despite quarter final exits in their last three campaigns. Messi earlier on in the season promised the Catalan fans that they would bring home the trophy, lets wait and see if they can fulfill their promise.
Real Madrid: With the loss of Ronaldo, Real Madrid has looked weakened even in the Champions League, they are on their 2nd coach already and its not even January, but the UCL brings out the best in them. Madrid are the present defending Champions winning it in the last three campaigns. Underrate them at your own peril.
Bayern Munich: Bayern in recent season has just fallen down in the pecking order of the European Giants, but the amount of quality they have inside the team is enough to make them feared across Europe, this is Arjen Robben last season at the club and he would want a UCL medal to crown an amazing end to his Bayern career.
• Juventus: Juventus has been one of the best teams in Europe for the past five seasons now, totally dominated Italy and have come close to the UCL title already, since their resurgence 7 years ago they have won all competitions they have participated in except for the Champions League. With the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, they will look to finally add the UCL to their trophy cabinet.
Atletico Madrid: Diego Simeone men lead by Antoine Griezmann will look to win the UCL this season, they have done a fantastic job so far in the Champions League, the way they play and their setup are built to withstand any top team in the UCL which makes them very dangerous.
Paris Saint Germain: With the wonder kid Kylian Mbappe and Neymar leading the line for the French champions, you just have to give them a strong chance of going toe-toe with any European giants and winning. Their fight to win the UCL this season has intensified with Neymar trying to show the world that he can lead his team when it matters most.
Liverpool: The last year finalist barely qualified from the group stage edging Napoli on head-head rule to qualify second. Round of 16 is a different ball game, they have a manager who has a record to getting his teams all the way to the final but also has a record of losing the finals. They will hope to reach the final again, with all players fully fit they can lift the Champions League.
• Manchester City: Pep Guardiola deep pockets and tactical genius has built a super team which are playing at the highest levels in Europe. Already conquered England and will look to extend their dominance to the Champions League. They have a strong young squad mixed with the right amount of matured player will look to better their last season record and maybe finally win the UCL.

PRETENDERS:


Manchester United: Jose Mourinho led United has had an overly inconsistent season, an unbalanced squad with an unsettled dressing room. Their defense is simply in shambles, they will try their best to go far in the competition but they don’t have enough quality to win it.
Ajax: They have been one of the surprises of the UCL, they have an array of young talents that can cause any top team problem but Over two legs I do not think they have enough experience to edge out any top team presently. If they can keep their talents in the next two seasons will be a force to reckon with in the UCL.
Dortmund: They have been very good in this seasons campaign and presently topping the German Bundesliga ahead of Bayern Munich. Jadon Sancho, Paco Alcacer has been a blessing for the team this season and topping their UCL group stage table ahead of Atletico Madrid. But at the end, to beat any top teams in Europe during the knockout stages, their level of experience and intensity, they cannot yet match up. They will cause a lot of problems for the big boys but would not go beyond the quarter final of the Champions League.
Lyon: They have a strong team, took four points off Manchester City and have a strong midfield that will trouble any team but if they meet the top boys in Europe during the knockout rounds, they can pull off a surprise, but they cannot win the Champions League
Tottenham Hotspur: They have had a disgraceful UCL campaign so far, with the quality of the team they have, they should be performing better. Struggled to draw with a Barcelona team that fielded just 2 of their first XI. They will need to improve if they are to make it into the final four. But their realistic target presently is a quarter-final finish.
Porto: They were in the least exciting group in this tournament, they will put up a good fight but they are just in the competition to make up the numbers. They should not be underrated either way.
Schalke 04: They are in the same position as Porto, a very strong side but just in the tournament to make up the numbers, they should also not be underrated.
Roma: They shocked Barcelona in the last quarter final, and were a goal away from edging Liverpool out on away goal in the Semi-Final. All top teams will put their full concentration on them. A realistic target will be another Semi-Final finish which will be a successful campaign again.

The round of 16 promises to be an exciting one with everyone wanting to end Real Madrid three years dominance. Once the draws are done on Monday everyone will know their faith. The Round of 16 will resume in February, two months away, with the VAR also being introduced for the first time in the UCL during the knockout stages.

About Oyakhi

Am an avid football fan and a Barcelona fan at heart. I give my own opinion on various trending football topics.

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