The Luck Of The Draw – How The English Sides Stand In The Champions League
The Champions League is off on its annual holliers – and fair play, it’s earned them! – but before taking a winter break delivered a slate of mouth-watering ties for next year’s round of 16.
With five English sides through to the knockout stages, we know there’ll be plenty of fans anticipating the games in February and March. But as the tournament heads for hibernation, some sides will be dreaming of success – while there’s likely to be a few nightmares for others! From the best to the worst, we rank how the teams fared in the draw…
Basel will be seen as the most straightforward challenge awaiting English opposition; the Swiss champs should be no match for the Premier League leaders. They shared a group with Manchester United in the tournament’s first phase – though, given the unruly scenes at the conclusion of the weekend’s derby, it’s unlikely that Pep Guardiola will be able to call on advice from across town!
After being knocked out by Leicester last year – and beaten to top spot in the group by Liverpool in this campaign – you reckon Sevilla won’t be looking forward to more English opposition. José Mourinho, on the other hand, will be more than confident that his charges can rack up the goals against a leaky defence – United’s return to Europe’s top competition is unlikely to end here…
Unbeaten through the group stage, Jurgen Klopp’s men have shown themselves a difficult side to best; Porto defeated twice, seem a more vulnerable outfit. The Anfield rearguard will need to be wary of the outstanding Vincent Aboubakar, but the likes of Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho will be chomping at the bit to attach a team who’ve managed just one clean sheet in the competition thus far.
Having expertly navigated a group including continental heavy-hitters Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, Spurs face more European royalty in the shape of Juventus. The Old Lady of Turin were beaten finalists last season, and their only loss to this point came at the hands of Barcelona; with the Italians rich in both form and experience, it will take more famous performances for the Londoners to progress.
On Saturday, Antonio Conte conceded that Chelsea’s title aspirations are all but dead; so talk about kicking a man while he’s down! Barcelona is the punishment for the Blues failing to top their group, and the La Liga leaders are rightfully seen as one of Europe’s most fearsome challenges. Reason for optimism, though, can be found in the recent record of their meetings; Barca hasn’t managed to top the Stamford Bridge side in their last seven meetings…
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