After the final round of Champions League group games, we now know the last sixteen lineup. The biggest surprise is that both Manchester United and Manchester City have been eliminated. Does this now leave the way clear for one of the two Spanish teams left in the tournament to go on and win it?
When you add Valencia, FC Porto and Ajax to the list of eliminated clubs, it does appear that Real Madrid or FC Barcelona have a great chance of going all the way to the final in Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena next May. Of course, there are still some good teams left in the competition: Arsenal, Chelsea, Inter & AC Milan, Bayern Munich to name a few. However, I’m not sure that any of these sides are good enough to better The Big Two over two legs. Chelsea and Arsenal are not great teams currently, and Inter are struggling in Serie A. Bayern and AC Milan will provide stern tests, but Barca have already beaten the Italians on aggregate in the group stage. The biggest threat comes from Germany in my opinion. With the final being in their home stadium, Bayern will be desperate to be in the final this season.
The teams that Real can face in the last sixteen are: SSC Napoli, CSKA Moscow, FC Basel 1893, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Olympique de Marseille, FC Zenit St Petersburg, and AC Milan. Out of these, Napoli and Milan would be the obvious ones to avoid.
For Barca, they could be drawn against any of the following: SSC Napoli, CSKA Moscow, FC Basel 1893, Olympique Lyonnais, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Olympique de Marseille, or FC Zenit St Petersburg. Again, Napoli would be the hardest test.
Both clubs will hope to avoid Zenit and CSKA too, as it is always hard to go to Russia. However, no matter what the draw throws up, both Real and Barca should be in the draw for the quarter and semi finals. Then, it really comes down to the luck of the draw, but both will be confident of going all the way to the final. Who knows, maybe they will meet in the final!
If I had to put money on a winner, I would probably plump for Real Madrid on current form. They seem to be set up perfectly to triumph in Europe, and the season could well catch up with Guardiola’s team in the latter stages.