The UEFA Champions League is one of the most treasured prizes in football. The tournament is now well underway, with the group stages soon to come to a close. With a game each left, there are now eight teams who have accumulated enough points already to gain them a place in the knockout stages.
Liverpool were last year’s Champions League winners. They also did what they had to do to beat Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup, making them the reigning champions of Europe. After five group games, Liverpool sits at the top of their group, though they still have a bit of work to do to guarantee themselves qualification.
This is a snapshot of the first eight teams who were the first to make it through to the Round of 16:
Barcelona – Five times Euro cup winners, Barcelona are ranked second by UEFA. They have already guaranteed top spot in their group with 11 points so far, including three wins and two draws. Not bad given the tough opposition from Inter Milan and Dortmund.
Bayern Munich – Munich have won all of their first five group stage games, giving them 15 points so far and a guaranteed top spot from a fairly tough group. They are the top goalscorers in the group stages with 21 scored, including 10 from Robert Lewandowski. A team to watch!
Juventus – Four out of five wins and overall very solid performance from the Italian greats. They are certainly dangerous opposition for any team and are guaranteed top of their group going into the Round of 16. The only crack seems to be Ronaldo. Usually an award-winning player, he has so far failed to find his stride for Juventus in Europe.
Manchester City – Manchester City are yet to win a European cup and all eyes are on them as favourites this year, despite not showing as much threat as expected early on in the group stages. The city has topped a fairly soft group with 11 points after five games. Sterling has proved to be a key player so far. Can they hold up in the knockouts to claim their first title?
PSG – Paris Saint Germain have only conceded two goals in five games, the best defensive record of the group stages. They have been missing Neymar due to various injuries, but Mbappe has stepped up to show that he really can fill his shoes. PSG have already topped their group, beating Real Madrid to the seeded position.
Real Madrid – Taking guaranteed second place in their group with 8 points in five games, Real Madrid is highly revered in UEFA, having won a total of 13 European cups. With Zidane now back as manager, they seem to have picked up from their earlier spell of lethargy. Never count this team out!
Tottenham – Runners up last season, Tottenham have shown mean form in attack, led by their key goalscorer Harry Kane. They have, however, shown leaks in defence which have caused 11 goals to be conceded in their first five group games. They will have to tidy that up to make it through the knockouts and claim another shot at European glory. Tottenham is guaranteed second in their group.
Leipzig – There’s no doubt that Leipzig is the underdogs here, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t shock the world. They are currently second in Bundesliga, just a point behind the league leaders. The Round of 16 will be the furthest they have ever been in the Champions League. They are currently top of their group and guaranteed a place in the knockouts, but the final group game will determine whether they finish in first or second place.
So who will be victorious come May next year? It’s anyone’s guess, but both Bayern and Juventus look good at this point. But as you know with football, anything can happen.
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