For any avid follower of European football, the crown jewel for any club or for any fan will be how successful they can be in the Champions League. And, once the round of 16 has been reached, the only teams left would definitely be considered the cream of the crop. After running through the English squads and their competition in the first round of my Champions League review, we now take a look at the rest of the teams that still remain in the Champions League.
Considering that Real Madrid is currently the third “best” team in La Liga, they will be hoping to make up for any Liga shortcomings via Champions League success. The next big step in that road lies in Germany’s Schalke and a very talented squad. A strong mix of youth and veteran leadership means that Schalke will be more than just a stepping stone for Madrid, and the might of Madrid has been anything but consistent if you are talking about anything that does not involve CR7. Missing out on anything but a semi-final/final/or title for Madrid would cause a serious problem for a team already on the outside in their own league…are the alarm bells already ringing?
For the other La Liga team, Atletico Madrid will be hoping to avoid being the jump-start for a faltering AC Milan. Atletico is absolutely flying in La Liga while Milan is absolutely floundering in Serie A. Atletico will want to make their season seem even more impressive and Milan will want to rescue their season with Champions League success (Allegri’s job is certainly on the line here).
The two remaining German clubs have extremely different fates given to them by the the lords of football. Bayer Leverkusen will have one of the biggest tasks in the whole competition as they try to overcome a brilliant PSG squad. With Ibra and co. walking away with their league and the squad filled to the brim with Champions League proven talent, Leverkusen have the biggest mountain to climb of the lot. On the other side of the draw, last year’s runner-up Borussia Dortmund will be hoping to avoid a slip-up against Russian giant Zenit St Petersburg. BVB will be heavily favored, but many teams have struggled when having to compete in Russia during the early months of the year. Zenit would be claiming a huge scalp and BVB would be giving reason for some of their bigger stars to head off if they falter here, but Klopp will be making sure that BVB returns back to the summit of Champions League football.
The Champions League has provided us with some fantastic matches in the past and some of the games that will be on show here could provide the type of fireworks typically reserved for semi-finals and finals. There will definitely be several worthy teams heading home after this round and their exit will certainly be a testament to the talent level present in Europe and in the Champions League. I. Love. This. Game.