Entering the Champions League round of 16, PSG, Real Madrid, Roma and Borussia Dortmund all looked like strong favorites to advance to the quarterfinals. All were bounced last week as Ajax, Manchester United, Tottenham and Porto moved on after the second legs. On Tuesday, Juventus joined the group with Manchester City. But how do they all rank as we await the final two quarterfinalists on Wednesday?
1) Juventus: Afteryou have to put this team first. Many of these players have made a Champions League final and lost, some more than once. And Cristiano Ronaldo knows what it’s like to win, having taken home the title in the last three seasons while also winning one with Manchester United. This team feels destined to make the final after a couple shocking results in the group stage and the first-leg loss to Atleti were erased with this wild performance on Tuesday.
2) Manchester City: Maybe the most talented team in the competition, but these guys just haven’t been able to get over the hump in the past, hence they are behind Juve in these rankings. But with David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne in the middle and an in-form Sergio Aguero in attack, they have as good a shot as anybody. Going through a brutal next three opponents may be too much for this team, but if they can get a favorable draw once again like Schalke and get a bit closer to the final, this very well could be their year. But to ask them to beat teams like Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Juventus to win the title, it’s hard to see that happening with a defense that is at times very inconsistent.
3) Manchester United: Don’t mess with momentum. Most may put Tottenham here, and Spurs had so many chances to beat United in their recent Premier League game. But this team has gone to Juve and PSG and won so far in the competition. Romelu Lukaku is on fire recently and Paul Pogba returns from suspension in the quarters. I still don’t think this team has enough to win, but you never know. They have a coach who knows what it takes to win it, and these guys will be beaming with confidence.
4) Tottenham: Spurs have so much talent, but they haven’t won anything in quite a while. Asking them to conquer Europe almost feels impossible. But when the field is down to just eight, who is to say they can’t do it? Harry Kane can score at any moment in the game, the defense has put together some lovely displays and Dele Alli should be ready to go in the next round. Don’t count them out. A dark horse to win it all.
5) Ajax: So much youth, and what they did at the Santiago Bernabeu in the second leg was nothing short of marvelous. This club has so many players you’ll see at some of Europe’s biggest clubs in the coming years. They are going to need a favorable draw to keep this going. Real Madrid isn’t the same as last year, but still you have to respect how they controlled the middle of the pitch and added in some flair. The sport is better when Ajax is really good. And keep an eye on Matthijs de Ligt, he’s the next big center back.
6) Porto: An underrated team with a ton of physicality. This cub bounced back in a big way from losing to rival Benfica to knock off Roma last week. But they are behind Ajax in the rankings by just a hair because they needed a penalty late to move on. The game looked headed for penalties, but credit to them for taking advantage of the situation. Likely out in next round unless they get a fine draw. But don’t count out what Iker Casillas and Pepe bring to the table. They’ve won this cup before and are important leaders.
We’ll update this story next week when the remaining two quarterfinalists are known. You can watch all of next week’s Champions League action on fuboTV (Try for free).