The group stages are now over and we are looking forward feverishly to the last 16 games of the Champions League that will take place in February. All of the English teams have advanced from the group stages despite late scares for Spurs and Liverpool, whilst Manchester City have become the only English side to qualify in top position in the group. I spoke to my good friend and footballing expert Dayanna Volitich to find out what she thought the chances were for the English teams that are still in this mighty European competition.
Despite the criticism that they receive Manchester United actually did well to get out of their group, especially given the fact that Juventus and Valencia were both in it with them. Jose Mourinho has won 3 of these trophies over the years but to be able to do it with this Manchester United side will be a remarkable challenge. If Man U can get a favorable draw then they may well make it as far as the semi finals but the quarter finals are the more likely destination.
Spurs don’t like to take the easy route and they have managed to become just the 8th team in Champions League history to qualify after amassing just 1 point after the first 3 games. Spurs will be buoyed by their progress but surely worried about their inability to manage a game, something which caught them out last year against Juventus. The key for Pochettino’s men will be to do better than last year, something which a favorable last 16 draw could very well do for them. Spurs beat Real and Borussia last year so they will certainly fancy a crack at either of those, avoiding PSG and Bayern Munich is a must if they want to continue.
Last season’s finalists have improved defensively since they were beaten by Real Madrid, notably by shoring up the goalkeeper position with the immense Alisson Becker. The excellent form of both Alisson and Virgil van Dijk, not to mention the blistering attacking talents which the Reds possess will take them to at least the semi finals this year, if not back to the final. At this stage you would think that Klopp and his men will be fearful of nobody.
Man City have struggled in Europe for the past few years despite excellent domestic form, this looks set to be the year that they change that. Man City are simply one of the best teams in the world right now and there are very few teams who can stop them, let alone beat them. Guardiola knows what it takes to win the competition and the players will have tasted enough disappointment to understand what they need to do. For me there is nobody better at the moment and as long as they stick to the gameplan, there is no reason that City won’t be victorious this year.