Champions League knockout stage: Ranking the 16 teams remaining, with Manchester City and Juventus at the top
The draw is on Monday, but we rank the teams that are still alive
Sixteen teams remain in the Champions League after the group stage wrapped up Wednesday. The Premier League leads the way with four teams still alive in the competition. Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham all made it through to the round of 16, while Spain and Germany each have three teams left in the competition.
Ahead of Monday's round of 16 draw and play resuming in mid-February, here is how we rank the 16 teams remaining in the competition.
This team has more important things to focus on than the Champions League. With young American midfielder Weston McKennie, Schalke is flirting with relegation in the Bundesliga. The club is just three points clear and has lost more than half of its game in the league. It benefited from a pretty easy group in UCL and probably won't get past the next round, depending on the draw.
Porto won Group D over Schalke and was undefeated, but again it didn't have a lot to compete with. While this is an experienced club with some very good players, they are far from a contender. Their ability to score, and speed on the counter, could cause trouble for a bigger team, but this doesn't feel like a team that can get any further than the quarterfinals.
This is a sneaky good team with some fantastic players like Nabil Fekir and Memphis Depay. The speed and creativity will give any team problems, but at the back, this club simply isn't strong enough to make much of a deep run. Against a big-name group winner, they don't stand much of a chance.
This isn't the Ajax of the 1990s, but the sport is better when this club is good. Frenkie de Jong has world-class potential and there is a ton of ambition and organization, but the youth in this squad will likely be its downfall against more experienced European squads.
Losing Alisson to Liverpool has taken this team from semifinal caliber to likely facing a quick exit in the next round. While there is quality throughout this team, no longer having Radja Nainggolan has also taken its toll. This team got outclassed by Viktoria Plzen in the final matchday -- that's all you need to know.
11. Manchester United
This team isn't very good and got through just because Valencia has been worse. There is next to no confidence on the pitch, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku can't seem to hit the net from a foot away, and while beating Juventus was a shocker, it's difficult seeing this team pulling off anything even close to that in the next round. Now, they can make some noise if the draw favors them, but getting past the quarterfinals would be a shock.
10. Borussia Dortmund
Look, this team is really good, Dortmund is in first place in the Bundesliga and was group winners over Atletico Madrid. The knock on this team is some of the inexperience in the final third from guys like Christian Pulisic and Jadon Sancho. Both are fantastic young players, but the other teams have more experience, and that counts for plenty come the knockout stage. It wouldn't be surprising to see this team make a run to the semis though.
9. Real Madrid
The reigning champs come in ninth, and it could have been worse considering3-0 at home against CSKA Moscow in what was the club's worst ever result at home in European competition. The truth is, without Cristiano Ronaldo, the only thing this team can probably win is the Copa del Rey.
Spurs have a ton of quality, and Harry Kane is one of the very best strikers. This team got hot late to finish in second place, but knowing it is probably going to face a stronger team in the next round, it's hard to see them doing much damage. The lack of quality at the back shows from time to time, but if they can be consistent defensively, the sky is the limit.
7. Bayern Munich
Bayern hasn't been very good this season, and they've had some baffling results in the Bundesliga. But they've gotten the job done in the Champions League, and once you get to the knockout stage, anything can happen. Manuel Neuer doesn't seem like his old self after recent injuries, so at the moment this team doesn't feel like a real contender.
6. Atletico Madrid
The capital club knows how to get far in this competition and is as hungry as any other team with the two UCL final defeats in the last five years. Plus, it's hard to find a better defensive team on the continent. After knocking out the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona in recent years, no team is too good for a Diego Simeone-led Atleti. Nobody wants to draw them next round.
On paper, PSG is as strong as any other team, but every year they seem to come up just short in the Champions League. After a big win over Liverpool and a fine road win against Red Star Belgrade, the confidence is there. It will all come down to keeping their composure at the back and limiting the mistakes.
This isn't the Barcelona of a few years ago with a dominant midfield that just punished opponents over and over again. They can dominate the ball but there isn't as much creativity. Ousmane Dembele is the wild card here, because he's come up big for this team this season. The expectation, at the least, has to be semifinals. But if you have Lionel Messi, you are always in it.
What a difference a great goalkeeper can make, huh? Alisson was the difference between elimination and a knockout stage spot. With Virgil Van Dijk improving as well in defense, this team has all of the tools needed to win the cup. But finishing second in the group could see this team in a very tough spot come Monday's draw.
Wojciech Szczesny isn't Gianluigi Buffon, but the Polish goalkeeper has greatly improved over the last couple years. Sure, he'll have a gaffe every now and then, but he's now one of the better goalkeepers in Italy. Add in Cristiano Ronaldo, and that pushes this team from potential contender to one of the favorites. The loss to Young Boys is hard to explain, but every dog has its day.
1. Manchester City
There is no better team than City when it comes to the final third. This squad has so much depth and creativity, but there are some big-time injury concerns. Assuming Sergio Aguero returns to form and this team gets Kevin de Bruyne back to his old self, no team will be better situated to win the cup. But if those players don't show what they have in the past, then this team feels susceptible to an upset.
Monday's round of 16 draw will air on fuboTV (Try for free) at 6 a.m. ET.
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