With the group stage of the UEFA Champions League already finalized, now it’s time to analyze the performance and what this first round left us moving forward.
Some of the early favorites like Manchester City, Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona had little trouble to advance to the next round while sides like Chelsea, Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and PSG also answered to their favoritism and booked their place in the Round of 16.
But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t some surprises between all the teams that qualified to the knockout stage.
In Group A, Bayer Leverkusen pulled the upset and booked their place in the next round after a win in the final match against Real Sociedad. The win – and the loss of Shakhtar Donetsk against Manchester United – sent the Bundesliga outfit to the next round and the Ukrainian champions will need to compete in the UEFA Europa League.
Group C saw something quite similar: Olympiakos and Benfica had to battle for the second place in the standings, and despite the fact that the Portuguese side were arguably better on paper the Greek champions took advantage of their matchup to advance to the next stage following a solid win against Anderlecht at home.
There was no bigger shocker than the one that occurred in Istanbul. Juventus needed to draw against Galatasaray to secure their place in the next round, but the Turkish outfit won the match and advanced to the knockout stage where they will look to continue stunning the world.
While lesser sides like Schalke 04 and Zenit also advanced to the Round of 16, their qualification was expected due to their initial groups. The one thing that’s clear is that the knockout phase of the tournament will have the best teams in Europe fighting for the crown. Now that the tournament will enter their decisive round better and more exciting matches can be expected.