Placing the Last 16 UCL Teams In Order From Worst to Best
Analyzing Round of 16 Team Chances
The UCL has been a crazy adventure thus far as the group stage has come to an end.
Next stop: the Round of 16.
The remaining teams all worked very hard to make it to the first knockout round of the competition as old foes and new ones alike will be meeting in what is expected to be one of the best match-ups all around of all time. Some teams are stacked with talent while others have relied on a couple of acts of brilliance to play their way to an even bigger stage. Now, they all have to come up with some new tricks to make it even further.
We have all watched teams both high and low, on money and success, have their moments in time. This time around, there is not much expected when it comes to the underdogs dominating the big guns to advance to the quarters. Instead, the little guys may be in for the games of their lives, as they will be learning lessons that will not soon be forgotten.
However, this is the game of soccer where absolutely anything can happen. We have seen prime examples of it already since September, so we should not be surprised if something even more surprising were to occur come February and March. Each and every team remaining has talent somewhere on the field that can win them the game. The coaching has been magnificent all around and will have to be even better to win games of this caliber.
Here is an in-depth look at the chances of the remaining 16 sides winning it all from the least to the best.
16. FC Zenit
This team does have talent, but when it comes to playing some of the bigger opponents, they are nowhere near capable of winning the match, nonetheless a series like this.
In this edition of the Round of 16, they will be facing last season's finalists, Borussia Dortmund. On paper, they stand absolutely no chance. However, if they can get a good result at home and play a defensive game on the road, they can cause an upset.
One issue with this team is the expected departure of their star Brazilian winger, Hulk. If he leaves, the team will be missing a huge attacking force when it comes from the right wing as he notches assists and finds the back of the net on a consistent basis.
This is the least likeliest of teams to lift the UCL trophy. Therefore, they are ranked at 16.
15. Bayer Leverkusen
This team is currently considered the third best side from Germany's top league, the Bundesliga. They have made some changes, such as bringing in new faces and getting rid of older ones. They are playing in a more confident manner, which has allowed them to cause a few upsets here and there.
However, the one team that has their number in the UCL is none other than Manchester United, who bashed them during both group meetings. If they do not get their act together defensively in games against the bug guns, they will lose by more goals when it matters even more.
The team they are facing is none other than Paris Saint-Germain of France. This is a team that exited from last season's quarterfinals after Barcelona had scored one more goal on the road in an aggregate score of one apiece. The team has immense talent all over the field and is expected to win both of these games.
Leverkusen is expected to lose this series by a mile, which makes them the second worst side remaining in the competition.
The only `two games that this team lost in the group stage were against the same team, PSG. Arguably, they were the best team in the group and proved so on both occasions. What this means is that the underdogs might have a bit of trouble when it comes to playing the bigger and more experienced sides that Europe has to offer.
Their opponents in the Round of 16 will be none other than Manchester United. If the Greek side can get the best out of their star starters, they can end up winning the home game by at least one goal. However, when it comes to playing at Old Trafford, they would have to be nothing short of perfect in order to find a way to advance to the quarters.
Olympiakos is ranked at No. 14.
13. Schalke 04
The only two losses this club suffered in the group stage were against Chelsea by the same score of 3-0. They simply had no answer to the dominant possession and plethora of intelligently and physically talented players. The veterans also caused them problems.
For their sake, they better have had learned their lessons because their next opponent will be unforgiving.
In last season's Round of 16, the German side was eliminated by the Turkish champions, Galatasaray. If they were to win that tie, they would have faced the same team that they will be facing this year in the RO16, Real Madrid. Perhaps that would have been nice since they could have tasted what it would be like to play one of the very best on the continent.
They are No. 13 due to their abilities, results and expected chances among their peers.
Led by some of the most famously talented and clutch veterans, the Turkish champions somehow managed to defeat Juventus on the final match day to make it to this round of the UCL. They should consider themselves quite lucky since they had a goal difference of -6, mostly due to the 6-1 and 4-1 beatings they suffered from Real Madrid.
Now, they will be facing the shaky side from the Premier League, Chelsea. They defeated Schalke 04 twice, but lost to Basel twice. On paper, that makes little to no sense, but that is exactly what happened. Therefore, they need to play tough, intelligent soccer against this side led by Jose Mourinho in order to have any chance at advancing.
Ranked at No. 12, they are not expected to make it past this or the next round at best, but they will be fun to watch. In addition, this will be a homecoming for Didier Drogba, who won the UCL trophy with Chelsea recently back in 2012.
11. AC Milan
This team is talented up top, but when it comes to their midfield and defense, they need a bit of work. They scored only eight goals and allowed three less at five, but in order to defeat some of the high-flying teams, they have to focus more on countering or building up swift and successful attacks.
Of course, all of that is easier said than done since they finished behind Barcelona -- a team much more talented than them and successful at that in recent times. Regardless, they are in the Round of 16 and should already know what needs to be done to conquer their next opponent.
They will be facing a side that was successful int he Europa League, but now they have what it takes to go far in this one -- Atletico Madrid. This La Liga side is even on goal differential and points domestically with Barcelona, which means that they can contain a high octane offense as well as dish it out. They will be almost too tough for the Italians, as they have an answer for everything they can throw at them
AC Milan are rightfully ranked at 11 since they are better than some sides, but are nowhere near the level of others.
10. Manchester United
They won their group with a bit of ease, but their domestic form is nothing short of worrisome. If they let that side of them take control in the RO16, they will have the utmost difficulty in advancing to the quarters.
Their opponent, Olypiakos, is somewhat of a dark horse, as they do have the talent to defeat some of the better teams. They almost proved that in a 2-1 loss in Paris against PSG. They did lose, but they did give them a hard time, which is admirable. If they can make United work without letting them play their dominant game, they will be tough to defeat.
United are ranked at No. 10 since the remaining nine sides are all playing slightly better soccer and winning convincingly when it counts.
This team won their group ahead of the likes of Schalke and Basel (who defeated them twice). They have one of the best rosters remaining in the competition and will look to put it into good use under manager Jose Mourinho, who is no stranger to winning the UCL, as he did back in 2010 with Inter Milan.
Their opponents will be Turkish side Galatasaray, who have their former superstar in Didier Drogba, who is expected to bring out the cheers from the fans. The Blues have the better squad, but the Turks have the better leadership, thanks to their former heroic striker who was previously mentioned.
Chelsea are in the top 10 only because they have the talent and the manager who knows how to put them together to gel perfectly when it matters the most. This team won it all back in 2012, so with a slightly younger roster, they will look to go far once again.
8. Atletico Madrid
This side currently sits second in La Liga ahead of the mighty Real Madrid, who they defeated by a score of 1-0 on the road in a domestic game earlier this season. This proved that not only can they defeat the bigger clubs, but do so on the road.
They won their UCL group with flying colors, as no team was able to defeat them. Now, they have a challenge in AC Milan, which is a side that has won the UCL on more than one occasion since they have the talent and coaching that brings them success.
Atletico are No. 8 because they can defeat the Italian side easily if they put their minds to it. However, with one mistake, they can throw this series away since they are fairly new to this side of the competition.
7. Borussia Dortmund
This team finished level on points with Arsenal at 12 by winning most of their games and losing only once to their English opponents and once to Napoli. They played in the group of death and escaped as group winners, and did so deservedly.
Now, they face an easier opponent -- on paper -- in FC Zenit, who will have it all to prove since they have not done much since winning the UEFA Cup some years ago. They have talent, coaching and success, but defeating last season's finalists may be nearly impossible.
This team is No. 7 due to the fact that their dominant form from a year ago has been dropped into a more worrisome one.
They finished second behind last season's second best, Dortmund. However, after losing 2-1 to them at home, they went into Germany and shut them out at 1-0. This proves that they can play their fearless attacking game on the road in the most hostile of territories, which is important in this level of competition.
Now, they face Bayern Munich in a rematch of last season's Round of 16, which they lost 3-1 at home before winning 2-0 on the road. They did exit due to Munich's away goal tally. That may seem like a cheap way out, but rules are rules. If they keep this in mind come February and March, they can avenge that loss.
With their recent domestic and European performances, they are ranked at No. 6 since their squad is not as deep as others, which will make it hard to win it all.
5. Paris Saint-Germain
This team won their group after losing only one game, which was the last one to Benfica by a score of 2-1. They did field some of their younger guys and did decide to sit back, which ultimately cost them all three points. Regardless, they were by far the best side in the group at full strength.
Now, they will be facing Bayer Leverkusen of Germany, who will not be a breeze by any means, but they will defeat them over the two legs. Their squad is superior and their coach is more experienced. Therefore, they will be advancing to the quarters for the second year running.
They are ranked No. 5, as the remaining teams above them have superior squads, while some have a bit more experience further down the line.
This team won their group deservedly, as they have some of the best players in the world. The only issue could be that their new coach is changing the way they play and their superstar -- Lionel Messi -- has been injured. If he comes back in time for the RO16, they will be almost too tough to defeat.
Then again, they lost in last season's semis to the eventual champions Bayern Munich by an aggregate score of 7-0. That was not foreseen, but it certainly did take their European torch away forcefully. By adding Neymar, they hope that embarrassment will be deleted as the kid is already near Messi's level of super stardom for the club in his absence.
Now, a team that defeat Munich in Germany is their next opponent: Manchester City. These 2012 Premier League champs have finally realized their potential at the European level and recently defeated Arsenal by a score of 6-3 at their own Etihad stadium. If they can find a way to intimidate Barca, they will make it to the quarters.
Judging by Barca's issues and their reliance on one or two players, they are No. 4 at best, as the remaining sides have many stars that can win them games.
3. Real Madrid
With five wins and only one draw, these boys absolutely dominated their group campaign and finished with a whopping 16 points. They have a squad that covers talent in every single position, which makes it easy for them to win, while their opponents simply cannot solve their puzzle.
Their opponent will be none other than the German Bundesliga side Schalke, who simply choke when it comes to playing against some of the best teams in the world. If they are intimidated in either game, Madrid will have an easier time than they did against Turkish side Galatasaray.
The only issue is that they really heavily on Cristiano Ronaldo, while some of their other guys only chip in when he is completely off his game. If they can mesh a bit more at this stage, they will win big and rightfully prove the fact that they are No. 2 on this list.
2. Manchester City
This team finished level on points with reigning champs Bayern Munich after wining 3-2 on German soil. By doing so, they proved that they can beat the very best and do so without any fear whatsoever.
Now, they will face a club that the reigning German and European champs demolished, Barcelona. That team is all over the place when it comes to facing big clubs on the European stage. If City can implement their relentless attacking style as of late for that series, they will win and earn a place in the quarters.
They are ranked second on this list because of their squad depth, heroic coaching and clutch performances.
1. Bayern Munich
The reigning champions won their group on goal differential alone, but they were without one of their superstars in Arjen Robben for the final game. The team is still tremendously talented in every single position, and they have a coach in Pep Guardiola, who instills discipline and good attitude throughout the entirety of their matches.
They will be facing Arsenal in a series that they ended up winning on away goals last season in this very round, as they won 3-1 in London, but lost 2-0 at home. They are arguably better this season with some additions and changes that have been nothing but positive.
This club is by far the very best of the remaining 16, which is why they are ranked as the prestigious No. 1. Look for them to repeat this year.