It has been a mixed season for Premier League clubs in the Champions League so far, and it could easily get worse with the draw for the knockout stages – GMF is here to explain why.
In the final round of group stage fixtures, holders Chelsea crashed out despite thrashing competition first-timers FC Nordsjaelland 6-1 by virtue of Juventus beating the already qualified Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine.
Manchester City were already confirmed to be out of the competition but a win at Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid defeating Ajax would have got Roberto Mancini’s side a spot in the Europa League – they were beaten 1-0 in a tame display.
That left only Manchester United and Arsenal as the two representatives from England in the draw for the last 16, both of them already having qualified before the final round of group games.
What is not so encouraging is that both lost this week, but it was worse for Arsene Wenger’s team as it meant they passed up the chance to win their group an avoid some of the bigger teams.
Manchester United had already won their group, so the final day of group games was of interest as to their possible opponents in the draw.
GMF have looked it over and assessed the which teams the Premier League club could meet and the relative pros and cons for each.
Possible opponents: Celtic, FC Porto, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia.
Preferred opponent: Celtic
Fans of both teams may even feel they want this match up as it will have a bit of rivalry, but the reality is the Scottish champions are most probably the least feared of runners-up. The atmosphere of the games would be special, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s side would be confident of progressing.
Feared opponent: Real Madrid
Jose Mourinho’s side were deservedly beaten into second place by Borussia Dortmund, but they are still one of the big favourites to win the competition. An emotional return to Old Trafford for Cristiano Ronaldo would be a headline grabber, but Ferguson’s side may find their recent shoddy defending exposed.
Possible opponents: Malaga CF, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, PSG.
Preferred opponents: Malaga CF
Arsenal aren’t in any shape to be confident of beating anyone in the next round, but Malaga are probably the most inviting. Santo Cazorla would be facing his old side and would have something to prove.
Feared opponent: Barcelona
It was hardly going to be any other club, was it? Arsene Wenger’s side are all over the place defensively and there’s a genuine fear they could get embarrassed if they meet a Barcelona side containing Lionel Messi on fire. He’s breaking records regularly and the Camp Nou club have made a record start to a La Liga season.
Which teams do you think they can/can’t defeat in the last 16? Leave a comment below to let us know…