The Champions League round of 16 is set to kick-off on Tuesday night.

We now have a field of 16 sides comprising the champions and league leaders of England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy as well as the current league leaders of the Bundesliga and both of last year’s Champions League finalists.

It’s a fantastic group of clubs that contains six of the seven most decorated clubs in the competition’s history.

We’ve had a look at all the 16 sides getting ready to rock and roll and ranked them by their performances so far this season. Obviously special weighting will be given to their performances in the Champions League, but their whole season is taken into consideration.

16. Schalke

Group finish: 2nd
W/D/L:
 3/2/1
Goals: 6
Conceded: 4

Schalke are a side made up of used pinball machine parts and the spectacular Amine Harit. They’ve had a topsy turvy road to qualification in the weird and wonderful world of Group D.

Perhaps the best way to sum Schalke up is that they are 14th in the Bundesliga and got slapped senseless by Porto, losing 3-1, and still qualified that very day. Manchester City should steamroller them.

15. Roma

Group finish: 2nd
W/D/L:
 3/3/0
Goals: 11
Conceded: 8

Last season’s surprise semi-finalists have sort of reverted to type in this year’s group stage where, on the one hand, they are obviously very good and better than most of the teams in the competition.

But on the other hand any of the top-tier sides are going to shove them aside without too much trouble (as Real Madrid have done twice this season). Their bottlejob in Plzen knocked CSKA Moscow out of Europe entirely, despite the fact the Russians won in Madrid, which was both hilarious and a sad indictment of UEFA rules.

14. Lyon

Group finish: 2nd
W/D/L:
 1/5/0
Goals: 12
Conceded: 11

Is it possible to qualify for the round of 16 by only winning one game? Lyon have proven that yes, it is. Admittedly that one win was opening night away to Manchester City; but their shoddy defence has left them incapable of building off that win. They’re fun to watch but so permeable that they’re unlikely to be a genuine threat against Barcelona.

13. Bayern Munich

Group finish: 1st
W/D/L:
 4/2/0
Goals: 15
Conceded: 5

Much like Madrid, Bayern turned to Europe to forget their domestic woes. They powered their way through their group, sort of. Their unbeaten first place finish looks impressive until, upon closer inspection, you realise that their two draws were against the only other good side in the group.

Then suddenly pummelling the chaff isn’t quite as impressive. Moreover they’re still five points off the top in the Bundesliga and even with competition top scorer Robert Lewandowski, Liverpool may be too much.

12. Ajax

Group finish: 2nd
W/D/L:
 3/3/0
Goals: 11
Conceded: 5

Despite being behind Bayern in their group, Ajax are ahead of them on the list because their achievement is far more impressive. In their first season back in the Champions League since 2015, Ajax have been bold and organised.

They’ve used a balance of veterans and youngsters to put in a series of impressive displays, led by Dusan Tadic’s brilliance, and reached the knockout rounds for the first time in 12 years! Sure, they’ve not started 2019 that well, but with Barça-bound Frenkie de Jong eager to get one over his future rivals Real Madrid, one has to give Ajax credit.

11. Spurs

Group finish: 2nd
W/D/L:
 2/2/2
Goals: 9
Conceded: 10

Qualifying from the group of death with negative goal difference shouldn’t be possible, but hey, never doubt Mauricio Pochettino. Spurs recovered from ‘Spursing’ two of their opening three games (getting massacred by Barcelona at Wembley inbetween) to eek out two wins and a draw from their last three.

The point they got against a Barcelona B-team at Camp Nou was just about enough as Inter bottled it at home to PSV. They’ve got more gears to go to but will find Borussia Dortmund a handful without Harry Kane and Dele Alli.

10. Porto

Group finish: 1st
W/D/L:
 5/1/0
Goals: 15
Conceded: 6

Porto blasted their way through to the knockout rounds with 15 goals. Only Paris Saint-Germain (17) and Manchester City (16) scored more than them.

They made light work of Group D and are currently top of the Primeira Liga. Moreover they’ve got a winnable tie against Roma coming up too. Don’t be surprised to see them make the quarter-finals.

9. Atlético Madrid

Group finish: 2nd
W/D/L:
 4/1/1
Goals: 9
Conceded: 6

For five of their games, Atlético Madrid have looked very much like the side that has managed to make two finals in five years under Diego Simeone (beating the two best teams in the world en route to the 2016 final which they inexplicably lost) but their place in this list is conditioned by the fact that they were eviscerated in Germany by Borussia Dortmund. They look decidedly out of sorts and a tie against Juventus is not what they need right now.

8. Manchester United

Group finish: 2nd
W/D/L:
 3/1/2
Goals: 7
Conceded: 4

It’s hard to imagine a side qualifying from such a tricky group in quite such an unspectacular manner. But under José Mourinho that’s pretty much what Manchester United were.

Now that they’ve finally sacked the belligerent Portuguese, United are humming again and look a genuinely dangerous prospect. They’ve pushed up the Premier League and have got a vibrant attacking force built around Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and the world-class midfield maestro Paul Pogba.

7. Real Madrid

Group finish: 1st
W/D/L:
 4/0/2
Goals: 12
Conceded: 5

Real Madrid were comically bad in La Liga for the first half of the season, but that nonsense only really infected their campaign for a fourth consecutive Champions League win for a few games.

They won four, the two against Roma quite handily, but they got absolutely hosed home and away by CSKA Moscow (the first time they’ve been doubled in the group stages since 2008). But now the new year has rolled around, Los Blancos have found their rhythm once again. Could they really do it again?

6. PSG

Group finish: 1st
W/D/L:
 3/2/1
Goals: 17
Conceded: 9

PSG scored more goals than anyone else in the group stages (again) but this time they really had to work for their qualification. They’re running away with things domestically and should rank higher for topping a tricky group but the simple fact of the matter is two of their three wins were against group whipping boys Red Star Belgrade.

Against the actual good sides they won once, drew twice and lost once – moreover they’re now missing Neymar and Edinson Cavani though injury and failed to sign a defensive midfielder in January. Could they once again be dumped out at the round of 16? It’s all on Kylian Mbappé to rescue them!

5. Liverpool

Group finish: 2nd
W/D/L:
 3/0/3
Goals: 9
Conceded: 7

Sir Alex Ferguson used to say you can qualify from the Champions League by winning your home games and picking up one point somewhere on the road. Well, Liverpool did even better by not even needing a point on the road.

Dominant at home, dire away. Liverpool’s excellent domestic season and Anfield form pushes them up this list. They’ll need their massive home advantage to cover for Virgil Van Dijk’s suspension in the first leg, because you can’t rely on them to travel well to Munich in the return fixture, especially as Real Madrid are the only side who have proven capable of winning at the Allianz in Europe since 2013.

4. Juventus

Group finish: 1st
W/D/L:
4/0/2
Goals: 9
Conceded: 4

Juventus cruised through their first three games but the reverse fixtures have been less than impressive and have cast doubts on their ability to go all the way even though they are once again cruising in Serie A.

They got Second Half FC’d at home where Valencia gave them a real game too, and then Young Boys slapped them around in the group’s final game. No, seriously, they went to Switzerland resting only Giorgio Chiellini, and got spanked by PSG legend Guillaume Hoarau. They’re good, but it’s worth remembering they have Wojciech Szczesny in goal.

3. Borussia Dortmund

Group finish: 1st
W/D/L:
 4/1/1
Goals: 10
Conceded: 2

Dortmund are taking Germany and Europe by storm this season. Their persistence and ability to find goals off the bench from Paco Alcacer or the prodigal Jadon Sancho is just delightful.

They won their group in impressive style, keeping five clean sheets. Whilst they lost 2-0 away to Atlético Madrid that was balanced out by destroying them 4-0 at home, inflicting the biggest loss in Diego Simeone’s time there. Spurs will feel like they can maybe match them in a press-fest, but Dortmund’s lightning quick wingers could inflict so much damage at Wembley.

2. Manchester City

Group finish: 1st
W/D/L:
 4/1/1
Goals: 16
Conceded: 6

Manchester City played some sublime football in their group games. They failed to beat the volatile Lyon, however, losing at home before drawing away. Their dominance on the domestic front is hard to overlook as is the fact that they played magnificent football without their best player (Kevin de Bruyne) for much of the season.

They’ve not been flawless, but there’s genius in there for sure with Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero having career best seasons in terms of quality of performance and Bernardo Silva emerging as a dominant playmaker. They have a ‘gimmie’ against Schalke in this round but watch out for them in the quarter-finals.

1. Barcelona

Group finish: 1st
W/D/L:
 4/2/0
Goals: 14
Conceded: 5

Barcelona were placed in the group of death but have handled it so comfortably you may as well have called it the group of mild skin irritation. Resplendent at Wembley when they demolished Spurs, they also took four points from closest rivals Inter without their talisman Leo Messi who missed the matches through injury.

The Argentine is the club’s top scorer in Europe with six goals (having played just 297 minutes) and is playing at an absurdly high level – his display at Wembley is the standout display of the tournament so far.

They’ve been inconsistent at times in La Liga this season but are still six points clear at the top of the table. Meanwhile, they’ve been almost note perfect in the Champions League (the draw in Milan was a game they controlled and the Spurs draw a dead rubber to them). They are the gold standard so far and Lyon will have to go some to keep up with them.

Source link – http://www.squawka.com/en/news/best-champions-league-teams-2018-19/1070598