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UEFA Champions League: The Sweet 16 is set

Wayne Rooney (AFP) 

Wayne Rooney scored a second-half equalizer to help Manchester United salvage a 2-2 against Danish side AaB, a result that helped the Red Devils secure first place in its group ahead of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.

With the top spots in the remaining groups all but decided heading into Wednesday, the biggest issue to be resolved was which teams would finish first and which would finish second in the groups, positions that would determine just how tough the path through the knockout round will be.

Arsenal's path has gotten tougher after its 2-0 loss to FC Porto forced the Gunners to settle for second place in its group, behind the Portuguese squad. Bayern Munich and Juventus also finished first in their groups, setting up what should be a very intriguing draw later this week.

A rash of upsets in the later rounds of the group stage has set up a Round of 16 loaded with juicy match-ups. In fact, of the two groups (group winners and runner-ups) you can argue that the group runners-up list is more imposing.

Here is how the pools shake out for the Round of 16 Draw:

Group Winners: AS Roma, Panathanaikos, Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, FC Porto, Juventus.

Group Runners-up: Chelsea, Inter Milan, Sporting Lisbon, Atletico Madrid, Villarreal, Lyon, Arsenal, Real Madrid.

The first obvious question is just who might wind up beating seemingly unbeatable Barcelona (and yes, that was a Barcelona B team that lost its final group match). The rules of the draw are simple. You can't face a team from your own country or from your group stage. That means Barcelona will play either Chelsea, Inter Milan, Lyon or Arsenal.

Yes, that's right, WOW.

Just imagine being one of those four teams and you could face either Panathanaikos (unless you're Inter), FC Porto (unless you're Arsenal) or FC Barcelona.

Jose Mourinho's boys from Milan are also likely to face a tough opponent in the knockout round. With AS Roma, Panathanaikos and Juventus out of the picture, Inter Milan could wind up facing any of the following opponents: Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester United, Bayern Munich or FC Porto. In other words, The Special One will either face a very tough opponent or the club he helped lead to the Champions League title less than five years ago (FC Porto for you casual fans).

The potential juicy match-ups are endless. Don't worry, you will have until Dec. 19, when the Round of 16 draw takes place, to come up with your own dream match-ups.

What do you think of the group stage outcome? Which team surprised you the most? Which team disappointed you? What match-up would you most want to see in the Round of 16?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I think the most interesting question at this stage is always- When is Lyon going to stop quitting the competition at the round of 16? This is the year Benzema needs to carry them over the top, and I honestly think if he plays well, Lyon could be a serious contender for the title.
    But screw it, I’m going for Bayern.

  2. Do you think the recent rash of injuries and yesterday’s ejection of Franco will prompt Villareal to add Jozy to the CL roster for the knockout stage?

  3. Let’s be honest here – at this stage of the competition, there are no easy outs. You want to be the king of the hill? You gotta knock off someone good to get there. We’ve weeded out the FC Basel’s and Aalborg’s of the world. Now the games matter and they’re *all* against big teams at every stage of every round.

  4. Brian misspelled “college bball” He meant “c-h-a-m-p-i-o-n-s-l-e-a-g-u-e”. Lay off him, man! lol

    I just want great fussball. Bayern uber alles!

  5. Pipe down Brian, with the sweet sixteen comment.

    As for the SWEET SIXTEEN I think the knock-out stages are going to be good match-ups. It looks like Barcelona is the favorite at this time, but do not count out the defending champs MANU.

  6. That’s was Villarreals B Team.



    Barca v Inter would be a great match.

    Wish villareal had made the round..

    Posted by: Zachy

  7. I am somewhat disappointed that none of the less known teams from Eastern Europe were able to seriouslly challenge the usual suspects for a place in the round of 16. Zenit, the last year’s UEFA Cup winners, looked out of their depth. Shakhtar and Dynamo Kiev actually had decent group stages, but wound up just short of the 2nd place

  8. Mourinho never despised Liverpool, he had an intense rivalry with Rafa, but since leaving Chelsea he has said very complimentary things about LFC as a club, though I’m sure he would relish another opportunity to try to defeat Rafa in the CL (of which he has yet to do)…

    I’m hoping Liverpool get Sporting or Lyon.

  9. Although I guess I shouldn’t be, the two Portuguese Clubs making it to the round of 16 is pretty impressive. I know Porto is a regular in this round, but it speaks well for the Portuguese La Liga to be two for two in terms of teams that automatically qualified. It doesn’t approach the Premier League in terms of having all your teams make it this far (or the Spanish La Liga); but it sure implies that their best clubs are putting in better performances than the French, Dutch and even the Germans overall. Will be interesting to see if either can make it any farther.

  10. Well, it looks like the wicket for the Special One is underdetermined at this point – let’s see what the Panathanaikos arrangements look like in the transfer period before writing them off – but it’s never certain that a Lisbon-Porto alignment could hold water. This means war!

  11. Juventus – Chelsea
    Roma – Arsenal
    Manchester United – Real Madrid
    Barcalona – Inter Milan
    Bayern Munich – Sporting Lisbon
    Porto – Athletico Madrid
    Villareal – Liverpool
    Panathanaiakos – Lyon

    Would be some very interesting matchups with this set of games

  12. That’d be great if Inter faced ‘Pool or United. I bet Mourinho still despises Liverpool and would love to crush them. Same goes for United. Porto would be great too, but wouldn’t have the same kind of backstory to it, the two are much different. But, he could face Chelsea in the second round, what a clash that would be!


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