Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester City have all impressed in the group stages, but who tops our Champions League round of 16 power rankings?
Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid headline a cast short on unfamiliar names for the last 16 of the 2018-19 Champions League. While the usual names are all present what is unusual about this year’s tournament is how none of the big guns are standing out.
It’s not unfair to say each of the big three stumbled over the line in the group stage. Barca topped Group B by six points but let Tottenham sneak through after being held to a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.
A stalemate was still better than the results Real and Juve managed on Wednesday. Holders Real were humbled 3-0 at home by a CSKA Moscow side propping up Group G.
Meanwhile, the Bianconeri lost 2-1 away to Young Boys, a result which would have let Manchester United top Group H. The Red Devils couldn’t take the gift, though, and promptly lost 2-1 in Valencia.
Nobody is looking like a lock to lift the trophy this far ahead of June’s final in Madrid, but find out where the 16 least-unconvincing teams left standing rank.
No team sums up the lack of a wow factor in this season’s group stage as much as Lyon. The Ligue 1 outfit made it out of Group F undefeated but only after drawing five of six matches.
Avoiding defeat so often shows commendable resilience. At the same time, failing to win so often proves Lyon aren’t quite good enough to finish matches at this level.
Those who disagree with the latter statement can reference Lyon’s lone group-stage win. It was an impressive 2-1 triumph over Premier League juggernaut Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium back in September.
Goals from Maxwel Cornet and Nabil Fekir underlined Lyon’s enviable contingent of young and budding game-breakers. Cornet, 22, offers pace up top to stretch any defense, while Fekir’s eye for goal rarely fails him.
It was Fekir who struck in Kiev to equalise against Shakhtar on Wednesday and send Lyon through. The 25-year-old attacking midfielder is the one player last-16 teams should fear.
Fekir and Cornet are ably supported by midfield powerhouse Tanguy Ndombele. His ability to control the middle could prove decisive against the big boys.