As the Champions League moves into its final stages some teams are proving to be hot favourites to win the tournament.
Sixteen teams are left in what is arguably the most competitive club team soccer tournament on earth. This week, teams are preparing to kick off the second leg in the round of 16 with eight teams advancing to the quarter-finals.
Skedline.com issued a poll where readers got to share their thoughts on what team they think is going to win the tournament.
Last year’s winner Real Madrid won the poll with 35.29 per cent of the votes followed by its Spanish rivals Barcelona at 23.53 per cent.
Both Chelsea and Bayern Munich landed at 17.65 per cent of the vote respectively. Borussia Dortmund got just under six per cent of the vote. The remaining teams did not get any votes. Seventeen people participated in the poll.
We decided to take a look at the five teams our readers think have a fighting chance of winning the tournament.
Last year’s winner is already standing with one foot in the quarter-final after beating Schalke 2-0 in the first leg. And it’s hard to argue against Real’s chances of winning.
With players like Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Luka Modric, the Spaniards have an impressive attacking third that measures up with every team in Europe.
Real Madrid is currently sitting in first place in La Liga with rivals Barcelona chasing two points behind. The team’s tremendous offence is certainly weighing up for its, sometimes, shaky defence. However, with experienced names such as Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Marcelo, Real Madrid has a ton of experience from close games, which might come in handy when things are heating up.
Barcelona was the big winner of the first leg beating Manchester City on away turf with 2-1 after Luis Suarez netted a couple. This looked like the old Barcelona we saw a few years ago with an offence ripe with firepower.
Barcelona fields one of the best final thirds in soccer. Stars Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar have been responsible for a majority of the goals scored by the Catalans in this year’s tournament. But the team also possesses a strong midfield, which works hard to win the ball back and keep possession. The strength of Barcelona’s midfield is also enough to shut down attacks from most teams left in the tournament.
The London-based team is the biggest hope of bringing the Champions League trophy back to England. Chelsea is fundamentally a strong team and with the additions of Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (back from loan) the team is arguably better than when they won the tournament in 2012.
But Chelsea’s biggest acquisition might have been brining back manager Jose Mourinho. This is a manager who knows how to win and won’t accept stopping short of success. Granted, Mourinho’s Champions League victories have come from managing smaller clubs who could rely on a strong defense and deadly counter-attacks.
With the strength the Portuguese has in his squad, however, Chelsea will be a fierce contender. As one reader noted: ‘‘Chelsea will win because of its experienced squad and manager.’’
But after having tied Paris SG in the first leg (1-1), Chelsea has to improve significantly to make it through to the next round. Realistically, this is a team that can make it to the semifinal.
It’s well established that no team can break away with an easy win in Germany. Bayern Munich runs like a well-oiled machine where the collective trumps individual skill. With that said, the Germans have some of the best individual players in Europe and certainly have the capacity of taking on any team and win.
However, there has been some criticism of Pep Guardiola’s choice of using a four-man back line. Bayern Munich has the world’s best keeper in Manuel Neuer and could therefore gamble with a three-man back line and using the extra attacker.
After 0-0 against Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg, the German defence looks strong whereas the offence, obviously, still have a lot to prove if they wish to go deep this year. Bottom line: don’t count out the Germans.
Two years ago Dortmund fell to Bayern Munich in the Champions League final at Wembley. But it’s fair to say the team won’t make it that far this year. After a 2-1 loss against Juventus in the first leg, Dortmund is not likely to advance to the quarter-final. Granted, Dortmund will play the second leg at home and a 1-0-win will be enough to make it through. But this match-up is not so much about Dortmund’s weaknesses than it is about the strength of the Juventus squad.
The Italians, who’ve won the domestic league for three straight years, are looking sharp and can give teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona a run for their money.
Dortmund has a strong collective with individual strength in players like Marco Reus and defensive general Mats Hummels. But this year, the team seem to lack that final piece of the puzzle needed if you’re looking to go all the way.
To analyze and predict the outcome of any sports tournament is hard. A number of factors we’re not able to foresee play into every game. But thus far, it appears as if the Champions League trophy will stay put in Spain. Real Madrid and Barcelona are both looking strong and are clear contenders, which was reflected in Skedline.com’s poll. But no one can count out Chelsea or Bayern Munich.
We predict the trophy will land in Barcelona due to the team’s fierce offence and strong midfield and defence that back up the firepower of Messi, Neymar and Suarez.
The poll is still open and can be found following this link.