After a shocking semifinal round and an epic league final last year, the soccer world is even more excited for this year’s tournament. With the Gareth Bale and Neymar transfers, and Dortmund looking for revenge after the devastating Champions Final loss to their arch rival Bayern Munich, some of the best teams in all of soccer are heading into the biggest stage for their clubs.
Beginning with 32 teams, the tournament is now down to 16 after several hard fought games. The 16 teams in this tournament are the best in the world and will now face off in the Champions League tournament. Each team will play two games against the same team for the Round of 16. Then they will move on to the round of 8, the semifinal and lastly the Champions League Final. This year’s teams and the matchups are as follows.
The first match up is Manchester City versus Barcelona. Man City is a strong team in the English Premier League. They took second last year in their league with the help of their world-class keeper Joe Hart and their relentless defense. Barcelona on the other hand took first in the La Liga over long time rival Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, two teams also in the tournament. During one of the transfer windows Barcelona received the forward from Santos, Neymar, who is right now believed to be the next coming of Ronaldo. When these two teams face off it will be a great game, with one of the best defenses taking on the high powered offense. In the end of the first round though, Barcelona will prove why they won their league and are considered one of the top five squads in the world.
The next match up is Leverkusen FC versus PSG. Leverkusen is the surprise of the tournament. Because they were not expected to even make it out of the round of 32. This year Leverkusen will be the Cinderella story of the tournament, especially if they defeat PSG. Paris Saint Germain is looking to make a historic run this year also, with their newly signed forward, Edison Cavani, from Napoli. PSG has been a force in past years but always seems to come up short due to the lack of commitment from the players. PSG is the favorite in this matchup and will more then likely crush Leverkusen before they even realize what they had gotten into.
The most anticipated match of the Round of 16 will host the Gunners from England, Arsenal, versus the German super power, Bayern Munich. The Gunners have been an average team for the past few years, but last year this squad changed. They began winning, scoring goals and challenging the best teams in Europe. With Patrick Ramsey, Mesit Ozil, and Jack Wilshire running the team Bayern Munich will have its hands full if they do not come to play. Munich on the other hand is the defending champion of the world. They are the best team in the world hands down. This team is composed of German soccer players. Manuel Neuer who has been named one of the top keepers of his generation, will be strong in net, with Schwinstieger, his fellow teammate will look to repeat as the champion of the world. Munich has been the most dominate team in all of the world for the past decade. Last year in the semifinals they defeated Barcelona, not by one goal but by four, in the two games they played.
This year both teams are strong and passionate to show they are back and are as strong as ever. In two great matches though Bayern Munich will defeat Arsenal, destroying their hopes of showing the world they are a top team again.
Another big match-up that is anticipated is the AC Milan versus Atletico Madrid, two underdogs that have always been overlooked. AC Milan is looking to showcase their transfer Mario Balotelli and youngster El Sharawaay. They are two up-and-coming players that have showed great potential for Italy and Milan. As for Atletico Madrid, they were looked to have flopped after losing World Class Colombian. Falcao, who transferred to Monaco. Instead Diego Costa a Brazilian forward stepped up and has scored goals keeping Atletico in the mix. Once the final whistle blows it will be Atletico Madrid moving on, not because they are the best team but because AC Milan has fallen apart this year as a team and will lose the game because they haven’t learned how to play as a team.
The next match will be between Zenit FC versus Borrussia Dortmund. Zenit has always been a strong Russian team, and they finally have their chance at moving onto the next round of the league. Zenit should be happy that they are starting off in “Mother Russia” for they cannot only show their country they can beat world class teams but give them a new belief in themselves. However, Dortmund is looking for revenge after a devastating loss last year to Munich. With this being Lewandoski’s last year at Dortmund, he and his squad are looking to crush their opponents and show they have not missed a beat. As for the match itself, the game played in St. Petersburg, it will be a good match but when they head back to Germany Borrussia will show why they were in the championship last year.
A shocking matchup this year will be between Olympiacos versus Manchester United. With Olympiacos being the reigning Greek champion, they are hoping to take down the English superpower from Old Trafford with their consistent and relentless defense. With the help of Zeus and Hercules, Olympiacos will look to shock the world with the defeat of Man U. United on the other hand has not had the best appearances in the Champions league, nor have they had a great Premier league season, where they are currently ranked seventh. However, no one knows with Man. U. With the all new transfer Juan Mata, from Chelsea, Manchester is looking for him to get the ball to Van Persie and Rooney to score goals which United has seemed to be in a rut. They have the talent to be great but to also flop as we have seen the year in the Premier League. Olympiacos will be playing at home in their first match against Manchester, if they can get the win at home and have the crowd behind them they will definitely foil the weak Manchester’s chances at coming back to the Champions league next year. The game will be a hard fought back and forth battle but in the end Olympiacos will top United.
Not only being an expected exciting match for the fans, Galatarasaray versus Chelsea is Didier Drogba’s first match back at Stamford Bridge since leaving his former Chelsea team. This game will not only mean everything to Drogba but to the entire squad itself. For Galatarasaray to defeat this young but strong Chelsea squad will put them on the map and give an all new belief in the club. Galatarasaray has a strong squad with midfielder Wesley Snjieder supporting Didier it could cause trouble for the Blues in Drogba’s return. Chelsea on the other hand will be looking to make a comeback after last years embarrassing exit in group stage being the reigning champion of the world. With one of the great Chelsea coaches back at the Bridge, Jose Mourhino and company will be looking to make the run they did not make last year in the Champions League hoping to be one of the top five teams in the world. With the Belgian threat, Eden Hazard stronger then ever will look to lead the Blues through Galatarasaray with the help of the finess master, Oscar of Brazil. The two teams will face off on the 26th of February, the game will be emotional matches but Chelsea being the World Class team they are will defeat Galatarasary in two great matches.
The final matchup of the Round of 16 is Schalke versus Real Madrid. Schalke is the fourth German team in this years Champions League. They have made their point that they are an up-and-coming team not only in Germany but in the world. They will be facing their biggest challenge yet though. Real Madrid is the favorite in this contest, as they should be because they have some of the best players in the world on the squad. Ronaldo will be back, Bale is as healthy and in form as ever, Sergio Ramos looking like the defender he was in the 2010 World Cup. This team will be a favorite in this year’s tournament. When the matches start sadly Schalke will not have a chance for the duo up top of Benzema and Ronaldo or Ronaldo and Bale will put away Schalke with ease within the first forty-five.