The five major European leagues (Spain, England, Italy, Germany and France) tyrannize the biggest continental competition with 14 of the 16 teams qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League. Just two classics, Ajax and Oporto, put the counterpoint to the dominance of the championships that have more economic resources for sponsorships and television rights. And that’s where the Premier stands out.
For the second consecutive year all the participating English teams have managed to overcome the group stage. The same does not happen with LaLiga and the German Bundesliga because Valencia and Hoffenheim are left out, but both are the only ones to place two squads in the elimination round as group champions. Among the Italians have stayed on the road Inter and Naples.
Access as first guaranteed to play at home the second leg of the round of 16 and, in theory, a more friendly draw next Monday 17 in Nyon from twelve in the morning. But the regulation that prevents matches between teams from the same country or that have crossed in the group stage announces high-voltage duels. Real Madrid have a 50% chance of facing a rival of the Premier (Tottenham, Liverpool or Manchester United) but perhaps prefer to see some of the other three options: Schalke 04, Ajax or Lyon.
The Gauls were sealed their way to the next round in a direct duel against Shakhtar (1-1) and their presence evokes past white disasters, those six consecutive campaigns between 2005 and 2010 eliminated in the round of 16. Lyon was the last to beat Madrid, that he took revenge a year later at the same height as the competition. Since then the champion of the last three editions always came to play at least the semifinals.
Barcelona will also seek to add an extraordinary record because it has passed the last 16 in the last eleven seasons. Liverpool, in 2007, was the last one to take him down in that instance. And now again they could meet the owners of Anfield. Or with Rome, the last culé executioner. Or with Mourinho. Also with some of the members of that friendlier trio that also awaits Madrid.
Positions to want rival, the Athletic one aims at a duel against the Oporto, in principle the less demanding alternative if one considers that the other options are PSG, Bayern, Manchester City and Juventus. But nothing is easy at this point and more if you consider that the Champions is increasingly a closed box. At this point, there are no longer any Turks, Russians or Ukrainians who used to scratch someplace among the 16 best. Last season nine different countries were present in the last 16, three campaigns were ten. In this edition, between February 12 and March 13, there will be only seven.