Who can Real Madrid face in Champions League last 16?
Zinedine Zidane and co. confirmed their place at the top of their group on Wednesday evening, and can now look forward to the knockout phase of UEFA's showpiece competition.
After a much more tortuous path in the group than they had hoped for, Real Madrid finally made it to the Champions League round of 16, and they qualified in first place. In doing so - something that manager Zinedine Zidane had not achieved in the three seasons previously managing Los Blancos in the competition - they become one of the seeded sides and, in theory at least, should have an easier passage to the quarter finals.
Real Madrid's four Champions League opponents
The draw that will pit Europe’s elite against each other takes place on Monday 14 December at midday CET, and a quick glance at the two pots shows a weighty distinction. Between the eight seeded clubs, six of them are previous champions of the continent, and have a total of 29 triumphs in UEFA’s main competition. By finishing top of their group - a Benzema brace securing a 2-0 win in the final game - Madrid have avoided the big guns that are eyeing another star on the shirt. And of those clubs in Pot 2, only two of them have won this trophy before, Barcelona and Porto, but a double-header against the Catalan side will also be evaded in the next round due to coming from the same league.
As well as their Clásico rivals, Los Blancos can also score Atlético Madrid, Sevilla and Borussia Mönchengladbach off their list of potential opponents in the Last 16, two ruled out due to country restrictions and the Germans as they shared the group stage with Madrid. Thus, they are left with just four possible opponents: Atalanta, Lazio, RB Leipzig and the aforementioned Porto.
Reflecting on the historical record in the European Cup/Champions League, we have exactly half of the representatives with at least one title in their list of honours. Zidane’s unbelievable (on various levels) consecutive triple pushed record holders Madrid to 13, and behind them lie Bayern Munich and Liverpool (both with six and two of the favourites for this season), Barça (5), Juventus and Porto (two each), and Dortmund and Chelsea with one each. The two other clubs yet to achieve their lofty recent ambitions, but who are throwing everything at it, also sit in Pot 1 so will not be paired with the Spanish champions. Manchester City reached the semi-finals in 2016 and are desperate under Pep Guardiola to lift Ol’ Big Ears. PSG went all the way to last season’s final (one that was tweaked due to the coronavirus impact) but were outclassed by the very impressive Bayern. It’s an impressive array of talent in Pot 1.
Champions League 2020-21: last 16 pots
Rules state that clubs cannot be drawn against another club from the same country, nor against those who qualified from the same group.
For those clubs that finished in second place in their group, a tough challenge awaits. In terms of UEFA ranking, the easiest tie would be against Chelsea, but anyone who follows the English Premier League closely enough will know that the recent hundreds of millions spent to enhance their squad has The Blues as a potential candidate for the biggest prizes this season. Barça and Atlético have rich history in this competition and on current form it is the capital side under Diego Simeone that would likely be the most feared by the seeded sides. As previously stated, Real Madrid cannot face either of them.
There are few easy games at this stage of the competition but Sevilla, Porto, Leipzig, Atalanta, Lazio and Borussia Mönchengaldbach will not put the chills up any of those in Pot 1.