With the second division of Champions League having boiled down to the round of 16, lets take a look at the action an how some of heavy weights fared.
English Teams Struggle
Of the three remaining English Teams, Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton, the one in poorest form in the local league has absolutely destroyed its opponent to storm into the round of 16. Everton faced Swiss side BSC Young Boys and handed them a thrashing. Having beaten them 4-1 away, there was almost no way back for the men in yellow and black. However back home Everton showed no mercy. Much like the terminator eliminating man, woman or child that stood in front of it, Everton went on to win 3-1 to take the aggregate score to 7-2. Romelu Lukaku has shone in this competition scoring a hatrick and a brace in each of the fixtures.
Tottenham Hotspurs have been favourites for this competition in that past few games. Right from the rabona goal of Lamela to the unearthing of home boy Harry Kane, this competition has only benefited the London side year after year. However with the added benefit of qualification to the championa s league this competition was Tottenhama s to loose. Facing a charged up Fiorentina who have the home advantage as well as an away goal in their bag. However with no real threat offered from Soldado and later upfront. Tottenham conceded a goal each from Mario Gomez and Salah ensured Tottenhama s hopes of one silverware was lost.
Liverpool on the other hand came close as they faced Turkish side Besiktas. Having won 1-0 at home and then losing 1-0 away, Liverpool had to resort to a penalty shootout where Lovren missed his chance and put the Turkish side through 5-4. The Reds have found great form in the Premier League but have been unable to perform in the European stage after crashing out of the Championa s League first and then the Europa League.
Italia e Grande
The Italians are dominating this competition with 4 clubs from Serie A proceeding to the round of 16. Along with Fiorentina are Inter Milan ( Internazionale), Roma and Napoli. Inter have faced Celtic and comfortably slotted in 3 goals over the Scottish side as they were held for a draw. After winning 1-0 at home, the sinking Inter are a shade of their past and are sitting quite low in their local league (8th place). As a former Champions League winning side, their absence from the competition is a sure fire disappointment for fans around the world. A victory in the competition would be the most appropriate way they can look to make a comeback among the great clubs of the current years.
Roma have been offered a birth in this competition after having been eliminated from the Champions league. They are currently second in the Serie A and will look to redeem their loss in the bigger competition by putting up a strong performance and winning the Europa League. Facing national rivals Fiorentina in the next round, Roma will have a tough fight ahead as they will be playing against a team that is all too familiar with the clubs style of football. Napoli have played their games against Turkish side Trabzonspor and have thrashed them away from home 4-0 to gain an irreversible home advantage which they won 0-4. In the home game they resorted a more docile approach and beat them again 1-0 and progressed to the next round.
The Spanish and German Sides
Villareal, Sevilla and Atheletico Bilbao were the only teams left from the Spanish league. With Bilbao sinking to Torino, Villareal and defending Champions Sevilla are face each other in the round of 16 after comfortably disposing Salzburg and Monchengladbach respectively. In a situation where only the best Spanish team can go to the next round ,Sevilla will look to win and the game so that they can go ahead try to hold on to the trophy for one more year as well as gain a morale advantage over Villareal who are just a point behind them in the La Liga Table.
On the other hand Monchengladbach and Wolfsburg were the only two German clubs left in the competition. With Monchengladbach suffering a 2 goal defeat against Sevilla, Wolfsburg faced the tough Portuguese side Sporting Club de Portugal. Having been put through a tougher side and backed by a few world class players, Wolfsburgh look like hot favourites for the title.
Other sides such as Dinamo Moskva, Dynamo Kyiv, Torino and Ajax all faced victories by comfortable margins. Neither of the mentioned teams comfortably won the game. With tough fixtures ahead, a change in tactics or a miracle can be the only way any of these other teams can look to reach the quarter finals.
The Round of 16
- Zenith vs Torino
- Wolfsburg vs Internazionale
- Dnipro vs Ajax
- Club Brugge vs Besiktas
- Fiorentina vs Roma
- Everton vs Dynamo Kyiv
- Villa Real vs Sevilla
- Napoli vs Dinamo Moskva
Zenith, Wolfsburg, Napoli and Everton look the most competitive amongst all other teams. With Lukaku finding his feet, the Merseyside blues will be a tough nut to crack. Everton is a well-balanced side and have played quite contrary to their League performance. Struggling at 12th Everton would look to ensure they win the Europa League in order to gain a Champions League Spot for next season. Wolfsburg on the other hand are doing well in their league and have comfortably proceeded to the next round. With the likes of De Bruyne, Schrulle and Gustavo in midfield, they possess good balance and are hot favourites in the competition. However, a victory in this competition does not provide any added benefit as their second place finish will automatically qualify them for the next Champions League. However as every Bundes Liga side we can be sure that they will give it their all without holding back.
Napoli on the other had destroyed their relatively unknown opponent but it will be a wonder how they will perform in the future against tougher sides after having been handed an easy run in this competition. Napoli are currently 3rd in their league and have ready Champions league qualifications if Lazio or Fiorentina do not catch up to them. With this in mind, Napoli might resort to saving players for the Serie A and taking this competition lightly untill they reach the semi-finals or the finals. Zenith on the other hand have all the motivation to win the competition. With AVB at their helm the Russian side has cruised to a 7 point lead in the league and will look to ensure they win this competition as the manager will be eager to win some silverware to show the Tottenham Management of their mistake. On the contrary, with the legendary Totti on their side, Roma are clearly the strongest looking team and hot favourites to win the competition. Although Roma are at a comfortable spot in the Serie A, lack of opportunities to win silverware locally will motivate them to win this competition. Roma will be sure shot finalists and will face either Wolfsburg or Zenith for the title.