Friday 21 November 2014

It's a knockout

Published 19/12/2012 | 05:00

We run the rule over the clubs bidding for Europe’s ultimate prize ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League last 16 draw

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Coach: Carlo Ancelotti.

Star man: Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 1995.

Chances: Mega-rich PSG have ambitions to win the Champions League this term and if striker Ibrahimovic can continue his superb form, it might just happen.

Did you know? Paris Saint-Germain were only formed in 1970, as a merger between Paris FC and Stade St Germain.

SCHALKE

Coach: Huub Stevens.

Star man: Klaas Jan Huntelaar.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 2011.

Chances: Unbeaten through their group, with Arsenal certainly knowing they are not a team to be taken lightly.

Did you know? Stevens is in his second spell as Schalke boss, having returned in 2011. In his first stint in charge, the team won the 1997 UEFA Cup.

MALAGA

Coach: Manuel Pellegrini.

Star man: Javier Saviola.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: First time in competition.

Chances: Impressive so far in their debut Champions League season, although inexperience may count against them in the knockout rounds.

Did you know? Pellegrini took Villarreal to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2006, but during his brief period as boss at Real Madrid, could only get Los Blancos to the last 16.

BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Coach: Jurgen Klopp.

Star man: Robert Lewandowski.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1997.

Chances: Very much caught the eye in the group stage after coming out on top of arguably the most difficult pool, and are being tipped as dark horses for the title.

Did you know? Dortmund, under Klopp, have won the Bundesliga for the past two seasons, securing a domestic double in 2012 by adding the DFB-Pokal.

JUVENTUS

Coach: Antonio Conte.

Star man: Arturo Vidal.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1985, 1996.

Chances: Serie A champions snuck into last 16 by winning final group game and will be expected to step it up when European competition resumes in February.

Did you know? Juve's original strip was pink, back in 1897. They adopted their new colours six years later when Turin-based Englishman John Savage acquired a set of black and white vertical striped shirts from a Notts County-supporting friend.

BAYERN MUNICH

Coach: Jupp Heynckes

Star man: Franck Ribery.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1974, 1975, 1976, 2001.

Chances: Last season's beaten finalists are looking to make amends and have been effective so far.

Did you know? Bayern Munich have won the European Cup four times in their history, but have also been runners-up on five occasions.

BARCELONA

Coach: Tito Vilanova.

Star man: Lionel Messi.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1992, 2006, 2009, 2011.

Chances: There has been little so far to suggest that Vilanova, appointed as Barca boss over the summer, cannot emulate his predecessor Pep Guardiola this term by winning the competition.

Did you know? Prior to their 2006 Champions League triumph, Barcelona had not featured in a European Cup final since 1994.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Coach: Alex Ferguson.

Star man: Robin van Persie.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1968, 1999, 2008.

Chances: Have marched pretty efficiently into the knockout rounds and look to be among the strongest contenders. The 1-0 defeat at home to Cluj is unlikely to have Alex Ferguson awake at night.

Did you know? United failed to win a single one of their away ties en route to the 1968 final.

NON-SEEDS

PORTO

Coach: Vitor Pereira.

Star man: Jackson Martinez.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1987, 2004.

Chances: Have shown they can go all the way before, but it seems unlikely they will trouble the major sides this time.

Did you know? Pereira was previously assistant boss at Porto under Andre Villas-Boas, who led the team to a treble of the Portuguese league and cup and Europa League in 2011.

ARSENAL

Coach: Arsene Wenger.

Star man: Santi Cazorla.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2006.

Chances: Have had a stuttering campaign – particularly at home – and will need to show considerable improvement if they are going to be genuine contenders.

Did you know? Arsenal have now qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League for 13 seasons in a row – all of which has been achieved under Wenger.

AC MILAN

Coach: Massimiliano Allegri.

Star man: Stephan El Shaarawy.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007.

Chances: Struggling this term domestically and in Europe, they are not the force of old – although their pedigree in this competition means they should not be entirely written off.

Did you know? The club was founded as a football and cricket outfit by English expatriates in 1899.

REAL MADRID

Coach: Jose Mourinho.

Star man: Cristiano Ronaldo.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002.

Chances: Over a decade on from Real's last Champions League triumph, it would appear boss Mourinho is determined to clinch the crown for the club this season, and they are widely regarded as joint-favourites alongside Barcelona.

Did you know? Real appeared in eight of the first 11 European Cup finals.

SHAKHTAR DONETSK

Coach: Mircea Lucescu.

Star man: Luiz Adriano.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: Quarter-final 2011.

Chances: Another side to have really grabbed people's attention in the group stage and one few teams will want to face in the knockout rounds.

Did you know? Lucescu guided Shakhtar to the UEFA Cup title in 2009 – the final year before the tournament was rebranded as the Europa League.

VALENCIA

Coach: Ernesto Valverde.

Star man: Roberto Soldado.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2000, 2001.

Chances: Do not appear equipped for a really extended run in the competition this season.

Did you know? Valencia recorded their biggest Champions League win last season by beating Genk 7-0.

CELTIC

Coach: Neil Lennon.

Star man: Victor Wanyama.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1967.

Chances: Given little hope after being grouped with Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow, but reached knockout stage for first time since 2007-08 season thanks to impressive wins in Moscow and at home to the Spanish giants. Anything else would be a bonus for the Scottish champions.

Did you know? The club was founded in 1887 with the stated purpose of alleviating poverty in Glasgow's East End parishes.

GALATASARAY

Coach: Fatih Terim.

Star man: Burak Yilmaz.

Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-finals 1989.

Chances: Snatched second spot in Group H from CFR Cluj. Few teams will fancy making the trip to the intimidating Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul. Defeated a young Manchester United team 1-0 during the group stages there.

Did you know? Gala became the first Turkish club to win a European trophy when they beat Arsenal on penalties to win the 2000 UEFA Cup.

Irish Independent

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