Now that the UEFA Champions League is down to the final 16, it’s time to take a look at the possible upsets we could see come February 2017 when the 1st leg is played. Out of the 8 matchups there’s usually one or 2 upsets but considering how the draw went, we could end up having more upsets than usual this time around. I’m basing this more on the quality and vulnerability of their opponents. There are always various factors like injuries and sometimes even luck but for the most part things usually end up working out for the more renowned teams. Other times the Soccer Gods have other plans and smaller teams usually come up short when the big matches arrive. So, without further ado here are Five UEFA Champions League Underdogs that could make some serious noise in the knockout round stage.
For the knockout stage they drew Benfica. Although Borrusia is not currently even in the top 5 of the Bundesliga the stakes are always higher once you’re in the final 16. Borussia’s top quality attackers alone can’t make them advance so they must remain committed to defending against Benfica. Dortmund has won their last 5 matches against Portuguese opposition and they look to keep that streak alive. The 2nd leg will be in Germany so look for Dortmund to get into the quarterfinals for the 3rd time in the last 6 seasons and make a serious bid to get to the semi-finals.
Although they have not had the best of luck with their draw, they have managed to draw the beast that is Bayern Munich for the 3rd time in the last 5 seasons. Poor Arsene Wegner has to wonder what he has to do to avoid them at some point! They will desperately need Alexis Sanchez, Messut Ozil, and Oliver Giroud to step up big time if they expect to make a big run in the tournament. If they can manage to score quickly and make good use of the away goals in the 1st leg vs Bayern they stand a fighting chance to overcome their recent Champions league struggles and finally move on to the next round. The confidence boost of beating a giant like Bayern will surely get the Gunners and their fans hungry for more success.
PSG drew mighty Barcelona for the knockout round but the staggering inconsistency of Luis Enrique’s squad in recent months is certainly created a great opportunity for PSG to catch them at the right time and take advantage of their struggles. It seems the theme this year is facing familiar foes again but PSG has the talent to stun Barcelona. Sure, PSG put themselves in this position by being sloppy in their final group match by drawing 2-2 and they’ve also given up 7 goals in their previous 3 matches. Are they simply just waiting to wake up or are they a real threat? We’ll find out soon enough but don’t count them out!
LEICESTER CITY F.C.
The 2016 Soccer Cinderella wants to keep on sending shockwaves throughout the world. Losing 0-5 in their final group stage match to FC Porto was not ideal but they did win when they were supposed to and that has them in the final 16. They need last year’s premier league player of the year Riyad Mahrez in top form to get past Sevilla. It’s no easy task but I see them sneaking in to the quarterfinals. If they can get that far, then who’s to say they can’t keep on climbing the mountain.
Now we move on to a squad that has found the right formula to score goals at an amazing pace. 17 goals in their last 5 French Ligue matches have them scorching hot scoring run. The return of Radamel Falcao to top form is also a nice story but fundamental for Monaco to succeed. Is he really back? Only time will tell but Manchester City cannot fall asleep on Monaco. Pep Guardiola’s team has not been impressive as of late and could face a quick exit if they don’t get their act together. A team like Monaco that is hot at the right time can easily create havoc in the knockout round. They are my sleeper pick to get into the semifinals. Yes they have to get though Messi and company but hey why not Monaco?
CREDIT: COSMINIFTODE / SHUTTERSTOCK
What do you think? Who are your favorites UEFA Champions League Underdogs in 2017?