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A Complete Guide To The Final 16 Teams Of The Champions League

UCL-Draw

Manchester United and Arsenal, the only two remaining English sides, will be looking to avoid the big guns in the draw for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, which takes place in Nyon (Switzerland) on Thursday 10:30am GMT.

Manchester United qualified as Group H winners and so are seeded in the draw but they still could be drawn against the big sides, while Arsenal finished as runners-up and like United could face the top guns especially Barcelona (third time in the past four seasons) in the knockout stages. On the other hand, Chelsea became the first holders to be eliminated in the group stages, while Manchester City were completely knocked out of Europe as they ended bottom of their group.

Group Winners: Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke, Malaga, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Group Runners-Up: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray

Below we have a look at each of the above 16 teams in detail..

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Country: France
Coach:
Carlo Ancelotti
Key Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Other Star Players: Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi & Javier Pastore
Rising Star: Marco Verratti
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 1995
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: PSG are one of the richest clubs in the world and have ambitions to win the Champions League this term. If striker Ibrahimovic can continue his superb form from the group stages, it might just happen.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

SCHALKE 04

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jens Keller
Key Player: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Other Star Players: Benedikt Howedes, Lewis Holtby & Kyriakos Papadopoulos
Rising Star: Julian Draxler
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Galatasary, Valencia, Celtic, Real Madrid
Chances: The Germans were unbeaten through their group which consisted the likes of Arsenal, Olympiakos and Montpellier, which shows they are not a team to be taken for granted. One their day they could upset the big guns.
Prediction: Round of 16

MALAGA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Manuel Pellengrini
Key Player: Isco
Other Star Players: Joaquin, Martin Demichelis & Eliseu
Rising Star: Francisco Portillo
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Debutants
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: Have been very impressive so far in their debut season in the Champions League, but their inexperience in the competition may prove costly in the knockout stages.
Prediction: Round of 16

BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jurgen Klopp
Key Player: Marco Reus
Other Star Players: Roberto Lewandowski, Mats Hummels & Mario Gotze
Rising Star: Moritz Leitner
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1997
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic,Galatasaray
Chances: The reigning Bundesliga champions have very much caught the eye in the group stages after finishing at top of the Group of Death and are the team to beat. Considered as the dark horses for the title.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

JUVENTUS

Country: Italy
Coach:
 Antonio Conte
Key Player: Arturo Vidal
Other Star Players: Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon & Giorgio Chiellini
Rising Star: Paul Pogba
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1985, 1996
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: The reigning Serie A champions remained unbeaten in the group stages and topped their group by winning on the final matchday. The Italians are expected to step it up when the competition resumes in February.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

BAYERN MUNICH

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jupp Heynckes
Key Player: Franck Ribery
Other Star Players: Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger & Philipp Lahm
Rising Star: David Alaba
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1974, 1975, 1976, 2001
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic,Galatasaray
Chances: The current Bundesliga leaders ended as the beaten finalists last season and will be looking to make amends for it. They have been in fine form so far and are one of the favourites to lift the trophy in May.
Prediction: Semi-Finals

BARCELONA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Tito Vilanova
Key Player: Lionel Messi
Other Star Players: Andres Iniesta, Xavi & Sergio Busquets
Rising Star: Christian Tello
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1992, 2006, 2009, 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Arsenal, Galatasaray, AC Milan
Chances: The Catalans were the pre-tournament favourites to win the competition and there has been very little so far to suggest that they won’t win it this term. Vilanova has done brilliantly since taking over from Pep Guardiola in the summer.
Prediction: Winners

MANCHESTER UNITED

Country: England
Coach:
 Sir Alex Ferguson
Key Player: Wayne Rooney
Other Star Players: Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic & Antonio Valencia
Rising Star: Rafael
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1968, 1999, 2008
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic
Chances: Unlike last season, United have marched pretty easily into the knockout stages and with Van Persie & Rooney both in form they are a team to fear. Surely one of the contenders for the title.
Prediction: Semi-Finals

PORTO

Country: Portugal
Coach:
 Vitor Pereira
Key Player: Jackson Martinez
Other Star Players: Joao Moutinho, Lucho Gonzalez & Nicolas Otamendi
Rising Star: James Rodriguez
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winner 1987, 2004
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Schalke, Malaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: The Portuguese champions have gone all the way before but its very unlikely it will happen again this season. They have a very good squad with some very talented players but its highly unlikely they will trouble the big teams.
Prediction: Round of 16

ARSENAL

Country: England
Coach:
 Arsene Wenger
Key Player: Santi Cazrola
Other Star Players: Jack Wilshere, Thomas Vermaelen & Lukas Podolski
Rising Star: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2006
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Malaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona
Chances: The Gunners have had a stuttering season both domestically and in Europe – especially at home. They will need to improve a lot in the second half of the season if they want to be genuine title contenders.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

AC MILAN

Country: Italy
Coach:
 Massimiliano Allegri
Key Player: Stephan El Shaarawy
Other Star Players: Philippe Mexes, Ricardo Montolivo & Kevin-Prince Boateng
Rising Star: Mattia De Sciglio
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: Like Arsenal, the Rossoneri are struggling this term domestically and in Europe. They are not the force of the old, although their pedigree and experience in this competition means they should not be taken lightly.
Prediction: Round of 16

REAL MADRID

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Jose Mourinho
Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Other Star Players: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos & Mesut Ozil
Rising Star: Raphael Varane
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
Chances: Its been over a decade since Real Madrid last won the Champions League and the boss Mourinho has never appeared more determined to win the tournament for the club this season. With the team they have they are regarded as the joint favourites alongside Barca.
Prediction: Runners-Up

SHAKHTAR DONETSK

Country: Ukraine
Coach:
 Mircea Lucescu
Key Player: Luiz Adriano
Other Star Players: Darijo Srna, Willian & Fernandinho
Rising Star: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Quarter-final 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Malaga, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: Like Dortmund, Shakhtar are another side that have grabbed the attention of many in the group stages. They are the ones who dumped Chelsea out of the tournament and a side very few people would want to face in the knockout stages.
Prediction: Round of 16

VALENCIA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Ernesto Valverde
Key Player: Roberto Soldado
Other Star Players: Jonas, Sofiane Feghouli & Adil Rami
Rising Star: Daniel Parejo
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2000, 2001
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Dortmund, Juventus, Manchester United
Chances: The Spaniards have been very impressive in the group stages with their star striker at the top of his game but do not appear equipped for a really extended run in competition this season.
Prediction: Round of 16

CELTIC

Country: Scotland
Coach:
 Neil Lennon
Key Player: Giorgos Samaras
Other Star Players: Fraser Forster, Victor Wanyama & Gary Hooper
Rising Star: Anthony Watt
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1967
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Málaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
Chances: Had little hopes of making it through to the knockout stages after being grouped with Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow but they did it. Anything else from now will be a bonus for the Scottish champions.
Prediction: Round of 16

GALATASARAY

Country: Turkey
Coach:
 Fatih Terim
Key Player: Burak Yilmaz
Other Star Players: Felipe Melo, Nordin Amrabat & Hamit Altintop
Rising Star: Semih Kaya
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-finals 1989
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Málaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona
Chances: Snatched the second spot from CFR Cluj on the final matchday. Like Celtic, anything else they achieve from now on will be a bonus for the Turkish side and very few teams will fancy making the trip to the intimidating Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul.
Prediction: Round of 16

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UEFA EURO 2012 Team Preview – Croatia

Population 4.2 million Area 56,594km2 Capital Zagreb Currency Kuna Official Language Croatian

FOOTBALL FACTFILE

Football Asocciation Hrvatski Nogometni Savez (HNS) Official Site http://www.hns-cff.hr Year of formation 1912 Euro Ranking 6 World Ranking 8 National Stadium Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb; Stadion Kantrida, Rijeka; Stadion Gradski, Osijek; Stadion Poljudu, Split Well-known club sides Dinamo Zagreb, Hajduk Split Leading goalscorers Davor Suker (45), Eduardo da Silva (22), Darijo Srna (19+) Most capped players Dario Simic (100), Josip Slmunic (92+), Darijo Srna (89+) European Championship finals attended 1996, 2004, 2008 Best European Championship performance Quarter-finals 1996, 2008 Playing Record in European Championship P63 W39 D14 L10 Odds of winning UEFA EURO 2012 50/1

JOURNEY TO POLAND/UKRAINE

Croatia exacted revenge in the 2012 qualifying phase. Turkey had eliminated them rather spectacularly from UEFA EURO 2008 – equalising in the 120th minute and then winning on spot-kicks – but Croatia ended Turkish hopes of European glory in 2012 with victory in the play-offs.

That’s not to say Croatia had everything their own way. Despite being form favourites to comfortably ascend from their group, Croatia finished second behind Fernando Santos’ stubborn Greek side. So are they up to the task in hand? The answer: definitely maybe.

Fluctuating between awful, mesmerising and nondescript during qualifying, the Croats lost in Georgia and in Greece, but produced an electric display in the opening play-off match in Istanbul, scoring after only two minutes and going on to secure a 3-0 victory.

In Tottenham’s Luka Modric they have one of the most revered creative midfielders in the world and they will be looking to him to inflict pain and sorcery upon Group C’s tricky opposition. Italy and Spain will prove formidable opponents for Slaven Bilic’s men, and they won’t relish playing the Irish either. That said, if the right Croatia turn up in Poland/Ukraine, and perform to their best, they will be a match for anyone.

HOW THEY GOT THERE

03/09/2010 – Group F – Latvia 0-3 Croatia
07/09/2010 – Group F – Croatia 0-0 Greece
09/10/2010 – Group F – Israel 1-2 Croatia
17/11/2010 – Group F – Croatia 3-0 Malta
26/03/2011 – Group F – Georgia 1-0 Croatia
02/09/2011 – Group F – Croatia 2-1 Georgia
06/09/2011 – Group F – Malta 1-3 Croatia
07/10/2011 – Group F – Greece 2-0 Croatia
11/10/2011 – Group F – Croatia 2-0 Latvia
11/11/2011 – Play-Off – Turkey 0-3 Croatia
15/11/2011 – Play-Off – Croatia 0-0 Turkey

HOME AND AWAY KITS

 

GROUP FIXTURES – GROUP C

Sunday, 10/06 – Republic of Ireland v Croatia (Poznan, 19:45)
Thursday, 14/06 – Italy v Croatia (Poznan, 17:00)
Monday, 18/06 – Croatia v Spain (Gdansk, 19:45)

FINAL SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Stipe Pletikosa (FC Rostov), Ivan Kelava (GNK Dinamo Zagreb), Danijel Subašic (AS Monaco FC).

Defenders: Jurica Buljat (Maccabi Haifa FC), Vedran Corluka (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Danijel Pranjic (FC Bayern München), Gordon Schildenfeld (Eintracht Frankfurt), Josip Šimunic (GNK Dinamo Zagreb), Darijo Srna (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Ivan Strinic (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Domagoj Vida (GNK Dinamo Zagreb).

Midfielders: Milan Badelj (GNK Dinamo Zagreb), Tomislav Dujmovic (FC Dinamo Moskva), Ivo Ilicevic (Hamburger SV), Niko Kranjcar (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Luka Modric (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Ivan Perišic (Borussia Dortmund), Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla FC), Ognjen Vukojevic (FC Dynamo Kyiv).

Forwards: Eduardo (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Nikica Jelavic (Everton FC), Nikola Kalinic (FC Dnipro), Mario Mandžukic (VfL Wolfsburg).

THE CAPTAIN – DARIJO SRNA

Also captain of the hugely impressive Shakhtar Donetsk side that won the last UEFA Cup before it became the Europa League, Darijo Srna is a journeyman and then some. He scored on his competitive debut against Belgium in 2003 and has been regular ever since, playing at UEFA EURO 2004, the 2006 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2008. His sheer determination makes him a precocious leader.

THE KEEPER – STIPE PLETIKOSA

Was transferred to Shakhtar Donetsk alongside his national captain, but didn’t prove a success in Ukraine. After spells with Spartak Moscow and Tottenham Hotspur, he has settled in the Russian Premier League with Rostov. Once criticised for his inept dealings with high balls, he has eradicated the weakness from his game and claimed the keeper’s shirt for the foreseeable future.

STAR MAN – LUKA MODRIC

Much Ado About Luka Modric turned into Much Ado About Nothing over the last summer, as Chelsea’s very public and very persistent pursuit of the Croatian magician was rebuffed by Tottenham Hotspur, much to their credit considering his performances in their 2011-12 Premier League campaign. Generally regarded as a player who operates in the much-lauded ‘hole’, Modric has proved his versatility by dropping deeper behind Rafael van der Vaart for Spurs and also playing on the left to suit tactics. On his game and on his day ge is a match for anyone in any of the midfield positions.

THE MANAGER – SLAVEN BILIC

Whenever the name Slaven Bilic is mooted in pub conversations, the phrase ‘not your average manager’ is usually not far behind. A guitar-playing graduate with a degree in law, he was as assertive on the field as he now is in the dugout. As a player, he helped Croatia to a shock thrid place at the FIFA World Cup 1998 and was unlucky to be hoisted from a UEFA EURO 2008 semi-final berth by spirited Turkish team. Respected and supported unequivocally by his players and countrymen, he will be looking fill that berth at UEFA EURO 2012.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTION

Group Stage – It’s hard to see Croatia making it through from the very tough group C at the expense of either Italy or Spain. Although they have a number of talented individuals but they can’t compete with the strength in depth of either Italy or Spain. Their firepower may be enough to see off the Irish in their opener but the lack of quality in defense may see them struggle against Spain and Italy. In end they would be fighting for the third place with Ireland, unless they surprise everyone.