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Opinion: Ranking Juve’s potential Champions League round of 16 opponents

December 12, 2021 - 8:30 am

After snatching the group’s lead from underneath Chelsea at the very last minute, Juventus will meet one of the groups’ runners-up in the Champions League round of 16.

Although this would supposedly guarantee an easier road to the later stages, the Bianconeri were eliminated at this stage of the competition at the hands of Lyon and Porto in the last two versions.

Therefore, we’ll be much more cautious this time before using the term “favorable draw”.

However, one can’t deny the vast difference in level between the Old Lady’s six potential opponents, with some of them being European giants, while others are up-and-coming sides who are trying to make a name for themselves at the biggest continental stage.

So let’s rank Juve’s potential opponents in the round 16 based on their level, from the probable weakest to the strongest.

6- Red Bull Salzburg (Austria)

The Austrian champions are owned by one of the richest companies in the world, but their main strategy revolves around buying young talent before selling them for major profits (the likes of Mané and Haaland).

This is a side that still lacks experience at this level, but took advantage of a relatively easy group to advance to this stage of the competition.

But this doesn’t mean they can’t pull off a major upset and throw us out.

5- Benfica (Portugal)

Imagine getting eliminated by yet another Portuguese side in the round of 16. Well it’s all possible.

The capital side possesses a host of talented players, and advanced to this round at the expense of the disappointing Barcelona, and they’d like to add yet another European giant to their resumé.

4- Sporting Lisbon (Portugal)

From one Lisbon club to another. Sporting are the reigning champions of Portugal, and are currently embroiled in head-to-head battle against Porto at the top of the league.

The red and green side advanced at the expense of Borussia Dortmund, and they surely won’t be an easy nut to crack for Max Allegri’s men.

3- Villarreal (Spain)

As proven by their last performance against Atalanta, the Yellow Submarines have all the tools that enables them to hurt the opposition.

The Europa League winners possess a dangerous striking duo in Gerard Moreno and Arnaut Danjuma, backed by the underrated Daniel Parejo in the middle, and a backline led by the experienced Raul Albiol and the reliable Pau Torres.

2- Atletico Madrid (Spain)

It wouldn’t be the first time these two meet in the round of 16, but this time, Juventus can’t rely on Cristiano Ronaldo to turn it around against one of his favorite targets.

On the other hand, Diego Simeone now has a star studded squad led by two proven winners in Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann, as well as a host of talented players throughout the pitch.

Even if they haven’t been too impressive in Europe thus far, no one would relish a battle against the Rojiblancos.

1- Paris Saint Germain (France)

On Wednesday, Leonardo Bonucci led the wild celebrations in Turin at the final time whistle. But by Monday, the defender could end up regretting it if the draw pits his team against Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé, Neymar and company.

Now surely PSG are yet to take the world by storm since the start of the season, but with the incredible star power at their disposal, it could only be a matter of time.

In any case, this surely wouldn’t be a good draw for Juve under any circumstances.

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