The UEFA Champions League is about to begin its knockout stage and it’s time to take a closer look at which teams are legitimate contenders to lift the trophy in May. Defending champions FC Barcelona continue to be the favorites but several other teams are not far behind. The rankings below are as of Sunday, February 14, 2010 and only include the top eight teams (out of the remaining 16).
- FC Barcelona – They remain undefeated in La Liga and are the favorites to win the Champions League this season. The only thing that could deter Barca’s run to the final could be injuries.
- Chelsea – They’ve been at the top of the EPL for most of the season and have made it to at least the semifinals of the CL the last two seasons.
- Manchester United – They are not the team of two years ago when they won the CL but still consistently do well in the tournament. Wayne Rooney has been as good as any striker this season but needs someone else to step up if they want to challenge Barcelona.
- Real Madrid – A team with as much talent as anyone but they’ve yet to reach their potential. Cristiano Ronaldo has a knack for scoring important goals in the CL. They are hard to predict and could lose in the round of 16 (against Lyon) or win the whole thing.
- FC Porto – An underrated team from a smaller league (Portuguese Liga) who are capable of knocking off one of the larger clubs.
- AC Milan – Milan have been inconsistent in the Serie A but showed good form in the group stage. A trip to the semifinals would be a stretch as they just don’t have the depth and talent as the other contenders.
- Arsenal – Another club that has lots of talent but unable to win a trophy in recent years. They are a step below RM, Man U, Chelsea, and Barca but not by much.
- Inter Milan – Inter hasn’t been able to duplicate their Serie A success in the CL. They will have to prove themselves because they can be taken as a legitimate
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