Champions League: Europe's elite in knockout round

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Ten teams with a combined 34 European cup titles have made it to the last 16 of the Champions League.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:38 IST
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Ten teams with a combined 34 European cup titles have made it to the last 16 of the Champions League. Having survived the group stage, now they all will be wondering who is their next opponent - and who they will avoid - in the December 15 draw for the first knockout round. The eight group winners face the eight runners-up and the 16 includes most of the soccer powerhouses who have dominated the competition since it began as the European Cup in 1955. Of the contenders chasing a place in the 2007 final in Athens, Real Madrid tops the winners roll of honor with nine, followed by AC Milan (six), Liverpool (five) and Bayern Munich (four). Defending champion Barcelona, Inter Milan, Manchester United and FC Porto have two titles each and PSV Eindhoven and Celtic one each. Although Chelsea, Valencia, Arsenal, Roma, Lyon and Lille have yet to win European soccer's biggest prize, there will be some high quality matchups when the draw is conducted. "We are happy to be there, when you look at the teams who we could face," Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said after his team beat two-time winner Benfica 3-1 on Wednesday to reach the last 16. As group winner, United will face one of seven runners-up, the exception being Celtic, which finished behind the Red Devils in the same group. "There's some very good opposition with great history - Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Porto. But I don't know if there's an advantage to finish first or second. (As group winner) we play the second leg at Old Trafford. Some see that as an advantage. I'm not sure that's always the case." Top finish no advantage Ferguson said there were so many good teams who finished either first or second, he didn't see much of an advantage to finishing top. "If we had finished second, we could have faced possibly Lyon who, to my mind, are possibly the favorites for the cup. We couldn't play the English teams, that's obvious," he said in reference to a competition rule that teams from the same domestic league are kept apart in this stage. "But there's also Milan, Bayern Munich. So I don't know which is worse." All four English teams topped their groups, which Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger saw as an illustration of the strength of the Premier League, even though English clubs have only won European soccer's most prestigious club title twice since 1984. It also means that the draw is wide open. If the Premier League clubs had been split with two first and second places each, the draw would have been restricted. Instead, each of the four English teams have seven possibilities as opponents. "The second leg at home is a slight advantage normally. But let's first see who we play," said Wenger, whose team lost to Barcelona in last year's final and could meet the defending champion again in the next round. Arsenal captured a place in the last 16 by drawing 0-0 at Porto. Group winners kept apart The next round doesn't take place until February 20-21 and group winners Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Valencia, Lyon, Manchester United, Arsenal and AC Milan will be kept apart. They will face Barcelona, Inter Milan, PSV, Roma, Real Madrid, Celtic, FC Porto and Lille. Milan can't face Serie A survivors Roma or Inter Milan, or Lille, which finished runner-up in its group. That restricts it to Barcelona, PSV, Real Madrid, Celtic and Porto. Real Madrid, which has been in a slump since its last triumph in 2002, can't face Valencia or its group rival Lyon in the draw. But Fabio Capello's team could face either Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal or AC Milan and that means a very tough draw for the Spanish club. The only one of three Bundesliga clubs to survive the group round, Bayern Munich, finished atop its group. It can't face runner-up Inter Milan but will meet either Barcelona, PSV, Roma, Real Madrid, Celtic, FC Porto or Lille for a place in the quarterfinals. (AP)

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