tricolor grimace soup, impressive Real Madrid, Italy in celebration… The three lessons of the round of 16

The names of the eight teams through to the quarter-finals have all been known since Wednesday evening, two days before the draw designating the posters.

The knockout phase of the 2022-2023 Champions League ended on Wednesday 15 March. Real Madrid and Napoli clinched the last two quarter-final tickets, dominating Liverpool and Eintracht Frankfurt respectively. They join Bayern Munich, Milan, Benfica, Chelsea, Manchester City and Inter Milan, who qualified before them. Of the sixteen matches played since 14 February, we will remember above all the enormous turnaround at Anfield, during the first leg of the round of 16 between Liverpool and Real Madrid (2-5).

The reigning champion is a step forward

Going from 0-2 to 5-2 within 45 minutes on the pitch of Liverpool, one of European football’s cadores, Real Madrid warned the competition: it’s not because they lifted the trophy last season that they were sold out. Worse still, Carlo Ancelotti’s team has lost none of this collective strength that makes them as unsinkable as they are stunning. Nothing seems to be able to happen to her as soon as she reaches the round of 16, like the return match against the Reds, silenced when they had to score at least three goals (beaten 1-0).

Real is, at the moment, the most credible candidate for its succession. Manchester City, first disappointing then explosive against Leipzig (1-1, 7-0), and Bayern Munich, less flamboyant than expected against Paris (1-0, 2-0), seem slightly behind. One wonders if Napoli don’t play on the same field. The Italian club, which flies over its championship, wandered so much against Eintracht Frankfurt for all 180 minutes of the double confrontation (2-0, 3-0) that it was forgotten that it was the very first qualification for the quarter-finals of C1 in its history.

No miracle for PSG, France without a representative in the quarterfinals

For the second consecutive season, Ligue 1 will not be represented among the top eight teams in the Champions League. The logical elimination of Paris Saint-Germain, who remained silent in 180 minutes of play against Bayern Munich (0-1, 0-2), is a problem that goes beyond the sole interest of the club from the capital. Threatened since the start of the season in the UEFA index by Portugal and the Netherlands, the French league is playing with fire.

This index, which ranks European countries based on the performance of their clubs in European competitions over the past five seasons, awards more qualifying tickets for C1, C3 and C4 to the highest-ranked countries. At the moment, France remain clinging to their 5th place and have left to keep their European access next season. But if Dutch (Feyenoord in C3, AZ Alkmaar in C4) and Portuguese (Benfica in C1, Sporting in C3) clubs go the distance and, at the same time, Nice are quickly knocked out of the Europa League conference, things could take a turn for the worse. eerie crease around.

Screenshot of the UEFA coefficient rankings of European countries ahead of the matches on 15 March 2023. (UEFA)

If France were overtaken by one of these two nations in the UEFA index at the end of the season, they would miss the opportunity to send the top three from Ligue 1, but also the fourth from the play-offs directly to the finals of the Champions League (against two direct qualifiers and one currently in the elimination phase), when the new formula comes into effect, in 2024-2025.

Three Italian teams aim for the semifinals

For the first time since the 2005-2006 edition, Serie A will see three teams in the quarter-finals: Milan, Inter and Napoli. The Italian championship will be the best represented championship in this phase of the competition, without Juventus Turin, the main transalpine representative in recent seasons. Winners of Tottenham, Porto and Frankfurt respectively, these three clubs will have benefited from a lenient draw. During the next one, Friday (12:00), this time they will not be protected by the rule that prohibits nationals of the same country from competing.

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