The elimination stages are currently the most thrilling segment of the Champions League. Eight matches of the highest calibre will be played in the following fortnight: the first leg of Round 16. Winners and runners-up of the group stage advance after enduring over a month of domestic league and cup competitions.

MD-7 lasts for two calendar weeks and happens on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. In other words, before their UCL matches, teams meeting in the latter week of the calendar must first complete a week of domestic competition, spanning from our fantasy transfer deadline. Consequently, when their UCL matches arrive, players who are fit and healthy when we acquire them may be incapacitated due to injury, illness, or the return to fitness of another player… and vice versa.

Porto vs Arsenal

First leg: February 21
Second leg: March 12

Previous meetings
Arsenal: P6 W3 D1 L2 F12 A4
Porto: P6 W2 D1 L3 F4 A12


Porto was all business in a group that had always appeared accessible. They achieved results they might not have anticipated, including victories away at Shakhtar and twice at Antwerp and providing Barcelona with a formidable challenge at home and on the road. On Matchday 6, they maintained composure to secure qualification at the expense of Shakhtar.

Porto’s gameplay

Although Sérgio Conceicó adheres to a 4-4-2 formation, he is adaptable enough to modify it in response to the game’s opponents or circumstances. His most frequent adjustment is to use a single striker, Evanilson being the primary goal-scorer for this season. The attack relies heavily on the full-backs and wingers, Galeno and Pepê in particular, the latter of whom can either forward or back and the midfield tandem, who are astute and resourceful, respectively.

Coach: Sérgio Conceição

Conceicão, who oversaw Porto’s resurgence to the highest level of Portuguese football, has amassed three league championships, three Portuguese Cups, one League Cup, and three Super Cups during his six seasons in command. He was a fan favourite and had won three club championships as a versatile midfielder.

Key player: Pepê

26, Pepê is in his third season with Porto. An accomplished Brazilian winger can operate on either side, upfront, and as a right fullback if necessary. It is indisputable that his significance for Conceicó’s squad increased significantly during the previous season, as he made 55 appearances, contributed five goals and ten assists, and caused his opponents considerable difficulty.

Did you know?

Pepe equals the record for the competition’s oldest goalscorer with a strike against Antwerp at 40 years 254 days.


It appeared that Arsenal would breeze through the group stage after a scintillating 4-0 victory over PSV on Matchday 1 to mark their return to the Champions League. The following encounter, however, brought reality into the Arsenal camp as they were defeated 2-1 away by a spirited Lens. They regained control of the division with two decisive and incredibly impressive victories against Sevilla before avenging their ruthless loss to Lens and securing first place with one game remaining.

Arsenal’s gameplay

Mikel Arteta has demonstrated this season that he shares parallels with George Graham, Arsenal’s legendary manager during the 1980s and 1990s, and his mentor Arsène Wenger. William Saliba’s return and the acquisition of Declan Rice have endowed the Gunners with a formidable advantage and the capacity to prevail despite challenges. In contrast to their recklessness from the previous season, they are substantially more composed, solid, and arguably more threatening.

Coach: Mikel Arteta

Arteta served as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City from 2016 to 2019. In his inaugural season as manager, the Gunners won their fourteenth F.A. Cup. Following eighth and fifth-place finishes in the Premier League in 2021 and 2022, respectively, Arteta’s squad held the lead for 248 days in the previous season before falling to Manchester City.

Key player: Martin Ødegaard

Ödegaard assumed the role of permanent captain for the final eight league games of the 2021/22 season after his August 2021 transfer from Real Madrid to the club. Prominent for his astute pass-making and playmaking prowess, he contributed to the Gunners’ title bid with 15 goals and eight assists in the league last season.

Did you know?

On Matchday 5, Arsenal defeated Lens to become the first English team to hold a five-goal advantage at halftime in a Champions League match (group stage to final).

Paris vs Real Sociedad

First leg: February 14
Second leg: March 5

Previous meetings
They have never met before in a UEFA club competition.


Although Paris has qualified for the round of 16 for the twelfth consecutive season, that is only part of the story. Having become accustomed to preparing rapidly, this season’s European campaign has been an uphill struggle. The home victories of Luis Enrique’s side against Milan and Dortmund were comfortable but needed to be more conclusive. Concerns were raised after a humiliating 4-1 loss at Newcastle, but Kylian Mbappé and his companions maintained composure to ensure their spot on Matchday 6.

Paris gameplay

Since arriving at the Parc des Princes, Enrique has shown a solid desire to institute a tactical flexibility-based system. Although initially a 4-3-3 formation, they quickly convert it into a 3-4-3 when in possession. The positional intelligence of left-back Lucas Hernández grants Achraf Hakimi the autonomy to function as a substitute midfielder. Vitinha frequently occupies the left midfielder position and makes an additional in-situ change by moving wide to permit dangerman Mbappé to circulate through the central areas.

Coach: Luis Enrique

During a phenomenally successful three-year tenure as manager of the Blaugrana, the former Barcelona and Real Madrid player amassed nine trophies, including two La Liga titles and the 2015 Champions League. Before taking over in Paris in July, he guided Spain to the 2021 Nations League final and the EURO 2020 semifinals.

Key player: Kylian Mbappé

He has not returned since his debut season with Monaco in 2016/17. At 22 years 352 days, he surpassed his then-teammate Lionel Messi as the youngest player to score 30 Champions League goals in 2021/22. He had won the World Cup with France at that time.

Did you know?

Paris has recorded goals in each of their previous 49 group-stage matches in the Champions League, dating back to a 1-0 away loss to Real Madrid in November 2015.

Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad’s objective upon their decade-long absence from the Champions League would have been to progress beyond the group stage. Nevertheless, nobody anticipated their extraordinary unbeaten streak, which has engulfed their rivals and current position at the summit. Their achievements have exceeded their current standings, which speaks volumes about the calibre of this group. Moreover, this accomplishment has been facilitated by a squad consisting of eleven domestic players.

Real Sociedad’s gameplay

The diligent side of Imanol Alguacil forms an offensive 4-3-3 formation, pressuring high and demanding possession. Due to their intense play from the outset, they tallied most of their goals in the first ten minutes. The fact that they have been unable to close out games and have conceded late goals has proven to be their greatest vulnerability despite their demonstration of dominance.

Coach: Imanol Alguacil

Since assuming the role of senior team coach in 2018, Alguacil has consistently induced Real Sociedad to outperform their weight. He finished fourth in La Liga last season and guided the Basque side to its first trophy since 1987, the 2020 Copa del Rey. Additionally, he guided the team to Champions League qualification for the first time in a decade. The 52-year-old is an incredibly motivating and remarkable individual.

Key player: Martín Zubimendi

The 12-year-old midfielder, who has arguably been Real Sociedad’s most vital player this season, has developed into an expert at regulating the tempo and directing the action from his deep-lying position. If Zubimendi is enjoying himself, the team is as well.

Did you know?

La Real scored four goals in their initial two home matches of the current Champions League group stage, compared to just two goals in their six home games during their previous two group stage campaigns.

Napoli vs Barcelona

First leg: February 21
Second leg: March 12

Previous meetings
Napoli: P4 W0 D2 L2 F5 A9
Barcelona: P4 W2 D2 L0 F9 A5


Napoli performed admirably in the group stage, approaching a succession of formidable challenges with maturity and dominance from the outset. Away victories in Braga and Berlin were crucial, and the team completely controlled its destiny. A draw at home with Union and a loss in Madrid could have posed a problem, but on Matchday 6, they cruised past Braga to solidify their progression.

Napoli’s gameplay

The system is consistently a dynamic 4-3-3, with a formidable lone striker up front and quality wingers and midfielders. Napoli can adjust to the circumstances of any match by commanding possession and dictating the tempo, sitting deep, and capitalising on breaks when necessary. The objective is to separate the wingers one-on-one, with Matteo Politano and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia providing the centre forward with quality to complete passes. Di Lorenzo is frequently substituted for a forward as Napoli strives to attack with the most significant number of players feasible.

Coach: Walter Mazzarri

Mazzarri, who was previously the head coach of Napoli from 2009 to 2013, guided the club to the 2012 Coppa Italia and Serie A’s runner-up finish the following year. The 62-year-old then spent time at Inter, Watford, Torino, and Cagliari before replacing Rudi Garcia in November on a seven-month contract with Naples.

Key player: Victor Osimhen

The Nigerian received the Serie A Best Young Player award for the 2021/22 season in recognition of his exploits with Napoli. In his initial two seasons with the Partenopei, he scored 24 goals in the league. However, he reached a new level during his final campaign, concluding as the division’s leading scorer with 31 goals in 39 games across all competitions.

Did you know?

Napoli have gone 16 Champions League matches at home without a loss (W10 D5).


Barca has successfully applied the lessons learned from their elimination from the group stage in the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons. Two home performances, one each against Antwerp and Shakhtar, were electric displays of attacking football. Ultimately, the decisive triumph at Porto and an outstanding second half against Sérgio Conceicó’s squad in Barcelona formed the bedrock of this group-winning campaign.

Barcelona’s gameplay

As a result of recurring ailments in his squad, coach Xavi Hernández has made an effort to maintain Barça’s preferred 4-3-3 formation but, depending on the opposition, has resorted to employing two unrestricted wingers and four midfielders, one of whom plays up front. Both full-backs are instructed to overlap and attack as if they were wing-backs in a five-person rearguard despite beginning the game in a four-person defence. Due to Gavi’s long-term injury, the intensity of the team’s traditionally crucial pressure has been modified; however, the concept remains central to what Xavi expects from his players.

Coach: Xavi Hernández

Xavi, one of the Blaugrana’s most decorated players, brought about a paradigm shift at Barcelona after being named Ronald Koeman’s successor. Although he led the club to the championship in his first season in La Liga and improved them from ninth to second, he has declared his intention to move on after the current campaign.

Key player: Pedri

At 21, Pedri emerged as a crucial component in the Barcelona and Spain systems during his three-year tenure following his transfer from Las Palmas. Equipped with a talent behind the ball that has prompted comparisons to Andrés Iniesta, a former teammate of mentor Xavi, the adolescent possesses the requisite passing prowess and goal-scoring instinct.

Did you know?

After Real Madrid and Bayern, Barcelona became the third club to achieve 200 victories in the European Cup, including qualifying matches, on Matchday 3.

Inter vs Atlético de Madrid

First leg: 20 February
Second leg: March 13

Previous meetings
Inter: P1 W0 D0 L1 F0 A2
Atlético: P1 W1 D0 L0 F2 A0


Following a UEFA Champions League final encounter in which they came close to matching Manchester City, Inter have gained confidence and a greater understanding of their assets since that loss. They secured a spot in the elimination phase by commanding performance during the group stage with two games remaining. Following a tumultuous stalemate in the opening match at Real Sociedad, Inter prevailed in three consecutive contests, led by Lautaro Martínez. Significantly more so than the two objectives associated with his name indicate.

Inter’s gameplay

A 3-5-2 formation is utilised, in which wing-backs cover the entire flank. Carlos Augusto and Matteo Darmian, or Juan Cuadrado when healthy, are viable substitutes for Denzel Dumfries and Federico Dimarco, respectively, in matches where Simone Inzaghi frequently substitutes them both. Hakan Çalhanoğlu serves as the deep-lying facilitator within the midfield triumvirate, whereas Nicolò Barella and Henrikh Mkhitaryan take charge of the pressuring and assist the attackers. Marcus Thuram, who debuted this summer, has immediately established himself as the ideal attacking companion for Martínez.

Coach: Simone Inzaghi

The 47-year-old, who won three Coppa Italia titles and Serie A with Lazio as a player, also delivered a domestic trophy to Rome as a coach. Upon succeeding Antonio Conte as Inter manager in the summer of 2021, he led the club to its first-ever domestic Super Cup and Coppa Italia titles. Last season, the club maintained both trophies and advanced to the Champions League final.

Key player: Lautaro Martínez

“The Bull” finished 2021/22 with 25 goals in 49 appearances across all competitions, his highest tally since joining Milan from Racing Club in 2018. However, he improved by three goals the following season, leading Argentina to the World Cup victory amidst a stellar campaign. This season is even more prolific, contributing crucial late goals away at Real Sociedad and Salzburg to help Naples qualify for Matchday 4.

Did you know?

On Matchday 3, Inter defeated Salzburg to earn their centenary triumph in the European Cup, encompassing qualifying.

Atlético de Madrid

After an unsatisfactory European campaign the previous year, Atlético entered the competition with something to prove, and they have undoubtedly succeeded. In addition to an outstanding home run, they have achieved their first away victory in Europe since March 2021. Both Álvaro Morata and Antoine Griezmann have reached the pinnacle of their careers with unstoppable performances. Consequence-strength victories, including two comebacks to earn a spirited triumph at home against Feyenoord and a draw at Celtic, attest to the tenacity and resolve of Diego Simeone’s squad.

Atlético gameplay

Atlético has evolved from a team previously renowned for its formidable defensive capabilities. Operating in a 5-3-2 formation that is typically attack-oriented, they have demonstrated offensive prowess with their free-roaming full-backs this season despite exhibiting weaknesses at the back. A revolving roster of injuries that includes crucial personnel has compelled Simeone to frequently rotate the squad, with the team bearing the burden on the defence.

Coach: Diego Simeone

During his more than eleven years in charge, Simeone has led Los Rojiblancos to two Europa League championships, two UEFA Super Cups, and two Champions League finals. He achieved a second La Liga championship in 2021 and demonstrated that his prowess has remained strong.

Key player: Antoine Griezmann

Griezmann, a French forward in the third year of his second stint with Atlético, is undoubtedly at the highest level of play. Last season, the 32-year-old scored 16 goals and contributed 19 assists across all competitions for his club. He has continued his prolific form this season, solidifying his position as a vital member of Simeone’s squad.

Did you know?

Atlético’s 6-0 victory over Celtic was their most significant victory in a UEFA club competition since their inaugural match in September 1958, when they defeated Drumcondra 8-0 in the first leg of the European Cup preliminary round.

PSV vs Dortmund

First leg: 20 February
Second leg: 13 March

Previous meetings
PSV: P2 W0 D1 L1 F2 A4
Dortmund: P2 W1 D1 L0 F4 A2


Matchday 2’s last-gasp equaliser at home against Sevilla and a dreadful opening 4-0 defeat at Arsenal condemned PSV to the bottom of Group B. Nonetheless, a point-neutral performance against Lens in France reinstated their confidence and re-entered the game in contention. Two subsequent victories—the second of which was a heroic 3-2 triumph at Sevilla despite trailing by two goals—ensured that they advanced to the round of sixteen with an undefeated record, which is an astounding accomplishment considering their lacklustre start.

PSV’s gameplay

Peter Bosz undoubtedly coaches with his front foot, expecting his squads to dominate the game and monopolise possession. He is an adherent of Johan Cruyff, who adores the 4-3-3 formation, and in Luuk de Jong, he has the ideal objective to carry out the scheme. Bosz’s squad utilises inverted wingers, similar to many other clubs. However, Johan Bakayoko (a lefty on the right) and Noa Lang and Hirving Lozano (right footers wide on the left) consistently look for the P.S.V. captain when they cut inside.

Coach: Peter Bosz

An individual who identifies as a disciple of the Cruyff/Guardiola school and prefers his teams to dominate possession and press aggressively. Although he already has the Johan Cruyff Shield, his first piece of silverware with P.S.V., he is desperate to win a league title in the top division while leading the Eindhoven club deep into Europe.

Key player: Luuk de Jong

Although he has played for Spain, England, and Germany, the club captain appears to be most comfortable wearing the red and white of P.S.V. De Jong is undoubtedly the most excellent header of the ball in the country, a line commander, and a consistent scorer. His importance to the team cannot be exaggerated.

Did you know?

PSV had gone 15 away Champions League matches (from the group stage to the final) without a victory before their 3-2 win at Sevilla, which advanced them to the round of 16.


Dortmund’s failure to secure the Bundesliga championship in May may not have been anticipated by many as the first team to qualify from the exceedingly difficult Group F. After suffering a setback in the first match at Paris (2-0) and drawing another stalemate at home against Milan (0-0), their back-to-back victories against Newcastle without conceding indeed lay the foundation for advancement. A further mature performance in Milan secured one game remaining for qualification.

Dortmund’s gameplay

Aware of the challenging challenge ahead, BVB approached the first group match in Paris with a back three and a counter-attacking mentality. During that match, they altered their formation by substituting a genuine No. 9 for two counter-attacking forwards, and their performance immediately improved. Subsequently, they have consistently adopted a back four and three central midfielders formation, relying heavily on nimble wingers like Jamie Bynoe-Gittens or Donyell Malen. Borussia Dortmund can advance the ball or press in various ways from this fundamental formation; a three-person formation is also conceivable.

Coach: Edin Terzić

Terzi commenced his coaching profession at Dortmund Academy in 2010. As interim first-team manager in 2020/21, he guided BVB to a German Cup final victory over Leipzig before bringing them within minutes of dethroning reigning champions Bayern.

Key player: Julian Brandt

German international Brandt, who spent five and a half seasons at Leverkusen, joined Dortmund after a string of outstanding and consistent performances in the Bundesliga. The inventive midfielder, who reached double figures in goals last season, has completed four seasons with BVB, making at least 40 appearances per season. He is now 27 years old.

Did you know?

Dortmund has only suffered two defeats in their previous nineteen home Champions League matches (W10 D7).

Lazio vs Bayern

First leg: February 14
Second leg: March 5

Previous meetings
Lazio: P2 W0 D0 L2 F2 A6
Bayern: P2 W2 D0 L0 F6 A2


Seven of Lazio’s ten points in Group E were accumulated at Stadio Olimpico, establishing the groundwork for qualification. Ciro Immobile, who scored the lone goal on Matchday 4 against Feyenoord before reprising his match-winning exploits against Celtic – this time from the bench – was the epitome of courage. Those two victories followed a lopsided loss in Rotterdam, but Maurizio Sarri’s squad had already demonstrated character by holding Atlético to a stoppage-time equaliser by Ivan Provedel in goal.

Lazio gameplay

The Lazio of Sarri are committed to 4-3-3. Luis Alberto is afforded the most significant degree of license in a three-person midfield, with goalkeeper Provedel providing a dependable foundation for the defence and Patric and Alessio Romagnoli offering stability. Lazio’s success in 2022/23 was predicated on both a miserly defence (21 clean sheets to conclude the Serie A campaign) and ten league goals from Mattia Zaccagni – two attributes that the Biancocelesti are struggling to rediscover this season.

Coach: Maurizio Sarri

Sarri has accumulated over three decades and one thousand games of managerial experience, during which time his tactical acumen remains highly regarded. The individual in question at last received recognition for his arduous efforts by leading Chelsea to victory in the 2019 Europa League. Like the idiom “London buses,” another triumph ensued the following year when he captained Juventus to the Serie A championship.

Key player: Ciro Immobile

Immobile, who had scored only once for Lazio from August 21 to October 30, has returned to the form that Biancocelesti supporters have come to anticipate from their veteran forward. The former Torino, Dortmund, and Sevilla forward, a thoroughbred with exceptional technique and an inherent knack for scoring scored his 200th goal for the club on Matchday 4 against Feyenoord, solidifying his status as a fan favourite.

Did you know?

Lazio achieved its first consecutive Champions League group stage victory since 2001/02 on Matchdays 4 and 5.


Bayern maintains its position as a frontrunner in this competition stage, having extended the records for the longest unblemished stretch and the most consecutive victories in the group stage. With a 0-0 draw at Copenhagen on Matchday 5, the German champions missed the opportunity to go a third straight group stage campaign without dropping a single point. However, inspired by Kane’s match-winning prowess, they remain optimistic about replicating their 2013 title-winning run to Wembley.

How Bayern play

Since joining the club last season, Thomas Tuchel has advocated for “fast and fluid” football, which he executes through precise vertical passes from the defence and incisive interplay in the final third. Because of his goal-scoring and ability to drop deep and connect up the play, Kane has proved to be the ideal puzzle piece up front for Bayern, allowing them to maximise their pace advantage over most opponents in wide positions.

Coach: Thomas Tuchel

He achieved notable success with Mainz and Dortmund before leading Paris to the 2019/20 Champions League final and domestic treble. Within months of assuming leadership at Chelsea in January 2021, he guided the club to the Champions League final. March 2023 marked his return to Germany with Bayern, where he led the club to victory in the title competition.

Key player: Harry Kane

The German record holders and the England captain have proven to be a match made in paradise. Due to his unprecedented goal-scoring rate, Bayern’s high-priced acquisition was a summer bargain. Kane has demonstrated his ability to connect up play with an extraordinary array of passes, elevate the performance of every player around him, and set an exemplary example in every area of the field, in addition to his insatiable appetite up front.

Did you know?

Thomas Müller became the third player in history, following Cristiano Ronaldo (115 wins in 183 games) and Iker Casillas (101 wins in 177 games), to record 100 Champions League victories (in 143 games) on Matchday 1.

Copenhagen vs Man City

First leg: February 13
Second leg: March 6

Previous meetings
Copenhagen: P4 W0 D2 L2 F3 A9
Man City: Man City: P4 W2 D2 L0 F9 A3


Copenhagen appeared to have gotten off to a sluggish start in Group A, accumulating only one point from their first three matches. However, their results somewhat underestimated their abilities; they held the lead against Galatasaray and Bayern, and on Matchday 3, they failed to convert an extra-time penalty against Manchester United that would have secured a 1-1 draw. They earned the respect of their opponents through a 4-3 victory against United, a goalless draw in Munich, and a decisive win over Galatasaray to qualify, all as a result of their diligent effort.

Copenhagen gameplay

Although Copenhagen lacks the most prominent players in Europe, their exceptional work ethic has enabled them to outperform their opponents. His squad has played a more open game under Jakub Neestrup than Copenhagen has in prior group-stage campaigns. Although they have yet to score from a corner or free kick, crosses have proven to be an indispensable offensive weapon. What is more significant is their unwavering determination, persistently striving to score another goal until the final whistle.

Coach: Jacob Neestrup

Before being sidelined by injuries, he progressed through the club’s junior system after being born in Copenhagen. Neestrup transitioned to coaching, assuming leadership of the U17 team of his hometown club, Viborg, before being promoted to CEO. After serving as manager Jess Thorup’s aide in Copenhagen, he assumed control of the club in 2022 and guided them to a double at 35.

Key player: Rasmus Falk

Falk’s contribution to the squad has grown over the years, and after more than 300 matches for Copenhagen, he is likely the most difficult player to replace Neestrup. Previously more attack-oriented, he has retreated slightly and assumed a playmaking role. Despite failing to score and offering a solitary assist, he has been named Player of the Match twice throughout the group stage.

Did you know?

Copenhagen has successfully advanced from their Champions League group for the second time in a row, accomplishing the feat in 2010/11. They are the only Danish club to have completed a Champions League group in the top two.

Manchester City

City qualified with ominous confidence, demonstrating that back-to-back Champions League trophies are within their grasp with a signature display of potency that included three goals in each of their six group games. Whether City leads or falls behind Leipzig 2-0, as they did in their previous match, victory is inevitable. Although Julián Álvarez and Haaland scored four goals in those matches, City’s collective commitment truly distinguished itself.

Man City gameplay

They typically form a 4-1-4-1 formation, but that is only the start of the narrative. On form, City are an irrepressible force, with inverted fullbacks, central defenders assuming midfield roles, and wingers darting inside and outside their markers. Pep Guardiola expects much from his players, and they consistently meet those expectations; Rico Lewis is one example. Lewis, a right-back, has effortlessly transitioned into the midfield during play, exemplifying the adaptability and fluidity that Guardiola expects from his top players.

Coach: Josep Guardiola

Guardiola, one of the most decorated coaches in the sport, had previously completed a 12-year quest for a third victory with City last season, having won this competition twice with Barcelona. He led the Catalan club and Bayern to three league titles each, and in 2022/23, he led City to five Premier League champions’ medals. The historic treble from the previous season was arguably the crowning achievement.

Key player: Rodri

When Rodri is in attendance, City almost always prevails. Due to the long-term injury suffered by Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri’s presence and performances have been crucial in providing City with a solid foundation to dismantle opponents.

Did you know?

At 23 years 130 days, Haaland was the youngest player to score 40 goals in the Champions League (from the group stage to the final) on Matchday 5. Furthermore, with only 35 matches under his belt, he did so in an unprecedented manner.

Leipzig vs Real Madrid

First leg: February 13
Second leg: March 6

Previous meetings
Leipzig: P2 W1 D0 L1 F3 A4
Real Madrid: P2 W1 D0 L1 F4 A3


There are numerous reasons for Leipzig to be pleased with their performance on the group stage. Despite suffering a home loss to Manchester City, they had never qualified as early as Matchday 4 before this, despite having advanced thrice to the knockout stage. They will endeavour to increase their self-assurance and consistency as the round of 16 approaches.

Leipzig’s gameplay

Leipzig’s thrilling brand of attacking football is propelled by rising stars such as Xavi Simons and Loïs Openda, who joined the club this summer under the leadership of Marco Rose. Occasionally, they may find it difficult to maintain intensity for the entire 90 minutes, leaving their defence vulnerable to late pressure, but overall, this is an improving squad.

Coach: Marco Rose

Leipzig native: In 2019/20, Rose led Monchengladbach to the Champions League’s knockout stages before being named Dortmund’s coach. In his sole season in command, he guided B.V.B. to second place in the Bundesliga. In 2023, he guided Leipzig to its second consecutive German Cup victory.

Key player: Dani Olmo

Despite enduring injury-related setbacks in recent seasons, the Spain international remains a crucial performer for Leipzig due to his speed, skill, and precise passes from wide positions. Early in this campaign, they again excelled before missing their last three group games due to a shoulder injury.

Did you know?

Eight of Leipzig’s previous ten Champions League group stage (L2) contests have been victories.

Real Madrid

Madrid is an absolute delight to observe and report on. Based on the statistics, they breezed to qualification with a spotless record after only four matches. Indeed, the nerves were severely damaged, and the sensibilities were considerably stimulated. An exhilarating extra-time triumph against Union Berlin at home; an exhilarating display of elite football in Naples that resulted in three points and the sharing of five goals; a stalemate in Braga, followed by a seamless transition of gears in the rematch at the Santiago Bernabéu. Everything concluded in Berlin with a five-goal extravaganza.

Real Madrid gameplay

They were demonstrating vibrancy. Depictively, the current predominant formation of the Los Blancos is 4-4-2. Ancelotti possessed a wealth of midfield talent and, barring unforeseen circumstances such as ailments, intended to maximise its utilisation. However, instead of perceiving four in midfield as a defensive reinforcement (Madrid has predominantly used 4-3-3 since Ancelotti’s return), the crucial factor is that Bellingham can penetrate the box and score by alternating between the left side without the ball and the apex of the midfield diamond when Madrid have the ball. They are Europe’s preeminent counter-transition squad.

Coach: Carlo Ancelotti

In the summer of 2021, the coach who guided Real Madrid to “La Décima” in 2014 returned for a second stint in command and rewrote history by becoming the first coach to win the Champions League and European Cup four times. He championed La Liga in 2021/22, becoming the first coach in history to lead his team to championship victories in Italy, England, France, Germany, and Spain.

Key player: Jude Bellingham

The England international’s transfer to Real Madrid was one of the most sensational of the summer, and one of the most gifted midfielders in European football was anticipated to achieve great things after inheriting the iconic No. 5 jersey from Zinedine Zidane at the Santiago Bernabéu. His past accomplishments have even stunned his most ardent supporters.

Did you know?

Bellingham scored in the Matchday 3 triumph at Braga, joining Christian Karembeu as the sole player to accomplish this feat in their inaugural three Champions League contests with Real Madrid since 1998.