American Football

Ronaldo targets sixth Champions League title

Italy's Atalanta, playing in the competition for the first time in its history, and Spain's Atletico Madrid were the final two teams to clinch their places in the last 16 of this season's Champions League as the group stage concluded Wednesday. It's the first time that the last 16 has been made of teams from just five countries — England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France — which reflects the financial might of those leagues.The draw for the next round will be made at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland on Monday December 16 with the competition restarting in February.READ: The 100 seconds that saved Liverpool's Champions League hopesREAD: Racist and homophobic incidents tarnish 'best league in the world'Group winners Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Juventus, Barcelona, Red Bull Leipzig and Valencia will be in Pot One, with the eight group runners-up — Napoli, Tottenham Hotspur, Atalanta, Atletico, Borussia Dortmund, Lyon and Chelsea — in Pot Two.In the last 16 round teams can't be drawn against clubs from the same country or if they had faced each other in the group stage.Manchester City's Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (L) celebrates after scoring against Dinamo Zagreb.Pep Guardiola's City is the oddsmakers favorite to win the 2019/2020 tournament, though the club's manager has played down his side's chances. City has never won the Champions League before."The people say about the Champions League, that target," Guardiola told reporters in October. "We still are not ready. We create a lot, don't concede, but can improve. We've scored a lot over the last two seasons and I don't have doubts about that, but we have to keep going, work on that."READ: How UK soccer fans are helping tackle society's 'gaping wound'READ: The vegan soccer club trying to save the worldLiverpool is the second favorite. Jurgen Klopp's side has reached the last two finals, losing to Real Madrid in 2018 and then beating Spurs 2-0 in 2019.Liverpool topped Group E, but only just, securing a tense 2-0 win over Red Bull Salzburg on Tuesday to finish above Napoli.Liverpool is aiming to retain the Champions League title.Group winners have the added advantage of playing the second leg at home and no team will relish drawing Liverpool, given the Champions League holder's record at Anfield.Liverpool last lost a European game at home in 2014 when a Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Real Madrid won a Champions League group stage game 3-0 at Anfield.The power of Anfield's atmosphere was perhaps best showcased last season when Klopp's side beat Barcelona 4-0 in the semifinals to reach the final 4-3 on aggregate.READ: Barcelona's Fati becomes the youngest scorer in Champions League historyREAD: Champions League Wednesday as it happenedThe win over Salzburg showcased Liverpool's strengths — the assured nature of goalkeeper Alisson Becker, the defensive nous of Virgil van Dijk, the emergence of midfielder Naby Keita and the attacking triumvirate of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto FirminoThis season, Liverpool has lost just once in all competitions and Klopp has frequently referred to his team as "mentality monsters."

PSG in the mix

Arguably the most impressive team of the group stages has been Paris Saint-Germain.The Parisian club has never won the European Cup and has developed a reputation of choking in the knockout roundsEdinson Cavani (C) is mobbed by his teammates after scoring the fifth goal in the 5-0 win over Galatasaray.Three seasons ago, the French side led Barcelona 4-0 after the first leg in Paris but contrived to throw away the tie in one of the all-time great Champions League chokes, losing 6-1 at the Camp Nou.Last season's last-16 exit to Manchester United was even worse.Having beaten United 2-0 at Old Trafford, PSG somehow managed to lose the return 3-1, giving away a stoppage-time penalty following a controversial VAR decision that was converted by Marcus Rashford."It's a disgrace," Neymar, who was forced to miss the game through injury, wrote on Instagram immediately after that match."Four guys who know nothing about football watch a slow-motion replay in front of the television."What can [Kimpembe] do with his hand while his back is turned? Go f**k yourselves!"Neymar (L)celebrates with Kylian Mbappe during PSG's win against Galatasaray.READ: The Dutch soccer prodigy with two millions Instagram followersREAD: 'Neymar's injury is completely fixed', says PSG's LeonardoPSG topped Group A ahead of Real Madrid, conceding just two goals. Thomas Tuchel's team trounced Galatasaray on Wednesday, wiRead More – Source