The Champions League’s round-of-16 first legs are in the books and talking points were aplenty over the course of the two weeks.
Real Madrid smashed Schalke, Manchester United embarrassed themselves against Olympiacos and the remaining English sides all failed to win a game.
There weren’t many teams to have taken the field over the opening exchanges of the Champions League knockout stages to have put forward cases to win the tournament outright without an asterisk aligned next to their name.
Schalke can’t be considered an adequate test of the Los Blancos mettle, having come through the group stage with six goals to their name and a goal difference of zero.
Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Paris St-Germain all had their lives made easier by playing against 10 men while Chelsea didn’t exactly inspire in Turkey. Borussia Dortmund strolled past Zenit with ease, but are hardly enjoying the most care-free season.
That leaves the one team best placed to win the Champions League as the business end of the tournament starts to work through the gears: Atletico Madrid.
Undefeated in the group stage, Diego Simeone’s 12/1-shots for Champions League glory got one of the harder round-of-16 draws when they paired off with AC Milan.
Travelling to Milan with three losses in their last four games to face a side still in the honeymoon period of having a club legend take the reigns, the first leg was a real barometer of Atletico’s credibility in this tournament.
A 1-0 win showed a serious amount of gumption and puts Madrid at the top of the list of Champions League suitors because they are going to be well versed in overcoming tough matches ahead of their strolling rivals.
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