Rated! Updated power rankings for the 16 teams left in the Champions League... and who we think might win it
4. Real Madrid
2014-15: Lost to Juventus in semi-finals • 2015-16: Winners • 2016-17: Winners
Next opponent: PSG (First leg: Wednesday 14 Feb)
An also-ran in La Liga and rightly so; February's 2-2 draw with Levante demonstrated how out of rhythm this team is. The problem seems to lie in attack as much as anywhere else, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale suffering through a lack of continuity in selection. A weekend hat-trick for Ronaldo in a 5-2 win over Real Sociedad provided a timely boost for player and club, but it's been a below-par season by the 33-year-old's stratospheric standards.
The last-16 tie with PSG will make or break Real Madrid's season. Defeat will spell the end for Zinedine Zidane, who's could be headed for the employment office anyway given their wretched Liga form. Yet victory would see Real emerge (rightly) as one of the favourites to win the competition. Whether they could handle Manchester City or Barcelona over 180 minutes is another matter and Tottenham certainly showed their flaws in the group stage. But if that midfield is rebalanced and the attacking trident sharpens, the defending champions could still be an overwhelming force.
2014-15: Lost to Barcelona in quarter-finals • 2015-16: Lost to Manchester City in quarter-finals • 2016-17: Lost to Barcelona in last 16
Next opponent: Real Madrid (First leg: Wednesday 14 Feb)
PSG are what they are. Their project can be seen as cynical and QSI's investment has obliterated the notion of competition in Ligue 1, but the facts remain the same: they are a legitimate contender.
One wonders, though, whether their absurd competitive advantage in France might hurt them. Real Madrid are on a downswing, with Zinedine Zidane almost certainly heading out of the club if he can't retain this trophy, but they might be the better-constructed team. PSG continue to juggle some sizeable egos at the top of the pitch and the unit as a whole is rarely exposed to the kind of examination it will face in the last 16. Neymar might actually have to do some tracking back - something which, for all his brilliance, he's shown little interest in so far.
If PSG get past Madrid, as they are favoured to do, they'll be a problem. If they fall at this hurdle again, Unai Emery will be paying with his job at the end of the season.
2014-15: Winners • 2015-16: Lost to Atletico Madrid in quarter-finals • 2016-17: Lost to Juventus in quarter-finals
Next opponent: Chelsea (First leg: Tuesday 20 February)
Surprisingly for Barcelona, they're slightly under the radar. The loss of Neymar helped to dull their shine, but they've rebalanced since then and become an extremely dangerous team. They walked through the group stage, naturally, and have a seven-point lead at the top of La Liga. Paulinho has had a quietly excellent season, Luis Suarez seems to be over a mild case of the yips, and - once he's match fit - Ousmane Dembele can be terrifyingly dynamic. The last 16 also pairs them with Chelsea: an old nemesis in a serious rut.
That idyllic overview doesn't paint an entirely accurate picture, though. Barcelona's domestic position is as descriptive of Real Madrid's issues as it is their own strength. Barça aren't quite as dominant as they once were: Javier Mascherano is gone, Ivan Rakitic remains an unconvincing heir to Andres Iniesta and the attack isn't quite as lethal as it once was.
Still. Lionel Messi, though.
1. Manchester City
2014-15: Lost to Barcelona in last 16 • 2015-16: Lost to Real Madrid in semi-finals • 2016-17: Lost to Monaco in last 16
Next opponent: Basel (First leg: Tuesday 13 Feb)
A truly awesome side. Tellingly this season, their Premier League dominance has translated abroad, and they made Serie A leaders Napoli look like a thoroughly ordinary team over two group-stage victories.
Injuries will help determine their European fate, though. Basel should be brushed aside painlessly enough, but Pep Guardiola will need Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and John Stones fit and available if this is to be their year. As strong as they are, it's worth remembering that City will have to venture into uncharted territory if they are to win the Champions League and rarely, if ever, have they produced their best that high up the mountain.
If they can replicate their domestic form, though, and play with the same verve as they have to date, there isn't a team out there who could be confident of subduing them. One might argue that Paris Saint-Germain are more powerful or point out that Leo Messi remains the finest, most destructive player in the world. Yet no other club boasts the same marriage of ability and cohesion and that, you suspect, is what may well allow City to finally break the door down.