The anthem, the floodlights, the tension… oh, we've missed it?
The Champions League has returned this week with the first knockout clashes, and there are some tasty ties on the agenda.
We’ve cast an expert eye over the remaining teams competing for European football's biggest prize and delivered our verdict on who is most – and least – likely to come out on top come the end of the season...
Schalke are on the wrong end of the most one-sided looking encounter in the first knockout stage. It’s hard to see them getting through two legs against Manchester City and, to make matters worse, they aren’t looking likely to find their way back into the Champions League next season given their domestic travails.
At least they managed to sign teenage wide man Rabbi Matondo from the Citizens in January to help them out, as well as Jeffrey Bruma on loan.
Schalke’s home ground, the Veltins-Arena, will host an electric atmosphere in the first leg. Maybe, just maybe, they could edge out City at home and protect their advantage over at the Etihad – but we wouldn’t bet on it.
Porto are just edging Benfica in the battle for the Portuguese league title but lost 2-1 to Roma in their last 16 first leg.
However, a quarter-final spot is probably the furthest stage Sergio Conceicao’s side could hope to reach anyway: by that stage, some of the softer teams in the competition will have been disposed with and an almighty giant-killing would be required.
Roma’s collapses have been frequent this season and the Giallorossi are the only team that made Julen Lopetegui’s Real Madrid side look like world beaters when they met at the Bernabeu.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s tendency to employ a high line against dangerous attacks has often been met with disaster, most recently when they were humiliated 7-1 in a cup tie against Fiorentina.
Despite that, Daniele De Rossi has returned from injury to provide some much-needed leadership and his impact was instant as they put in a good display in a 1-1 draw with Milan. The idea of the veteran lining up alongside Bryan Cristante is an intriguing one.
A team that should be appreciated more than they are, Lyon won four points from two group stage clashes with Manchester City and recently subjected PSG to their first league defeat of the season.
Nabil Fekir is an exciting player and the Ligue 1 side will hope he can cause Barcelona as many issues as he did to City, given the two team’s similar styles.
However, as impressive as Lyon are, there do appear to be a dozen better-equipped teams ahead of them.
Supporters across the continent have been drawn to Ajax’s talented young team this season after they fought tooth and nail with Bayern Munich in the group stage.
In Barcelona-bound Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt they have two of European football’s most exciting prospects, and the former has shown the capability to escape the high press that Santi Solari has recently implemented at Real Madrid.
However, the Dutch side are facing the reigning European champions at a bad time after Real's recent revival, and their 6-2 slapping against Feyenoord at the end of January wasn’t a good omen.
11. Manchester United
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been in charge for long enough now to confirm that the upturn in United’s form under his leadership is no fluke, but Manchester United now face a huge uphill struggle after losing their first leg 2-0 at home to PSG.
A great optimist might point at PSG’s weakness in the centre of midfield for the second leg, which is where United are strongest. Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic have been playing well and will need to go even better at the Parc des Princes.
Dortmund was a tough draw for Spurs after they came within touching distance of dumping Juventus out of the Champions League at this stage last season, only to be undone by a five-minute blackout.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side must press more effectively against the Bundesliga leaders than they did against Barcelona, where they lost shape defensively. Dortmund are a terrifying proposition in transition and will take advantage of any lapses in concentration.
9. Bayern Munich
Bayern have struggled defensively this season and, facing a multitude of injuries, a two-legged tie with Liverpool is a daunting prospect.
However, Jurgen Klopp’s side could be distracted by the intensity of their Premier League title race, while the atmosphere in the Munich dressing room has improved lately. It's helped them narrow the gap behind leaders Dortmund to five points, while coach Niko Kovac’s relationship with James Rodriguez has been repaired. A chance? For sure.
PSG have become characterised by their Champions League failures, but they impressed with a mightily mature display at Old Trafford minus Neymar and Edinson Cavani. Some critics would say the Ligue 1 champs are better off without their Brazilian talisman anyhow.
Kylian Mbappe can carry the baton in his older team-mate's stead, as the young Frenchman showed with a fine goal that could prove to be the difference against Manchester United.
Tougher tests will certainly await the Parisians, who collapsed so humiliatingly against Barcelona in 2016/17, and it's yet to be determined just how disciplined they can be.
7. Atletico Madrid
Impressively, Atleti have the best defensive record in La Liga this season despite losing Lucas Hernandez, Diego Godin, Jose Jimenez and Stefan Savic to injury for a big part of the campaign.
That is testament to their incredible organisation, but at the other end of the pitch things haven't gone quite so smoothly; Antoine Griezmann has shouldered most of the attacking burden.
Diego Costa has faded and you never know what you’re going to get from Alvaro Morata – will we see the brilliant striker who faced Bayern in 2016, or the confidence-stripped man of recent months?
6. Borussia Dortmund
Lucien Favre has got Dortmund playing their best football in years – a fun and fast game that can, however, mean they might sacrifice a three-goal lead occasionally, like they did at the weekend against Hoffenheim.
Frantic counter-pressing and plenty of overloads are to be expected, with the entire squad backing Favre’s vision.
The Bundesliga leaders tore Atletico Madrid’s famously well-drilled defence apart during the group stage, smashing four goals in Diego Simeone’s heaviest defeat at the club. Mauricio Pochettino has his work cut out.
5. Real Madrid
Surely they can’t pull off four in a row? But Madrid have woken up recently, with Luka Modric finally resembling the player who shone at the World Cup again, and Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr showing devastating form in attack.
However, the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo will be keenly felt: he provided not only goals, but also valuable leadership that helped the team when they were up against it.
If Benzema’s goals dry up, it’s hard to see where else they’re going to come from. Madrid make it into the top five here thanks to their pedigree, recent revival and the eight Ballon d’Or nominees they boast in their squad – but this time they aren’t the favourites.
It’s been a strange season for Barça, who lead La Liga rae and qualified for the Champions League knockout stages without difficulty, but are still clearly struggling with some vulnerabilities.
They were unnerved by Real Madrid’s pressing in their recent Copa del Rey clash and conceded possession sloppily, meaning Lyon could fancy their chances in the last 16.
However, Lionel Messi has once again been extraordinary, Arthur has developed into a clockwork playmaker and Ousmane Dembele is a real attacking threat. They now must ensure they show greater mental strength than they did in last season’s Roma fiasco.
3. Manchester City
Pep Guardiola’s kryptonite lies further ahead, but City might not need to beat Liverpool to triumph in Europe and they can count on having the easiest of the last 16 draws to buy some time.
The Spaniard can bring Kevin De Bruyne back into his side as he returns to full fitness, as well as welcoming a healthy Benjamin Mendy.
City have managed to work their way back into Premier League title contention and the good thing for Guardiola is that his squad has enough depth to go far in both competitions.
This is perhaps a strange time to put Liverpool so high up this list, with the Reds recently losing their Premier League lead – albeit with a game in hand – as well as star defender Virgil van Dijk to injury for their clash with Bayern.
If Niko Kovac studies how Napoli and PSG both escaped Liverpool’s press and nullified their attacking trident, the last 16 tie could become very interesting indeed.
However, this remains an immensely talented side that reached the final last year, and Liverpool now have an improved squad. They will be difficult to stop.
This is Juve’s big chance after losing two finals over the last four seasons, now that they have serial Champions League winner Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks.
Massimiliano Allegri is a versatile coach and might need to adapt his team’s style to get through a resilient Atletico Madrid backline.
Alex Sandro and Joao Cancelo will be called upon to get forward and swing crosses towards Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic, while Miralem Pjanic directs the play from a deep position. If Atleti are conquered, Europe should beware.
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