Liverpool and Manchester City will both be seeded for next week’s Champions League last-16 draw after securing top spot in their respective groups, though there are still some big teams they could face in the knockout stages.
The Premier League duo had already secured their status as group winners prior to Wednesday’s final round of matches and maintained their strong campaigns with City beating Marseille and a youthful Liverpool side drawing in Midtjylland.
Now the difficulty will ramp up going into the knockout rounds, with a number of European giants – including Barcelona – having finished as runners-up as the final standings were confirmed.
Lionel Messi & Co. represent the toughest opponent waiting in the first knockout round, having won five of their six group games, but they were defeated at Camp Nou by Juventus who edged them out courtesy of their head-to-head record.
A potential clash with Barca would be interesting for both City and Liverpool, setting up a reunion with Pep Guardiola and his old club, while it would offer the Catalans a shot at redemption after their Anfield agony two seasons ago.
Two more Spanish sides also finished as runners-up, with Europa League holders Sevilla finishing in second place behind Chelsea, while current La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid are also in the hat.
Liverpool’s potential last-16 opponents
Manchester City’s potential last-16 opponents
Again, that would throw up some interesting narratives, with former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez now banging in the goals for an Atletico side who have been dominant in La Liga, unbeaten in 10 and top of the table with two games in hand.
Borussia Monchengladbach emerged from an absorbing Group B as runners-up despite losing to Real Madrid, with all four teams – that duo plus Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter Milan – having been in with a shot of qualifying going into the final matches.
With teams unable to be drawn against clubs they faced in the group stage, City could take on Liverpool’s Group D rivals Atalanta – who actually beat the Reds at Anfield – while Jurgen Klopp’s side can get Porto, who finished second to City.
When is the draw for the last 16?
The draw for the knockout phase of the Champions League will take place next week, on Monday December 14 at 11am GMT, at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
Clubs from the same national association or group cannot be drawn against one another.
When will the last 16 matches take place?
After a packed schedule of group games, the Champions League takes a pause for two months with the first legs of the last 16 not taking place until February 16 and 17, with the second legs following on March 9 and 10.
Group winners, who are seeded, will play away in the first leg and at home in the second leg.