It has been two months and a week since the last Champions League games, and finally, we are back. A lot of things have happened since the biggest competition in Europe held it’s last group games, namely the January transfer window and the 2010 African Cup of Nations. Some big players have moved clubs; some have suffered long-term injures, while youngsters have emerged from the ranks, but all the dust has now settled and we are ready to find out who is the best team in Europe.
The upcoming round of 16 offers some of the most mouth-watering ties in recent years. Current Premiership and Serie A leaders Chelsea and Inter Milan clash for a place in the quarter-finals, knowing one of these top-class teams will have to suffer an early exit. David Beckham will make a return with Milan to Manchester United, the club where he made his name, in what is sure to be an emotional match. Real Madrid vs. Lyon is another juggernaut match, while Porto continue their seemingly endless duos with English opponents, this time in the face of Arsenal.
Elsewhere, Barcelona and Bayern Munich should be the favorites in their clashes with Stuttgart and Fiorentina respectively, but Olympiakos vs. Bordeaux and CSKA Moscow vs. Sevilla should be lower-profile but very tight encounters.
All in all, it is shaping up to be one of the most exciting competitions of the new millennium, as there are many clubs that stand a solid chance of taking the crown off Barcelona.