3. Sporting CP
The trickier of Juventus’ potential Portuguese challenges is Liga NOS leaders Sporting CP. Ruben Amorim has proven himself to be a brilliant coach, and Sporting’s progression into the Champions League knockout stages is an ode to how far they’ve come under him.
They’ve been dominant domestically so far this season, winning 12 of their 14 games, and edged past Borussia Dortmund in Group C to qualify for the last 16.
Under Amorim, Sporting have excelled in a 3-4-3 with the meticulousness of their press particularly impressive. They’re so well-drilled, almost Antonio Conte like, and any vulnerabilities in defence are covered up by the coach’s brilliance.
Their sprinkling of attacking talent means they can hurt teams in transition. Pedro Goncalves is their main man, while Pablo Sarabia has proved to be a smart acquisition from Paris Saint-Germain.
2. Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid escaped the Group of Death by the barest of margins. On Matchday 6, Diego Simeone’s side displayed the character and grit that have defined El Cholo’s reign as manager.
Los Rojiblancos have undergone an evolution over the past couple of years and they’ve certainly lost aspects of what made them so great during the formative years of Simeone’s reign. Their title defence in La Liga has got off to an indifferent start, with inconsistency preventing them from building any momentum.
However, there’s hope that the 3-1 victory over Porto despite being at a man disadvantage will reinvigorate the La Liga champions. By the time the round of 16 rolls around, Simeone’s side could be a different beast. They certainly have more attacking talent than they’ve arguably ever had over the past decade.
While they shouldn’t be feared as they once were, Atletico remain a side that you would rather avoid in the knockout stages of the Champions League.