Who could Porto, Benfica and Sporting play in the next round of the Champions League and Europa League? Find out here
Porto, Benfica and Sporting will all be playing European football after Christmas - but with the draw occurring on Monday, who could be their opponents in the next stage of their respective competitions?
Porto are the only side to still be in the Champions League, topping their group with 16 points from 5 games. As a result, Porto will be one of 8 seeded teams heading into the round of sixteen draw, which should, in theory, give them a more favourable draw in the next round.
Their potential opponents are therefore any of the eight sides that finished runners up in the Champions League with exception to Schalke, who were in Porto’s group.
Porto’s potential opponents are therefore: Atletico Madrid, Tottenham, Liverpool, Ajax, Lyon, Roma, and Manchester United.
Porto will likely be hoping to avoid drawing Liverpool, having faced them last season at the same stage and suffered a convincing 5-0 defeat over two legs, while Atletico Madrid, who won the Europa League last season, would also prove particularly tricky customers.
On the other hand, Porto will likely be looking to draw Ajax who, despite their heroics against Bayern Munich in the group stage, are likely the easiest side in what is a very difficult group of teams.
Elsewhere in the Europa League, Benfica and Sporting find themselves on opposite sides of the draw, with Benfica being one of the 16 seeded sides for the draw, having finished as one of the four best 3rd-place teams in the Champions League, while Sporting are unseeded, after only finishing 2nd in their group.
This means that Benfica’s potential opponents are entirely different to Sporting’s, and should, in essence, be easier in comparison.
Benfica’s possible opponents in the next round of the Europa League are: Galatasaray, Shakhtar Donetsk, Viktoria Plzen, Club Brugge, Zurich, Celtic, Slavia Prague, Fenerbahce, Olympiakos, Rapid Wien, Lazio, Malmo, Krasnodar, Rennes, BATE Borisov.
Meanwhile, Sporting’s possible opponents in the next round are: Napoli, Inter Milan, Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen, Salzburg, Zenit St Petersburg, Dinamo Zagreb, Real Betis, Villareal, Eintracht Frankfurt, Genk, Sevilla, Dynamo Kiev, Chelsea.
None of Benfica’s potential opponents should strike significant fear in the Portuguese outfit, who are capable of beating any of the sides they can draw, although they will likely be looking to avoid both Paulo Fonseca’s Shakhtar Donetsk and Pedro Martins’ Olympiakos, who would likely cause The Eagles the most problems. Both Celtic and Lazio would also be undesirable opponents.
Drawing one of Malmo or Rapid Vienna, on the other hand, would likely be most favourable to Benfica’s chances of progressing.
For Sporting though, there appear to be no ‘easy’ options at all; indeed, all 14 potential opponents will undoubtedly prove a stern test for the Portuguese outfit. Any of the three sides that dropped down from the Champions League though (Napoli, Inter Milan, Valencia) are clearly the ones Sporting will be hoping to avoid, in addition to Bayer Leverkusen and Sevilla, while Dinamo Zagreb and Genk will be as good as it gets for the Portuguese Lions.