The reigning Champions have breezed through Phase 1 (as usual) despite missing several key players due to injury. Elber and Pizarro have formed a great partnership in attack and Salihamidzic is, IMO, the best left sided player in the World today. Bayern should have no problems taking their customary place in the Quarter Finals.
The Premiership champions have been spared a difficult draw. The tactically naive Ferguson has built his success on a World Class midfield and Beckham, Keane, Giggs and Veron should see off Boavista for 2nd place.
Bottom of the French league with only one victory but top of their Champions League group. Have played some superb football but are not likely to repeat their Phase 1 heroics.
The explosive shooting of Silva and Sanchez lit up the tournament but once qualification was within their reach the Portuguese Champions seemed to be overcome with stage fright, loosing their final two games. Should push Man United for second place.
Qualifiers : Bayern Munich and Man United
Despite being hit by injuries to Montella and Batistuta the rapidly improving Italian Champions are finding their form at the right time. With Totti and Samuel at the top of their game Roma's hard working and systematic fouling should see them into the last eight.
Barca's once farcical defence has improved no end since the acquisitions of Christanval and Andersson over the summer. Only one away defeat for the usually poor travellers tells it's own story. Kluivert has suddenly become a match winner easing the pressure on the team's perennial saviour Rivaldo. The midfield looks lightweight and Barca will struggle against the tough tackling of Liverpool and Roma.
The UEFA Cup holders are one of the three unbeaten teams left in the competition (along with Bayern and Deportivo). The tactics may be basic - defend and hit on the break, but they work to perfection. As long as Owen stays fit Liverpool should progress.
Have only scored five goals and struggled away from home. They also lost most of their star players over the summer. No chance.
Qualifiers : Liverpool and Roma
Real's suspect defensive isn't likely to be tested in this ridiculously one sided group leaving the Spanish Champions to concentrate on improving their awful domestic league form.
Last season Panathinaikos qualified from a very difficult group but wilted in Phase 2 this season the team isn't so heavily dependent on injury prone Paulo Sousa. Karagounis has been one of the revelations of the tournament and Olisadebe has caught the eye with his searing pace and powerful shooting. The Greeks will not have a better chance to make the knockout stages.
Pena will need to improve his accuracy in front of goal if Porto are to qualify.
Kept four clean sheets before conceding goals in their final two games once qualification was already assured. Two season's ago a Sparta team with Rosicky and Lokvenc impressively qualified for Phase 2 but failed miserably once there. I expect the same this season. If nothing else talented midfielder Jarosik will probably earn a move to a big club.
Qualifiers : Real Madrid, Panathinaikos
One of the pre-tournament favourites Juventus have been far from convincing. With the usually dodgy penalty and inspired goalkeeping displays seeing them through to Phase 2. Juve's biggest weakness is their defence, having conceded 8 goals so far despite facing modest opposition the prospects of preventing the likes of Tristan and Henry from scoring appear slim. Fortunately for Juve Trezeguet and Del Piero have been outstanding.
Surprisingly qualified from what looked like a difficult group. Ballack and Neuville may not impress when playing for Germany but they have certainly caught the eye in the Champions League, Ballack in particular. Old man Kirsten keeps scoring and Brazilian defender Lucio is top of the shopping lists for many of Europe's big clubs. If Leverkusen can maintain the spirit they showed in Phase 2 a place in the last eight isn't beyond them.
Super Depor lazily came through qualification, only bothering to make an effort against Man United. Depor have a World Class forward in Diego Tristan and more importantly their away form has improved no end. This may be the group of death but Depor should have no problems qualifying.
Arsenal's home form sees them through to Phase 2 for the second consecutive season but they couldn't have asked for a tougher draw. Despite the talents of Henry and Vieira the gunners need a dramatic improvement in their away form if they are to have any hope of getting further.
Qualifiers : Deportivo, Leverkusen