By Murat Keles
ISTANBUL (AA) – The teams to be in Europe’s top-tier international football tournament, UEFA Champions League Round of 16 were unveiled on Wednesday night after challenging group matches had ended.
Now the clubs are waiting with bated breathes the last 16 draw next Monday in Switzerland to warm up their engines against to rivals on pitch.
Spain dominated the last 16 with highest number of teams to qualify for the knockout stage in Champions League as Barcelona and Atletico Madrid kept their places in first without defeat while Real Madrid and Sevilla came off second-best in their bands.
World famous Barcelona star Lionel Messi found the net 10 times in six matches and was named as the top scorer in group stages so far.
Catalan giants’ Turkish midfielder Arda Turan found the net three times in the match against German club Borussia Monchengladbach, becoming the third Turkish player to do ‘hat-trick’ after former Fenerbahce regular Tuncay Sanli and ex-Galatasaray striker Burak Yilmaz.
Arsenal, Manchester City and Leicester City are the English teams to qualify for the Round of 16 phase. Three German clubs, Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund will also fight for the title.
Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski took third place in the race to score goals.
Italian clubs Napoli and Juventus both managed to top their groups.
Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain, French clubs, will compete in the last 16, as well. Despite not winning the French Ligue 1 since 2000, Monaco managed to top Group E.
Uruguayan striker of PSG, Edinson Cavani is the second-top scorer in Champions League with six goals.
Portuguese heavyweights Benfica and Porto have secured second places in groups. Benfica won two Champions League titles in 1961 and 1962, known as the European Cup at that time, and hit the Portugal’s Primeira Liga championship in last three seasons.
Europe’s leading teams will compete to be in the final at the National Stadium of Wales in Cardiff on June 3, 2017.
The first legs, after the Monday draw, will be played on Feb. 14-15 and 21-22, and the return matches will be played on March 7-8 and 14-15 to be in quarter finals.
*Ilker Girit and Can Erozden in Ankara contributed to the report.