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Could all four German clubs qualify for the Champions League round of 16 this season?

The latest edition of the UEFA Champions League is underway and this season promises a lot of excitement. Could this be a breakout year for German clubs in the UCL?

Borussia Dortmund v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga
Lewandowski and Reus await a VAR decision.
Photo by Friedemann Vogel - Pool/Getty Images

The 2020/2021 edition of the UEFA Champions League has started with a bang, with the group stages giving us spectacle after spectacle. With the first half of the group stage games over and three more exciting group stage match-days yet to come, we take a look at the performances of the four German sides in the competition so far, and analyze their chances of qualification.

This season’s UCL contenders from Germany are: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Borussia Mönchengladbach. In what certainly feels like a breath of fresh air for fans of German football, all four of the abovementioned teams are currently sitting in a qualifying berth (first or second place) in their respective tables. Bayern, Dortmund and ‘Gladbach are enjoying first place in their respective groups, while Leipzig is doing well at second in a group many consider to be this season’s “group of death.”

Is it possible for the German clubs to all make it through to the Round of 16? The last time this happened was in the 2014/15 season, and it would be nice to see German clubs repeat the feat once again, serving as a wonderful advertisement for the Bundesliga. The Bundesliga is growing stronger every season, and this feat would arguably cement the league’s status as one of the world’s best.

So, how good are the chances of each of the four teams qualifying for the Champions League Round of 16? Here are the teams in the descending order of their chances of qualification, from most to least certain.

1. Bayern Munich

FC Bayern Muenchen v Atletico Madrid: Group A - UEFA Champions League
Warning: Do not show this image to Atletico fans. PTSD alert.
Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

The club most likely to qualify for the Round of 16 is also the best club in Europe. Bayern Munich have become an unstoppable force under coach Hansi Flick, and show no signs of stopping anytime soon. Bayern have started their 2020/21 UCL campaign with a bang, scoring a whopping 12 goals and conceding just three in their first three games.

What was most incredible about this imperious run was the 4-0 demolition of Atletico Madrid, a team considered to be one of the strongest defensive sides and counter-attacking outlets in Europe. Bayern’s attack not only managed to put four past their tight defense, but also managed to keep a clean sheet. Bayern’s league form has also been near-perfect, the only blip being a loss to Hoffenheim, but their most recent game, a 3-2 away win against Dortmund showed that this team wants to win it all again.

Only a fool would bet against Bayern bagging a treble again. Watch out, Europe.

2. Borussia Dortmund

Club Brugge v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions League
Haaland celebrates after scoring against Club Brugge.
Photo by Angelo Blankespoor/Soccrates/Getty Images

The Black and Yellows have had a mixed Champions League campaign so far, losing their first game to Lazio by a 3-1 score line, while winning the following two games comfortably, scoring a total of five goals and conceding none. Two draws for Lazio has meant that the Bundesliga side find themselves at the top of their group despite the loss in the first UCL match-week.

Dortmund have been in great form domestically, losing only two games and winning the rest. However, both Dortmund and German football fans were left frustrated after Dortmund’s surprise 3-1 away loss to Lazio, a game many thought Dortmund would win. After all, Dortmund had almost twice the possession, more attempted shots on goal and more shots on target, and pretty much outclassed Lazio in every stat other than the one that truly counts.

Since that game, Dortmund have looked a different beast altogether. Their defense has been much more watertight, and one would expect them to take revenge with a statement win in the second time between the two at the Signal Iduna park. First spot is Dortmund’s to lose, while getting knocked out is theoretically not a possibility. If anything, Erling Haaland and co. look primed to win the rest of their group stage games.

3. Borussia Mönchengladbach

Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Moenchengladbach: Group B - UEFA Champions League
Plea celebrates with his teammates after his first goal against Shakhtar.
Photo by Christian Verheyen/Borussia Moenchengladbach via Getty Images

Let us all take a moment to appreciate just how good ‘Gladbach have been in Europe so far: they find themselves in first place in their group, a group that has Shakhtar, Real Madrid and Inter Milan at second, third and fourth spot respectively. When you remind yourself that ‘Gladbach almost beat both Real and Inter, you know that this squad is special.

Marco Rose has worked wonders with this side. They are functioning as a fluid, aggressive attacking unit, having the composure and capability to defend against counters and win the ball back further afield. Alassane Plea and Marcus Thuram have been great up front, while Jonas Hofmann and Florian Neuhaus have been extraordinary in midfield so far. Matthias Ginter and Ramy Bensebaini have been the standout performers at the back.

Yes, first and last place are only separated by 3 points, and they could face problems against Real and perhaps Inter too, come the second legs. The tough group is what puts them third in this list; it is possible that any of the four teams emerge group victors in the end. Real in particular will be really tricky to navigate, especially since they’ll be playing at the Bernabeu.

The quality of the other three sides is definitely cause for concern, but this team has the passion and the drive and you wouldn’t count them out just yet. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and predict that Gladbach will qualify in first position. They will be raring to get the wins they deserved against both Real and Inter, and if I belonged to either team, I would be concerned.

4. RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig - Paris Saint-Germain
Angelino on the ball vs PSG.
Photo by Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images

The only team on this list to be currently placed second in their group, RB Leipzig haven’t been at their best in the UCL this season. Finishing as semi-finalists in last year’s edition with some very strong showings, the side has had some difficulties playing in a group that also features PSG, Manchester United and Istanbul Basaksehir. Group of death indeed.

However, they have managed to beat Basaksehir convincingly, and put PSG to the sword with a 2-1 win that certainly could’ve been more lopsided had they been more clinical. The one problem that stands in the way of their qualification is the 5-0 thumping they received from Manchester United at Old Trafford, meaning they currently sit second with six points, but with a negative goal difference (-2).

Leipzig have their work cut out for them. They need to win two of their three remaining group stage fixtures to qualify with certainty, but that is easier said than done, considering they would have to face both PSG and Basaksehir away. They do have a game against Man United at home though, and they should be able to overcome the English side, since several key players were missing for the reverse fixture.

The East Germans cannot afford any slip ups. The table positions are very tight, and a single loss could see them move to fourth position, depending on other results. Nagelsmann is not in unfamiliar territory however, and has overcome worse odds before. I will be backing Nagelsmann’s wits and the team’s resilience to bounce back with strong second half showings, and win at least 2 of the remaining 3 games. However, it is highly doubtful whether they’ll finish first, owing to the poor goal difference.

All four German clubs have looked quite sharp recently, and seem to have what it takes to qualify for the knockout rounds and put up a good fight to progress deep into the competition. Here’s to hoping that Bundesliga teams have a strong showing this season, so that the league coefficient soars even higher, and the BuLi starts getting the respect it deserves.

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