2007-2008 UEFA Champions League Final 16
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The biggest competition in the world's biggest game has completed the Group Stage this week. After 6 matches apiece, 8 groups of 4 teams each have been narrowed down to the elite 16 clubs, who will begin a knockout tournament to decide which one will be crowned the Champions of Europe, and to represent UEFA at the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan.

I present to you the 16 finalists of the UEFA Champions League, listed in order of the UEFA Ratings Coefficient, which was used to determine seeding during the previous Group Stage. Which one will be able to lift the trophy this May at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium?
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1. Board Game: Il gioco di Milano 3 [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
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1. AC MILAN
Previous Titles: 1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 2003, 2007
Key Players: Kaká, Filippo Inzaghi, Andrea Pirlo, Paolo Maldini, Dida

Milan are the reigning champions, and will be focusing all of their energies to retaining that title. A spotty season in the domestic league is leaving manager Carlo Ancelotti's team with little else to play for with realistic goals. One of the most storied clubs in all of football, Milan is always a team in the hunt for UCL glory. The San Siro remains a fortress, not only for Milan, but for city rivals Inter, as well.
 
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2. Board Game: Agora Barcelona [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:9431]
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2. FC BARCELONA
Previous Titles: 1992, 2006
Key Players: Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o, Thierry Henry, Carlos Puyol

The Catalan side will again boast one of the most formidable strike forces in the knockout stage of the competition, making them a threat to score against anyone and, as such, a threat to win at any time. Frank Rijkaard has a tight-knit club that is giving fans a reason to cheer for the team that's "more than a club." Early season injuries have had the club struggle in La Liga, but they are now coming back into form. The Nou Camp is still an intimidating site to travel to.
 
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3. Board Game: Monopoly: Liverpool Football Club Champions Of Europe [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
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3. LIVERPOOL FC
Previous Titles: 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005
Key Players: Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Jamie Carragher, Xabi Alonso, Jose Reina

The Spanish Armada landed in England in 2004, with manager Rafael Benitez bringing in several Spaniards with himself. The team's upset win in the 2005 UCL Final restored much pride to the club. Despite their high ranking, the club has been plagued with spotty play, and only just barely qualified for this stage of this year's competition. The club's domestic form in the next few weeks will certainly dictate their level of commitment to this tournament. Few fields have the energy and history as Liverpool's Anfield, the club's only home since they were founded in 1892.
 
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4. Board Game: International Soccer The Game [Average Rating:6.68 Unranked]
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4. FC INTERNAZIONALE MILANO
Previous Titles: 1964, 1965
Key Players: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Figo, Iván Córdoba, Javier Zanetti, Francisco Toldo

The Inter Revival continues to go strong, as the blue side of Milan has established themselves as the dominant club in Italy over the past 3 years. Roberto Mancini's side is again running away from the pack in Serie A, and the quality of players, top to bottom, will make them as strong of a contender as their level of committment to the competition. The San Siro is just as formidable a site to play for a visitor when facing Inter as it is when playing against Milan.
 
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5. Board Game: Monopoly: Arsenal [Average Rating:3.62 Unranked]
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5. Arsenal FC
Previous Titles: none
Key Players: Cesc Fàbregas, Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Touré, William Gallas

A perennial contender, Arsenal brings a youthful team that plays attacking, stylized football. Manager Arsene Wenger has an international cast of players who achieve based on team chemistry. The loss of striker Thierry Henry over the summer seems to have been forgotten, as the club again contends domestically and in this competition. Their home ground, Arsenal Stadium, is a state-of-the-art facility which has been embraced by team and supporters alike.
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6. Board Game: Trivial Pursuit: Edición Real Madrid [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
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6. REAL MADRID CF
Previous Titles: 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002
Key Players: Raúl, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Guti, Robinho, Fabio Cannavaro, Iker Casillas

The only nine-time European champion, the Bernabéu Stadium will again host Champions' League play. Despite the off-field headlines the club's officers create, manager Bernd Schuster has at his disposal a certain contender for the championship that can set aside front office distractions and focus on the match at hand.
 
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7. Board Game: Monopoly: Manchester United Football Club [Average Rating:5.71 Unranked]
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7. MANCHESTER UNITED FC
Previous Titles: 1968, 1999
Key Players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville

Manchester United is once again on the prowl for multiple trophies this season. Sir Alex Ferguson's side is challenging for top position domestically, and once more is a favorite to nab top honors in the UCL. Few stadiums are as difficult to take points from as Old Trafford, and United's travelling supporters are capable of neutralizing another team's home field advantage.
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8. Board Game: Monopoly: Chelsea Football Club Edition [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
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8. CHELSEA FC
Previous Titles: none
Key Players: Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, John Terry, Joe Cole, Petr Cech

Another team dealing with backroom turmoil this season, Chelsea remains a serious threat due to the pure talent assembled on this squad. Manager Avram Grant has inherited what's arguably the most skilled team in football, top to bottom of the roster. The Stamford Bridge stadium has become one the most difficult grounds for visitors to claim points, as fan support has surged tremendously with the club's recent successes.
 
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9. Board Game: Voyage au cœur de Lyon [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
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9. OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS
Previous Titles: none
Key Players: Juninho, Kader Keïta, Fred, Fabio Grosso, Cris, Grégory Coupet

The French juggernaut continues to make progress to rise up from a domestic powerhouse to a European giant. The French Ligue 1 champions 6 years running, they have yet to impress in UEFA's premier club tournament. Manager Allain Perrin has kept the squad competetive, and the cozy comfines of Stade de Gerland is certainly a challenge for visitors.
 
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10. Board Game: Spain and Portugal [Average Rating:6.44 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.44 Unranked]
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10. FC PORTO
Previous Titles: 1987, 2004
Key Players: Pedro Emanuel, Bruno Alves, Lucho González, Ricardo Quaresma, Lizandro Lopez

Porto also remains on the cusp of greatness, having been able to claim the European Championship, but not being able to sustain it. Manager Jesualdo Ferreira has the perennial Portugese contender in good form. The Estádio do Dragão is one of the most modern stadiums in Europe, having been built for the Euro 2004 Tournament Finals.
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11. Board Game: Granada: The Fall of Moslem Spain [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:10675]
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11. SEVILLA FC
Previous Titles: none
Key Players: Javi Navarro, Daniel Alves, Frédéric Kanouté, Christian Poulsen, Diego Capel

The 2-time defending UEFA Cup holders now challenges for the bigger European prize. Manolo Jimenez inherited the managerial duties following the defection of Juande Ramos to Tottenham Hotspur of England. The Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium is a lively ground, with a definite edge for the Andalusian squad, the club's fans/owners always having a vested interest in the team's successes.
 
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12. Board Game: Roma [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:856] [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked]
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12. AS ROMA
Previous Titles: none
Key Players: Francesco Totti, Christian Panucci, Philippe Mexès, Mirko Vucinic, Ludovic Giuly

The Stadio Olimpico craves the glory achieved by Northern rivals, such as Milan and Inter. And manager Luciano Spalletti certainly has the players at his disposal to send Roma deep into this year's tournaments. The only question looming over the team is if it can overcome it's tendency to wind up a runner-up, and finally claim titles.
 
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13. Board Game: Celtic Quest [Average Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:8675]
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13. CELTIC FC
Previous Titles: 1967
Key Players: Stephen McManus, Jirí Jarosík, Shunsuke Nakamura, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, Massimo Donati, Artur Boruc

The lively Gordon Strachan manages one of the dominant teams in Scotland as they again attempt to relive their glory of 40 years past. Certainly smaller than many of the clubs still in the competition, the fighting spirit and the fan support at Celtic Park could keep this team competitive, regardless of their opponents.
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14. Board Game: 18Rhl: Rhineland [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:8502]
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14. FC SCHALKE 04
Previous Titles: none
Key Players: Gerald Asamoah, Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Bordon, Peter Løvenkrands, Manuel Neuer

Seeking to become the fourth German club to lift the European Cup, Schalke seems to be a team that's greater than the sum of its parts. Mirko Slomka's squad earned a hard-fought promotion from the group stage. And while a dark horse at this stage, they do have the talent and desire to bring European football to the Veltins-Arena deeper than the oddsmakers are expecting them to.
 
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15. Board Game: Olympia 2000 (v. Chr.) [Average Rating:6.07 Overall Rank:5775]
 
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15. OLYMPIACOS CFP
Previous Titles: none
Key Players: Predrag Dordevic, Darko Kovacevic, Michal Zewlakow, Cristian Raúl Ledesma, Antonios Nikopolidis

The Karaiskákis Stadium will welcome the top European tournament to Greece. The club has a history of shocking victories over bigger and better clubs. And manager Takis Lemonis will certainly hope to add to the team's history.
 
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16. Board Game: Bir Buyuk Turk Saldiri [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked]
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16. FENERBAHÇE SK
Previous Titles: none
Key Players: Stephen Appiah, Alex, Semih Sentürk, Mateja Kezman, Roberto Carlos, Serdar Kulbilge

Sükrü Saracoglu Stadium may be the most intimidating site for visting clubs in this competition, as Turkish clubs are often more reknown for their supporters' violent tendencies in the stands than the players' skill on the pitch. But Zico's team is filled with talented players, including top international players. So, while statistically outclassed on paper, these Turks could make an impact on the tournament.
 
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