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Champions Cup Rankings: La Rochelle to miss Final?

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Champions Cup returns with the Round of 16, as the world’s best clubs do battle in the hopes of making this year’s final on May 25 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

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With the clubs ranked in order from one to 16 based on their pool stage performance, every club’s path to London is already laid out.

So from Leinster to Stade Toulousain, and from Saracens to holders Stade Rochelais – here are every club’s potential opponents en route to the biggest prize in club rugby.

Ranked number one in the Champions Cup knockout stage is Stade Toulousain. That means they face Racing 92, ranked 16th, in what should be a thrilling battle at the Stade Ernest Wallon.

From there it would be either Exeter Chiefs or Bath for the TOP14 club if they get past Racing 92; any potential quarterfinal and semifinal for Stade Toulousain would be at home, given they are ranked higher than anyone else.

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However, if Racing 92 were to win, the winner of Exeter Chiefs v Bath would have home advantage.

On the same side of the draw are Harlequins, who play Glasgow Warriors in the Round of 16, and Union Bordeaux-Bégles who play Saracens. The winners of those Round of 16 ties would face each other in the quarterfinals, with the winner of that facing one of Stade Toulousain, Racing 92, Exeter Chiefs or Bath.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the bracket, number two ranked club Leinster are guaranteed home draws all the way until the final – if they can beat Leicester Tigers first.

There is then potential for a repeat of the past two finals in the quarterfinal stage if Stade Rochelais beat Stormers in their Round of 16 clash.

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Northampton Saints are ranked third after the pool stage and have looked impressive so far this season.

They must first get past Munster, the winner of that match facing the winner of Bulls v Lyon. That sets up a semifinal against Leinster, Leicester Tigers, Stormers or Stade Rochelais.

The ‘Most likely’ final four

Based purely on club rankings from the Pool stage, the semifinal match-ups would be Stade Toulousain v Union Bordeaux-Bégles and Leinster v Northampton Saints.

Extending that to the final, it would be Stade Toulousain against Leinster for either a record-extending sixth title in EPCR’s elite competition for the TOP14 club, or a record-equalling fifth for the Irish province.

But anything can – and probably will – happen on the road to Tottenham.

Source: @ChampionsCup 

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