Looking back on how the German quartet in question crossed the line, bundesliga.com weighs up what lies in wait in the knockout rounds…
Defeat to Manchester City FC was the sole blot to FC Bayern's copybook in Group E, the five-time winners having already secured top spot after chalking up four victories - including a 7-1 success at AS Roma - before letting a 2-1 lead slip on Matchday 5. It should be noted, however, that the 2012/13 European champions played with ten men for a good 70 minutes at the Etihad and were without a whole host of waylaid stars to boot. Taking into account the returning big names and newfound versatility factor, Bayern have to be considered one of the favourites to wrestle back the crown from Real Madrid CF.
BVB flew out of the group stage traps, sealing a place in the last 16 with two games to spare. Their domestic affliction reared its unsightly head against Arsenal on Matchday 5, but four wins and a draw from six outings were enough to take pole position for the second successive year. Jürgen Klopp's side are, nevertheless, acutely aware of the pitfalls of knockout football after suffering a wholly avoidable quarter-final defeat to eventual winners Real Madrid last season. Interestingly, only AS Monaco (four) scored fewer goals than Dortmund (14) out of all this term's group toppers.
Leverkusen blew hot and cold throughout the group stages, despite securing their safe passage to the last 16 with one game still to play. Home and away defeats to Monaco proved costly, with the low-scoring French club pipping Roger Schmidt's profligate charges to first place in Group C. It could have been a different story had Heung-Min Son and the gang taken a few more of their ample goal-scoring opportunities against the likes of FC Zenit and SL Benfica, and thus avoid ending the Round of 32 as one of three second-placed outfits with a tournament-low seven strikes to their name.
Schalke were made to sweat more than most, adding their name to the Bundesliga pot thanks to a Matchday 6 win over NK Maribor and a helping hand from Chelsea. The Royal Blues conceded more goals (14) than any other club in the hat for the last-16 draw, but still have a number of first-team players set to return to the fray in the new year. Above all, though, it's the priceless experience of head coach Roberto Di Matteo - mastermind of Chelsea's Champions League win over Bayern in 2012 - that is likely to have the decisive say in die Knappen's fortunes when it comes to the crunch.