Europe’s biggest football competition has reached the knockout stage. The biggest clubs on the continent are still in contention for the top prize, but the field of 16 in the Champions League will be cut in half following the two-legged ties over the next month.
A number of sides in contention will be searching for a first Champions League honour, while the majority will be looking to add to famous victories in years gone by.
So, which sides are currently among the leading contenders to get their hands on the famous trophy this season? You can check out this site to see who are the teams leading the odds and if it matches the names we mention below.
The clear favourites in the betting to win the Champions League are currently Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has twice won the famous trophy during his days with Barcelona, and his arrival at the Etihad was supposed to bring the illustrious honour to the blue side of Manchester for the first time. City came agonisingly close to winning their maiden honour last season but was eventually beaten 1-0 in the final by Chelsea.
Many will argue that despite the huge number of accolades that City have won under Guardiola, if he isn’t able to claim success in the Champions League, then there will always be a question mark surrounding his legacy. This season they have eased through the competition, topping a group also including PSG.
Despite not having a recognised number nine, they have continued to look dominant in the final third, and that was evident in their 5-0 away win against Sporting Lisbon in their first leg of the round of 16. It will take a special side to stop them from winning the title this season.
For any Bayern Munich manager, they are likely judged on their performances in the Champions League instead of the Bundesliga. For many, success in the domestic league is a given season on season, as their closest challengers often finish way off the blistering pace set by the Bavarian giants.
Once again, Julian Nagelsmann will be under pressure in the Bayer hot-seat to deliver a Champions League honour.
Many great managers in years gone by have failed to land the illustrious European honour with Bayern, including Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and Louis van Gaal. Bayern is one of three teams in the competition this season that still boast a 100% record, and with the world’s best striker available at their disposal, it would be difficult to see them not being able to reach at least the semi-finals of the competition this season.
Still, keeping their star players fit come to the later rounds of the Champions League will be pivotal to their chances.
Plus, Bayern will have to be on their best form on the second leg against Salzburg, after a not very convincing 1-1 draw in Austria.
Jurgen Klopp delivered a sixth European Cup to Anfield at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, and the German will be hoping to deliver another success this term. It could yet be a very famous season for Liverpool this season, as they have reached the final of the EFL Cup, and remain in contention to win their second Premier League title and the FA Cup.
An unmatched quadruple could be the end result for Liverpool, but if the Reds were to be prioritising any competition, then the Champions League would rank higher than the two domestic competitions. Liverpool fans have had a love affair with the European Cup throughout their lives, with three victories coming between 1976 and 1981.
After a disappointing season last year, Liverpool look back to their very best this season. Mohamed Salah is arguably the best player in the world, while Virgil van Dijk is back to the standard that he was when the Reds won the league in 2019-20.
Like Bayern, Liverpool also boasts a perfect record following the group stages of the competition, and they should have more than enough to get past Inter Milan in the round of 16.
What this week’s victory in Milan (0-2) has shown is that even when Liverpool are not in their best shape, they can still punish you on set pieces and the brilliance of players like Salah.
Like Manchester City, the Champions League is the honour that PSG have craved since their huge takeover in the 2000s. There are certainly similarities between the two clubs, as PSG also came close to landing their maiden title before narrowly missing out.
They have beaten finalists in the 2019-20 season, as they lost 1-0 against Bayern Munich. It could be a last chance saloon for PSG this term, as they are set to lose Kylian Mbappe in the summer, as he has been heavily linked with a free transfer to Real Madrid.
A strong summer of business, which included the signings of Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos was expected to give them the strength that they needed, but they have already struggled in finding the balance between attack and defence in the competition this season.
They were much more professional against Real Madrid in the first leg of their round of 16 tie, as Mbappe scored the winner against his potential future employers in the 94th minute. It’s still hard to question the quality within their squad, but tactically issues could be their Achilles heel in the latter stages.