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Ranking the 8 teams most likely to win the Champions League

Could Liverpool, Man City or Barcelona prevail?

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

8. Tottenham

Spurs have a tricky last-16 clash with RB Leipzig, who are currently just one point behind Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich. They also haven’t had the best of seasons, as evidenced by the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino in November, while they are far from assured of Champions League football next season, given their current position of fifth in the Premier League table. That said, they defied somewhat inconsistent domestic form last year to reach the Champions League final last year, while in Jose Mourinho, they have a manager with a history of coming out on top in big one-off games. They also have an immensely talented squad capable of giving anyone a game on their day, and so while a Tottenham triumph is unlikely, it cannot be ruled out entirely.

7. Bayern Munich

While the likes of Liverpool and PSG look to have their title wins wrapped up, the same cannot be said of Bayern, who currently hold a narrow one-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga. That can be a hindrance but also a help — Liverpool, for instance, will be less accustomed to big-pressure, high-stakes games, given how comfortable it has been for them in England this season. Bayern also showed what they are capable of with a remarkable 7-2 win away at Tottenham earlier this season. Moreover, ominously for their rivals, they have been showing greater consistency since Hans-Dieter Flick replaced Niko Kovač as manager in November, winning seven of their last eight games following a shaky first half of the season by their standards.

6. Juventus

There is clearly class throughout Juve’s squad — Matthijs de Ligt, Miralem Pjanić and Paulo Dybala are among the best players in the world in their respective positions. They also have Cristiano Ronaldo who, at 35, remains one of the two or three standout footballers on the planet. So as ever, they will be extremely hard to beat. Nevertheless, whereas it has been all too easy for them in Serie A at times, winning the title for the past eight consecutive seasons, they are currently just one point ahead of Lazio and three ahead of Inter, suggesting they may not be quite the dominant force they once were with certain key players past their prime.

5. Real Madrid

A side still seemingly trying to get fully to grips with the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era, major trophies have been frustratingly thin on the ground for Los Blancos over the past 12 months. They have won La Liga just twice this decade — 2011-12 and 2016-17. Yet they maintained their reputation as one of Europe’s leading sides with a remarkable Champions League record — winning the trophy four out of a possible five years between 2013 and 2018. Last year though, they were dumped out by Ajax at the round of 16 stage, and they have been less than convincing so far this year, finishing second and winning only three out of six group stage matches. In Zinedine Zidane though, they have a coach who knows what it takes to prevail, having won the competition once as a player and three times already as a manager. Their squad is also filled with experience — the likes of Marcelo, Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema have played countless times at the highest level.

4. PSG

paris-saint-germain-psg-vs-olympique-lyonnais-at-parc-des-princes PSG players celebrate. Source: Julien Mattia

In recent years, PSG have gained a reputation for failing against all the odds. Given the considerable resources that have been ploughed into the club, they have undoubtedly underperformed in Europe. It’s quite incredible at this stage that a club of their stature has never won the competition, nor have they ever reached the semi-finals. For the past seven consecutive seasons, they have been dumped out at either the quarter-finals or round-of-16 stage, often blowing healthy leads, such as against Man United last year or Barcelona on 2017. Will it be any different this time around? As per usual, they are dominating Ligue 1, currently holding a 10-point advantage at the top, while they won five and drew one of their games in a group that included Real Madrid. Simply getting past Dortmund in the round of 16 won’t be easy, but with the world-class likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Mauro Icardi and Marco Verratti in their squad, they certainly have the potential to go all the way.

3. Barcelona

It has been a troubled season for Barcelona. They have been far from convincing in La Liga at times this year, with problems surrounding Lionel Messi among others attracting headlines. Yet their squad remains the envy of most. There aren’t many sides that Frenkie de Jong, Antoine Griezmann, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique would fail to get into, and if they can play to their potential, they surely won’t be far off. The Catalan club were desperately close to reaching the Champions League final last year, only for a calamitous second-leg performance at Anfield to prove their undoing. 

2. Man City

It would be quite the twist if Man City were to triumph this year and then be prevented from defending their trophy, owing to their proposed upcoming ban for “serious breaches” of financial and club-licensing rules. If that was the case, there would be shades of Marseille, who won the inaugural Champions League in 1993, but could not defend their trophy, after becoming embroiled in a match-fixing controversy. Of course, both Man City winning this year and their prospective ban are far from certain to happen. Either way, City currently boast one of the most talented squads in Europe. With Aymeric Laporte getting back to full fitness, their sometimes unreliable defence has been improved significantly, and with the Premier League title race effectively settled, they can now focus primarily on Europe and potentially end Pep Guardiola’s nine-year wait to lift the trophy. Moreover, it is still less than 12 months since they won the Premier League in such incredible fashion — the core of that team remain, as does the formidable levels of talent at their disposal.

1. Liverpool

Unquestionably the best side in Europe this season, this Reds team can consolidate their reputation as one of the greatest Liverpool sides ever if they were to add a Champions League trophy to a near-certain Premier League crown. Napoli proved in the group stages that they can be beaten, but the Anfield factor is a major advantage, as anyone who witnessed their incredible comeback against Barcelona last year will attest, while their experience in reaching the last two consecutive finals will also work in their favour. At the moment, they look unstoppable, and are consequently many people’s favourites to triumph again in Europe’s premier club competition.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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