The favourites to win the Champions League
With the first legs of the Champions League round of 16 in the books, fans got a distinct indicator of who might be vying for the crown in Istanbul.
The second legs are upon us, with the majority of the ties evenly split. Only three teams won their first leg by more than a one goal margin.
Ranking favourites to go all the way is tough to do while midway through a round, but that’s exactly what we’ve decided to do here at 90min. At the end of the day, we like a challenge.
So, here’s how we rank all 16 teams left in the Champions League by their likelihood of winning the competition.
Scott Parker has endured an indifferent start to life as Club Brugge manager and they have little shot of progressing beyond the round of 16 after falling to a 2-0 home defeat against Benfica in the first leg.
The German side staged an impressive turnaround to qualify for the knockout stages, and they have another mountain to climb in the round of 16.
Eintracht must overturn a 2-0 deficit in Naples without top goalscorer Randal Kolo Muani over he was harshly sent off in the first leg.
It’s been a rather bleak campaign for Liverpool thus far, but their recent resurgence, best depicted by the 7-0 beatdown of Man Utd, has fans praying for a strong end to the season.
Their last 16 tie against Real Madrid started superbly before ending horribly. Thus, they must pull off an Istanbul-esque comeback in the Spanish capital to avoid an early elimination.
Sergio Conceição has proven himself to be a shrewd two-legged manager since taking over as Porto boss, and the Portuguese side are still well in their round of 16 tie. despite being 1-0 down to Inter at the half-way stage.
They’ve recently had success against Italian clubs, too, but they’re not cut out to compete against Europe’s very best and their ceiling is a quarter-final berth.
RB Leipzig’s Bundesliga title aspirations took a hit on Friday night as they were beaten by Borussia Dortmund, but they showed off their credentials in the first leg against Man City when they earned a 1-1 draw.
They’re getting healthier, too, but a trip to the Etihad beckons and very few escape with victory at this stage of the competition.
Stefano Pioli appeared to be undergoing an identity crisis when he switched to a back five in the wake of some disastrous results, but Milan have rediscovered some of their best form in recent weeks.
They impressed without the ball against Tottenham in a 1-0 victory, but you get the feeling the Rossoneri might rue missed opportunities to put the tie to bed in the second half at San Siro.
It’s all to play for when Milan come to town, and some will fancy Tottenham to overturn their slender deficit despite their woeful inconsistency this season.
Spurs have got what it takes to advance at Milan’s expense on Wednesday night, but Antonio Conte’s European record will concern many. The Italian hasn’t won a Champions League knockout game since March 2013.
Borussia Dortmund sit among Europe’s most in-form sides having extended their winning run in all competitions to ten games ahead of their trip to Stamford Bridge.
They rode their luck against Chelsea in their round of 16 first leg, and they’ll be without match-winner Karim Adeyemi for the reverse fixture. This is another tie that could go either way, but Dortmund’s impressive form would suggest they may enjoy a deep European run this year.
Chelsea have no right to be this high on our ranking, but there’s just something about the Blues and the Champions League. They typically do well in this competition when they aren’t supposed to.
Should they progress at Dortmund’s expense on Tuesday night, the Graham Potter era could ignite and given the talent they possess, Chelsea can match-up with anybody toe-for-toe.
Inter are making steady progress in this competition but they’re still some way off from being considered a favourite. They were distinctly inferior when they faced off against Bayern Munich in the group stage.
It’s been a rather disappointing domestic campaign for Simone Inzaghi’s side, but fans will be content should they get the job done against Porto.
Benfica have all but booked their place in the quarter-finals and are the side that look primed to surprise Europe’s elite down the stretch.
Roger Schmidt’s doing an excellent job, and the brilliance of his Benfica side was depicted during the group stage when they completed the double over Juventus and twice drew with PSG.
This is the best Portuguese side we’ve seen in a long time, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them reach the semi-finals at least.
They’ve got work to do against Bayern, but how can you write off a side as talented as PSG? When you’ve got the best player in the world right now and the greatest to ever do it, you’ve always got a chance.
Les Parisiens have returned to their potent best in the build-up to their second leg in Bavaria, and they’ll fancy themselves to pull off the upset given Mbappe’s speed against Bayern’s high defensive line.
In a season where there’s no distinct favourite, some might fancy PSG to complete their ultimate goal should they complete the comeback in Munich.
The 2022/23 season has been all about Napoli. Luciano Spalletti has for so long been the bridesmaid, but he’s poised to earn his time in the sun by the time the campaign concludes.
Napoli are waltzing to the Scudetto despite sustaining their second league defeat of the season last week, and are primed to enjoy a deep run in Europe.
They play with such synergy and cohesion that they’re almost impossible to slow down. But do they possess the cajones to go all the way?
It’s not been plain sailing for Julian Nagelsmann in his second season as Bayern boss, but there’s no doubt that the German giants are among the favourites to win this competition.
Plenty hinges on their second leg against PSG, but they were so distinctly superior in Paris that they’ll be confident of progressing.
They laid down a domestic marker by beating title contenders Union Berlin 3-0, and Nagelsmann will be keen to win with such conviction against Christophe Galtier’s side.
The former RB Leipzig manager will primarily be judged on the club’s performance in Europe following last season’s disappointing quarter-final exit.
The Champions League crown has somehow eluded Pep Guardiola since he took over as Man City boss. The Citizens have been regarded almost universally as the best side in Europe for much of the Spaniard’s tenure, but they simply haven’t been able to get the job done.
And while they don’t appear to be at their scintillating best this season, City are still the bookie’s favourite to win the competition.
Perhaps Erling Haaland will get them over the line in 2023, but their history of coming up short means we can’t place them ahead of our current Champions League favourites.
There’s an inevitability about Real Madrid in this competition. How can you ever bet against them after seeing what they accomplished last season?
There’s no magic formula from Carlo Ancelotti, just stoicism. The Italian takes solace in knowing he possesses some of the world’s best players, and that’s enough to reach the pinnacle. They raise their games when it matters most, failing to panic when any sort of plan goes astray.
That’s what makes Real Madrid special. There’s no system to fall back on, just experience and individual majesty.
The holders thumped Liverpool at Anfield, and are set for another memorable European journey in 2023.