The greatest club prize in Europe is set to return as the Champions League games are back for the first time since November — a longer break than normal due to the winter World Cup.
16 teams remain and have dreams of being crowned the best in Europe, but they can only be one winner.
2020 winners, Bayern Munich will be eager to avenge their shock exit last year at the hands of Villarreal and have already enjoyed a perfect start to their 2022/2023 Champions League campaign by coming top of a tough group featuring Inter Milan, Barcelona and Viktoria Plzeň by winning all six of their matches.
Along the way, Bayern scored 18 times, whilst only conceding twice. Julian Nagelsmann’s men look in great condition in their quest for a seventh champions league title. Champions League betting sites have them among the favourites to win the competition.
Although their domestic form hasn’t been great of late, it would be impossible to write off a side showcasing Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi. Despite protests from PSG fans in recent weeks, the French club sit top of the Ligue 1 by five points.
The Parisians finished second in Group H, level on points with Benfica with Mbappe scoring seven times, making him the competition’s top scorer with Mohamed Salah.
After guiding Argentina to World Cup glory in December, can Messi fire PSG to their first Champions League title?
The only team to win a trophy in 2023 are Real Madrid after their Club World Cup success in Morocco where they saw off Al-Hilal 5-3, however, their league form has been poor of late, but that won’t faze them coming into the Champions League knockout stages.
Real have won more Champions League titles (5) in the past ten seasons, than they have La Liga (4). This competition is their bread and butter Los Blancos will not go down without a fight and their manager Carlo Ancelotti is made for European nights.
Despite having a torrid time in the English Premier League, it’s impossible to right off Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, especially in a two-legged tie.
They began their Champions League campaign with a poor showing in a 4-1 battering by Napoli, but following that defeat in Naples, the Reds went on to win all five remaining matches, including a 7-0 battering of Rangers at Ibrox.
A tricky tie with Real Madrid awaits them in a repeat of last year’s final, but if they come through that, they’ll feel confident of anything.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have been favourites for the Champions League in the past few campaigns and each year so far, they have crumbled, but could that be about to change? Last season, they were stunned by five minutes of magic from Real Madrid, something they can use as a learning curve coming into the knockout stage this year.
Their summer signing Erling Haaland has given city fans the belief that they can finally end their wait for European glory. The Norwegian has five goals so far in the Champions League and could be the difference-maker when it comes to the crunch games.
Of the current 16 teams going into the Knockout stages of the tournament, there’s only one side who have had some real consistency all season, and that is Serie A league leaders Napoli.
When it comes to contenders for this year’s Champions league, it would be rude to look past Napoli. Luciano Spalletti’s side have had a wonderful season so far and with the likes of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Victor Osimhen, they will be a threat to anyone they come up against.
No one will fancy a trip to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Seen as dark horses, could the men from Naples shock the rest of Europe?