• Tom Abadie


With the quarter finals starting tonight, let’s have a look at who could potentially go on to win the competition at the end of the season. We know the seedings, meaning we know who will play each other in the next round, giving us a better understanding of who can go all the way to Istanbul in May. We will be ranking from 8th to 1stwho is more likely to clinch the trophy.

8th: Dortmund

Before we start, yes, the German side has the X factor in the shape of Haaland. The Norwegian has been sensational this season, scoring at every touch he gets, setting the bar higher every week and breaking records for fun. However, the rest of the team is in disarray. Sitting in 5th in the Bundesliga, distant from the first Champions League qualifying spot, they are far from their best level. Lucien Favre might have left, but things have not drastically improved under Terzic. While the win against Sevilla in the last round was impressive, there are a lot of flaws in this team, particularly defensively. The absence of Witsel is proving to being a bigger loss than expected. Now, while Haaland is a big component to the story, there is a feeling that Manchester City are simply too good for this Dortmund team, especially over two legs. If by surprise, Dortmund do qualify, they have ended up in the more difficult bracket with Bayern Munich or Paris in the next round, which again will prove very difficult. Dortmund therefore ends in the bottom of this ranking.

7th: Porto

However big their achievement is by beating Juventus in the last round, this is where the road should end for the Portuguese side. On paper, they are arguably the weakest side of the eight left in the competition. Champions League can always provide surprises, but there are not that many over two legs. Porto beating an ageing Juventus side was a surprise but not the biggest upset of the century. Beating Tuchel’s Chelsea could prove to be a far bigger challenge, with the German setting up his team in a far better shape than Juventus. Chelsea will certainly not be underestimating this Porto side, and we should expect a more one-sided tie this time. Arguably, they have a better chance than Dortmund to create an upset and to go further into the competition, but still seems rather unlikely. It will not be an easy game for the Blues, but they should see off this Porto side.

6th: Liverpool

This is when business gets serious. Any of the top six teams could win this competition. With Liverpool however, it is the team most difficult to predict what kind of team will show up. Who will play centre back, will the midfield be at its best and what will the attacking output look like? All these questions make it difficult to predict the outcome of the Reds’ tie with Real Madrid, who themselves are a bit shaky at times. A top performance from Klopp’s men, similar to the ones in the last round against Leipzig, could see them go through. From there, they should face Chelsea, a side they have beaten but more recently lost to. They are in the easier bracket to get into the final, and the final is in Istanbul, the same city which hosted their 2005 final comeback. This means anything could happen, with an elimination in the quarter finals as well as a trophy being equally as plausible.

5th: Chelsea

This might be a bit of a surprise seeing the impact Tuchel has had on the team. He has made them more organised, more defensively aware and better at grinding out results. However, the attacking output has been fairly poor since his arrival and even his defensive plans blew up on the weekend against West Bromwich Albion, conceding five goals to a team fighting against relegation. To say it was a shock would be an understatement. Unfortunately, there were recurring flaws, with the lack of control from midfield and numerous mistakes at the back that have started creeping into the side recently. The lack of efficiency and attacking creativity is probably one of the biggest worries at the moment, with Werner really struggling for goals. That being said, Tuchel knows how to get the results he wants: he brought Paris to the Champions League final last year and could do it again this year. There is little doubt that they will beat Porto, but it is more open when it comes to Real Madrid or Liverpool in the next round. Like Liverpool, they could push for a victory but also could drop out early.

4th: Paris Saint-Germain

Paris have been fairly chaotic this season. Eight losses in the league, including some against Nantes and Lorient in 2021. Many injuries, many COVID-19 cases, and suspensions mean they arrive with a depleted team to face Bayern Munich this week. While Neymar and Mbappé will be around, they both seem to be struggling on the biggest stage, particularly the latter. His performance against Barcelona proved how much talent he has but his inconsistency this year means it is difficult to rely on him. Similarly, Neymar’s nerves seemed to be pushed to their limits recently, with yet another red card this season, this time against Lille last weekend. Beating Bayern Munich is no easy task, as they saw this summer in the 2020 final. Getting past them would be a huge achievement but facing most likely Manchester City in the next round seems like a huge task as well. On paper, they are one of the best sides in Europe. However, their irregularity this season mean it is difficult to bet on them to go further than this round, let alone the next round.

3rd: Real Madrid

As inconsistent as Real Madrid have been in these last few months, they still have the European pedigree to beat a lot of teams in this draw. The spine of the team (Courtois, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric and Benzema) can decide a game by themselves, particularly the French striker. When he is at the top of his game, can unlock any team. However, the lack of attacking efficiency and a few defensive absences mean it is also difficult to set exactly the bar with this team. They can be terrible against Liverpool and go out in the quarter final. Or they really turn up and show their true strength and push further. Being on the easier end of the table, they could easily push for a place in the final. Real Madrid in a final can certainly not be written off, making them 3rdfavourites in this ranking.

2nd: Bayern Munich

Last year’s champions are still pushing for another title, continuing to prove to everyone how amazing they are. However, a few stumbles and poor performances this year have shown a few failures, especially in the ageing backline. With a little more luck, Lyon or Paris could have taken the lead during the Final 8 oppositions with the Germans. However, the star-studded attack, especially Lewandowski, have been sensational this season and are expected, when in form, to break any deadlock. With Bayern Munich, you need to be at your best, from the first to the last minute, otherwise they will break you down. They will unfortunately be facing my favourites to win the competition in the semi-final – if they make it that far.

1st: Manchester City

Pep Guardiola has really got the Citizens up and running again. Without an out and out striker, but several players capable of scoring goals from everywhere, the Spanish manager has been able to build a collective force capable of beating pretty much anyone. And we have had this feeling for many years. However, in the past, as shown by the elimination against Lyon last season, their centre back pairings were not always up to standards. The arrival of Ruben Diaz and the return to form of John Stones means they arguably have the best centre-back pairing of Europe. This helps the team not only consolidate their backline, but they are both crucial in attacking build ups, as well as scoring a fair number of goals. While they can still surprise us with a defeat here and there, they have been very solid all season and are expected to go far in this competition. They are my favourites to win it, which would finally reward all the investment and work that has been happening since the Qatari investment in 2008.