With the Champions League Round of 16 almost complete, the proper business end of the competition will truly begin. Find out who the Champions League favourites to win it all are, plus how and why those teams could do it.

Image: The Champions League trophy on display. Credit - Tim Reckmann, Flickr

Last Updated: 16/03/23 at 9:33 am

The Champions League is coming towards the real business end of the competition. The Round of 16 is complete, and with the Quarter-finals as the next round, there is a clearer picture of who will be playing at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey and fighting for the coveted Champions League trophy.

So with that said, we have taken a look at the teams that are left in the competition and are listing the Champions League favourites, and why they are favoured to win it all.

Manchester City

Outright favourites

Manchester City lifting the Premier League trophy at the end of the 2021/22 season
Image: Manchester City lifting the Premier League trophy at the end of the 2021/22 season

Manchester City have been one of, if not the favourites to win the Champions League every year for the past couple of years. And while it hasn’t quite panned out for them yet, this year might very well be the year they finally do it.

The group stage was for the most part a formality, winning four games and drawing two. They scored 14 goals and only let in two, finishing five points ahead of second-place Borussia Dortmund.

In their Round of 16 matchups against RB Leipzig, the first leg at Leipzig played out to a 1-1 draw, with many fans, pundits and critics doubting City once again.

The second leg put all those doubts to rest, with an emphatic 7-0 win at the Etihad. It was a stunningly ruthless performance from the Citizens, with a main focus on talisman Erling Haaland, who bagged the match ball after scoring five goals in the game - making him only the third player to score five in a Champions League game (after Lionel Messi and Luiz Adriano).

City’s strengths greatly outweigh their weaknesses, with the negatives rarely ever on show. Pep Guardiola has created a team that is able to control the game in every area of the pitch, with much of the play focusing on their star man, Kevin De Bruyne.

De Bruyne in the middle of the pitch creates everything. The play goes through him, and when he’s at his best, he and City are unstoppable. And he is almost always at his best.

The real problem for Man City, though, seems to be their ability to adapt to unfamiliar opponents in Europe. If they can get a hold of the game and control it, they can and will be fine.

But if for any reason they can’t, you'll see a much more cautious City side and one that looks like it can be broken.

This is something we have seen over the years and is why they haven’t been able to find success in Europe as of yet.

However, this year may be different. While they aren’t topping the Premier League table, they are still the big powerhouses and are looking stronger in Europe than ever before. For that, we have them as our outright favourites to win the Champions League this year.

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Bayern Munich

German heavyweights

The Allianz Arena, home of Bayern Munich
Image: The Allianz Arena, home of Bayern Munich

The heavyweights of Germany, Bayern Munich are a formidable opponent to come up against. They can be ruthless against their opposition, playing unmistakable German football to perfection and getting the result they deserve.

As the only team to go perfectly through the group stage, with six wins from six, 16 goals scored and two conceded, Bayern showcased why they should always be in the conversation for winning the competition.

Even with their league season not going exactly as planned so far, with the top five separated by just five points as opposed to the usual Bayern running away with it, the Munich-based side are showing they are not to be looked over in Europe.

Their Round of 16 opponent was a big test for them, coming up against the mighty Paris Saint-Germain, headlined by Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and Lionel Messi.

They got the biggest portion of the job done in the first leg in Paris, winning 1-0 in a fairly dominant fashion.

That meant their game plan in the second leg in Munich was straightforward enough - don’t concede.

While that’s always easier said than done, it is fairly easy for Bayern to do that in their fortress of the Allianz Arena.

PSG tried their best to pile on the pressure, even without Neymar, who is injured for the rest of the season. But nothing worked, and Bayern, never one to sit back and play solely on the counter, attacked as hard as they defended and scored another two goals (three, but Sadio Mane’s late one was ruled out for offside) to seal the tie.

With that Round of 16 tie, Bayern have already taken on and beaten one of the other strongest sides in this year's competition. There is no doubt that Die Roten are one of the favourites for this year.

Real Madrid

Masters of the competition

The most successful side in Champions League history and the reigning champions after a surprise victory in last year’s campaign, Real Madrid can never be counted out.

In the group stage, they finished top of their group with four wins, one draw and one loss.

As for their Round of 16 matchup against Liverpool, the first leg was phenomenal. After going down 2-0 early on, Real fought back to make it level again at 2-2 by halftime, with both goals courtesy of Brazilian star Vinicius Jr.

In the second half, they came out the gates strong going ahead within two minutes of the half and finding a further two through the reigning Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema to silence the hostile Anfield crowd and take a commanding hold of the tie into the second leg.

Their job at the Bernabeu was to simply see it through, which could have been difficult, given Liverpool’s penchant for upsetting Spanish sides.

But they managed the game well, never really looking like conceding and even get one more goal through Benzema again to seal a 1-0 win on the night, a 6-2 aggregate win in the tie, and their place in the next round.  

As for the rest of the tournament, as we have said, you can’t count Real out. They can produce moments of magic out of nowhere.

Hardly anyone had them winning the Champions League last year, yet they went and did it. It is not entirely out of the realm of possibility that they could do it again this year.


Italy’s intimidating underdog

An underrated pick here and that’s why they are in this category, Napoli are looking as strong as ever this season and may just surprise some people with how far they can go in the competition.

The current Serie A table toppers have been flying this season in almost all competitions, especially in the Champions League.

In the group stage, they were drawn into a fairly tough group, alongside Liverpool, Ajax and Rangers. They ended up finishing top of the group, level points with the Reds but beating them out by on goal difference.

They also beat the 2019 Champions League winners 4-1 on the opening matchday of the competition, as well as a 6-1 beating on Ajax in the third matchday.

In the Round of 16, they were drawn against the reigning Europa League champions, Eintracht Frankfurt -  a tall task indeed.

The first leg in Frankfurt saw Napoli come away with a good result, taking a 2-0 win with them to their hostile home.

Napoli were relentless in the second leg, never truly giving Frankfurt a chance to get into the game. They ended up coming away with a 3-0 win in the game for a 5-0 aggregate win.

Getting a result against Gli Azzurri at their home of the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium is never an easy thing to do. The Napoli fans, in particular the ultras, are die-hard supporters who show their passion and love for their team at every game. It is as intimidating as it gets.

Napoli are certainly not a team to dismiss. With the passion and noise from the crowd, there are hardly any other places in European football more intimidating to play at.

And with some fantastic players, such as surprise star Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Serie A top scorer Victor Osimhen, Napoli are a formidable team who won’t be afraid to bring the fight to the bigger teams like Bayern and Man City.

It's not a long shot to think that they might just be able to make the final. With a favourable draw in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, they could just find their way there.

And if they do, you must not think it will be an easy ride for their opponent, because Napoli are more than capable of surprising.

Outside chances

These are our picks for the favourites to win this year's Champions League, we feel confident that one of these four will be crowned champions.

This is no disrespect to any of the other teams still in, either. Chelsea, the 2021 champions, may well have a similar unlikely run as they did in that campaign when they beat Man City 1-0 in the final. You definitely can’t count them out.

Italy will feel good about their chances of one of their teams winning it, as they still have not just Napoli, but Inter and AC Milan left in the competition - more representation than any other nation.

And Portuguese side Benfica are not to be disrespected. An emphatic 7-1 aggregate win over Club Brugge in the Round of 16 should make you aware that they mean business.

While we don’t see any of these four teams overcoming either of the four listed above, we do acknowledge that anything can happen in the Champions League, so we absolutely will not be counting them out completely.

How to watch Champions League games live

The Champions League competition is starting to heat up, and every game is as serious as it can possibly be. This is where you see the best teams and players step up and make their mark.

You can witness these teams and players in person with hospitality packages and premium tickets to some of the teams still in the competition.

With Seat Unique, you can book official premium tickets and hospitality to fixtures for:

This includes the teams’ Champions League quarter-final fixtures, with the tickets and packages available after the draw on Friday 17th March is complete.

As well as individual team tickets, you can also register your interest in hospitality packages to the Champions League final in Istanbul, Turkey.

We currently do not have tickets listed, however, if you register your interest now, we will contact you if we do have any tickets and/ or packages available at some point.

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