The UEFA Champions League, formerly known as the European Cup, is the most prestigious club tournament in the continent, with Real Madrid winning the coveted trophy 13 times, the most by any team, in the competition’s 65-year-old history.
This season, the competition was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, at a very interesting juncture, with the Round of 16 still in progress.
RB Leipzig, Atletico Madrid, Atalanta and Paris Saint-Germain successfully navigated their way to the quarter-finals, while four other Round of 16 ties are yet to be concluded.
Without further ado, let’s analyse each of the remaining team’s chances of winning the Champions League at the end of the season.
Real Madrid are the most in-form team in La Liga at the moment. Having won nine of their last 10 league games and sitting four points ahead of second-placed Barcelona with two matches remaining in the season, Los Blancos are almost certain to clinch their 34th La Liga title soon.
On the contrary, things are not so rosy for Real Madrid in the Champions League. Influential skipper Sergio Ramos is on a red card and will thus miss the return leg against Manchester City.
Trailing 2-1 from the first leg at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid’s European journey could very well end at the hands of Pep Guardiola’s team in the pre-quarter-finals.
With the CAS overturning their European ban, Manchester City are one of the favourites to win the Champions League this season. The Citizens have the motivation, purpose and a slender 2-1 lead to hold on to.
On their day, Manchester City can beat any team, and with the Champions League eluding Pep Guardiola for several years now, the Spaniard could be extra motivated to go all the way in the present campaign.
Playing at neutral venues could also go in Manchester City’s favour as they won’t have to deal with vociferous home support.
With the Ligue 1 cancelled, Lyon could be ill-prepared against Juventus, who have shown marked improvements since the resumption of Serie A.
Lyon hold a single goal advantage, having won 1-0 in Turin in the first leg before the COVID-19-enforced break, and it will be a miracle if they come out of the corresponding fixture without being demolished by Cristiano Ronaldo and company.
Juventus hold a six-point lead at the top of the Serie A table with a game in hand and will finish their league campaign in August – the last, along with Napoli, among the remaining teams in the Champions League.
The Bianconeri would have the least time to prepare but still, they will be the favourites against Lyon, who are actually practising behind closed doors due to the Ligue 1 being cancelled.
Cristiano Ronaldo joined Juventus to specifically help them to the Champions League crown, and the Italian champions have a great chance of progressing in the tournament.
With Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain in the team, Juventus are in a good position not only to reach the quarter-finals but also to go all the way.
The Bundesliga team have been consistently punching above their weight with wins against Benfica and Tottenham Hotspur. Finishing third in the domestic league is an amazing achievement in itself and RB have been playing with a spring in their step this season.
But losing Timo Werner to Chelsea could be too big a hole to fill for this side. It will be a learning curve for Julian Nagelsmann and his team against a well-drilled Atletico Madrid unit, who knocked out the defending champions, Liverpool.
Diego Simeone’s team are not easy to break, with Atletico Madrid being extremely quick on counters. With the likes of Jan Oblak, Saul Nigez and Alvaro Morata in the team, Los Rojiblancos could prove to be too much for RB Leipzig.
If they could successfully navigate their semi-final fixture too, Atletico will be in the Champions League final for the fourth time in their history, having faltered in the final hurdle three times.
At first, it seemed Barcelona had an easy Round of 16 tie when they drew Napoli. But the Italians played brilliantly in the first leg, which ended 1-1 in Naples.
The tie is delicately poised and can be won by either team, and Napoli have offensive players who can test the Blaugrana’s defence, and maybe get something out of the return leg.
However, even if they get past Barcelona, Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich probably await them in the quarter-finals, and Napoli are likely to not progress any further.
Barcelona fans will be biting their nails against Napoli as they know how fragile their team have been this season. With the appointment of Quique Setien, there has been more lows than highs at the Camp Nou.
Lionel Messi and company are almost certain to finish second in La Liga, and the Champions League remains their only scope of silverware in 2019-20. The Catalan giants are in dire need of a leader both on and off the pitch, and even reaching the quarter-finals seems like an uphill task now.
One of the only two teams from England remaining in the Champions League, Chelsea were completely outclassed in every department by Bayern Munich in the first leg, which finished 3-0 in favour of the Bavarians at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea fans should not keep their hopes high for the return leg as scoring at least three times against Bayern Munich will be too big a task. Finishing in the top four in the Premier League should be the Blues’ priority this season.
Following Niko Kovac’s sacking earlier in the season, Hansi Flick completely turned around Bayern Munich’s floundering campaign. The Bavarians won the Bundesliga in style with four games to spare, scoring an astonishing 100 goals in the process.
Robert Lewandowski has been in the form of his life, scoring 51 times across all competitions. Having already secured the Bundesliga and the German Cup, Bayern Munich are aiming for the treble yet again.
The Bavarians are undoubtedly the team to beat this season and remain firm favourites to lift their sixth Champions League trophy in Portugal.
The surprise package of the season, Atalanta have impressed one and all with their slick passing and attacking brand of football. The Italian outfit are an unpredictable team, who are capable of pulling off major upsets if not handled with care.
Gian Piero Gasperini has done wonders since being appointed in 2016 and Atalanta’s debut Champions League campaign could very well prolong beyond the quarter-finals, where they are up against PSG.
Paris Saint-Germain haven’t played any competitive football since April, and the lack of match fitness could be their downfall. In these single-legged contests, starting with the quarter-final clash against Atalanta, the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe have to be at their absolute best.
PSG are yet to win the Champions League, and looking at their lack of game time, their wait to lift the trophy might just get longer.
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