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Champions League Round of 16 overview: favourites, teams, games

After a three month break, the Champions League returns as AS looks at at all 16 teams in the competition and assesses the eight candidates to advance.

The Champions League Trophy

It’s back ..... Some three months after the final group stage games in early November, the Champions League returns as 16 teams remain in contention and fans can now begin to dream that it will be their side lifting the famous trophy come 10 June at Istanbul’s Ataturk Stadium.

In between we’ve seen the World Cup come and go as Argentina secured their third star at Lusail Stadium with a win over France and witnessed a transfer window that saw Chelsea invest heavily with Enzo Fernández the standout signing as the London club paid Benfica €130M for his services.

With the competition making a welcome return, no better time to take an overview at the eight ties and try and asses which eight teams will progress to the quarter-final stage.

Liverpool vs Real Madrid

One of the standout ties of the Round of 16 sees Liverpool face Real Madrid in a repeat of the Paris final from May where a sole Vinicius Jr. goal was enough to hand the Spanish side a fourteenth European Cup win. Despite trailing Barcelona by 11 points in LaLiga, Ancelotti’s men come into the tie on the back of more silverware as they bagged the 2022 Club World Cup last weekend in Rabat. Liverpool’s slump is alarming and a Merseyside derby win will add some badly needed morale to a side that has been heavily punished by injuries. Klopp will not be able to count on Van Dijk, Thiago or Luis Díaz for the first leg but Gakpo, who moved to Liverpool from PSV finally got off the mark scoring against Everton.

Prediction: Real Madrid


Another mouth-watering clash sees a repeat of the 2020 final where a goal from PSG youth player Coman denied the Parisian side of the one title that the club craves. Joao Cancelo was a major winter transfer acquisition for Bayern that has improved after a rocky start to 2023. Despite the absence of Sadio Mane, the Bavarians still top the Bundesliga and scored 11 goals in their past three games. By contrast, PSG come into the clash on the back of losing in the French Cup against Marseille and in Ligue 1 last weekend against Monaco. The PSG ultras have declared war on the team as an early return from injury for Mbappé offers a lifeline for the Ligue 1 giants.

Prediction: Bayern Munich


The chances of Milan regaining their Serie A title remain a utopia as Napoli streak away, on track to claim a third scudetto. The winter break has not been good for Milan as Pioli’s men now languish in fifth place and for the first time since taking the reigns at the red and black side of the city in 2019, question marks are now emerging about the 57-year-old’s future on the bench. Tottenham remain a hit-miss side under Antonio Conte and go from the high of beating Manchester City to a humbling defeat at Leicester with the 4-1 scoreline being the Italian coach’s most humbling in his time in english football.

Prediction: Tottenham


Bruges were one of the surprise packages in the Champions League group stage as they progressed from a difficult group along with Porto with Atlético Madrid the main casualty as Leverkusen secured third place in a competitive Group B. Domestically the Belgian side have struggled since qualification and this downturn led to the departure of their coach Hoefkens, who was replaced by former Bournemouth boss Scott Parker. Despte last week’s elimination in the Portuguese cup, Benfica remain solid in their quest for another Portuguese league title and are favored to advance despite having sold Enzo Fernández and the injuries to the most decisive Bruges offensive players Jutglá and Skov Olsen makes the task that bit harder for the Belgian outfit.

Prediction: Benfica

Benfica's head coach Roger Schmidt
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Benfica's head coach Roger Schmidt HUGO DELGADOEFE

Dortmund vs Chelsea

UEFA regulations only allow registering three new players per team so Graham Potter opted for Enzo Fernández, Mudryk and João Félix from the plethora of new acquisitions to join the London side over the winter transfer window. The Champions League offers the only hope of silverware for ‘Blues’ fans this season as the side still languish in midtable. Despite Dortmund remaining in contention in the Bundesliga (just three points behind Bayern) with Bellingham still impressing and with Häller having returned, the English side will have too much and should progress to the next stage.

Prediction: Chelsea

Eintracht Frankfurt-Napoli

Napoli impressed as they progressed to the Round of 16 delivering their best ever group stage showing. Running away with things domestically at the top of Serie A, Luciano Spalletti’s side are a fine outside bet for the Champions League and should have little trouble in advancing against the German outfit. Despite a slow climb up the Bundesliga table to their current sixth position, Eintracht are one of the weaker sides in the last 16 of the competition with Kolo Muani the great threat for the 2022 Europa League champions.

Prediction: Napoli

RB Leipzig vs Manchester City

Possibly the most one-sided tie in the round with City highly fancied to progress. The Mancunian’s have still yet to win the competition despite having qualified for the competition in the past 12 seasons. Pep Guardiola’s men will put aside external pressures following the Premier League charges and with Dani Olmo absent for the German side due to injury, the Bundesliga side progressing would be a modern day ‘giant killing’.

Prediction: Man City

Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola
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Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola PAUL ELLISGetty


With neither Porto nor Inter reinforcing their squads during the the winter market and with both teams chasing the leader in their respective leagues, advancing in the Champions League tie has become a priority to keep their fans happy. The game will be a momentous occasion for FC Porto coach Sergio Conceiçao, who as a player made history at both clubs. FC Porto have won nine straight matches and have just conceded three goals since the start of December and haven’t lost since 21 October and they’re just five points off first place but will struggle against the Serie A giants.

Prediction: Inter