The Champions League is heading towards the quarter-finals.
In one fell swoop of ruthless European action, the cohort of Ajax, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Sporting Lisbon, Juventus, Red Bull Salzburg and Lille have all been sent packing from the competition.
Now, only Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Villarreal, Atletico Madrid and Benfica remain in the quest to lift ‘Big Ears’ at the Stade de France on May 28.
Champions League quarter-finals
In many ways, the quarter-finals mark the moment in which the competition really hots up with some of the more fortunate clubs to have qualified from the groups almost entirely eliminated.
Marry that to the fact that seeding for the knockout rounds ends after the last 16 and we’re left with what is essentially a battle royal between the continent’s finest eight clubs regardless of their league.
As such, there is plenty of excitement and anticipation surrounding the quarter-final draw, which duly decides the route to the final, that will be conducted by UEFA in Nyon, Switzerland, on March 18.
And barring any of the hiccups that we witnessed during the second round draw, football fans will be treated to the final lottery of the Champions League season with each club learning of their path to Paris.
Who will win the 2021/22 Champions League?
However, before the balls are drawn and fixtures are set, we wanted take stock of how the runners and racers are lining up ahead of time to try and the answer the big-money question: who’s going to win?
And while we can never be certain of the answer until the final whistle in late May is blown, the data analysts over at FiveThirtyEight give us the best possible chance of looking into the future.
Using a complex predictive algorithm, which you can learn more about here, all eight clubs have been given their percentage chance of winning the Champions League this season on the back of their round of 16 wins.
Fascinating, right? You betcha because the competition is looking so hot that even the data boffins think that we could have a dead heat for European glory, so be sure to check out the results below:
8. Benfica – 1% chance of winning
7. Atletico Madrid – 3%
6. Villarreal – 4%
5. Real Madrid – 8%
4. Chelsea – 10%
3. Liverpool – 23%
=1. Manchester City – 25%
=1. Bayern Munich – 25%
Bayern Munich and Man City lead the way
Start rubbing your hands together, ladies and gents, because we could have an almighty tussle between City and Bayern for the Champions League title – and Liverpool aren’t far behind.
The numbers clearly suggest that there’s a three-horse race to lift ‘Big Ears’ this season and even if they happen to meet each other as soon as the quarter-finals, it could prove to be a tie that decides the destination of the trophy.
Just imagine how exciting it would be to see any combination of Liverpool, City and Bayern slugging it out in the knowledge that whichever of them is the last club standing could go all the way.
However, just as the statistics acknowledge, there is still very much a chance that Chelsea and Real could cause an upset because there’s more than enough quality in their squads to topple some tough teams.
And while Benfica, Villarreal and Atletico don’t seem to stand a chance of dancing in confetti come May, that’s not say that they can’t cause an upset or two before inevitably bowing out at some point.
But even if you’ve got a tinfoil hat on and think that Benfica are going all the way this season, the one thing that we can all agree on is that the 2021/22 Champions League is going to be an absolute belter.