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Champions League 2022/23: Last-16 recap & winner prediction

Published on: 18 March 2023

The round of 16 ties in the Champions League have been completed and several teams undoubtedly demonstrated their title credentials during this stage of the competition.

They include Manchester City, whose 8-1 aggregate demolition of RB Leipzig was a real statement of intent by a team seeking their first-ever Champions League title.

Fans watching the game on live soccer streams cannot fail to have been impressed by City’s performance, with star striker Erling Braut Haaland central to their efforts.

The Norwegian star netted five goals before the hour mark to take his season tally to a whopping 39 – a phenomenal achievement in his first campaign with City.

Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne were also on target during what was a fine all-round team display against a woefully outclassed Leipzig team.

While City will fancy their chances of finally winning the Champions League, they would do well not to think it is a foregone conclusion.

Bayern Munich are serious contenders for the title judging by their 3-0 aggregate victory over Paris Saint-Germain in their round of 16 tie.

The Bundesliga giants won 1-0 in the first leg in Paris, before the Ligue 1 outfit gave them a few scares in the reverse fixture.

However, Bayern eventually stepped things up and were rewarded as goals by Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Serge Gnabry put the tie beyond PSG’s reach.

Bayern have conceded just two goals on their way to winning eight out of eight games in this year’s tournament and could be an extremely tough nut to crack.

Reigning champions Real Madrid are also firmly in the mix after romping to a comprehensive 6-2 victory over Liverpool.

The Reds looked up for the fight when they raced into a two-goal lead in the first leg, but their hopes were dashed as Madrid rattled home five goals without reply.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were lifeless in the return match and the only surprise was that Madrid failed to add more than Karim Benzema’s second half goal to their tally.

While Madrid have struggled to keep pace with Barcelona in La Liga, they continue to look a completely different proposition in Europe.

While Man City, Bayern or Madrid would be worthy winners of the Champions League, a surprise contender from Serie A could scupper their hopes.

Napoli have been a class apart in the Italian top flight this season, opening up a whopping 18-point lead over their nearest challengers.

They were also in fine form during the group stage of the Champions League, with a 4-1 home victory over Liverpool a particular highlight.

Napoli eased to a 5-0 aggregate victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the last-16 and they will be tough opponents for whoever they face in the next round.

Chelsea, Benfica, AC Milan and Inter Milan have also progressed to the quarter-finals, but none of them appeal as likely winners of the tournament.

The bookmakers’ favourites are Man City and their performance against Leipzig suggests this could be the year they break their duck in the Champions League.

The quality of their football against the Bundesliga side was mesmerising and they will be difficult to stop if they continue in the same vein.

Spearheading their challenge is Haaland – a phenomenal striker who has the ability to blow teams away single-handedly when he is in the mood.

He broke Man City's 94-year-old record for most goals scored in a season against Leipzig and will likely set a ridiculous new mark by the end of the campaign.

Haaland has bagged 33 goals in 25 games in the Champions League, reaching the 30-goal milestone in fewer matches than any other player in the competition’s history.

He has scored 10 goals in the Champions League this season, the most by a Man City player in a single campaign in the competition.

Given his current form, you wouldn’t put it past Haaland to beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 17 goals in a single Champions League season set in 2013/14.

He has now scored five hat-tricks for Man City in all competitions this season - three more than any other player in Europe's big five leagues.

His ability to score goals in quickfire batches sets him apart from any other striker in the world and gives City a cutting edge beyond compare.

They have more strength in depth than the rest of the teams in the Champions League, which will stand them in good stead as the tournament progresses.

Manager Pep Guardiola is desperate to prove he can win this competition without Lionel Messi in his team and he will never have a better chance of achieving the feat.

Bayern, Madrid and Napoli should not be underestimated, but Man City have the enough talent in their squad to resist their respective challenges.




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