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The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

2023-24 Champions League predictions: Which teams have topped the group stages?

Photo+by+Janosch+Diggelmann+on+Unsplash
Photo by Janosch Diggelmann on Unsplash

The 2023-24 UEFA Champions League tournament is approaching its conclusion. The top two teams from Groups A to H will qualify for the Round of 16 and anxiously await the knockout draw to take place. With one matchweek left in group stage play, these are the top five teams most likely to crown themselves winners of this year’s UEFA Champions League. 

 

  1. Manchester City F.C.

Defending champions Manchester City lead in Group G and were one of the first teams to advance to the Round of 16. They won their first match against Red Star Belgrade, 3–1. This first victory built up confidence in the team, which led them to win their next four consecutive games. Their toughest matchup so far has been their second game against Leipzig, where the Citizens scraped a win, 3–2. Leipzig’s Loïs Openda scored twice in the first half, giving his team a two-goal advantage. However, Pep Guardiola’s team surprised soccer fans around the world with an amazing comeback. Erling Haaland, Phil Foden, and Julián Álvarez ultimately won the match with three stunning goals. The Leipzig game was definitely a wake-up call for Manchester City, but despite falling behind on the scoreboard, they managed to control 69% of possession — a sign of their dominance. Without a doubt, Manchester City is the current favorite to win this year’s Champions League. 

 

  1. Real Madrid C.F.

Real Madrid C.F. have won every game they’ve played so far in the group stage. Madrid’s toughest competitor in the group was S.S.C. Napoli. The first match between the pair was an extremely close game, finishing 3–2 in favor of Los Blancos. Vinicius Jr. and Jude Bellingham were the players who carried Real Madrid to this victory. In their second match against Napoli, Madrid prevailed again, 4–2. Real Madrid is looking strong to win this year’s tournament given they have solid players who score consistently, such as Bellingham and Federico Valverde. Real Madrid have obtained 14 European titles in their illustrious history and hope to conquer their 15th this season.

 

  1. Arsenal F.C.

Arsenal F.C. leads Group B. They have won four of their five games, accumulating a total of 15 goals with an impressive average of three goals per game. Arsenal demolished PSV Eindhoven in their first match of the group stage with a 4–0 victory. They were able to win both of the games played against Sevilla, scoring at least twice in each of those games. Their only defeat occurred in France against R.C. Lens, losing 2–1. Despite that loss, Arsenal was able to take revenge on Lens, defeating them on their second try in a 6–0 slaughter. Midfielder Kai Havertz was a key player in the match, setting the tone with a goal in the 13th minute. Arsenal’s remarkable triumphs in this year’s group stage make them serious contenders for this year’s Champions League.

 

  1. F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona is a fan favorite of the tournament and has pleased many soccer fans by qualifying for the Round of 16. One shot on target against Shakhtar Donetsk forced them onto a rockier route to qualifying, but, barring a tragedy against Antwerp in their final game, Xavi’s men will avoid the Europa League and await their draw in the Round of 16. Considering the bumpy path taken by the team, Barcelona’s group stage has gone smoothly, winning four of their five group stage matches so far. They have an average of two goals per match and a total of ten goals in the group stage. However, during the international break, star midfielder Gavi tore his anterior cruciate ligament putting him out of commission for the rest of the season. Losing a key player has been devastating to the fans and team, but the Blaugrana remain hopeful title contenders. 

 

  1. F.C. Bayern Munich

F.C. Bayern Munich are first in Group A after going undefeated in their first five matches. Although they drew 0–0 in Matchweek 5 against Copenhagen, Die Roten has had a positive record of 11 goals and an 88% passing accuracy with an average of over two goals per game. Harry Kane has had a fabulous group stage, scoring with ease and sending Bayern into the Round of 16. Although star midfielder Jamal Musiala was left injured in Matchweek 4 against Galatasaray S.K., Bayern Munich is a viable challenger for their seventh Champions League title.

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