Champions League 2019-20: Rating the chances of Premier League teams of winning the competition
After this week’s games there is just one match left in the group stage of the 2019-20 edition of the UEFA Champions League, and fans of the Premier League should be happy, as it looks like all four English sides are now likely to make the knockout stages.
Both Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur are safely through with a game to go, as group winners and runners-up respectively, while holders Liverpool need just a point against RB Salzburg, and Chelsea will qualify if they beat Lille and Valencia at most secure a draw, or if they draw and Valencia fall to defeat at Ajax.
So can a Premier League side win the Champions League again, asserting the dominance of English football over Europe after Liverpool’s victory last season? Or will the famous trophy head elsewhere in Europe? Here, we rate each Premier League team’s chances of winning Europe’s biggest prize.
#1 Manchester City
Pep Guardiola might be rated as one of the best coaches in the world – if not the best, full stop – but it’s been a long time since he won the Champions League. The last time he lifted the famous trophy was with Barcelona in 2010-11 – so can this be the year that he changes that and leads Manchester City to glory?
It’s quite possible. City haven’t dropped a point in the group stage of this season’s competition yet, although it must be noted that their group – containing Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta – was not the strongest. They’ve also proven themselves once again to be a potent attacking threat, as they’ve scored 12 goals in their 5 games – including 5 from Raheem Sterling – and have a goal difference of +9, the second-best in the group stage.
Do they have what it takes to go all the way, though? The Citizens certainly have the attacking threat to take on any side in Europe, with the likes of Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne all being considered up there with the best attackers in the world right now. They also retain the ball and keep possession arguably better than any other side. And to give them another advantage, they’ll be seeded for the Round of 16 and should receive a favourable draw.
However, considering the amount of money that City has spent, even since Guardiola took over in 2016, their squad isn’t actually that deep, particularly in the defensive areas. In recent games for instance, holding midfielder Fernandinho has been forced to play as a centre-back as first-choice defender Aymeric Laporte remains on the sidelines with a knee injury, and isn’t expected to be back until February at the earliest. This has led to Pep’s side have letting in some softer goals than you’d usually expect, particularly in their recent draws with Shakhtar and Atalanta.
Due to those defensive question marks, if they come up against the likes of Robert Lewandowski or Kylian Mbappe – as is likely the deeper they go into the competition – they could be in some trouble, but they should almost certainly be treated as one of the favourites.
Chances of winning: 4/5