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Paul Merson ranks his 5 favourites for the UEFA Champions League this season (2022/23)

The UEFA Champions League features some excellent teams
The UEFA Champions League features some excellent teams

The UEFA Champions League has produced an array of exceptional clashes so far this season, and we're set to witness its return next month. The competition has been difficult to predict this season, and I wouldn't be surprised if we have more than a few upsets in the knock-out stages.

I've got two teams that are playing each other in my top five - the team that wins that match has got an unbelievable chance. A lot of the favourites are playing against one another this season, and I'm looking forward to it.

If you're a fan of teams like Napoli or Chelsea, these are the draws that you would want. With two massive names going out in the Round of 16, the other teams will view the competition as a massive opportunity.

The UEFA Champions League is an unforgiving competition and this edition could spring a few surprises. Here's a list of my favourites to lift the trophy this season.


#5 PSG

Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester City: Group A - UEFA Champions League
Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester City: Group A - UEFA Champions League

PSG are right up against it against Bayern Munich in the Round of 16. If they win that match, they go straight up to number two on this list. I think Bayern's going to win the game, because I think one's a team and the other's a group of individuals that can win you games.

When you get to this stage of the Champions League and you're playing the big boys, you need to have more than eight players on the pitch off the ball. You can get away with it against the likes of Porto and Club Brugge, but the better teams will punish you.

πŸ” Most big chances created in Europe's Top 5 Leagues this season:πŸ₯‡ Kevin De Bruyne - 20πŸ₯ˆ Kieran Trippier - 16πŸ₯‰ Lionel Messi - 154️⃣ Bruno Fernandes - 145️⃣ Kylian Mbappe, Neymar - 12 https://t.co/xTofRXwG5b

If I had to let go of one of the front three at PSG, I'd part ways with Neymar. If PSG lose Mbappe, it weakens the team tenfold. It does depend on how long Messi wants to stay, but if it comes down to a decision between him and Neymar, PSG might decide to keep Messi.

The problem with PSG is that they've got three big stars playing up front in the same team - you've got three of the best players in the world taking penalties. I don't see how they can live with Bayern Munich when they don't have the ball.


#4 Napoli

Napoli v Monza - Serie A
Napoli v Monza - Serie A

Napoli are my dark horses in the UEFA Champions League. They're absolutely brilliant in the Serie A at the moment. They're going along very nicely and winning a lot of matches - they've nearly won the league already!

Napoli have got a nice draw with Eintracht Frankfurt and I expect them to reach the quarterfinals. I put them at number four because I'd be shocked if they didn't get past Frankfurt.

Things could change very quickly in the Champions League, but Napoli have been outstanding. They've got a lot of match-winners in their squad and could pull off a few big upsets this year.


#3 Chelsea

Fulham FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League
Fulham FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League

I've just got a feeling with Chelsea. They've got a nice draw with Borussia Dortmund, and I expect them to win over two legs. They're out of the Premier League and all the cups. This is their last chance.

Chelsea have looked very solid in their last couple of games. Their defence has done very well, and they should be able to get to the quarterfinals. Once they get there, you never know. They'll get a few players back, and I've got a gut feeling with them.

If they're away from home against Bayern Munich or PSG, I'm not sure with Chelsea. With the other ties, however, I do fancy them. They've got clean sheets in their last two games, and I do fancy them to get through.

Chelsea haven't got anything else to play for. They can rest a lot of players before a Champions League game, and they've got a lot of eggs in one basket. They've got great squad depth, and they can become massive contenders once all their players are back.


#2 Bayern Munich

Eintracht Frankfurt v FC Bayern München - Bundesliga
Eintracht Frankfurt v FC Bayern MΓΌnchen - Bundesliga

The front three for Bayern track back and defend. When Bayern Munich don't have the ball, their players close down and track back - they win the ball and are very heavily involved.

Bayern Munich will need Sadio Mane back for at least one of the legs. He could make a difference with his pace and energy. Liverpool are struggling quite badly without Mane at the moment, but I think Bayern Munich have still got the players they need to beat PSG.


#1 Manchester City

Manchester City v Liverpool - Carabao Cup Fourth Round
Manchester City v Liverpool - Carabao Cup Fourth Round

I'd expect Manchester City to beat RB Leipzig. They've won the Premier League four of the last five times - they've brought Erling Haaland in to win the Champions League. They can win the Premier League without him, and they usually do.

When it gets to a final or a knock-out match, it's anybody's game. But over two legs, you need something special to beat Man City. They can have a bad 90 minutes like they did against Southampton, but they would've won a reverse fixture at the Etihad easily.

Haaland has now scored 146 goals in his last 142 club games 🀯#UCL https://t.co/IC5B53BaHV

The big advantage with PSG is that they've got lesser teams in their league. If Man City won the Champions League and didn't win the league title, it would still be an unbelievable season. PSG will still win their league title, but if City don't win the Champions League or the Premier League, it'd be a bad season.

If Pep Guardiola wins the Champions League, it'd be incredible. I remember where Manchester City were 20 years ago - for them to win the Champions League would be unbelievable at the highest level.


Other Contenders

Liverpool FC v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final 2021/22
Liverpool FC v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final 2021/22

Liverpool

Liverpool are struggling at the moment - they're without Van Dijk at the moment, and their midfield has been poor. They might get through at home because of their fans - they're like an extra goal on a Champions League night.

We saw how badly Liverpool have struggled without Sadio Mane. Liverpool have a big atmosphere around them, but I don't see their midfield winning them a Champions League match.

Real Madrid

I'd back Real Madrid to beat Liverpool over two legs. They have huge experience in the UEFA Champions League, but I don't expect them to ride their luck this time. They were virtually out three times last year and were very lucky - I don't see it happening for them this year.

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Edited by Paul Merson
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