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Prediction: Manchester City to win European Champions League

Art by Christie Hong
Art by Christie Hong

Though the coveted ‘Champions of Europe’ title will not be bestowed upon Manchester United and their $100 million fidget spinner after their embarrassing group stage, the competition is looking fiercer than ever. 

For novice soccer fans, the Champions League is the tournament competition for the top teams in Europe. Highly regarded teams from all over Europe, typically competing in their own countries’ leagues, face off in a ruthless determination of skill, and in Real Madrid’s case, match fixing. Unlike tournaments in America, those in Europe don’t follow a traditional bracket. After the Round of 16, the remaining fixtures will be decided by a draw. 

Just as Manchester will not appear in the Champions League, Sports Editor Neel Sharma, who came down with a bad case of senioritis, will not co-author this piece, as per usual. Instead, protégé staff writer Naveen Narayanaswami and sports editor Rohan Bhatia will fulfill his legacy by predicting the Round of 16 results, and discuss the strength of the remaining eight teams.

The first fixture, scheduled for Feb. 13, should end up as the following: Manchester City will show no mercy to FC København. Sure, we appreciate the latter for the memories, sending Man United tumbling out of Europe. But they’re facing the reigning champs of Europe, who have just had their best players, Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland, return from injury. 

The second fixture is almost as easy: Bayern Munich will annihilate S.S. Lazio. Freed from trophy-starved Tottenham, Harry Kane is having a historic season. Manager Thomas Tuchel is leading his team with the same precision as when you give Kane an open goal (barring that penalty in the World Cup). 

After losing to Manchester City last year in the semi finals, we think Madrid will have a light knockout round. Although Leipzig was able to make it out of the group stage, there is virtually no chance they beat the 14 time champions of Europe.

Next, we have no idea how Paris-Saint-Germain have managed to hold on to Kylian Mbappé for this long, but the story remains the same: they will best Real Sociedad in the RO16 thanks to an Mbappé masterclass before bottling it in a later round. 

To be honest, Inter Milan are better off without Romelu Lukaku, who was a brilliant defender for Manchester City in last year’s final. However, Lukaku’s former striking partner, Lautaro Martinez has 18 goals in 18 matches. His incredible goal scoring almost makes up for his haircut. Atlético Madrid is also having a fine season, with its 4-2 win over Real Madrid being a highlight.

However, we think Martinez, with his brilliant right foot, will lead Inter over Atlético in the tightest match of the RO16. 

We can’t have a true year of the Champions League without a decent upset, so we have no doubt that PSV Eindhoven will leave the Black and Yellow Army of Dortmund in tears. 

PSV have silently had a fantastic season, 10 points clear at the top of the Eredivisie in the Netherlands. 

Even though Dortmund won the “Group of Death,” they’ve been drowning in the Bundesliga.

 Perhaps Manchester United deadwood Jadon Sancho wasn’t an adequate replacement for Jude Bellingham and Erling Haaland. 

After bottling the league once again, Arsenal have finally managed to make it into the RO16. 

Although Porto is having quite the season in 3rd place in Liga Portugal with 41 points in just 18 matches, the Portuguese side is no match for the mighty Gunners.

We predict they won’t actually win, but Arsenal have proved themselves a contender for the Premier League, and should be able to make quick work of Pepe and Porto. 

SSC Napoli vs. Barcelona is a battle between two winners of their respective leagues in 2023. 

However, both teams had a falloff that would put Eden Hazard’s to shame. You would think Todd Boehly is Barca’s owner the way they make financial decisions. Despite Barcelona’s crippling debt and subsequent reliance on child laborers like Lamine Yamal and Marc Guiu, we doubt they’d lose to Napoli. After all, ever since their social media manager posted the infamous coconut Osimhen video, Napoli has been rotting in the mid table.

While we won’t have any idea of the Quarterfinal fixtures until the draw, we can measure the relative strength of the remaining teams. Manchester City may not have been dominating the Premier League like some expected, but they’ve still been lurking in reach, and we know Pep Guardiola always has a contingency plan, especially with De Bruyne and Haaland back in the roster.

With any luck, Manchester City will lift the trophy with English fans behind them at Wembley this June and due to their team’s talent and depth, they are our strongest team.

When VAR is involved, Madrid is the best. 

Without referee involvement, it’s a different scenario: Madrid will come up second. Although another year goes by without Los Blancos having Kylian Mbappé, their overall team strength, especially with Jude Bellingham, proves them to be a prominent threat.

On the other hand, Bayern’s addition of Harry Kane ensured they never win due to the trophy curse, especially with Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen looking ready to snatch the Bundesliga title. 

However, their overall team strength is the third best in the Champions League behind that of City’s and Madrid’s. 

In fourth place, we have Paris Saint-Germain. Barely making it out, the French champions went second in the group of death. 

With their one billion Euro team, they are definitely in the race for the trophy.

We think the fifth place title sits on the reigning Spanish champions, Barcelona. Barcelona had a strong performance in the group stage, but are now in shambles as Xavi prepares for his departure. 

However, they are keeping afloat in La Liga, and still maintain a strong presence in the Champions League.

We then think the sixth place “trophy” goes to Arsenal. Their best trophy they have won since the Community Shield. 

Finally Arsenal is doing well in the Premier League, however, considering Arsenal’s history with winning when expected. 

They are a decent team, but do not pose the biggest threat at this moment. In seventh place, we think the crown goes to Inter Milan, if there even is a crown at this point. 

They had a good run in the Champions League last year, incredibly ending with a second place finish. 

After getting rid of Lukaku and Onana, you would think they would have improved, but they are yet to show potential to be a top team in the Champions League.

Last of the quarter final teams is PSV. Despite dominating the Eredivisie, PSV is not a top five league team and, if we’re being honest, we think they have no chances of getting the Champions League trophy.

With that being said, anything can happen, especially with the draw of the quarter finals. With a draw, any quarterfinalist can play any other quarterfinalist, with teams’ hopes and dreams in the hands of the scriptwriters. 

Any team can find themselves grasping the trophy, with all the upsets that we know and love with the Champions League. 

However, one thing we know for sure is that the winning team does not have a $100 million fidget spinner.

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Rohan Bhatia, Sports Editor
Naveen Narayanaswami, Staff Writer
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