UEFA Champions League Knockouts: Teams To Watch


Ammad Zuberi, Staff Writer

With the UEFA Champions League knockout stages set to begin next month, it’s time to look at some of the most noticeable contenders to make it to Portugal in May.



The reigning champions are in the midst of a rough bout. Since defeating Leicester City away 3-0 at the end of November, they have won only three of their last eleven Premier League games, the last of which was on Boxing Day. A matchday six 3-3 draw with Zenit St. Petersburg cost them first place in the group, and a recent loss against Manchester City has ended their feeble title hopes. The club has been plagued by rumors of transfers and unhappy players, and tensions haven’t settled down since a fallout between the manager and star player Romelu Lukaku. Still, Chelsea got a favorable draw against Lille, and are expected to progress. Pressure is building on the champions and it will be interesting to see how they fare in the knockouts.


Paris Saint-Germain

After assembling a team full of superstars this summer, featuring Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and Lionel Messi, a first Champions League title is the expectation for this team. PSG are well on their way to winning Ligue 1, but at times this season, their play has been a bit disjointed. This was apparent in their game against Manchester City, where they had to rely heavily on individual quality, which cost them first place in their group. Yet, with a team full of stars at every position, it is just a matter of time before they figure out the winning formula. Kylian Mbappe’s contract is expiring this summer, so  this could be his last opportunity to bring the Champions League to Paris.  A tough draw against Real Madrid awaits, and PSG has a real chance of getting knocked out early.  It will be an early test of their resolve to win the Champions League this season.


Manchester City

A Champions League title is the last challenge for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Man City are running away with the Premier League, and are on the brink of making it four league titles in the past five years.  They have won every domestic cup, and have been the dominant force in England, led by one of the best managers of all time. They are probably the best team in the world. They did the double over Chelsea, the team that beat them in last year’s Champions League Final, and claimed first place in the group over PSG. They are massive favorites in their tie against Sporting Lisbon, and are desperate to taste European glory.


Real Madrid

Carlo Ancelotti’s men have exceeded all expectations this year, and are prepared for the knockout stages. Real Madrid sits atop La Liga and have won the Spanish Supercup. Led by their star forward Karim Benzema, who is the top scorer in La Liga with 17 goals, and paired with budding superstar Vinicius Junior, they can go toe-to-toe with any team in Europe. It is a difficult draw against PSG, but Real Madrid will have their chances.



Ajax are the true dark horses in this season’s Champions League—they won all of their games in the group stage. Led by the competition’s top scorer, Sebastian Haller, Ajax have built a complete team. They will be favorites against Benfica, and are a team that no one wants to face.  Can this team equal or beat the 2019 Ajax team’s run to the Champions League semi finals? Only time will tell.