Who will win UEFA’s club competitions?
The quarter-final stages of the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League all get underway this week. 24 teams all have their eyes on European silverware, as the favourites to progress haven’t always progressed this season.
We’re going to put our prediction caps on again and give our take for who will be lifting their respective trophies in May!
Champions League – Manchester City
Pep Guardiola was brought in to do one thing for Manchester City – win the Champions League. Before Pep’s arrival, this was the one major trophy that had evaded the Cityzens since their takeover by Sheikh Mansour and the United Arab Emirates.
To date, that is still the case, despite dominating the Premier League during Guardiola’s tenure. While we still think that Arsenal will win the Premier League, City won’t go trophyless in 2022-23, as we predict they’ll win both the FA Cup and Champions League.
The Sky Blues won’t have it easy though, as they’re on the difficult side of the draw. City face Pep’s former side Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, before a probable semi-final against defending champions Real Madrid.
Los Blancos are especially dangerous as they’ll be buoyed by an amazing comeback against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey and are realistically out of the La Liga title race.
While Milan, Inter, Benfica and Napoli have all done well to make the quarters, it’s unrealistic to think one of them will win the Champions League. Although, one of them will make the final, so they’ll have nothing to lose going into that game in Istanbul.
Europa League – Juventus
It wasn’t that long ago that the UEFA Europa League was somewhat of a joke in the football community. However, things have changed now, as a spot in the Champions League Group Stage is on the line and this year’s tournament has been one of the most entertaining in its history.
Juventus’ troubles off the pitch have been well documented, but on it, they’re one of the form teams in both Italian and European football. Their points deduction in Serie A has ended any hope of a title challenge, so Europa League offers The Old Lady a chance of silverware this season.
There is stiff competition in the form of both Manchester United and Sevilla, so it won’t be easy. It wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see Sporting Lisbon best Juve over two legs either, after the Portuguese side managed the feat against Arsenal in the Round of 16.
You also can’t rule out Roma, who have been disappointing in Serie A this season. However, Jose Mourinho can grind out a result against any side and is a proven winner. The Europa League is the toughest to call this season, but we’re opting for the Bianoneri.
Europa Conference League – West Ham United
UEFA’s tertiary competition is in its second campaign and definitely isn’t suffering from seond season syndrome! There have been some excellent games showcased by sides that aren’t usually in the spotlight in European football.
As the final eight sides battle it out for a place in Prague, we’re tipping West Ham United to lift their first major European silverware since the Cup Winners’ Cup in the 1960s. West Ham narrowly missed out on a place in the Europa League final last season and we think they’ll go all the way in the Conference League this time.
Domestically, The Hammers haven’t been firing on all cylinders and are still in the relegation scrap near the bottom of the Premier League. However, if you look at other sides left in the Conference League, you’ll find that not many are near the top of their respective leagues.
Fiorentina currently sit ninth in Serie A, Nice are also ninth in Ligue 1, Basel are sixth in Switzerland, while AZ Alkmaar are fourth in the Eredivisie. The strength in depth of Premier League sides means that even the worst top flight English sides are better than average to above average sides from outside the top five European leagues.
David Moyes may focus on the Claret and Blues’ domestic fixtures, which could see the Hammers drop out of Europe. However, if Moyes gives this a go like he did with the Europa League last season, we could see an English side lift European silverware besides the Manchester clubs in May.
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