The Champions League is an exciting football (aka soccer for you Americans) tournament for fans in Europe every year. This season’s competition started on the 18th of September 2018, and the final will be played on June 1st.

Here’s the breakdown for the “knockout” stages of the 2018-19 Champions League.

Antoine Griezmann pictured dancing.
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The Teams: Who made it?

The knockouts (a system that could be considered similar to playoffs in American sports) began in February with a round of 16 of Europe’s best teams, all fighting to reach the finals in Madrid on June 1st. The tournament started with 32 clubs, but these 16 (below) are the ones that survived the group stages.

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Each matchup is played twice, once at each club’s home venue, and the team with the best aggregate score (both games’ scores combined) progresses. The final match is always played at a neutral venue, decided before the season begins, and the winner is crowned as the champion of Europe.

The tournament will have a pretty easy format to understand. There is the round of 16, then the quarter finals, followed by the semi finals and then the two remaining teams will play in front of a crowd of 68,000 fans.

AISB Opinions: What do Members of our Community Think will Happen?

Although many of our PE teachers prefer basketball, we reached out to someone who has some common sense. Athletics Director David Hughes, who watched the Champion League growing up, remembers “it being very special to stay up late and watch the final.”  He says he’ll be rooting for the underdogs, stating, “It’s great when teams like PSG, Bayern and Madrid are knocked out.”

When asked about his predictions, Hughes shows his support for his fellow British clubs.

“I’m going to say, British club in the final, Liverpool to lose against PSG. If United come back, that would be a great comeback, and I’d go on to support them.” *Note: Since the interview took place, Manchester United have knocked PSG out.

Next up, we went to five AISB Varsity football stars. We asked them for their predictions, and they did not have to think twice. Liverpool fans Robert I. (11th grade) and Max S. (10th grade) have backed their team to take home the trophy. Seniors Vlad D. and Alejandro G. have both predicted Spanish clubs to take the trophy, having hosts Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona as their winners, respectively. *Note: Atletico Madrid were knocked out after the interview.

Vlad highlighted Atletico’s home advantage for the final and their strong, compact defense as key attributes to win them the competition. Ovidiu R. (11th grade), an experienced player in terms of watching the game from the sidelines, said , very eloquently, “I think Man United is poop.” He also predicts that “Barcelona’s gonna win [the final] against Shalke [a team that is already out of the competition.]”

What Will Happen:

A young Leo Messi before hitting his peak.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

As previously mentioned, Real Madrid have won the tournament 13 times, which happens to be the record. This year, they have a new coach after club legend Zinedine Zidane decided to leave his position. They look less frightening, and 4 in a row might be too much for them to handle.

Manchester City, PSG, and Atletico Madrid are all hopeful of winning for the very first time, with a smaller history than others competing. City and the Paris clubs are both fairly new in terms of success, with money flowing into the clubs at insane speeds.

Manchester United is a fantastic club, dripped in success, with a history bigger than anyone in England, and arguably in the top three clubs of all time. United have found their feet again, since Jose Mourinho (2 time winner) was sacked in December.

Barcelona are always contenders due to one factor: they possess the best player to ever set foot on a football pitch. That little man is Lionel Messi, and he has the ability to turn a game on its head like no one else ever has.

Of course, there’s no possible way of knowing who will take it all home due to the unpredictability of this beautiful game, but that’s part of the fun.

The Tournament

Anthony Martial, best football player in world football captured being cool.
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Although football is unpredictable, we narrowed the 16 teams down to the three that we believe have the best chances of taking home the trophy.

  1. Manchester United: The best English team, amazing history, and great individual talent.
  2. Barcelona: Two words: Lionel Messi.
  3. Juventus: Two time finalists in the previous four seasons, have recently purchased Cristiano Ronaldo. Juve is known for their great defense, so a strong offense might just make them the team to beat.

The fact that we chose as many as three teams as our favorites and you are still disappointed in our picks (just a fair assumption), shows just how much depth the Champions League has, and the amount of fantastic clubs pursuing this huge trophy. Nobody knows who the winner will be, and for now all we can do is imagine.

Make sure to tune in to the second leg of the Round of 16 starting on the 5th of March, and support your team all the way until June. Let us know down below what your favorite team is, and give us your predictions for the Champions League Final.