We look at the Opta supercomputer’s numbers after the draw for the round of 16 to assess the chances each remaining team has of winning the Champions League in 2023-24 – and how the draw affected those chances.
The draw for the UEFA Champions League round of 16 has been made. Here are the eight matches we will see played over two legs in February and March of next year:
But how has the draw affected each team’s chances of going all the way to Wembley and lifting the trophy? Well, we have called on the trusty Opta supercomputer to find out.
The supercomputer is constantly running simulations of the season, and then calculates from a total of 10,000 such simulations the proportion of the time that each team manages each eventuality – from crashing out in the next round to winning the whole ruddy thing.
Those chances have changed following the draw, which has clearly been more favourable to some teams (*Manchester City* cough, cough) than others (sorry Real Sociedad).
So, here’s what the supercomputer has to say.
Man City were the favourites to win the Champions League before the draw, retaining the title they won last year in 26.8% of the Opta supercomputer’s simulations. Now, they have been handed the best possible draw against FC Copenhagen; it was, according to our pre-draw analysis using the Opta Power Rankings, the biggest possible mismatch the draw for the round of 16 could have thrown up, with City the highest-ranked team in the world and Copenhagen down in 80th.
That draw has meant City have become even more likely to win the Champions League this season, with their chances of reaching the quarter-final now up at 92.8%. After being drawn against Copenhagen, Pep Guardiola’s side won the competition in 30.04% of the supercomputer’s 10,000 simulations. With their increase in title chances of 3.22%, City were the biggest winners from the round-of-16 draw.
Bayern Munich were the second-biggest beneficiaries of a favourable draw, with their chances of winning the Champions League going up from 12.33% to 14.12% – an increase of 1.79% that now makes them second favourites. That is the result of being drawn against Lazio, the second-lowest-ranked team in our Power Rankings of those still in the competition. It also helps that Bayern have won each of their last four round-of-16 ties by at least a three-goal margin, one of which was against this season’s opponents (7-1 vs Chelsea in 2019-20, 6-2 vs Lazio in 2020-21, 8-2 vs RB Salzburg in 2021-22 and 3-0 vs Paris Saint-Germain last season). You wouldn’t bet against them doing the same to Lazio this year.
Last season’s beaten finalists, Inter, saw their chances of a return to the final rise, and their chances of going one better and winning the competition rose by 1.47% – the third-highest increase. That might seem odd after they were given what can only be described as a tricky draw in Atlético Madrid but, top of Serie A and having lost only one game all season – back in September – the supercomputer fancies their chances against an Atléti side who are enduring a patchy run of form. However, the two sides have only ever met once before in a competitive match – in the 2010 UEFA Super Cup – when Inter, then reigning European champions, were beaten 2-0 through goals from José Antonio Reyes and Sergio Agüero.
Paris Saint-Germain weren’t exactly convincing in how they struggled their way out of the group stage, and as a result the supercomputer only rated their chances of finally winning the title they so crave at 3.78% before the draw was made. But after being drawn against Real Sociedad, their chances rose by 1.2% to 4.98%. It’s still not much of a chance, but they have gone from eighth favourites to win the Champions League to sixth favourites, which they can only be happy about.
The sizeable increase in chances for both Man City and Bayern meant that most teams – 10 out of 16 to be precise – saw their chances of winning the Champions League decrease after the draw had been made. PSV (0.43%) and Napoli (0.23%) were the only other teams to see their chances improve.
Fourteen-time European champions Real Madrid were the biggest losers from the Champions League draw after being paired with RB Leipzig, who are in the world’s top 10 in our Power Rankings. These two faced each other in last season’s group stage, and Leipzig won of their home tie 3-2 – Real’s only loss in their last 16 matches against German opponents in European competition.
Madrid saw their chances of lifting the trophy for a 15th time fall by 2.37% – the biggest drop of any remaining side. An indication that this is just a high-quality tie is the fact that Leipzig’s chances of winning the Champions League also fell, though only by 0.67%. Both teams are up against it if they want to get through.
Atlético Madrid‘s chances of winning the Champions League dropped by 1.61% after being drawn against Inter, while Real Sociedad‘s chances fell by 1.07%.
Borussia Dortmund (0.84%), Arsenal (0.55%) and Barcelona (0.48%) all saw small decreases in their chances of winning the whole competition after being drawn against PSV Eindhoven, Porto and Napoli, respectively. However, those changes are likely to be explained by the sharp rise in Manchester City’s chances than any particular belief on the supercomputer’s part that they will struggle to make it past their last-16 opponents.
That said, it doesn’t help Arsenal’s cause that they have lost two and drawn one of their three away Champions League games against Porto, scoring just once (even if they have won all three of their home ties). PSV and Dortmund haven’t met since 2002-03, so there isn’t much recent history to go off, while Barcelona have never won a match in a major European competition against Napoli, and they are also without a win in their last three games against Italian sides.
There are a couple of ways you could view Copenhagen‘s chances of winning the competition. Their chances dropped by just 0.01% after they were drawn against Man City, but that is a 25% reduction from their pre-draw chances. That’s because before the draw, they had a 0.04% chance of winning the whole thing, and that has now dropped to 0.03%. The drop of 0.01% is the smallest change any team saw.