The UEFA Champions League group stage ended on December 13, and now after two months, Europe’s biggest competition returns to action. Manchester City might enter the knockout stages as the favorite, but there’s plenty of action in store before the tournament crowns a champion on June 1 at Wembley Stadium in London.
Aside from City there are plenty of familiar faces in knockout rounds. Real Madrid will kickoff the round of 16 against RB Leipzig. Meanwhile, perpetual contenders Paris Saint-Germain, struggled in the group stage but drew Real Sociedad in the opening round now. Bayern Munich face Lazio, after their loss against Bayer Leverkusen in Bundesliga action. As always you can watch all the Champions League action on Paramount+, CBS Sports Network, and keep all caught up with complete coverage of not only the Champions League but all the soccer action from around the globe on CBS Sports Golazo Network.
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Champions League picks from CBSSports.com
Why Manchester City will win the Champions League
by James Benge
Is there a convincing case to be made for City not winning the Champions League, beyond the fact that so few teams not named Real Madrid have retained Ol’ Big Ears? They have the best coach, the best support staff and the best players, most of whom are rounding into form and fitness at just the right moment. There is a chasm between them and the field.
Why PSG will win the Champions League
by Jonathan Johnson
For the first time in many editions, it feels like the shoe is on the other foot with PSG this season. Normally fairly convincing in the group stage, they fall apart once the knockout rounds get going — often against superior opponents. However, this time, Les Parisiens just about scraped through in their group and were rewarded with arguably one of the most favorable round of 16 ties, which seems destined to lead to at least the last eight. Get past a struggling Real Sociedad side to reach the quarterfinals and suddenly the tournament opens up to the point that you can never rule out a team with as much quality as PSG possess. Depth in a few areas might be questionable, but a deep run this year under 2015 winner Luis Enrique should not be ruled out if they keep up their current momentum.
Why Arsenal will win the Champions League
By Francesco Porzio
Yes, chasing a Premier League title might become a factor to answer this question, but Arsenal need to be considered as a candidate to win the Champions League. They won four games in the group stage, and only lost once against Lens away in the second matchday of the first phase of the competition. Arsenal are not the favorites, but they play great football and I don’t see teams that they can’t beat. Manchester City, probably the best candidate to win the tournament, are also their rivals in the league and Mikel Arteta knows how to beat his former “teacher,” Pep Guardiola from his time as an assistant at City.
Case for Erling Haaland winning Golden Boot
by James Benge
Again, I’m winning no awards for originality. Unfortunately for my colleagues I was the first to fill out this particular Google Doc so I got to pick the guy who hit the top 20 scorers in the history of this competition within 35 games. At his current rate, the only thing stopping him breaking Cristiano Ronaldo’s all-time record is whether his body can hold up. The best striker in the world playing in the best team is a recipe for goals aplenty.
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Case for Kylian Mbappe winning Golden Boot
By Jonathan Johnson
This might or might not be the French superstar’s final season with PSG, and if it is, then he will want to go out with a bang. The French champions and Mbappe himself were not at their best for much of the group stage, but it feels like they are primed to grow into this Champions League — similar to Les Bleus at international level. The 25-year-old often finds the best of himself in the knockout rounds and he will be keen to add to his current three-goal tally against Sociedad. Keep in mind, though, that Mbappe was the first striker in Europe to hit 30 goals across all competitions this season — even if Bayern Munich’s Harry Kane is slightly more clinical in terms of league form. A glut of goals across two legs against Sociedad could change the complexion of this UCL edition for both Mbappe and PSG.
Case for Jude Bellingham winning Golden Boot
by Francesco Porzio
My wonderful colleagues already “stole” my Haaland pick… twice! So I’m going with a different name. Considering that he already scored four goals after five games played in the group stage, Jude Bellingham has the potential to win the Golden Boot, despite an ankle injury in Saturday’s game sidelining him for a few weeks. I see Real Madrid as one of the favorites to win the tournament so he should have plenty of minutes left to play. After Carlo Ancelotti’s team lost Karim Benzema in the summer 2023, Bellingham, despite being a midfielder was able to compensate for the absence of the French striker, as he has scored 20 goals in 29 games played in all competitions up to now. Hard not to like that to continue.
Champions League TV schedule
All times Eastern