On 28 May this season’s UEFA Champions League victors will be crowned in Milan – but who will it be?
We assessed the trends to whittle 16 teams down to one.
Guess who …
Top your group
Nine of the last ten champions finished at the summit of their groups – early momentum, it seems, is key. The exception came in 2010 with Internazionale Milano, who needed a matchday six win against Rubin Kazan to beat the Russian side to the runners-up spot behind Barcelona before finding their groove in the knockout stages.
Bad news for: Paris Saint-Germain, PSV Eindhoven, Benfica, Juventus, Roma, Arsenal, Dynamo Kyiv, Gent
Avoid the top scorer … unless it’s Ronaldo
Only six times in the UEFA Champions League’s 23-year history has the top scorer after the group stage lifted the trophy that season. Ordinarily that means bad news for Cristiano Ronaldo, who became the first ever player to reach double figures this term. But the Portuguese is the exception to the rule: in two of the four previous campaigns he was top scorer at this stage, his side triumphed.
Bad news for: well, nobody
Get errors out of your system
The side with the best defensive record after the group stage has never won the competition since the current format was introduced in 2003. Ten teams bettered Barcelona’s goals-against tally last season while back in 2009 the Catalan giants’ back line ranked 18th. It seems best to get defensive errors out of the system, but there is a limit: no team has won the competition after shipping more than eight in the group stage.
Bad news for: Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, Roma
No club advancing from the group stage for the first time has ever reached the final under the current format. Villarreal came closest in 2006 as Arsenal scraped a 1-0 semi-final win, Juan Riquelme having a late penalty saved by Jens Lehmann that would have forced an additional 30 minutes.
Bad news for: Gent, Wolfsburg
No Prizes for second
None of the last four UEFA Champions League winners began those campaigns as domestic title holders, a relatively new phenomena but previously champion champions were far more common so it has the makings of a trend.
Bad news for: Barcelona, Bayern, Benfica, Chelsea, Dynamo Kyiv, Gent, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, PSV Eindhoven, Zenit
Twenty-one different teams lifted the European Cup over the course of its first 42 campaigns; 18 seasons on and the solitary name of Chelsea has been added. If you have not won it before, you are up against it.
Bad news for: Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Dynamo Kyiv, Gent, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Roma, Wolfsburg, Zenit
So, according to this highly scientific survey, the team that will lift the trophy in Milan on 28 May will be … Real Madrid. Maybe.
What do you reckon?
by John Atkin, UEFA.com
Bet365 odds: To win UEFA Champions League 2015/2016:
- Barcelona @ 3.50
- Bayern Munich @ 3.75
- Real Madrid @ 6.00
- Man City @ 11.00
- Atletico Madrid @ 13.00
- PSG @ 15.00
- and others…