It’s quite a simple question, but one that provokes a lot of debate.
Who is going to be crowned as the club champions of European football?
Will Real Madrid, Liverpool, Bayern Munich or Chelsea add to their multiple European Cup titles, or will this finally be the year Manchester City of Atlético Madrid earns the top European prize that so desperately alludes them?
Or will two-time winners Benfica or reigning Europa League champions Villarreal shock the world and claim a Champions League title for themselves, despite seemingly being inferior to their opposition?
It’s time to take a look at all eight remaining teams in the competition and rate their chances of European glory in May.
Despite progression to the last eight of the Champions League, it’s difficult to really make a case for Benfica lifting the famous trophy in Paris in the late spring.
They impressively progressed through a Champions League group containing both Bayern Munich and Barcelona, though this was a Barcelona side heavily disrupted by financial irregularities and were generally a poor side by the Catalan clubs’ lofty standards.
In the last 16, they met reigning Dutch champions Ajax of Amsterdam, where they secured a 2-2 draw at home before a surprise 1-0 victory at the Johan Cruyff Arena earned them a quarter-final tie with six-time European Cup winners Liverpool.
Nélson Veríssimo’s side may have had a surprisingly good season in European competition, but their domestic campaign has been a disappointment.
Benfica trail Portuguese league leaders FC Porto by 12 points at the time of writing, and they sit six points behind city-rivals Sporting Lisbon.
In reality, any season in which Benfica don’t at least challenge for the title is a disappointment, and you would suggest that it’s unlikely they will progress any further in Europe with Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side lying in wait.
Verdict: An impressive run in the Champions League will come to an end at the hands of Liverpool.
Villarreal are the other major underdog left in the competition, but with some recent European pedigree behind them, you might fancy them a bit more than Benfica.
Having won the Europa League final on penalties over Manchester United last May, Villarreal, in doing so, earned themselves a spot in this season’s Champions League.
Their highlight so far was at the last 16 phase of the competition where after having gone 1-0 down within one minute of the tie, they rallied to earn a 1-1 draw against Juventus at home, before a stunning 3-0 victory at the Juventus Stadium earned them a spot at this stage.
Unai Emery is seemingly rebuilding his reputation back in Spain, having had a disappointing trophyless season and a bit with Arsenal in the Premier League.
Despite conquering one European giant, it must be acknowledged that Juventus are a club in turmoil at the moment, sitting fourth in Serie A.
The job for Emery’s men is the small matter of trying to topple Bayern Munich.
It’s been a great run for the Spanish side, but you’d wholeheartedly expect Bayern to do the business in the quarter-finals.
Verdict: They’ll give Bayern Munich a good test, but ultimately it will prove too much of a tough ask, and the quarter-finals will be where their run comes to an end.
Atlético Madrid are a very interesting prospect.
They’ve been in two finals over the last decade, both times losing at the hands of their inter-city rivals Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016.
But so much of their identity built under Diego Simeone seems to have been lost in this last season, with their typical rugged watertight defence seemingly being breached easily on multiple occasions this season.
However, when it mattered in their final group game against Porto, and then their last 16 tie with Manchester United, they got the job done and gave very little away.
Their domestic form is a worry, with Atlético only occupying a Champions League spot by four points ahead of Real Betis in La Liga.
They’ve already toppled one Manchester club, but now face the stronger of the two in Manchester City.
This will be a different test for both sides, with Pep Guardiola having had experience of managing against Simeone before, but Atlético will know that City’s variety of attacking options will keep them on their toes.
Simeone will be desperate to get to another Champions League final before his tenure at Atléti is up, but he may have to wait another year, at least.
Verdict: It’ll be a tight quarter-final contest with City, but ultimately the Premier League side should prove too much for a wobbly Atléti.
Atlético’s rivals from across the city also face a test against Premier League opposition, with Real Madrid playing a Chelsea side in turmoil, in what looks to be the closest tie of the quarter-finals.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid side really should not have been at this stage after three halves of football against Paris Saint-Germain.
With 45 minutes of the two-legged tie remaining, Madrid trailed by two goals against a rampant PSG side spearheaded by the France World Cup winning forward, Kylian Mbappé.
But Karim Benzema’s second-half hat-trick secured Madrid a passage to the quarter-finals, where they will face Chelsea.
This is a particularly weak Madrid side in the context of their club, but the side that won three Champions League titles in a row between 2016-2018 also weren’t the strongest, though they did have a certain Cristiano Ronaldo at the centre of their attack.
Ancelotti looks like he might secure another La Liga title for Madrid, but there are teams who would surely topple Real if they get further than the quarters.
Verdict: It’s a tie that could go either way with Chelsea, but you’d expect them to be toppled in the semi-final but much stronger opposition if they got there. You’d back Chelsea on current form to topple the Madrid side.
Where to start with Chelsea?
With everything going on with the ownership of the club, they’d be forgiven for perhaps taking their eye off football.
But Thomas Tuchel’s side have responded amicably with an impeccable set of results, including an FA Cup quarter-final victory over Middlesbrough.
The current holders of the Champions League are set to play without travelling fans in Madrid, whilst the home game could see a return to the dark days of behind closed doors football with the currently imposed sanctions, but the players have remained professional over the past few weeks, and there’s a good chance they’ll get past Madrid.
There’s every chance Chelsea could retain their European crown, with little play for in the Premier League, but they’ll want the ownership situation sorted sooner rather than later.
Verdict: There’s a good chance they’ll topple Real Madrid, but a likely meeting with Manchester City in the semis will see them out of the competition in the last four.
Bayern Munich are always a sensible bet to progress far into the Champions League.
Much like the country they play in, they generally find themselves in and around the semi-final stage on a regular basis.
With Villarreal to come in the quarter-finals, you wouldn’t bet against it happening again.
Julian Nagelsmann’s are very probably going to win the German Bundesliga as per usual, but the main outlet of success for a Bayern manager is their performance in the Champions League.
Bayern last won the competition as recently as 2020, when a pandemic affected season resulted in a behind closed doors final with PSG in Lisbon.
They are a genuine contender for the Champions League but are likely to come across Premier League opposition on route to the final, which will be a real test of their credentials.
Verdict: Bayern should get past Villarreal, but coming up against what is likely to be Liverpool in the semis might prove a step too far.