Bayern are favourites for the Champions League, not Manchester City

Bayern Munich are favourites to win the Champions League – NOT Manchester City – say data boffins, with Liverpool having a better chance than holders Real Madrid while Tottenham and Chelsea are behind Ajax

  • Data boffins have Bayern Munich as the likeliest team to win the competition
  • Manchester City are favourites amongst the bookies to win their maiden title
  • Real Madrid are considered the fifth likeliest side to win the Champions League
  • Liverpool – beaten finalists in May – are fancied behind Bayern, City and PSG
  • Chelsea and Tottenham fall below Ajax in the data’s estimations of who will win 

Bayern Munich are the favourites to lift the Champions League at the end of the 2022-23 season, believe one subset of football data analysts. 

Most bookies have Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City as the favourites for this season’s edition, backing them to end their hurt in the competition and lift the trophy for the first time in their history. 

Using a number of metrics – including the soccer power index (SPI), a rating of the teams’ defensive and attacking capabilities and their chances of emerging from the group – the FiveThirtyEight blog has assessed what it thinks sides are capable of in Europe’s foremost club competition this season. 

Bayern Munich are the favourites to lift the Champions League according to data analysis

The SPI rating, which seeks to rank teams based off predicted performance rather than in the same way as FIFA which do it off historical showings, has Bayern Munich as the best team on the continent with a rating of 93.3. City come in just after them rated 92.3. 

Those ratings are cultivated, FiveThirtyEight say, through a statistical analysis of how many goals a team would be expected to score against an average opponent on a ‘neutral field’ and how many they would be expected to concede. 

City, the data suggests, could be expected to score three goals a game against an average opponent, a total only bettered by Bayern Munich and Paris Saint Germain. While they would be expected to concede the fewest number of goals, an average of 0.3. 

Julian Nagelsmann endured a difficult end to their tournament last season but his side are backed to go and lift the trophy this year

That goalscoring and defensive data is then created into the SPI index, which the data analysts say provide the ‘best estimate of a team’s overall strength’. 

Aside from the overall ranking of a team using their own SPI index, taken from ESPN’s own version of the system, FiveThirtyEight also provides modelling on how likely teams are to finish top of their group as well as reaching each stage of the knockout rounds. 

Bayern Munich, for instance, have a 63 per cent chance of finishing top of their group. City’s chances of doing such is quite significantly higher, at 76 per cent, owing to the relative ease of their group compared to the German champions’. 

The German giants will face Barcelona, Inter Milan and Viktoria Plzen while City have the relative comfort of knowing they have clashes against Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and FC Copenhagen. 

 City have a 95 per cent chance of making the last 16; Bayern Munich 90 per cent. The English champions are considered a 71 per cent chance to make the quarter-finals, before dropping to 49 per cent for the semi-finals and then to 31 per cent for the final. The data team have them at 18 per cent to win the final should they get there. 

Manchester City will be looking to put the pain of the last few years in the competition behind them in Istanbul next year

Bayern Munich, meanwhile, are considered 69 per cent likely to advance to the last eight and then 49 per cent to go from there to the last four. FiveThirtyEight have them as a better chance of reaching the final over City, at 33 per cent. Their chances of winning the competition are better than City’s, at 20 per cent. 

The modelling is done through a few complex means of forecasting games, using the aforementioned SPI index alongside the goalscoring and defensive ratings teams are given. 

Bayern Munich’s proficiency in front of goal appears to give them an edge later on in the competition. It is also likely that their relative comfort in the Bundesliga from early spring onwards gives them an edge in the later rounds. 

Real Madrid have just a five per cent chance of lifting the trophy should they reach the final again, the data analysis shows

The current holders, Real Madrid, are ranked the fifth likeliest to win the competition. They have a 55 per cent chance of winning their group; an 82 per cent shot at reaching the last 16 altogether and then chronologically for the rounds thereafter see their chances decrease from 49 per cent to 25 per cent then to 12 per cent FiveThirtyEight give them a five per cent chance at retaining the ultimate club prize. 

Other English teams ratings slightly pale in comparison to Guardiola’s side. 

Liverpool, rated the fourth likeliest side to be lifting the Champions League, with an SPI rating of 89.7, in Istanbul in June next year, are 51 per cent likely to emerge out of their group on top. Overall, they have an 81 per cent chance of getting out of a group that also contains Ajax, Rangers and Napoli.

Kingsley Coman and Thomas Muller will look to replicate their shared 2020 success in Lisbon

From the round of 16 they have a 56 per cent shot at making the quarter-finals, 34 per cent the semi-finals and then a 19 per cent chance of reaching the same stage as they did in the 2021-22 season. The analysts give them a 10 per cent chance of going one better in 2023. 

Tottenham are rated slightly above their great rivals Chelsea in having a chance at lifting the tournament this year. To get out of Group D on top they are rated at 46 per cent. Into the last 16 generally, FiveThirtyEight give them a shot of 73 per cent. That falls to 37 per cent for the next round, then 16 per cent, then six per cent and then a lowly three per cent. 

Chelsea, meanwhile, have an SPI of 81.5 similarly to Tottenham. They have a 38 per cent chance of finishing on top of Group E, with a 68 per cent chance of emerging out of the group altogether. Their chances of success in the competition then steadily decrease, going down to 34 per cent to reach the quarter-finals. Just 14 per cent for the semi-finals, five per cent to reach the second final of Thomas Tuchel’s tenure and then just two per cent to lift the trophy for a third time in their history. 

The tournament gets underway this week as an extremely compressed edition of the group stage kicks off and finishes ahead of the World Cup in November. 

City travel to Sevilla on Tuesday while Liverpool go to Naples. Chelsea go to Zagreb on Tuesday while Tottenham host Marseille. 

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