Liverpool, Barcelona, Man City: Who are favourites to win the Champions League?

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The Champions League is back.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's been lovely to tuck into a feast of Premier League football over the festive period, but there's nothing like hearing the 'chaaaaampions' belted out in stadiums across Europe.

No matter how events are unfolding across the continent's top leagues, you just know that anything can happen in Europe's premier competition, particularly in an unprecedented season like this.

Round of 16 blockbusters

Now, sure, there's still some way to go before the dramatic climax for European supremacy set to be held in Istanbul, but there are already some blockbuster ties for us to watch in the round of 16.

Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain are due to rerun their 2016/17 classic, Liverpool vs RB Leipzig has the makings of an underrated gem and Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid looks set to be a tactical chess match.

But even if these almighty European fixtures descend into absolute snoozefests, the knockout rounds mean that a winner must be found somehow and that alone makes for guaranteed drama.

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European contenders

However, that doesn't make picking a potential winner any easier and I think you'd be pretty hard-pressed to say that a particular European giant has emerged as the favourite for 'Big Ears'.

And while it might be impossible to predict something as unpredictable as the Champions League, data at least allows us to come as close as possible and that's where FiveThirtyEight comes in.

The revered data analysts forecast everything from politics to science and they've lined up their ranking of the remaining 16 Champions League teams by their estimated chances of winning.

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Champions League favourites

Intriguing, right? Well, fear not, because we decided to put their statistical model under the spotlight to see how the clubs ranked from least to most likely to win, so check out the findings below:

16. Lazio - less than 1%

15. Borussia Monchengladbach - less than 1%

14. FC Porto - less than 1%

13. Atalanta - 2%

12. Sevilla - 2%

11. Paris Saint-Germain - 2%

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10. RB Leipzig - 3%

9. Borussia Dortmund - 3%

8. Atletico Madrid - 3%

7. Juventus - 5%

6. Chelsea - 5%

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5. Real Madrid - 6% 

4. Liverpool - 7%

3. Bayern Munich - 11%

2. Barcelona - 13%

1. Manchester City - 37%

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GIVEMESPORT's Kobe Tong says

Go on, accuse of me hopping aboard the hype train, but I'm in complete agreement with the data analysts when it comes to backing City and I've felt that way since the early days of the season.

Long before the Citizens pulled away in the Premier League title race, I was wondering whether Pep Guardiola would plough all his focus into Europe a la Rafael Benitez's Liverpool in 2005 and 2007.

Besides, you'd have forgiven Guardiola for not renewing his deal and bowing out of the Etihad Stadium if it wasn't for the singular hole in his resume at the club: the Champions League.

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Maybe I'm reading between the lines too much, but I think City are going to throw the kitchen sink at Europe and potentially achieve something special with one of the continent's finest defensive units.

With Ederson, Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte, John Stones and Joao Cancelo firing on all cylinders, they have an imperious foundation on which their world-class midfield can flow freely and cause havoc.

They have, from where I'm sitting, shown a stronger propensity for consistent performances, high-quality football and big-game nerves than the likes of Barcelona, Liverpool and Juventus at least.

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But then again, given City's track record in Europe, I wouldn't be surprised if all of the above looked like the ravings of a lunatic in just a few week's time. That's football for you.

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