Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has commented on the recent Champions League quarterfinals draw, predicting his favourites to advance through to the semifinals. The teams that advanced to the last eight were informed of their fates on Friday morning at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon where the quarterfinals and semifinals draw concluded, which has served some great clashes.
Premier League contenders Manchester City and 2021 winners Chelsea are set to face Bayern Munich and Real Madrid respectively. AC Milan, the reigning Serie A champions, will take on fellow Italians and current domestic league leaders Napoli. Finally, Inter Milan will face Portuguese powerhouse Benfica. Ferdinand discussed which teams he believes will advance in the aftermath of the draw.
Ferdinand gives his Champions League predictions
Manchester City, Napoli, and SL Benfica are the only remaining teams to have never won the UEFA Champions League/European Cup. The Cityzens came close in the 2020-21 season, but were defeated in the final by Chelsea. Meanwhile, Bayern, Real and the Milan clubs share a rich history in competition, while also boasting 30 titles between them. Ferdinand responded on Twitter following the Champions League draw:
“Qualifying….. Real [Madrid], [Man] City, Inter [Milan], Napoli.”
Interestingly, Ferdinand had previously predicted that Pep Guardiola’s team will win their first European title at the end of the season. If the reigning English champions beat Bayern, they will face Real Madrid or Premier League rivals Chelsea. When asked about his competition favourites last month, he said:
“It’s just too difficult. I’m gonna go with Manchester City, just because of [Erling] Haaland and Pep [Guardiola]… he’s driven to win this. He’s been involved with the Premier League for so many years, but the Champions League is where it’s at for him. He’ll shut many people up if he does get it done with Manchester City.”
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) March 17, 2023
Gary Lineker, one of Ferdinand’s punditry colleagues, has also shared his thoughts on who could win the Champions League in a few months. The Match of the Day host recently revealed that he had bet on Napoli winning the European Cup in addition to the Serie A title. Lineker said:
“Really enjoy watching Napoli. They play such exciting football. Had a very rare bet on them to win the Champions League this season some months ago.”
If they can get past AC Milan, Luciano Spalletti’s men may have the better side of the draw. In the semifinals, they will face either Inter Milan or Benfica. Napoli have been unstoppable in Italy this season, defeating last season’s Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt 5-0 on aggregate earlier this month in the last 16 of the Champions League. However, they have never made it to the Champions League semifinals in their history.
The quarterfinal first legs will take place on 11-12 April, with the return games on 18-19 April. Meanwhile, the semi-final first legs will be held on May 9-10, and the second legs on May 16-17. Elsewhere, Ferdinand’s former club Manchester United have learned their Europa League fate after beating Real Betis to reach the quarterfinals. The Red Devils will face six-time Europa League champions Sevilla before potentially facing Juventus or Sporting Lisbon.