HomeTRENDING NEWSChampions League Power Ranking: Assessing the Form of the 8 Remaining Teams

Champions League Power Ranking: Assessing the Form of the 8 Remaining Teams

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Champions League Power Ranking: Assessing the Form of the 8 Remaining Teams

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8 Benfica 

Benfica’s season looks set to be memorable, as they are on course to win the Portuguese title. Reaching the Champions League quarter-finals is a success in and of itself for a club of their stature in a league where resources are somewhat limited. That is, however, why they are at the bottom of this list. Whereas Manchester City and Real Madrid will feel at home on this stage, the Portuguese will be in unfamiliar territory.

They also didn’t have the easiest of last-16 draws, facing a Scott Parker-managed Club Brugge side that they easily dispatched 7-1 on aggregate. They were impressive early in the competition, finishing unexpectedly first in a group that included PSG, Juventus, and Maccabi Haifa, winning four and drawing two of their six games. The quarter-finals appear to be their limit, but Inter Milan are one of the less formidable opponents they could have drawn, so progress to the semi-finals is not out of the question, especially with players like Gonçalo Ramos, Joo Mário, and Nicolás Otamendi in their squad.

7 Chelsea 

Given their disastrous domestic season, most people will rank Chelsea as outsiders. The club appears to be in disarray, having recently fired Graham Potter and appointed caretaker manager Frank Lampard until the end of the season. As a result, they will have long odds to win the Champions League. Stranger things have happened, though.

During the 2011-12 season, a similar scenario occurred. By their standards, the Blues had a poor Premier League season, finishing sixth. After André Villas-Boas was fired in March of that year, the club hired a club legend, Roberto Di Matteo, as caretaker manager until the end of the season, and he ended up leading them to an unlikely Champions League victory. There are obvious differences, however, as the current Chelsea team does not have as many strong, experienced characters to call on, such as Frank Lampard (the player) and John Terry. They are obviously extremely talented, as is unavoidable when a team spends £600 million on players in a short period of time. And they are capable of good one-off performances, as evidenced by their elimination of Borussia Dortmund in the previous round. However, given everything that has happened this season, a quarter-final exit against holders Real Madrid, a far more experienced and cohesive side, appears to be the logical outcome.

6 Inter Milan 

It’s hard to say which of the two Milan teams should be higher on this list. In the table, only one point separates them. Both face difficult but winnable quarter-final matches, and both have a proud history in this competition, with AC winning it seven times (more than anyone else except Real Madrid). However, the reason Inter are ultimately trailing their bitter rivals is that momentum is crucial at this stage of the season, and their form has recently taken a dramatic nosedive.

In their last seven games, they have only two victories and four defeats. They also just made it through the last round, with a somewhat fortunate 1-0 aggregate victory over Porto, to reach the competition’s quarter-finals for the first time in 12 years. While Matteo Darmian, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Edin Deko, and Lautaro Martnez are all excellent professionals, even the most ardent Inter supporter would struggle to argue that they are at the level required to win the Champions League.

5 AC Milan  

The least predictable team left in the competition. There is no doubt that Milan have many top-quality players at their disposal — most squads in Europe would be happy to have Sandro Tonali, Fikayo Tomori, Mike Maignan, Theo Hernandez, and Olivier Giroud to choose from, while Zlatan Ibrahimovi, 41, has recently returned from injury. They put in a solid, defensively resilient, unspectacular-but-professional performance to deservedly knock out Tottenham in the round of 16 1-0 on aggregate.

They are, however, notoriously inconsistent. They have only won one of their last five Serie A games, but it was a brilliant 4-0 demolition of leaders Napoli, a game after losing 3-1 to an Udinese side that included Ireland U21 international Festy Eboseke. That ostensible ability to perform to their potential in big one-off games has served certain unlikely Champions League winners well in the past, and with domestic triumphs all but over, they have the luxury of focusing extra attention on Europe.

4. Napoli

Given their success in Serie A this season, there is a case to be made that Napoli should be higher on this list. On their day, they could easily beat any remaining team in the competition. With nine games remaining, they effectively have the Serie A title wrapped up, sitting 16 points ahead of nearest rivals Lazio.

On current form, star attacking duo Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia have 25 and 14 goals, respectively, and look good enough to play for any team in Europe. Other players in the squad, including Kim Min-Jae, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, and Piotr Zielinski, have been among the best in Italy this season, ensuring the club’s first league title since the Diego Maradona-inspired squad of 1989-90. However, there are a couple of caveats. They lack the Champions League big-game experience of some of the other teams still in the competition, so their players are less used to being under pressure. Furthermore, they have recently begun to wobble.

Up until the beginning of March, they had only lost one game and dropped points three times in the league. However, they have suffered defeat in two recent big games, falling 1-0 to Lazio and, most recently, being beaten 4-0 at home by a Milan side earlier this month, whom they will face again in an all-Italian quarter-final on Wednesday. With the title now a formality, there is a real danger that Luciano Spalletti’s men’s incredible season will end on a slightly anti-climactic note.

3 Real Madrid 

No other team in the competition can match Real Madrid in terms of experience. For example, Karim Benzema has won the Champions League five times since joining the club in 2009. Benzema, 35, is far from their only veteran, with the likes of Luka Modric (37) and Toni Kroos (33) having seen better days. However, players like Rodrygo (22), Vincius Jnior (22) and Federico Valverde (24) provide legs for the team.

There were no signs of age catching up with Modric and Benzema when they comfortably won a 6-2 aggregate win in the previous round against an admittedly out-of-sorts Liverpool, nor when they recently defeated title rivals Barcelona 4-0 in the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg. You could argue that both Manchester City and Bayern Munich have greater depth beyond the starting XI, but there is no doubt that Real Madrid, bidding for an incredible 15th title, will be difficult to stop.

2 Bayern Munich 

While some of the teams on this list have the luxury of either being comfortably clear at the top of their domestic league or having their title chances effectively ended prematurely, Bayern Munich does not. The Bundesliga race is extremely tight at the moment, with only two points separating them and Dortmund at the top. As a result, the pressure may prove distracting as they attempt to win the Champions League/European Cup for the seventh time, having last done so in 2020. Their coach, Thomas Tuchel, won the trophy a year later with Chelsea and will be hoping to solidify his reputation as a European specialist, having led a limited Blues side to glory as well as guiding the notoriously flaky PSG to within one game of victory (losing to Bayern in the final). Nonetheless, Bayern has had a difficult season, as evidenced by the recent dismissal of Julian Nagelsman in favor of Tuchel. They may be top of the Bundesliga, but that is a competition they usually win easily, so dropping points in 10 of their 27 league games is cause for concern. They have been extremely consistent in the Champions League, winning all six of their group games and convincingly defeating PSG 3-0 on aggregate in the round of 16.

The quarter-final draw, however, has not been kind to them, as they have been paired with Pep Guardiola’s Man City. Win that two-leg match — obviously easier said than done — and they’ll be heavy favorites to go all the way. But despite several world-class players in their squad – Manuel Neuer, Dayot Upamecano, Joshua Kimmich, Jamal Musiala and Sadio Mane to name a couple — they will definitely be underdogs ahead of this week’s clash. They only managed a 1-1 draw with the same RB Leipzig team that City defeated 7-0 in January. That’s not to say they can’t upset the reigning English champions, but you have to believe that if both teams play to their full potential, the Etihad outfit will win.

1. Manchester City

Anyone who saw Manchester City’s 8-1 aggregate thrashing of RB Leipzig in the previous round, particularly Erling Haaland’s incredible five-goal haul within an hour of the second leg, would have suspected they were watching champions in waiting. Guardiola, on the other hand, has now had six failed attempts to win the Champions League while at Manchester City, with three of those exits occurring in the quarter-final stage.

A recurring feature of these disappointments has been the Catalan coach’s tactical gamble backfiring, most notably in the 2021 final against Chelsea, when he implemented an unusual 4-3-3 system without a natural defensive midfielder. The Man City manager has mastered the art of winning over the course of a season, as evidenced by the four league titles won during Guardiola’s reign, but he has been far less dominant in what is effectively a cup competition. Most people would consider Man City to have the most talented squad of players left in the Champions League, if not the world, but the best teams do not always win Europe’s premier club competition, so it would come as no surprise if Man City fell short again.

Champions League Power Ranking: Assessing the Form of the 8 Remaining Teams

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