UCL power rankings: Ajax and Bayern threaten Liverpool’s supremacy

The Champions League enters its final matchday this week. Here are the latest power rankings before the conclusion of the group stage.

The group stage of the Champions League has reached judgement day.

Actually, it’s two days, on Tuesday and Wednesday, that the list of 16 teams that advance to the knockout stage will be determined.

Eleven teams remain in contention for the five remaining round of 16 berths.

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The eight group winners will be paired against the eight runners-up. The round of 16 draw will take place on Dec. 13. The knockout stage will begin on Feb. 15, 2022, following the winter break.

Here are the latest power rankings.

10. Lille (2-2-1) 

The French champions are outsiders for the title (but favorites to advance to the knockout phase). Anything, of course, can happen in the knockout stage. Look for them to potentially surprise some teams.

9. PSG (2-2-1)

Having Lionel Messi (fresh off winning the Ballon d’Or) in the lineup hasn’t been enough, but his partnership with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe could blossom in the coming months as Paris Saint-Germain looks to finally be crowned European champions.

8. Manchester United (3-1-1)

A new manager in Ralf Rangnick means Manchester United is in reboot form. Luckily, they have two months (not to mention Cristiano Ronaldo’s talent) to get things right ahead of the knockout stage.

7. Juventus (4-0-1)

The Italian club are playing abysmally in Serie A after Ronaldo left the team, but have looked solid overall in the UCL. This inconsistent run of form could mean they are prioritizing the UCL, but whether they will seek reinforcements come January could determine where this team goes.

6. Chelsea (4-0-1)

The defending European champions have dropped down the depth chart. Harder than winning the UCL is repeating as champions.

5. Real Madrid (4-0-1)

The Spanish club are always contenders for Europe’s top prize and emerge into the top 10 after a sluggish start earlier in the group stage. A mix of youth and veterans makes Real Madrid a must-watch.

4. Manchester City (4-0-1)

Like PSG, Manchester City is a team built to compete for the Champions League. It hasn’t always been an easy ride, but coach Pep Guardiola will need to remain focused come the spring if the English giants really want to lift the trophy.

3. Ajax (5-0)

The Dutch club once dominated Europe in the 1970s and the past few months have been sort of a revival for Ajax. They remain in great position to reach the final.

2. Bayern Munich (5-0)

The Bavarian giants won the Champions League in 2020 and could very well make another run to the final, thanks to the scoring prowess of Robert Lewandowski, this season.

1. Liverpool (5-0)

The Reds remain the team to beat heading into the round of 16. Nonetheless, the knockout format and another two-month wait until the tournament restarts could all factor into whether Liverpool can remain a strong contender for the continent’s top prize.