September 27, 2020

Sports Prism

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UEFA Champions League Power Rankings: Way-too-early look ahead of next season’s group stage participants

Watch Now: Highlights: PSG vs. Bayern Munich (4:56)

The Champions League may be over following Bayern Munich’s win over PSG in Sunday’s final, but the next edition is already underway with qualifying. Twenty-six out of the 32 group stage teams are already known, with qualification coming from domestic leagues and continental champs. The group stage will officially begin in October, with giants of Europe set to battle it out again for the biggest prize in world club soccer. 

Before the we even get to the group stage draw on Oct. 1, here is how every group stage participant stacks up.

RK CLUB CHG ANALYSIS

1.

Bayern Munich

The champs. Strongest team in Europe and as dominant as any. Became first club to finish UCL with a perfect record. Favorites next season.

2.

Paris Saint-Germain

The talent is there to win the tournament next season, but the finishing will have to be sharper. What will Mauro Icardi’s role be?

3. Liverpool They’ll be hungry for continental success again after their shock round of 16 exit to Atletico Madrid. They could boost an already stacked squad.

4.

Manchester City

UCL or bust yet again for Pep Guardiola’s side. Further investment in defense may be needed to have another chance.

5.

Real Madrid

Los Blancos will surely add some fire power to this squad, and they’ll be a contender as usual when that happens. 

6.

Borussia Dortmund

This squad is loaded and only getting better. Keeping Jadon Sancho means they could have a deep run ala RB Leipzig. 

7.

Juventus

This squad is aging, and the window is closing. Andrea Pirlo is in as manager to take this team to glory. Must improve defensively.

8.

Chelsea

The Blues have had the best offseason of any team in Europe. It might be too early to call them contenders, but they are capable of a semifinal run … if they get a goalkeeper. 

9.

Barcelona

More questions than answers at this point for Ronald Koeman’s side. Will Lionel Messi stay? What about Luis Suarez? How different will this team look?

10.

Manchester United

The Red Devils are an interesting team if they can boost their squad. As it stands, they are probably just a round of 16 team at most.

11.

RB Leipzig

After a magical run to the semifinals, they’ll be hungry as ever to repeat it. They are going to need a star striker to have that happen.

12.

Atletico Madrid

Los Colchoneros are always a strong UCL team built to make a run. But the below-average attack needs a jolt of something.

13.

Inter Milan

Inter may have a new coach come next season, and if it is Massimo Allegri, watch out. The quality is there to get very far, as long as they get out of their own way.

14.

Atalanta

The team that captivated hearts in their first edition of the tournament. Many big European sides will target their players. If they hold on, they can do it again.

15.

Marseille

The giant French club is back in UCL, and it just feels right. Andre Villas-Boas’ team has serious quality and the cohesion to make noise.

16.

Ajax

This isn’t the Ajax of two season’s ago, but there is some special talent in this side. Replacing Hakim Ziyech might be impossible though.

17.

Sevilla

Europa League champs who already qualified through La Liga. They aren’t a contender, but they can get through the group stage.

18.

Lazio

A high-scoring, fun team to watch who are deservedly back in the competition. If Ciro Immobile keeps up his fantastic form, they’ll have a shot of advancing. 

19.

Porto

Portuguese champs with a fantastic defense. Agustin Marchesin is a top goalkeeper who can make the difference in a competition like this.

20.

Borussia Monchengladbach

Gladbach are a strong team with some serious talent, and Yann Sommer is one of the most underrated goalkeepers in the world. They have quarterfinal potential.

21.

Zenit

Russia’s top team have a bunch of South American talent that you’ve just got to watch. Combined with the striker partnership of Artem Dzyuba and Sardar Azmoun, they are dangerous.

22.

Lokomotiv Moscow

A huge drop off from Zenit, but Lokomotiv are competitive. A team perfectly fit to drop into Europa League and make a run.

23.

Rennes

They have European experience, went from 10th place in Ligue 1 to third and show a unity unlike other teams. Keep an eye on them. 

24.

Istanbul Basaksehir

The Turkish champs didn’t show well in the Europa League when it mattered most, but with Demba Ba turning back the clock, they could surprise in the group stage.

25.

Shakhtar Donetsk

Europa League semifinalists that just didn’t show up when it mattered most. Loaded with Brazilian talent, they can get out of the group stage if they can keep their top players.

26.

Club Brugge

It will always be hard for a team like Club Brugge, but Simon Mignolet has experience in this competition and the leadership to help the young guys around him. Expected to exit in the group stage.