Champions League Power Rankings 2021-22
December 16, 2021 By Admin
The Champions League's last 16 draw is now (finally!) complete, and European football fans are bracing up for some massive matches in 2022. Below are the rankings:
16. Red Bull
For the first time in 21 years, an Austrian team will compete in the Champions League knockout phases. However, Salzburg will have their work cut out for them in the last 16 after being drawn against Bayern Munich.
Even if they maintain star teen attacker Karim Adeyemi in the January transfer window, defeating the Bundesliga winners will be difficult for the competition's youngest team.
15. Sporting C.P
Sporting would have been happy with how the original draw went after being paired with Juventus, but the redraw has made life much more difficult for the Portuguese champions.
They'll now face Manchester City in the last 16, and while Ruben Amorim has done a lot in Lisbon so far, knocking down Pep Guardiola right now seems like a step too far.
Lille had two chances to avoid Chelsea in the last 16 but failed to do so both times, despite being drawn against Thomas Tuchel's team, the French champions' hardest possible opponent.
To their credit, the Ligue 1 champions have improved since their rocky start to the season, but defeating the defending European champions is unlikely in 2022.
Following the redraw, Benfica will believe they have a greater chance of defeating Ajax than they did Real Madrid, but reaching the quarter-finals remains a difficult task for Jorge Jesus' team.
They'll have gained confidence from knocking out Barcelona in the group stages, and now they'll be hoping Erik ten Hag's team can't keep up their great form from the first half of the season.
12. Inter Milan
Inter are in the Champions League knockout stages for the first time in a decade, but after being paired with Liverpool in the redraw, the last 16 maybe their limit.
Despite competing well against Real Madrid in the group stages, the Nerazzurri were defeated both times, and Simone Inzaghi's team will need to learn from both games to compete with Liverpool.
The Yellow Submarine has gone from meeting Manchester City to Juventus in the space of three hours, making Villarreal one of the more under-the-radar victors of the whole redraw mess.
Unai Emery's team was impressed at times during the group stages. Given Juve's recent troubles, the Europa League winners will fancy their chances of surprising the Italian champions in the new year.
10. Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid may not be playing as brilliantly as in recent seasons under Diego Simeone. Still, they will be significantly more optimistic about their chances of knocking out Manchester United than they would have been if the initial draw had been nullified.
Simeone is a strong possibility to follow in the footsteps of Jose Mourinho and sprint down the Old Trafford touchline if his side wins the second leg late. Still, the Spanish champions will need to raise their general performance level in the coming weeks if that is to happen.
9. Manchester United
After the draw was reset, Manchester United went from having the toughest possible opponent to having the second-toughest, with Atletico Madrid waiting for them in the final 16.
Ralf Rangnick will hope that his players are significantly more familiar with his systems by the time the tie begins in late February at the Wanda Metropolitano. If they are, they have a good opportunity of not just progressing, but also of going very far in the competition.
Juventus dodged any of the strong hitters left in the competition after beating Chelsea to the top spot in their group and will head into their last-16 clash against Villarreal as favorites.
They will be wary of the perils of overconfidence, having lost to Porto at the same stage of last season's competition, and their spot in the quarter-finals is far from guaranteed.
While Real Madrid received most of the attention following the redraw, PSG may be disappointed that they will now face Los Blancos rather than their intended opponents Manchester United.
Carlo Ancelotti's side appears to be a tougher proposition than the Red Devils at the moment. Still, if Mauricio Pochettino can get his star-studded line-up to gel in the coming weeks, the French giants might prove unstoppable in the knockout stages.
6. Real Madrid
Florentino Perez would be pushing his way to the front of the line if he wasn't already The Super League's chief cheerleader after Monday's events in Nyon. Real Madrid had previously assumed that being included in the redraw was a scandal,' given that their tie with Benfica had been established before the original draw's technical issues.
So being drawn with Paris Saint-Germain, one of the two unseeded teams that every seeded team hoped to avoid, will not have gone down well at the Santiago Bernabeu. Expect this one to go on and on until at least February, if not longer.
After defeating Sporting C.P. twice in the group stages, Ajax will face Benfica in the last 16 for the third time.
The official 'dark horses' for this year's Champions League will suddenly be heavy favorites to reach the quarter-finals as Erik ten Hag prepares another deep run in Europe's best club competition.
Chelsea only had four prospective last-16 opponents going into the draw: Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Ajax, or Lille. So the reigning champions' ability to draw Lille not once but twice was a stroke of luck that Thomas Tuchel and his men will be eager to exploit in the new year.
To accomplish so, they'll have to shake off their present slump, but all signs point to the Blues returning to the Champions League quarter-finals.
Although Liverpool should still beat Inter, and they will never publicly acknowledge it, the Reds would probably have preferred the initial draw to stand after they were first drawn with Red Bull Salzburg.
However, Jurgen Klopp's side is one of the best in the world right now, and assuming they don't have another mid-season slump as they did in 2020-21, they should be able to defeat the Italian champs.
2. Manchester City
Manchester City would have been confident of progressing regardless of whether they faced Villarreal, Sporting, or any of the other four probable opponents in the last 16.
As it stands, they will go to Lisbon for the first knockout round of the European season, as Pep Guardiola's side aims to improve on last season's performance and win the competition for the first time.
1. Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich would have been confident of overcoming Atletico Madrid regardless. Still, there is little doubt that Julian Nagelsmann's first European knockout encounter as a manager in Bavaria will be against Red Bull Salzburg.
Bayern should have much too much talent and experience for their Austrian opponents in the new year, and it would be one of the biggest shocks in recent tournament history if they didn't make it to the quarter-finals.
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