Type Here to Get Search Results !



Way too early 2023-24 Champions League Power Rankings: Manchester City lead the way; Arsenal on the up


Way too early 2023-24 Champions League Power Rankings: Manchester City lead the way; Arsenal on the up

The top tier: Title or bust
These teams should be disappointed with anything less than a semifinal berth and frankly even that might not be enough, such is their talent profile.

1. Manchester City

They have the money, the coaching staff and some of the best players in the world. It may well be that the midfield, Rodri aside, needs a refresh sooner rather than later but this is not a champion that won with its last swing. There is plenty more gas in the City tank. Indeed, the best hope for their rivals is that, having summited the mountain after so many attempts, Pep Guardiola and his players find it that much more difficult to drive themselves onto the next climb. If one thing is clear from this year, it is that the team most likely to beat Manchester City is Manchester City.

Serious contenders: If things go right, why not us?
It certainly is not beyond the realm of imagination that any of these teams could be lifting the European Cup in London come June, though it may require a few fortunate breaks for the tournament to go their way.

2. Barcelona

It's a one team favorites tier going into next season, much as it is in the Premier League. Everyone from two down to 10 or further can feel pretty bullish about their chances if something goes wrong for City. In a fairly packed group, Xavi's Barcelona stand out because they tick quite a few of the boxes we would usually associate with European champions. They have a veteran killer up top in Robert Lewandowski and a defense that, while hugely over-performing the expected goals (xG) value of the shots they faced, looks extremely robust. It might not be City but it's pretty good.

3. Real Madrid

Pencil in Real Madrid for somewhere around this spot on a near continual basis over the next decade. Jude Bellingham's arrival from Borussia Dortmund gives Carlo Ancelotti the chance to manage the best young midfield and the best old midfield all in the same season. Everything behind them is solid as a rock and the wing wonders of Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo don't even need to improve, as you would expect they will, to become elite European operators. Now they just need a striker to plug their Karim Benzema-shaped hole.

4. Bayern Munich

Here's another team on the lookout for a scorer at a time when they are yet again sweeping up the best on the market in the Bundesliga, securing the services of Konraid Laimer and Raphael Guerreiro. Both could add quality to a midfield that seems light on players who will hunker down when the Champions League requires them to and as you look across Thomas Tuchel's squad, you are struck by a depth of established quality for a top tier coach to impart new ideas on in 2023-24. Then immediately after you conclude that there is that sprinkling of something special missing... maybe that is all solved by a Victor Osimhen or Randal Kolo Muani. One remains somewhat skeptical. 

5. Arsenal

This ranking might look very different if Mikel Arteta's side hadn't scraped into Pot Two, likely assuring them that their draw will be altogether more favorable than most teams get when they've been gone from the Champions League for seven years. Placing Arsenal so highly is a statement of faith in the team they were at the start of the season, in the knowledge that they should be at least at that level come the autumn thanks to recruitment, growth from their young core and the return to fitness of William Saliba. The biggest question for the Gunners, who have won three European knockout rounds in three seasons under their current manager, is whether Arteta has the nous and experience to cope in the Champions League knockout stages, assuming they get that far.

6. Napoli

This ranking has to reflect the not insignificant doubts over how many crucial components of the Scudetto winners will be snapped up in the summer. It seems likely that both Victor Osimhen and Kim Min-Jae will depart. If you were trusting any club to replace them it would be Napoli, who tore down the nearly men built around Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens and erected a title winner at a moment's notice. However, the grim years that followed Ajax and Monaco's best runs in Europe makes one fear the worst.

7. Paris Saint-Germain

This, we are told, is to be a fresh start for PSG. Lionel Messi is off, Neymar might follow him. What comes next? A free agent signing from Real Madrid? But they've done that already in underwhelming fashion. A much coveted midfielder who isn't an obvious fit in their side? That didn't work out too well either. Oh and another season dominated by questions about Kylian Mbappe's future. Until this looks like a really different team, let us assume that the results are going to be the same. 
Dark horses: Unlikely contenders, but contenders all the same
These teams are unlikely champions, but then so were Real Madrid at this time in 2021, and 2022-23 runners-up Inter last season. It may take a change of circumstances, or a new tactical plan, or Andre Onana catching absolute fire in goal, but it's possible. It's certainly not probable, but stranger things have happened.

8. Manchester United

There is plenty to like about where Manchester United find themselves a year into Erik ten Hag's tenure. For the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired they appear to have a dynamic coach with a clear vision for making the Red Devils winners and they have veterans in Casemiro, Bruno Fernandes and Raphael Varane who can make a major impact on this competition. However, it is hard not to view them as in a holding pattern while the ownership situation drags into the summer. It is the sort of inertia that could profoundly limit United's ability to make a major impact on big competitions next season.

9. Inter

Beneficiaries of a more favorable route to the Ataturk Stadium than quite a few supporters on Saturday, Inter have proven over recent months that they are a very good Serie A side, one that could potentially challenge for the Scudetto, but that they have a long way to go before they can impose similar dominance on Europe's top half dozen teams. The potential departure of Andre Onana would rob them of a truly excellent player at one end, if they keep hold of Lautaro Martinez they will at least have one at the other.
10. Borussia Dortmund

What to make of a team who came so close to winning the German title with a kamikaze system that had no right to work as well as it did? Perhaps the most obvious conclusion comes from what was a more comprehensive defeat to lowly Chelsea than it looked on paper; this was a team that struggled to control top level European games. Such has been the quality of their recruitment in recent years it's worth pricing in them getting the right man to succeed Jude Bellingham, but there is work to be done at Dortmund.

11. Atletico Madrid

Like several of those immediately above them, Atletico Madrid roared their way to the finish line this season, most notably in the form of Antoine Griezmann. After the World Cup, Diego Simeone rather seemed to make additions by subtraction, with a Joao Felix-less side having more defined roles for their best attackers. To look at that squad now, there is still quality to disrupt some of Europe's finest teams.

Knockout stage contenders
Only in the most unlikely of circumstances could these teams make seriously deep runs in the competition but don't rule them out of winning a round, perhaps even two, before they bid farewell.
12. AC Milan

Tying down Rafael Leao makes the world of difference for Milan, who have their assured superstar going into next season and a cast surrounding him that doesn't seem likely to be all that significantly broken up. Off the field, sacking Paolo Maldini seems to have engendered an unhealthy level of ill feeling from that talented young squad, however, and it is easy to see how this summer might get more turbulent, meaning that the Rossoneri are rather lower on these rankings.

13. Benfica

One bad game at home to Inter spoiled what might have been a spectacular season for Benfica, who instead settled for yet another Liga Portugal title, their 38th in total. They already look to be strengthening their hold on domestic dominance, and it will be thrilling to see what Orkun Kokcu can bring to their midfield if, as expected, he arrives from Feyenoord. They were not far away from making a big impact in 2022-23, don't rule out them getting closer this time around.

14. Newcastle United

Eddie Howe's side ended the Premier League season with the second best xG difference in England, have the functionally unlimited wealth of Saudi Arabia backing them up, and a promising young core that includes Alexander Isak, Bruno Guimaraes and Sven Botman. That alone should have them far higher in the power rankings, but the reality of their oil money-fueled rise up the English top flight is that they have virtually no coefficient points to take into the Champions League and they are almost certain to land in pot four, handing them a potentially hellacious path just to reach the last 16. Having said that, the Magpies will be the team everyone prays to avoid when the last group of balls are drawn.
15. Sevilla

The reigning holders of the Europa League (which really ought to be renamed The Sevilla Invitational) have the opposite situation to Newcastle. They don't profile as one of Europe's top clubs, but they do have the relative advantage of being in pot one, theoretically an advantage as it opens the door to only facing one of Europe's best and brightest, many of whom reside in pot two. For once this looks like being a summer where Sevilla will have the luxury of building on something rather than scrabbling around to replace their top players. It could be good for them.

16. RB Leipzig

Leipzig, meanwhile, must find their Christopher Nkunku successor with the Frenchman bound for Chelsea as well as getting in a midfielder who can offer them with what Laimer did. Then there are questions over whether Mohamed Simakan and Dominik Szobszlai might depart too. They will probably hold on to Josko Gvardiol for this year, at least, but it seems like the Leipzig side that ended this season a solid third in Germany will not be all that much like the one that takes the field in next season's Champions League.

17. Lazio

A superb run through the spring took Maurizio Sarri's side to a top two finish in Serie A, but even with the influx of Champions League cash there are no guarantees that Lazio will be able to strengthen a squad that outperformed most reasonable expectations for the season. That is something of a cause for concern when they have the xG profile of an upper midtable team.
18. Feyenoord

There will be few teams whose arrival on the European stage is as eagerly anticipated as Feyenoord's, Arne Slot's men having stunned the Netherlands by snaring a title that they had won only once previously this century. They will lose Kokcu, the star man in that side, but managed to keep hold of Slot amid interest from Tottenham. Seeded in pot one, they will have talented youngsters in Lutsharel Geertruida and Santiago Gimenez that are determined to make an impact.

19. Porto

Having gotten their hands on both of Portugal's domestic cups and pushed Inter as close as anyone in their run to the final, Porto have absolutely earned their chops as one of Europe's best cup teams, the non-union, Portuguese equivalent of Real Madrid if you will. There is nothing getting us too excited about Sergio Conceicao's side next season, but there rarely is. It still tends not to stop them from bloodying a few noses.

20. Real Sociedad

Spain's fourth-placed side started and ended their season brightly. They profile to be one of the trickier clubs in pot three. Alexander Sorloth ranked fourth in non-penalty xG in La Liga last season, winning the league's player of the month award, but it is Brais Mendez who neutrals should be most excited to see on the European stage. 
21. Lens

Seko Fofana et al proved to be an extremely tough out as they forced PSG to keep running in a title race that went far longer than most in France. Only once did they lose by more than a single goal in any game last season, a 3-1 loss to the eventual champions where they spent 70 minutes playing with 10 men. The likely loss of Lois Openda could be keenly felt but this team could make a big impact.

In the mix
A few fortunate breaks and they may find themselves extending their Champions League involvement beyond Christmas. Don't bet on it though.

22. Union Berlin

The title challenge in the German capital was one of the best stories in Europe last season, but a team that ended the campaign having given up 42.6 xG and created shots worth 37.9 has a fair few question marks over it going into the Champions League. Still it will be great to have Union Berlin at the top table, a side that could provide a stylistic alternative in a competition where so many teams are used to dominating possession and eschewing crosses. The Iron Union will certainly fight for every inch in the competition.
23. Red Bull Salzburg

One wonders whether Salzburg may find themselves pushing up against a glass ceiling in Europe over the coming years in much the same way Olympiacos did for so long before they finally slipped and let other Greek sides into the title race. They are unassailable in Austria, where they didn't lose a game from July onwards (though they were eliminated from the cup by Sturm Graz), but in Europe they seemed to take a step back without the depth of talent they had had in past years. If Noah Okafor departs this summer there might not be enough talent to take them out of the group stages.

24. Celtic

Losing Ange Postecoglu to Tottenham will be a bitter blow for Celtic but they will be all the better placed in Europe next season thanks to the diverse squad he assembled for them. They might have ended last season at the bottom of a tough group but they had impressive moments in nearly all of their matches and will fancy themselves to spring a few surprises at Parkhead.

25. Crvena Zvezda

Unbeaten in 61 league games, the team otherwise known as Red Star Belgrade romped to the Serbian title, 22 points clear of nearest rivals. Indeed they have not lost a game since their Europa League campaign came to an end when they were pipped to a top two spot by Ferencvaros and Monaco. If he is still there come the start of next season, 20 year old winger Stefan Mitrovic could be one to watch in the group stages.

26. Shakhtar Donetsk

The Ukrainian champions remain mired in legal arguments with FIFA over the decision by world football's governing body to allow players in the war-torn country to suspend their contracts and play elsewhere, something which has ravaged a Shakhtar squad that was such a hard out in the Champions League over recent years. Without some of their international imports, Igor Jovicevic's side struggled in European competition last season and may find it similarly difficult this time.

Post a Comment

* Please Don't Spam Here. All the Comments are Reviewed by Admin.

Top Post Ad

Below Post Ad

Hollywood Movies