UCL power rankings: Atletico Madrid and Man City among contenders

The Champions League is back this week with the start of the round of 16. Here’s a look at our power rankings as clubs prepare for the knockout stage.

The Champions League returns this week with the start of the knockout phase, where the tournament’s remaining 16 teams will be whittled down to just eight by next month.

The round of 16 kicks off Tuesday with two games: Barcelona hosting PSG at the Camp Nou, while RB Leipzig take on Liverpool in Budapest because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

A lot has happened since the group stage came to a conclusion two months ago. Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Liverpool have all fallen out of our top 10 in the UCL power rankings. All three clubs are going through a rough patch in their respective domestic competitions, although that doesn’t always mean they can’t go on a run in the Champions League.

The top spot remains to defending champions Bayern Munich, who recently added to their trophy haul by capturing the FIFA Club World Cup. Atletico Madrid has come on strong, while Manchester City remains in contention. Both Atleti and Man City, however, have a history of failing to lift the trophy.

Here’s a look at the top 10 teams heading into the round of 16.

10. Atalanta

It may be only the second time in history that the Italians are in this competition (last year was the first), but Atalanta remain a side that can upset you at any moment.

9. Chelsea

The English side has a new manager in Thomas Tuchel. He’s proven he can win at this tournament, but it remains to be seen if Chelsea can go far this season.

8. Barcelona

The Catalan club remains a team in transition. Lionel Messi still has plenty of talent, but can he carry this team, practically single-handedly, on his back?

7. Lazio

The Rome-based side has the offensive weapons to pull off some wins, specifically striker Ciro Immobile, but even getting to the quarterfinals would be seen as a success for this club.

6. Real Madrid

The Spanish club are perennial contenders at this tournament. Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and his teammates have the talent to win this thing, but manager Zinedine Zidane will need to rotate players more if he wants to get the most out of his roster.

5. RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig take on Liverpool in the round of 16. They remain underdogs, but Liverpool’s poor form could be a boon for the Germans.

4. Paris Saint-Germain

Last season’s runners-up could be embarking on another run. It all depends on whether Neymar gets hot again during the knockout rounds, this time with new coach Mauricio Pochettino at the helm.

3. Manchester City

Pep Guardiola is still desperately seeking a Champions League with Manchester City (after winning two with Barcelona). The team is currently first in the Premier League and remain in position to win the double this year.

2. Atletico Madrid

Currently first in La Liga, Atletico Madrid have only lost one game in the league all season. The Champions League may be a different matter, but coach Diego Simeone has gotten the most out of his players and that could end up going a long way in this competition.

1. Bayern Munich

Can anyone beat these guys? It doesn’t appear that way. Barring a shock defeat, a repeat remains in the works.

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