Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings: Barcelona, Juventus & Atletico Madrid tumble as Chelsea bare their teeth

Chelsea are the defending champions, but there are arguably more contenders this time around than in any previous iteration of the competition.

So, who are the favourites, and which teams are set for European disappointment?

Champions League Power Rankings are here to lay it all out…

(Previous rankings after MD4, November 4. Teams eliminated on MD5: Dynamo Kyiv, Zenit, Young Boys, Shakhtar Donetsk, Club Brugge, Sheriff Tiraspol, Borussia Dortmund)

Chelsea are defending champions but a host of Europe's biggest clubs are also in the running to lift the continent's most-coveted trophy

Wolfsburg | Last time: 19th

Wolfsburg may be bottom of their group heading into matchday six, but the German outfit know that a win at home against Lille will be enough to earn them a place in the last 16.

Having their fate in the own hands is a luxury sides further up these rankings do not have, but given how unlikely they would be to progress further should they make it through, they find themselves bottom of the pile for now.

Chelsea are defending champions but a host of Europe's biggest clubs are also in the running to lift the continent's most-coveted trophy

Barcelona | Last time: 16th

The level of their performance may have improved with Xavi having replaced Ronald Koeman in the dugout, but Barcelona’s squad still looks way short in terms of the quality needed to challenge in the Champions League.

Their goalless draw against Benfica means they will likely have to win away at Bayern Munich to reach the last 16, and though the Bundesliga giants may rest one or two regulars, that still looks a tall order for the Blaugrana.

Chelsea are defending champions but a host of Europe's biggest clubs are also in the running to lift the continent's most-coveted trophy

Atletico Madrid | Last time: 11th

Having failed to win any of their three home group matches, Atletico Madrid now go into the final round of games knowing a win still might not be enough for them to reach the knockout stages.

Wednesday’s defeat at the hands of AC Milan was the latest in a string of woeful performances from Diego Simeone’s side, and the Spanish champions are now staring early elimination squarely in the face.

Chelsea are defending champions but a host of Europe's biggest clubs are also in the running to lift the continent's most-coveted trophy

AC Milan | Last time: 23rd

With three minutes left on the clock at the Wanda Metripolitano, AC Milan were heading out of the Champions League with something of a whimper.

Step forward unlikely hero Junior Messias, whose header secured a first victory in the competition for the Rossoneri since 2013, meaning a win at home against an already-through Liverpool could yet be enough to send the Serie A side into the knockout rounds.

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Benfica | Last time: 17th

Oh, Haris Seferovic, how did you miss?!

The Switzerland international must be praying Benfica do not now come up short in their pursuit of a place in the last 16 following his howler in the final seconds at Camp Nou.

To avoid such a scenario, the Portuguese outfit must beat Dynamo Kyiv at home and hope that Barcelona do not pull off a surprise win away at Bayern Munich.

It feels like it should happen for Jorge Jesus’ side, but the Champions League has a funny way of coming back to bite you when you least expect it.

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Sevilla | Last time: 22nd

After four winless games to kick-off the group, Sevilla finally registered their first victory of the competition as they saw off Wolfsburg on Tuesday.

They must now follow that up with another win away at Red Bull Salzburg on the final matchday if they are to go through, but Julen Lopetegui’s side do at least now have a pulse following their underwhelming European campaign thus far.

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Atalanta | Last time: 15th

How Atalanta might come to rue not winning away at Young Boys when the final points are tallied at the end of the group stages.

Leading 2-1 heading into the final 10 minutes, the Italian outfit suddenly found themselves 3-2 down before Luis Muriel rescued a point in the dying moments of the game.

All that means that a win at home to Villarreal on matchday six will be enough to reach the last 16 for the third straight season, but they will have to perform far better than they did on Tuesday to do so.

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Lille | Last time: 20th

Lille looked dead and buried at the halfway stage of the group matches, but after back-to-back wins now find themselves top of the pile in Group G with 90 minutes left to play.

In Jonathan David they have one of Europe’s most in-form strikers, and now just need a point away at Wolfsburg to be secure of their place in the last 16.

Their hosts, however, need a win themselves to go through, meaning the French champions will likely have to be at their best defensively to progress.

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Red Bull Salzburg | Last time: 14th

Two chances missed, one to go for Salzburg, who would have qualified for the knockout rounds with wins in either of their last two games.

Instead, they now go into their final match, at home to Sevilla, knowing a draw will be enough for them to go through, but with pressure building, will the youngest side in the competition be able to handle it?

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Villarreal | Last time: 13th

Villarreal must have feared the worst when two late goals from Manchester United condemned them to defeat at El Madrigal on Tuesday, only for Young Boys to do them a favour and hold Atalanta to draw later that evening.

All that means that Unai Emery’s side now only need a point in Bergamo on matchday six to qualify for the last 16 in what promises to be one of the games of the final round.

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Porto | Last time: 18th

Porto learned the hard way on Wednesday that if you do not take your chances against Liverpool, you will eventually be punished as they went down to a 2-0 defeat at Anfield.

Results elsewhere, however, did go their way, and Sergio Conceicao’s side will now go through with a win at home against Atletico Madrid, while a draw could even be enough if AC Milan cannot beat Liverpool at San Siro.

Given they were almost written off before a ball was kicked back in September, that is quite an achievement for last season’s quarter-finalists.

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Sporting C.P. | Last time: 21st

Once the final line-up for the last 16 is known, Sporting may not find themselves quite this high up for the rankings, but while they are secured of their place in the knockout rounds and others are not, they can proudly sit just outside of the top 10.

Ruben Amorim’s side are certainly deserving of their place among Europe’s elite after recovering from their 5-1 loss at home to Ajax on matchday one to record three straight wins, capped by Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund that eliminated the German outfit.

In Pedro Goncalves they have one of Europe’s most in-form attacking midfielders, and could yet cause one or two more surprises come the new year.

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Inter | Last time: 10th

For the first time since 2012, Inter will play in the knockout stages of the Champions League after their win over Shakhtar Donetsk, coupled with Sheriff’s loss against Real Madrid, sealed their spot in the last 16.

Edin Dzeko was the hero at San Siro, scoring twice to further ensure he remains top of the list of the most underrated strikers of the 21st century, and if he can repeat the trick at Santiago Bernabeu in two weeks’ time, then the Nerazzurri could yet top the group.

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Juventus | Last time: 6th

Not since February 2004 had Juventus suffered a four-goal defeat in any competition, so Tuesday’s 4-0 loss at Chelsea will certainly have bruised plenty at the Bianconeri.

Juve were totally outclassed at Stamford Bridge, and with a second-placed finish now looking likely in their group, there must be concern for their chances should they draw another member of Europe’s elite in the last 16

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Manchester United | Last time: 9th

It has not always been straightforward, but Manchester United are into the knockout rounds of the Champions League, and as group winners to boot.

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player from an English club to score in each of his side’s first five games of a Champions League campaign, and with him up front and a new manager on the way, who is to say the Red Devils cannot go deep into the competition in 2022?

Before laughing that off, just think for a minute: not many would have backed Chelsea to win the trophy when Frank Lampard was sacked last season, would they?

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Paris Saint-Germain | Last time: 7th

The pre-tournament favourites will be an unseeded team in the last 16 after PSG’s defeat at the hands of Manchester City on Wednesday in what was another underwhelming display from Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

The Ligue 1 leaders have won just two of their five group matches, and with Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar having failed to fire consistently in Europe as yet, there must be some concerns at Parc des Princes as to whether the trophy they covet the most could yet pass them by once more in 2022.

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Ajax | Last time: 8th

Five wins from five for Ajax, and no one will want to face Erik ten Hag’s side when the draw for the last 16 is made on December 13.

The Eredivisie champions combine one of Europe’s meanest defences – they have conceded just five goals in all competitions this season – with slick attacking football.

The spearhead of that attack is Sebastien Haller, who, with nine goals in his first five Champions League games, is breaking records that were previously set by Erling Haaland back in 2019.

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Real Madrid | Last time: 4th

Real Madrid were not going to make the same mistake twice against Sheriff, and ran out easy 3-0 winners over the plucky Moldovan side to seal their place in the last 16.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side might not be at the same level as the Blancos team that won the Champions League four times in five years during the last decade, but they should still be regarded as being among the favourites to lift yet another European Cup.

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Chelsea | Last time: 5th

If there were any doubts over Chelsea’s potential to defend their crown after their underwhelming Champions League campaign so far, then they were answered emphatically against Juventus on Tuesday.

Despite having to name a line-up without Romelu Lukaku, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount or Timo Werner, the Blues trampled all over their visitors from Italy, with Thomas Tuchel’s side now in pole position to top their group too.

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Liverpool | Last time: 3rd

Jurgen Klopp may have rested some of his regular starters against Porto, but Liverpool still had enough to make it five wins from five in this year’s competition with their 2-0 win at Anfield.

One of the most encouraging elements of the night was the performance – and stunning strike – of Thiago Alcantara, with the Spain international finally beginning to come into his own on Merseyside.

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Manchester City | Last time: 2nd

With an hour on the clock at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, it looked as if Manchester City were yet again going to dominate proceedings against PSG, only to fall to defeat for the second time in the space of two months.

This time, though, they turned it around, with Pep Guardiola’s side now assured of top spot in Group A following their 2-1 victory.

Now, could they go out and make a cheeky bid for Erling Haaland in January and complete their squad with a player who surely does not want to spend the second half of the season playing in the Europa League? Something to think about.

Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings

Bayern Munich | Last time: 1st

A snowstorm is not about to stop Robert Lewandowski, and if not for Thiago’s strike for Liverpool, then the Bayern Munich striker’s overhead kick in Kyiv would likely have been the goal of the week in the Champions League.

Confidence is flowing through the veins of Julian Nagelsmann’s side right now, and if they find themselves in a similar position once the knockout stages kick-off in February, then the rest of Europe better watch out.

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