The 2019/20 UEFA Champions League season commences today with 32 participating football clubs, all playing for the glory of the trophy.
Ahead of the big kickoff, Mirror Football presents its Champions League power rankings based on anticipated likelihood to win the competition and qualify for the next round, taking into account both long-term results, team strength and recent performances. The idea is that too much should never be read into any single result.
Below are the top ten teams according to Mirror Football’s Champions League power rankings:
10. Paris Saint-Germain
Every so often the sheen gets stripped away from PSG and you get to remember that they used to be a real football club.
That happened on Matchday 5 of last season’s group stages when they managed to beat Liverpool 2-1 at a raucous Parc des Princes in what was effectively a knockout game for them.
The contrast between the roars in the stands and Neymar’s theatrics on the pitch that night were something to witness, so much so that you think everyone really would have been better off had the Brazilian left this summer and PSG could embrace a new direction featuring hard working, would-tackle-their-grandmothers types of footballers like Ander Herrera and Idrissa Gueye.
They’ve got Kylian Mbappe too, and they should breeze through their group along with Real Madrid.
9. Tottenham Hotspur
Even before June’s final in Madrid you got the sense that whatever happened against Liverpool it was really time for Mauricio Pochettino to begin his Operation 2.0 at Tottenham. But that hasn’t really come to pass.
Dissatisfied players, a stubborn ownership and a manager who might just be edging closer to one day being sick of it all isn’t exactly a good mix, but many of the same things were being said about Spurs a year ago when they didn’t even have a home, and look what they did last season.
At least new additions have finally come in to kind of make this an Operation 1.5, but if they were looking to take inspiration from Liverpool’s journey from beaten finalists in 2018 to winners in 2019, they don’t seem to have the clarity the Reds had a year ago.
8. Borussia Dortmund
Freed from the constant vice-like grip on the Bundesliga enjoyed by Bayern Munich, Dortmund can express themselves in this competition.
Lucien Favre’s side will have learned a lot from the manner of their last-16 defeat to a better, stronger, fitter Tottenham team last season, and you suspect that the presence of Barcelona and Inter Milan in their group might actually be a benefit as they seek to get up to speed with a higher calibre of opposition.
They certainly could cause Barca a few issues, while Jadon Sancho looks primed for the season that will establish his talents.
7. Real Madrid
A raft of new faces have arrived at the Bernabeu this summer but they seem to have been joined by two pretty pertinent questions: Did Zinedine Zidane even want some of them, and are they any good?
That doesn’t exactly bode well, and Zidane would surely feel a lot better if the eyes he fluttered at Paul Pogba all summer had led to them getting into the taxi together.
At least he does now have a world-class gamechanger in his ranks in Eden Hazard, even if the Belgian’s record in the Champions League has never been mind-blowing.
He’s going to have to dig deep if Zidane is to win this competition for a fourth time at the fourth time of entering it.
6. Bayern Munich
There was a spell last season when you’d have got decent money on Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery leaving Bayern before manager Niko Kovac did, but sure enough the Croatian is still around and trying to come up with something better than last season’s rather meek last-16 loss to Liverpool.
The presence of Tottenham in their group should at least sharpen them up, and with Robert Lewandowski starting the Bundesliga season in typical Goalscoring Cyborg Sent From Another Planet mode – seven goals in four games – then those Spurs games should be fascinating.
Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry and Philippe Coutinho will have something to say about them too.
5. Atletico Madrid
Atleti were desperate to reach the final last season, but ultimately fell in the second round following a Cristino Ronaldo tour de force.
This year Diego Simeone’s men return hoping for another deep run. The Argentine is banking on Portuguese wonderkid Joao Felix to thrive as Antoine Griezmann’s replacement, while the defence is now without Diego Godin.
A tough group awaits, with Juventus and Bayer Leverkusen, but Atletico have more than enough to ease through into the last 16 and are capable of the semi-finals and beyond.
Having just won four Champions League trophies in five years, a last-16 elimination to Ajax wasn’t really on Cristiano Ronaldo’s agenda when he joined Juventus last summer.
That defeat prompted days of inquests and navel-gazing in Turin, where they’ll be on the receiving end of another Ronaldo rocket should something similar happen again.
They’ve improved with the additions of Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot and one of last season’s conquerers Matthijs de Ligt, and perhaps a more competitive Serie A this season will ensure they are a bit sharper when the knockout stages roll around.
May’s remarkable semi-final defeat to Liverpool seemed to come as a jarring shock to Barcelona’s players, almost every one of whom having mentioned it whenever possible ever since.
The manner of the loss is something they some might never get over, and for Lionel Messi it represented a crushing failure having set his sights on this competition so publicly last summer.
There are question mark around some of their older players, but providing they get through a tricky group it is hard to see them not reaching the semi-finals, where they’ll surely be much more careful this time.
2. Manchester City
If you have to choose one failing of the Pep Guardiola reign at Manchester City as it enters its fourth season it is that he’s never outdone Manuel Pellegrini in the Champions League.
The Chilean’s run to the semi-finals in 2015/16 is still City’s best in this competition, with Guardiola only making one last-16 and two quarter-final appearances since then, the latter of which ending in that heartbreaking loss to Tottenham.
European glory really is the one thing missing from the City machine, and you suspect that their manager would gladly sacrifice recent domestic dominance if it meant he could get his hands on the old trophy for the first time since 2011.
When Jurgen Klopp’s book on his time at Liverpool inevitably comes to be written, it will be interesting to see how much importance the Reds manager places on a Europa League last-32 tie against Augsburg just four months into his reign in February 2016.
A James Milner penalty in the Anfield second leg secured a 1-0 aggregate victory in Klopp’s first two-legged European tie with the Reds, and he still hasn’t lost one.
Manchester United , Borussia Dortmund, Villarreal, Porto, Manchester City, Roma, Bayern Munich, Porto again and, most memorably, Barcelona have all been vanquished over two games, and in Madrid in June Klopp finally got his hands on some silverware to show something tangible for the clear progress his side have made under him.
After two successive finals they go again in 2019/20, and look in fine health as they do so.