UEFA Champions League Power Rankings: Manchester City drop thanks to tough quarterfinal draw, Napoli go top

The path to Istanbul is set and perhaps for the first time we have a clear idea of ​​who can lift the trophy in June (remember you can follow all the action on Paramount+). The quarter-final and semi-final draws are below, scroll down to see our tournament favorites.


  • Real Madrid vs. Chelsea
  • Inter Milan vs SL Benfica
  • Manchester City vs Bayern Munich
  • Milan vs Napoli


  • Milan or Napoli vs Inter or Benfica
  • Real Madrid or Chelsea vs Manchester City or Bayern Munich

Top level: title or bust

These teams should be disappointed with anything less than a semi-final spot, and frankly, even that might not be enough, such is their talent profile.

1. Napoli (+2)

There is a sense of destiny around Naples now. Serie A is in the bag and suddenly the path to the final is wide open, a fairly common domestic last eight opponent and then the winner of Inter Milan and Benfica. A season that has been put on hold for Argentina to win the World Cup since Diego Maradona led them may end with the city where he achieved iconic status celebrating European glory. Not that Napoli initially needed a favorable draw.

With a caveat to variable difficulty factors in the group stages, the expected goals (xG) table for the tournament so far gives a clear indication of where Napoli should be placed in the European pantheon. Fairly ahead of City followed by Napoli followed by another significant lead over the rest of the field. It’s not bad when you can argue that Luciano Spalletti’s team hasn’t really faced a bad team, as long as it’s not hard on the Rangers. Everyone they met at home and abroad was simply sent to the purge. It is hard to imagine that someone prevented them from reaching the final.

2. Real Madrid (+2)

The semi-final will be an almighty test for Carlo Ancelotti’s team, who have shown very little in La Liga to convince you that they are the European champions on the wait, but they can be extremely confident that they will achieve it with Chelsea first. But perhaps it just reflects a team choosing their moments to use their home minutes to alternate and refresh.

After all, in Europe they look very, very good. It should be noted that their second win against Liverpool was actually more impressive than their first game, in which for 70 minutes every rebound, shot and hope and 50-50 duel seemed to favor Real Madrid. However, at the Santiago Bernabéu, the owners realized what game they needed to play in order to maximize their chances of qualifying. With no Liverpool opposition, the Madrid midfield slowed down the pace of the game, keeping the pace of the game at a more relaxed level, reserving the right to shoot at goal at any moment. Perhaps more than any other title run last year, it felt like a dominant performance from one of the best teams in Europe.

3. Manchester City (-2)

First of all, it’s worth noting that Manchester City may still have the most influential star on the pitch, a player who has outperformed his xG for so long that even a significant regression would have made him one of the best finishers the game has ever seen. Erling Haaland may have brought the tactical complications that were found in the Premier League, but as he proved against RB Leipzig, he makes City even more formidable in the Champions League.

However, this is the Champions League, the door to the European arena is open to chance, and it may be that this season again Rodrigo or Mousa Dembele. It happens. It’s a prank that glows neon “something crazy is going to happen”. Will Pep Guardiola become an outcast when he returns to Munich? Who from Madrid could turn the tide in the last minute?

Serious contenders: if everything goes well, why not us?

Of course, it’s not beyond the imagination that any of these teams could win the European Cup in Istanbul in June, though it may take a few lucky breaks for the tournament to run its course.

4. Bayern Munich (-2)

If Julian Nagelsmann’s team is the chaotic, scoring and undernumbered team they often appear to be in the Bundesliga, then they have little chance of charming Manchester City, possibly Real Madrid and presumably Napoli. The authority with which they controlled the round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain was an exception, but again, their domestic competitions are not designed for the kind of ball-handling football they are well suited for.

Last season, Bayern had the baseline of a potential champion, this year there has been a drop. The decline in performance from 2.6 xG per game to 1.6 was probably expected after the departure of Robert Lewandowski, but they have already lost more xG to their rival in eight Champions League games this season than in 10 last. The field may have taken a step back from 2021-22, but so has Munich.

Dark horses: unlikely contenders, but still contenders

This team is unlikely to be champions, but so was Real at this time in 2022. This may require a change in circumstances, or a new tactical plan, or simply Karim Benzema having a season of his life, but it’s possible. This, of course, is unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

5. Benfica (–)

However, we remain in the dark about how good the Benfica team is. If you don’t feel particularly strongly about PSG, it’s fair to say that they just haven’t been tested. Their unknowability is what really sets them apart from their dark horse status; the beating they inflicted on Club Brugge was extremely impressive and there is talent young and old in Gonzalo Ramos, Joao Mario and David Neres. What this translates into against top level opposition is intriguingly out of reach yet, but the auspicious draw means they should be considered likely semi-finalists. From there onwards, who knows?

Well done for getting this far

Perhaps the draw did not benefit these teams. They may have reached the upper limit of their talent ceiling. In any case, the end of these teams is fast approaching.

6. Inter (+1)

Their overall 1-0 victory over Porto won’t last so long that even as I write this, I’m starting to wonder if it was Sporting that won Inter? Maybe Deportivo La Coruña? Porto, are you sure? Did Romelu Lukaku score a goal? If you say so, Chief… If you could talk about the second leg, it would be how long Simone Inzaghi’s team managed to keep their opponents at arm’s length until the last volley of shots from Mehdi Taremi and Marko Grujic really checked Andre Onan. They have a good defense and a good attack and that may be enough if Benfica is not as good as it looks. However, this seems unlikely.

7. Milan (+1)

Milan were much better than Tottenham in their two legs and Stefano Pioli’s back three did a great job of shutting down Kane, but damn they made it harder for themselves on the other end. Given their control of the territory and possession of the ball, they should have had way more than the 23 shots they threw in two legs, not that it mattered much, that was how timid their finishes were. This continued in Serie A, where they drew 1-1 against Salernitana on Monday. Milan gave Napoli a headache when they met early in the season before losing to a late goal from Giovanni Simeone. Since then, the leaders of Serie A have rushed forward, the owners of the Scudetto have taken a step back. You suspect that the end of the road is near.

8. Chelsea (-2)

Slowly but surely, things are improving at Chelsea, better results falling slightly behind the improved game but showing up just before the pressure on Graham Potter has become unbearable. The Blues now look like a team whose template could give them a chance to strike in a good draw, and their manager’s cautious approach to possession means they have one of the best defensive records in the Premier League since the World Cup. The problem is they have anything but a good draw. They are getting better, but they are very far from the level of their opponents.


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