This has been an extremely interesting start of the Champions League. The powerful don't seem too powerful anymore and the middle class are starting to revolt. Portuguese sides, especially, showed that they will be a forced to be reckoned this season, and what can you say about the crisis of the Premier League? It seems that money can’t always buy me love in the end.
1. Bayern Munich (+2)
Throughout two matchdays there has only been one team that has thoroughly outplayed the opposition every minute on the pitch and that’s Pep Guardiola’s Bayern. Admittedly, that opposition hasn't bean top notch but other presumed favorites have faltered against similar teams. That’s enough to propel the Bavarians to the top of the rankings.
2. Real Madrid (-)
I love Champions League Fantasy Football. I play every year and organize leagues with my friends. My first recommendation is always, no matter how things are, always start Cristiano Ronaldo, and use either him or Messi as captains. The Portuguese always delivers, as he did against Malmö yesterday.
3. Juventus (+1)
Despite their shaky performances in Serie A, the Italian champions have been nothing but solid in the Champions League. Sevilla are a very good side, and Juve disposed of them with relative ease. This is an experienced team that has grown used to win. Beware.
4. Barcelona (-3)
Yeah, Barcelona won, but they needed a lot of luck and an inspired Luis Suárez goal to do it. It’s clear that at least for now, they are not the same without Messi. Luckily for them, their group is essentially a given, but faltering against medium-level teams does not bode well for the current Champions’ future.
5. Paris Saint-Germain (+1)
They still aren’t brilliant but the French champions are taking care of business as the Champions League veterans that they are. There was a time in France when people doubted about their ability to deliver. Not anymore. PSG now belongs to an elite of clubs that we only need to pay attention to in the quarterfinals.
6. Zenit Saint Petersburg (+5)
In such a chaotic matchday, it was the surprising Russians who made one of the biggest leaps in our rankings. They suffered to beat a resilient Gent but now lead a difficult group and already won at Mestalla. Unless an unlikely late collapse happens, they should book their ticket to the second round by the fourth matchday.
7. Manchester United (+3)
They have not being amazing but after a shaky start in Eindhoven, they rebounded to beat a hard Wolfsburg team. It seems that van Gaal has decided that if fans wanted to watch a show they better go to the theater. This Man U are made to win games, and given their recent past, nobody can really complain.
8. Benfica (+10)
Now this was the biggest surprise in the matchday. Benfica not just defeated Atletico Madrid away for the first time in their history, but also gave the Spanish they first home defeat in the CL ever. And it was a merited victory too, taking a page from Simeone’s recipe book of grinding teeth and fighting for 90 minutes.
9. Valencia (+2)
They were unlucky to lose against Zenit in their first game and –this time with fortune on their side- won a key game in Lyon that represented a huge step in their quest for the second round. Valencia are a good side, which will become more dangerous as the competition enters its final stages.
10. Porto (+4)
Experience is a very important thing in the Champions League and, even if their quality level is not as good as in other editions, Porto have experience in scores. Their win over Chelsea was unexpected but not entirely surprising given the Portuguese recent performances on the competition. They even rotated some of their starters, which made the result even more impressive.
11. Manchester City (+4)
There was a point in which it seems that City’s Champions League run was all but over. The competition’s ultimate chokers were doing it again. They rallied, however, and managed to come back from behind to get a key victory in Moenchengladbach. There’s still a lot of work to do in an extremely hard group but at least they can breath more easily for a few weeks.
12. Sevilla (-4)
Losing at Juventus is no embarrassment and maybe I dropped Sevilla too much in these rankings. They are still a very good team and their matches with Manchester City in the next two matchdays will define their future in the competition –and be some of the most exciting ones in the first round-.
13. Chelsea (-8)
I probably should have dropped them even further after their dismal performance in Porto. But I still trust Jose Mourinho and the team has enough quality not to rebound from this loss. Still, their recent form is extremely worrying.
14. Atlético Madrid (-7)
Read the previous entry and substitute “Jose Mourinho” for “Diego Simeone” and “at Porto” for “against Benfica”.
15. Bayer Leverkusen (+4)
They had Barça on the ropes at the Camp Nou for most of their game, but they call this team “Neverkusen” for a reason. An incredible miss by Chicharito and a tactical blunder by coach Roger Schmidt taking off the Mexican striker for the monolithic Kiessling prevented the Germans from recording a historic win… again.
16. Dynamo Kiev (+5)
It’s not that beating Maccabi was impressive per se, but winning an away fixture in the Champions League is never easy, and the Ukrainians did it without breaking a sweat.
17. PSV Eindhoven (-1)
Much more was expected after their merited win in the first matchday against Manchester United, but they just decided not to show up in the first half against CSKA. They tried to rally back but then it was too little too late.
18. Wolfsburg (+2)
This group will go to the wire and taking a point from Manchester United would have been fantastic. They couldn’t do it in the end but they weren’t bad at all and their chances are still intact.
19. CSKA (+3)
Their first half against PSV was extremely impressive. Their second half much less so. They would need the goal difference in a group that will be extremely tight. Still, they seem to be in a good place at the moment.
20. Roma (-7)
Seriously, what was that? Yeah, they scored two goals and were very close to equalize in the end but, falling three goals behind to BATE? I had the Belarussians ranked last in my previous update, and they still managed to rock my favorites for second place in that group. Either they are better or Roma way worse than I thought.
21. Olympiakos (+8)
Their win at Arsenal was extremely impressive, but I still don’t trust this team, which I don’t find particularly talented. I still think they can somehow bungle it and lose the second place somehow, but it’s true that they took a huge step at the Emirates on Tuesday.
22. Arsenal (-13)
Ladies and gentlemen, we have the first real disappointment of the tournament! By losing their first two matches, Arsenal have essentially guaranteed themselves a place in Europa League. They still have to face Bayern and, come on, if you can’t beat Zagreb and Olympiakos, how dare you dream of beating the German champions?
23. Lyon (-6)
After losing at home to Valencia, suddenly their draw at Gent doesn’t seem very good at all. It all seems settled in that group, and the French side will probably end up in the Europa League, which wouldn’t really be a disappointment given the quality of their rivals this year.
24. Borussia Moenchengladbach (-1)
They didn’t look bad at all for a while in their game against Manchester City but they lost and they now face a powerful Juventus side twice. They were really unlucky with the draw and, at this point, salvaging a draw is the most they can expect in the next matchdays.
25. Galatasaray (-1)
Ouch, drawing with newcomers Astana wasn’t definitely the expected result for the Turkish giants, which will now define their fate against a Benfica side that has looked amazing in the first two games.
26. Gent (-1)
They have been solid and steady, which is the most we can ask for to a newcomer from a medium sized league. They won’t be embarrassed and could threaten with getting points at home.
27. Dinamo Zagreb (-1)
They tumbled back to reality against the best side in the competition. They still are in with a chance to get to the second round but they need, at least, to beat Olympiakos at home. Let’s see if they can manage to do it.
28. BATE Borisov (+4)
Their victory against Roma was completely unexpected and shown the strides they had made by participating in the Champions League year after year. I still don’t think they will manage to do much more in the competition, but that result on Tuesday was just great.
29. Astana (+1)
That bad against Galatasaray was not bad at all, and it was an exciting game too! Newcomers always have it hard in the Champions League and Astana have been more than competitive this season.
30. Malmö (-2)
True to Swedish standards, they have been composed and serious, without making too many mistakes and losing against superior opposition. Their Europa league playoff beckons when they face Shakhtar twice in the next matchdays.
31. Shakhtar Donetsk (-4)
As opposed to Malmö, they have looked just awful in their first games in the Champions League. At this time, they look like candidates to finish bottom in that group and maybe the competition altogether.
32. Maccabi (-1)
It was a very poor home display against their supposedly easiest rivals in the competition. Hard to see them scoring even a goal in their next matches.