Champions League Power Rankings: Matchday 1

Every Thursday, after a Champions League Matchday, I will publish an update of this power rankings. Take into account that they reflect teams, their performances and their chances in the Champions League, not in their local leagues.


1.    Barcelona

Yeah, I know. They couldn’t win in their Champions League opener. But Roma are a hard team to beat –just ask Juventus-, Barça didn’t play half bad at the Stadio Olimpico and, player by player, they still boast the best squad in the world. No need to penalize them.

2.    Real Madrid

Albeit Shakhtar Donetsk are not the up and coming team of years past, Real Madrid’s Champions League opening performance was very impressive. Cristiano Ronaldo has always been the king of the Group Phase and it doesn’t seem that will change this season.

3.    Bayern Munich

Their relatively shaky start of the season in the Bundesliga gave room for the doubt in their opener in Athens. But the amount of quality on that squad is just unbelievable. Despite their endless internal rumblings Bayern will challenge for the title, as they always do.

4.    Juventus

Every season I play down Juventus’ chances and every season they make me look like a fool. Not anymore, I expected a strong performance in Manchester although winning seemed too good to be true. In the end, they showed that their poor Serie A star is an anomaly and they will be challengers again.

5.    Chelsea

At least there was one English team that wasn’t a complete disappointment. Chelsea weren’t brilliant by any means but they did what they were supposed to, and that’s no small feat considering the disastrous outings that Arsenal and Man U had in this first matchday.

6.    Paris Saint-Germain

Depending on how Ibra and Angel Di María play this season, PSG could be title challengers or they will crash in the quarter finals again. They weren’t amazing on their opening match but took care of business without breaking too much sweat. Di María even scored a goal.

7.    Atlético Madrid

It remains to be seen how the new signings click, but so far so good. Winning in the Ali Sami Yen is always a hard task and Simeone and his charges made it look easy. Another title charge is not at all far fetched.

8.    Sevilla

If one can pinpoint the most impressive performance of the first matchday, it has to be Sevilla. They were playing a German team and crushed them as if they were from Cyprus.

9.    Arsenal

I don’t want to penalize them that much because they played with subs and their group still looks quite easy but, losing to Dinamo Zagreb? Really? Arsenal were embarrassing and Arsène Wenger learnt the hard way that you cannot allow to be overconfident in the CL.

10. Manchester United

It’s always hard to recover emotionally to an injury like the one Luke Shaw suffered (accidental in my opinion), but Man U showed some worrying defensive flaws against a team that is quite far from being a challenger in this competition.

11. Zenit Saint Petersburg

They were overplayed for the most part of the game but, finally, Zenit’s individual talent won them a match. It was probably the most impressive result of the first matchday.

12. Valencia

Valencia didn’t play poorly or anything but losing at home against a fellow candidate is never good. Fortunately for them, Lyon looked quite poor in their opening match so the Naranjeros are still on a good position to qualify to the second round.

13. Roma

I have been greatly impressed by Roma in the last couple of weeks and a strong performance against the best team in the world left even a stronger impression. They will be hard to beat this season.

14. Porto

They were just seconds away from winning in difficult Kiev and their new signings looked to have gelled quite well. They might very well have another strong European showing as they usually do.

15. Manchester City

Seriously, what the hell? Yeah, Juventus are hard, but we’re talking about the most in-form club in England, playing at home, with a lot to prove. It turned out that it was same-old Man City. Such a pity.

16. PSV Eindhoven

I was greatly surprised by their victory against Man U, and a merited one it was. The reason why they are not higher in the ranking is because I don’t see enough talent in the squad to challenge for anything else than a second round spot.

17. Lyon

Drawing at Gent was an atrocious result for the French runners-up. With Valencia losing at home to Zenit, it was a magnificent chance for Lyon to kept the favorites of the group at a distance and they failed to do so.

18. Benfica

A good start for the Portuguese champions, but stronger challenges await. I place them lower than Porto because their main rivals have done better in Europe for the last decade or so.

19. Bayer Leverkusen

Great performance, especially in the second half, but BATE are probably the worst team in the competition. Let’s wait and see in the next games.

20. Wolfsburg

They are, for me, the second best German team in the competition and getting off to a good start is always important. But they need to improve, especially after PSV defeated Man U in the other game of the group.

21. Dynamo Kiev

They were second best to a solid Porto side, but managed to rescue a point from their first game. Still, the future doesn’t look to promising in that group.

22. CSKA

They played decently in a hard venue against a hard team, but still look very much as fourth best in a very difficult group.

23. Borussia Moenchengladbach

There’s no shame on being demolished by a brilliant Sevilla side, the problem is that the other teams in that group look as hard, if not harder than the Spaniards.

24. Galatasaray

There was a time in which teams trembled to set foot in the Bosphorus fortress. Not anymore really, Atlético were never in danger.

25. Gent

Amazing result for the newcomers. Belgian football has improved a lot and Gent will be competitive in all their matches this season.

26. Dinamo Zagreb

I had them rated as the second worst team of the competition and beating Arsenal must be considered as their greatest result in the last ten years. Still, there is a definite lack of talent in this team.

27. Shakhtar Donetsk

It’s a shame what the war has made to a team that challenged every year and managed to get into the knockout rounds. This Shakhtar are a shadow of their former selves.

28. Malmö

They needed many last-second goals to get into the Group Phase of the Champions League but luck can only take you somewhere. They were solid against PSG though.

29. Olympiakos

Read what I wrote against Galatasaray and make it worse. Olympiakos were atrocious against Bayern at home.

30. Astana

Not so bad for the newcomers. They might even spring a surprise at home when they play against Galatasaray.

31. Maccabi

There’s clearly not enough talent to challenge a team like Chelsea, even if they are not going through their best moment.

32. BATE Borisov

For one half, it seemed they would spring a big surprise. Then things went back to normal for the Belarussian champions.