Soccer Power Rankings: Manchester City back in first; Liverpool-Bayern ranks as best UCL matchup
City is flying high and just got Kevin de Bruyne back, while Liverpool continues to rise
The, but fans have to wait until February to actually see the matches. Still, it's not too early to look at how entertaining these games could be. There are several even battles and some that have a clear favorite, but there will be no shortage of excitement when the games start on Feb. 12. So about two months away from the games, here's how we rank the eight ties that were announced on Monday:
8. Porto vs. Roma
This could still be a fun one, and really either team could win, but it's the least attractive of all of the matchups. Neither is a true contender to win the cup, and the winner is probably done in the next round. We could see lots of goals over the two legs, but don't expect either to be standing in the competition for long.
7. Manchester City vs. Schalke
On paper, it should be a cake walk for City. But it will be fun to see young American midfielder Weston McKennie potentially facing guys like David Silva. Quite a test, one that Schalke isn't expected to pass. But if they do, it will be one of the bigger upsets in recent years.
6. Real Madrid vs. Ajax
Two of the bigger names in European soccer, this will also give Real Madrid the opportunity to scout Ajax's top young talent up close. Frenkie De Jong could be the next great Dutch star, but this isn't the Real Madrid of recent years. Watch out for Ajax here, as the club gave Bayern Munich a run for its money and can knock off Santiago Solari's team.
5. Barcelona vs. Lyon
On paper, a one-sided game. But to see Lionel Messi go up against talented players like Nabil Fekir and Memphis Depay, it could be an attacking spectacle. Lyon's defense doesn't have quite the quality needed to win this, but the injuries Barcelona is facing keeps the potential upset alive. This just feels like a game that could be over after the first leg in France.
4. PSG vs. Manchester United
A tasty game when it comes to the clubs, but bwe must remember that this Manchester United team is closer to relegation in the Premier League than it is to first-place Liverpool when it comes to points. The central defense is so poor and out of sync, and having to face Neymar and Kylian Mbappe could cause permanent scars.
3. Borussia Dortmund vs. Tottenham
These two were in the same group last season, and Spurs won both. But both sides are improved, and Dortmund finally has some attacking consistency at the striker position in Paco Alcacer. Tottenham could have had a worse draw, so they'll take this one knowing they can fully advance and potentially make a deep run in the competition.
2. Juventus vs. Atletico Madrid
This one you could put in first if you wanted to. There are so many story lines, but not bigger than Cristiano Ronaldo taking on a team he terrorized for nearly a decade when he was at Real Madrid. Ronaldo and Real beat Atleti in two Champions League finals, and the last thing the Colchoneros want to see is Ronaldo on the opposing team ... again.
1. Bayern Munich vs. Liverpool
Two legendary clubs with a ton of attacking talent. Bayern may be the group winner, but Liverpool is the slight favorite due to the improved defense and the struggling defense of Bayern. There is a chance we could see a ton of goals over the two legs, and whoever wins this one will solidify themselves as a legit contender. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino against Robert Lewandowski, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben? Yes, please. Thomas Muller will miss the first leg due to suspension, as will Virgil Van Dijk.
The Champions League knockout stages will air on fuboTV (Try for free).
How the rankings work
We list the top 25 teams in the world based on recent form. The teams playing the best soccer -- in their respective leagues and in international competitions -- will be considered. Quality of the opponents will also be taken into an account, but above all, the most important factors are recent results and overall standings in competitions.
Note: With competitions like Liga MX having just concluded, in addition to the Brazilian League and Copa Libertadores in recent weeks, this is the last edition with teams in those competitions until they start back up in 2019.
World Club Soccer Power Rankings
Manchester City (ENG)
|This team has looked good as of late, and it just got Kevin De Bruyne back. Scary to think of how great this team can be come the end of the season.|
|-1||Fans better hope that loss to Young Boys was just a slip up. Really tough UCL draw against Atletico Madrid, but Cristiano Ronaldo knows how to beat them.|
|+1||Jurgen Klopp's team is still in first place in the Premier League and Fabinho is starting to deliver. Sky is the limit.|
|-1||Did well to win its group, but until they reach the semifinals, they'll still be questioned as to whether or not they can actually win the Champions League.|
|--||Lionel Messi has been magical as usual. It's hard to think, but with City and Liverpool making so much noise, Barcelona doesn't quite feel like a top-tier contender in UCL as usual. This team is better than in recent years.|
|Paco Alcacer continues to kill it and the team has a comfortable lead in Bundesliga. Unlikely a true contender in UCL though.|
|Just as we all thought -- the unbeaten streak would come to an end against ... Southampton?|
|At some point the lack of quality at the striker position is going to catch up with them, right? Meanwhile, Eden Hazard continues to shine.|
|What a week for Spurs. Turning the corner perhaps, but consistency at the back will be needed to contend in any competition.|
Atletico Madrid (ESP)
|There goes Atleti, quietly beating most teams it faces and hardly getting any praise. Tough, electric and the definition of team, Atletico will give Juventus a run for their money.|
|Unlucky not to get a point at Liverpool, and they'll have nightmares of Alisson for the rest of the season. But now they can focus on trying to catch Juve in Serie A. |
Bayern Munich (GER)
|Still nine points back of Dortmund in the Bundesliga, but this team is hardly out of it. The defensive issues are still there. At some point, do they bench Manuel Neuer?|
Inter Milan (ITA)
|What a choke job against PSV. As has been the story since Jose Mourinho left, just not good enough.|
|Champions of Liga MX and well deserved. Not conceding a goal in 180 minutes will do it. What a way to end the season against a defensive club like Cruz Azul.|
|This team deserves a lot of credit for running through the Champions League group stage. Moussa Marega has been fantastic up top.|
|Not quite the Ajax of the 90s, but it's good for the sport when the club is alive on the European stage. This team has a real shot to beat Real Madrid.|
|A Champions League dark horse led by Nabil Fekir. With Memphis Depay also in attack, this team is no pushover.|
|Seventeen goals allowed in 18 games has been key to sitting in second place in Ligue 1. But can they keep it up? Light schedule coming up with a real chance to solidify themselves in that spot.|
|The Italian club will be excited to be into the round of 16, but that loss to Viktoria Plzen is hard to explain. Win over Genoa shows that they can be good in attack and horrific at the back.|
|Being out of European competition just means they'll likely be able to have the Eredivisie wrapped up sooner. But they need to be wary of Ajax.|
Cruz Azul (MEX)
|So good at the back, so absolutely terrible in attack. It's a miracle they even made the final. One shot on goal in 180 minutes will never cut it.|
|Ever Banega continues to shine, but Pablo Sarabia's six goals and six assists in La Liga have been key. Once again a contender in Europa League.|
Manchester United (ENG)
|Here by default as a part of the Champions League knockout stage. Everything has to go perfectly for the Red Devils to beat PSG. Don't count on it.|
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Real Madrid (ESP)
|Crazy to think that Real Madrid and Manchester United are both perhaps underdogs in the round of 16. They both lack the star in attack that they need. Mariano isn't Ronaldo.|
|Seeing Weston McKennie in the UCL knockout stage will be fun, but this team has to focus on Bundesliga. Three points above the drop zone is alarming.|
Biggest movers: Porto (POR), Ajax (NED), Lyon (FRA)
Out of top 25: River Plate (ARG), Boca Juniors (ARG), Palmeiras (BRA), Atlanta United (USA), Racing (ARG)
Honorable mentions: Real Betis (ESP) and Borussia M'gladbach (GER)
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