Squad depth is the key to success in all forms of football, especially in Europe’s top competitions.
If you want to thrive both domestically and continentally, a strong squad is simply a must and Bayern highlighted that perfectly in 2019/20.
The German champions’ squad was littered with world-class talent last season and as such, Hansi Flick’s side were able to win the treble.
Bayern have since added to their star-studded team over the summer and it got us here at GIVEMESPORT thinking; how do the best sides in Europe rank in terms of squad depth?
Well, look no further football fans. Using UEFA’s club coefficient rankings, we’ve provided individual graphics to highlight each of the top 16 clubs’ squad depth and then ranked them in order.
To make things fair, we have selected just one player as a back-up in each position – so 22 players in total – and we haven’t taken injuries into account, so the likes of Virgil van Dijk still feature.
Given that we’ve only picked two players per position, some big(ish) names do miss out.
But enough with the boring stuff, let’s find out how the 16 teams rank…
16. Shakhtar Donetsk
After their miraculous victory over Real Madrid with a depleted squad on Wednesday night, it wasn’t easy ranking the Ukrainian side 16th. However, despite being last here, Europe’s elite will still be scouting a number of Shakhtar’s up and coming stars, especially Tete after his virtuoso display against Los Blancos.
Had Lyon lost Houssem Aouar and Memphis Depay this summer, they would be comfortably rock-bottom of this list. But they kept ahold of both, so their squad still looks relatively strong – although Rudi Garcia’s side have struggled at the start of the 2020/21 season.
The signings of Thomas Partey, Gabriel Magalhaes and Willian have improved Arsenal‘s squad, but on paper this isn’t a collection of players capable of mixing it with the very best in Europe just yet. Although in a few years time – and with a couple more big signings – Mikel Arteta’s side may have what it takes to challenge the elite.
13. Borussia Dortmund
Up front and in midfield, Dortmund really are blessed with superstar quality in Erling Haalad, Jadon Sancho, Axel Witsel and more, but their squad is seriously top heavy and that’s why they’re only 13th here. The fact Thomas Delaney, Emre Can and Marcel Schmelzer have had to be used as back-up options at centre-back says it all really.
It seems harsh ranking a team that features Cristiano Ronaldo 12th out of 16, but Juve’s squad just really isn’t the scary prospect it once was. A combination of ageing players and raw young talent means Juve’s current squad lacks the X-factor of yesteryear, which could see the Bianconeri finally surrender their Serie A crown in 2020/21.
11. Atletico Madrid
Atletico’s squad is not the force it once was, despite the signing of Luis Suarez to partner Joao Felix up top. The first-choice midfield is strong, but the back-up players are less so and the defensive options available – aside from the brilliant Jan Oblak – are not quite good enough to take Atletico into the top 10.
The Europa League champions are comfortably the third best team in Spain right now ahead of Atletico and it’s no surprise when you glance over their squad. It’s hard to find a fault with Sevilla’s team and they look primed to take both La Liga and the Champions League by storm this season.
Chelsea spent big this summer and their squad does look pretty strong now, but it still feels like there’s something missing. We’ve had to use Mason Mount as cover for two positions in attack, which suggests Frank Lampard’s side may struggle if injuries take their toll on the squad.
8. Paris Saint-Germain
Despite having the two most expensive footballers of all time leading their attack, PSG’s squad is far from the greatest. Fortunately for the French champions, they do have both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in their ranks, hence why they sit above Dortmund, Atletico, Sevilla and Chelsea.
7. Manchester United
Prior to the signings of Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani, we’d have had Chelsea just ahead of United. But the addition of the South American duo has certainly strengthened the Red Devils’ squad, as has both the return of Axel Tuazebe to first-team duties and the signing of Donny van de Beek.
The acquisitions of Matt Doherty, Sergio Reguilon, Gareth Bale and Carlos Vinicius have given Jose Mourinho’s side some world-class depth. There’s quality cover in all 11 positions, which is why Spurs just edge ahead of Manchester United and Chelsea. Surely they can’t go full ‘Spursy’ this season, right?
Barcelona‘s squad has a nice blend of experience and exciting young talent, but it’s a far cry from those that dominated Europe in the 2010s. However, it’s still good enough for a fifth-place finish here, mainly down to the awesome firepower of Ronald Koeman’s attack – led by the legendary Lionel Messi.
4. Real Madrid
Real Madrid have endured a tricky start to the 2020/21 season but on paper, their squad depth is immense. There’s a reason why Los Blancos won La Liga last season and this time around, they have Norwegian prodigy Martin Odegaard as an option in midfield as well.
3. Manchester City
Just look at the options City have available to them in the four attacking roles, ridiculous. The only reason why Pep Guardiola’s side miss out on the top two is their noticeable lack of depth in midfield, Fernandinho having to cover for both Gundogan and Rodri. De Bruyne and Foden will likely have to operate as one of the deeper midfielders at times this season.
The signings of Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota have added an extra edge to Jurgen Klopp’s star-studded squad. Yes, the loss of Van Dijk is huge, but with exciting youngster Rhys Williams and Fabinho as cover, the Reds are still going to be an enormous threat in all competitions this season.
1. Bayern Munich
There’s a reason Bayern are European champions and their squad is even stronger for 2020/21. Leroy Sane, Marc Roca, Douglas Costa, Tanguy Nianzou and Bouna Sarr were all brought in, softening the blow of losing Thiago to Liverpool. It’s going to take something special to stop the German giants in 2020/21.
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