The Champions League is back!
Well, the draw for Europe’s elite competition is here anyway.
Tuesday and Wednesday saw the final qualifiers take place and we now know the 32 clubs that will do battle for the right to be in Saint Petersburg on 28 May 2022.
This season’s edition looks set to be an incredible one.
With Sergio Ramos and Lionel Messi moving to Paris Saint-Germain this summer, the French club will be amongst the favourites. Chelsea will be looking to retain their trophy, while Manchester City are still looking for their first ever triumph.
Ahead of Thursday’s draw, the finalised pots are as follows:
Quiz: Can you name the footballer based on their Wikipedia page?
Red Bull Salzburg
Zenit St Petersburg
One club from each pot will make up each group with sides from the same nation exempt from facing each other.
But ahead of the draw, we’ve decided to rank all 32 clubs because… well, why not?
Using Tiermaker, we’ve ranked every club from ‘favourites’ to ‘making up the numbers’.
So, without further ado, let’s check out our rankings:
Making up the numbers
We’re sorry, guys, but you’re simply making up the numbers.
We should mention that Sheriff Tiraspol deserve credit for becoming the first ever Moldovan to qualify for the Champions League proper after they beat Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 on aggregate.
But these five clubs appear to be the weakest in the draw and are all placed in Pot 4 meaning they face a tough task to qualify.
Out in the group
Red Bull Salzburg
There are some big names predicted to crash out in the group stages this season. The nature of the Champions League means that half of the competitors will fail to progress to the last-16 and we predict it’ll be these 11 clubs, along with the five that are ‘making up the numbers’.
AC Milan are the biggest club placed in Pot 4 and will likely be in the ‘Group of Death’ as a result.
However, both Sporting Lisbon and Lille won their domestic leagues and find themselves in Pot 1. As a result, they will avoid the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Bayern Munich meaning they could well be handed a slightly easier draw.
We reckon these clubs will progress through the group but elimination in the last-16 or quarter-finals is likely.
All of them are capable of springing a surprise and have plenty of European history between them.
Perhaps the most likely to go the furthest from this group are La Liga title winners, Atletico Madrid, who will be in Pot 1. Also in Pot 1 are Villarreal and Inter Milan while Atalanta and RB Leipzig have the difficult task of being in Pot 3.
Just look at the pedigree of these four clubs.
Between them, the four clubs have won the European Cup 23 times - although that’s mainly thanks to Real Madrid’s 13 titles.
However, it’s fair to say these four clubs aren’t quite as strong as they have been historically and it would be a bit of shock of any of them lifted the trophy come next May.
That said, they should all be looking towards the quarter-finals of the competition.
Real Madrid will be bumped up a category or two if they manage to land Kylian Mbappe this summer…
Could win it
Just Liverpool in this category because we feel they have more chance than the four clubs mentioned in the ‘outside chance’ category but they’re slightly lacking when it comes to discussing the chances of four other clubs. Could they make it No.7 in Russia this season? You wouldn’t bet against it.
These three clubs will be eyeing up the Champions League this season. Last season’s finalists, Chelsea and Manchester City will want to reach the showpiece event once again. Meanwhile, Bayern Munich don’t appear any weaker this season.
Despite never winning the competition, we can’t look past PSG as favourites for the Champions League this season. As things stand, they have a front-three of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi which is, quite frankly, ridiculous.
Of course, a lot depends on whether Mbappe remains at the club but, if he does, they’ll be capable of beating anyone.
So, after their incredible summer, we’re backing PSG to finally win a European trophy. However, a lot will depend on whether they’re able to keep hold of Mbappe - and whether they can keep him happy!
If not, there are plenty of strong clubs willing to take advantage of the traditional PSG bottle job.
Either way, we can’t wait for it all to kick off next month!News Now - Sport News