After the first leg of the Champions League round of 16, it is time for the next update of The Sportsman’s Football Power Rankings, a monthly series where we crown the best team in the world at this current moment in time. Who will be number one?
20) Arsenal (-6)
The Gunners are putting serious pressure on the top four now, but they are not competing in Europe and they are out of both cup competitions, which sees them drop in these standings.
19) West Ham United (-8)
It’s been a drop off in form over the last month but sixth placed Hammers are also the only English representatives left in the Europa League having won their group, and as a result went straight into the last 16. The Hammers have smashed it in Europe, and even though there were concerns over their domestic hopes in pre-season, as things stand they are in contention to finish in the top four.
18) Napoli (-3)
Napoli are well in the Serie A title race, currently sitting in third place two points off top at the time of writing, but their dismal Europa League defeat to Barcelona sees them slip in the rankings.
17) Barcelona (New Entry)
Hello again old friends. Xavi Hernandez’s introduction has seen Barcelona fight their way back into the top four, and new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has got off to a goalscoring start. Things are being rebuilt at the Nou Camp, slowly, but surely. Champions League football next season would be a triumph, while a Europa League thrashing of Napoli caught the eye.
16) Atlético Madrid (-)
Atleti are now fifth in the league and facing a real battle to finish in the top four, while a 1-1 draw at home to Manchester United doesn’t look like being good enough to see them progress in the Champions League. Diego Simeone has proved us wrong in the past however.
15) Benfica (+1)
Benfica went toe to toe with Ajax in an enthralling Champions League 2-2 draw, and although they have a huge task on their hands to progress, they have shown they can hurt the opposition. They are now 12 points off the pace domestically, but could achieve a European shock in Amsterdam.
14) AC Milan (-1)
AC Milan are well in this title race, battling with their city rivals for the Serie A crown. At the time of writing they are top by one point and their lack of European commitments could make all the difference in the run-in.
13) Sevilla (+2)
Sevilla’s season has been mightily impressive this term and although they sit six points behind league leaders Real Madrid, they are still in contention for the title and have progressed into the last 16 of the Europa League.
12) Porto (New Entry)
Unbeaten domestically? Check. Six points clear at the top of the league? Check. Porto have been simply sensational this season, having won 20 of the 23 league matches and have even come through a tricky Europa League tite with Lazio. They have been simply superb and are thoroughly deserving of their rise.
11) RB Salzburg (New Entry)
Salzburg are flying domestically and boast a 17 point lead at the top of the Austrian Bundesliga, having lost just once all season. But they have also climbed in this list due to their performance in a 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich, which has given them a slim chance of progressing in the Champions League.
10) Manchester United (+8)
United’s season is looking up, even if it doesn’t quite feel like it in terms of performances. As things stand, they now sit in the top four and are in a great position to make it into the Champions League last eight after a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid in the Spanish capital. Anthony Elanga has probably lifted them two or three places in this list on his own.
9) Juventus (+2)
Juventus have slowly recovered from their nightmare start to the season and although they will not win the league title, they are now back in the top four and looking good for Champions League qualification. Meanwhile their Champions League campaign is still going strong and a 1-1 draw at Villarreal has put them in pole position to make the last eight for the first time in three years.
8) Inter Milan (-4)
It’s not been the perfect month for Inter as they lost their grip on the lead in Serie A due to poor form, with AC Milan occupying top spot. Inter boast a game in hand and could return to the summit if they beat Genoa on Friday night, but European success now looks unlikely, given they lost 2-0 at home to Liverpool at the San Siro.
7) Chelsea (-1)
The current European champions are now out of the Premier League title race, but they have a League Cup final this weekend and are surely through to the last eight of the Champions League after a 2-0 home success against Lille.
6) Ajax (+2)
Ajax drew the first leg of their Champions League tie with Benfica 2-2 after going six from six in their Champions League group and will be confident of progressing. But domestically they have surged clear of their rivals in the last month with seven consecutive wins, giving them a five point lead at the top of the Eredivisie. Things are looking good for Ajax.
5) Real Madrid (-)
Real Madrid’s lead at the top of La Liga has grown to six points and barring a disaster they will become champions of Spain, which will mark a successful season for Carlo Ancelotti. In Europe, they are still well in their tie with PSG after a resolute defensive display was spoiled in the finals seconds by transfer target Kylian Mbappe, but they will still feel confident of progressing.
4) Paris Saint-Germain (+4)
PSG have struggled outside of the top five in our standings so far but a 1-0 win over Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League tie, combined with a 13 point lead in Ligue 1 has boosted them up our standings. Beware though, a Champions League defeat in the second leg will see them tumble. It’s all about Europe for Paris.
3) Bayern Munich (-1)
Bayern’s lead at the top of the Bundesliga is now six points and although they haven’t been at their scinitllating best, they should win the league and progress in Europe after a 1-1 draw against RB Salzburg. They are third favourites for the Champions League behind Manchester City and Liverpool with Betfred, and romped their group with six wins from six, scoring 22 and conceding just three in the process. Looking good for Bayern.
2) Liverpool (+1)
Jurgen Klopp’s side have dragged themselves back into a title race that looked dead and buried with a whole host of elite performances in the league, while a clinical 2-0 win at the San Siro looks like sending them into the Champions League quarter-finals.
1) Manchester City (-)
Manchester City hold onto top spot due to their imperious Champions League thrashing of Sporting, which sees them into the last eight, but Liverpool are hunting them down in the Premier League. We have a title race on our hands, even if Betfred already paid out on Pep Guardiola’s men lifting the title.