Although we are quite some time from 2018 UEFA Champions League Final, it’s never too early for a good old-fashioned power ranking. Through two Group Stage rounds with four to go, here are the five teams that you can’t afford to miss for the rest of the way.
We’re almost at the halfway mark of the Group Stage of the UEFA Champions League, and as always, it’s been a thrilling ride. We’ve seen our fair share of surprises — Chelsea’s game-winning goal against Atletico Madrid in the fourth minute of stoppage time — and disappointments — Borussia Dortmund’s 0-2 start.
Along with BVB, things haven’t been going well for fellow Bundesliga club Bayern Munich, as it was announced that captain Manuel Neuer will miss the rest of 2017 with a broken foot. However, we aren’t here to dwell on the negative, because that never gets us anywhere. Instead, here are the five best teams (so far) from the opening rounds of the Champions League Group Stage.
While the Portuguese club is sometimes overlooked in favor of other top teams, that isn’t the case this year. Porto currently sits atop the Primeira Liga, and it has scored 19 goals in its first eight matches, going 7-1 in that span.
Porto’s Group Stage got off to a rocky start with a 3-1 loss to Turkish club Besiktas, but the Dragões redeemed themselves with a 3-0 victory over Monaco. Led by Cameroonian striker Vincent Aboubakar, Porto’s relentless attacking front is the club’s strength.
Porto will next take on German club RB Leipzig in its next fixture.
After a disastrous 2015-16 season in which it didn’t even qualify for the Europa League, Chelsea bounced back the following season to win the Premier League and earn itself a spot in the Champions League once again. It seems as if The Blues haven’t missed a beat, and have gotten off to a hot start in both the Premier and Champions League play.
Chelsea has proved that it is one of the elite attacking teams in the world, even with the recent departure of Diego Costa to Atletico Madrid. Costa was in attendance for Chelsea’s comeback victory against Atletico in stoppage time, and understandably wasn’t pleased with the results (peep 0:51 in the above video). To make things even more sour for Costa, his replacement, Alvaro Morata, scored the game-winning goal.
However, it will be a difficult road ahead for Chelsea, as Morata will miss the next two months with a hamstring injury. In addition, its next match will come against Roma, which will provide yet another tough test for the English giant.
3. Manchester United
Another EPL mega-squad that failed to qualify for Champions League last year, Manchester United is back and poised to make a run for its fourth ever Champions League title. Though they may have an easier group than others, you can’t doubt the level at which the Red Devils have been playing, as well as the talent that’s on the roster.
Lukaku, Fellaini and Pogba have created an energy that is different than any other team — and they are still awaiting the return of the all-mighty Ibrahimovic. We’ll see if Man U can keep up its hot start and make a return to the promised land.
2. Paris Saint-Germain
The team everyone has been talking about is finally in action. Yes, the insane Neymar transfer is absolutely working, and now it’s time for the PSG takeover.
With Mbappe and Cavani to go along with Neymar up top, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better attacking trio elsewhere in the world. Though there have been incidents where Neymar has clashed with his teammates, it appears they have hit full stride, and cruised to an easy 3-0 victory over Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich in its most recent match.
Showing no signs of slowing down, PSG will be a nightmare for any team it goes up against, no matter how big or small.
1. Real Madrid
The back-to-back defending champions, Real Madrid has embraced the target on its back with two strong performances against APOEL and Borussia Dortmund. Although their offense has struggled in La Liga play, scoring just six goals in seven games, Los Blancos have matched that goal total in their two Champions League matches.
The combination of Ronaldo, Bale, and Benzema in the attacking front, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo in the back line, and a solid passing percentage — 85 percent through two games — has proven to be unstoppable. Madrid may be on its way to its third straight Champions League title if it keeps this play up. Its next match will be against the EPL’s Tottenham Hotspur.