UCL Round of 16 Power Rankings

Read the power rankings for the teams in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16!

Reading Time: 11 minutes

This is The Spectator’s power ranking of all the teams left in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) Round of 16. At the time of writing, 16 teams are left, with the second leg still to be played. All opinions, statistics, and ideas are as of March 6, 2023.

16. Eintracht Frankfurt

Key Player: Randal Kolo Muani

Currently sitting sixth in the Bundesliga, Frankfurt had arguably the toughest matchup against one of the most in-form teams in Europe. The turbulent start to the new year for the German side was about to present its most difficult challenge, the Italian giant Napoli. The first leg did not go as planned for Frankfurt, with Napoli dominating virtually every aspect of the game. A two-goal deficit coming out of the first leg and a red card for star forward Kolo Muani make the second leg look like an impossible mountain to climb for Frankfurt.

15. Club Brugge

Key Player: Hans Vanaken

Club Brugge made history this year, qualifying for the knockout rounds for the first time in their history, and becoming only the third Belgian side to do so. In the league, they are falling below standards, seeing as they have won the league in the past three seasons but so far are only managing fourth place. The team’s key player is clearly Hans Vanaken, as he’s brought in a whopping six Man of the Match performances for the Blauw-Zwart. Vanaken has dominated the midfield for some time now and is contributing going forward, as well, tallying nine goals and four assists in the league. Disappointingly, Club Brugge lost the first leg 2-0 at home against Benfica, making a trip to the quarter-finals unlikely. At the end of the day, Club Brugge will look back at one thing––qualifying for the knockout stage for the first time in the club’s history.

14. Liverpool

Key Player: Mohamed Salah

A rematch of last year’s final against two mammoths of the soccer world in Real Madrid and Liverpool promised to be a thrilling encounter, and it certainly did not disappoint. What has been a rough season in the Premier League filled with embarrassing losses only got worse with the humiliating 5-2 loss to Madrid in the first leg. However, a resurgence could be right around the corner for the English side, especially given its statement 7-0 victory over rival Manchester United. Superstar Mohamed Salah netted two goals himself in that fixture, becoming Liverpool’s all-time top scorer. Now, it’ll be up to The Reds to find a miracle scoreline away from home at the Bernabeu to keep their European dreams alive.

13. Chelsea 

Key Player: Enzo Fernández

If there was a team that didn’t deserve a key player, it would be Chelsea. Its performances in all competitions have been woeful since the new year, winning a mere two games. Additionally, they lost the first leg to Borussia Dortmund 1-0, making it all the more difficult to see progress. While Chelsea are a world-class club that won the UCL two years ago, they are a shadow of their former self. They have changed managers and ownership, and there hasn’t been a steady hand to steer the ship. January-signing Enzo Fernández is going to be heavily called upon in the second leg, as he is the lone bright spot on this team. He shined at the World Cup and will be looking to carry this struggling team to the quarter-finals. If Chelsea somehow manages to recapture their form and morale, then they are up for a fight against Dortmund. Otherwise, it seems like the end of the road for this Chelsea team in what has been a disappointing season.

12. Porto 

Key Player: Mehdi Taremi

The clash between the second-placed teams in both the Portuguese and the Italian leagues promised to be an exciting fixture. However, the first leg ended far from ideal for Porto when a 78th-minute red card to key midfielder Otávio was followed by a late winner from Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku. Porto’s star player, striker Mehdi Taremi, who has recorded most goals and assists for the Portuguese side this season, struggled to make an impact against a resilient Inter defense. Now, it’s crucial for this Porto team to dig deep and find a comeback in front of its home fans in the second leg, a challenging yet not impossible task.

11. Red Bull Leipzig

Key Player: Joško Gvardiol

In a strong season for Leipzig, they were unfortunate enough to be drawn against the champions of England in Manchester City. Leipzig is currently in the race for the Bundesliga title and managed to come back from behind to earn a 1-1 draw against City. Joško Gvardiol, the goal scorer in the first leg, is recognized as one of the best center-backs and talents in the world. He is the highest-valued center-back in the world, at €75 million, and is already in many transfer rumors. Looking at the present, Gvardiol is a rock at the back and is going to look to replicate his performance from the first leg against City’s Erling Haaland.

10. Inter Milan

Key Player: Lautaro Martínez

The Serie A title might be out of hand for Inter Milan as a near-impossible 15-point chase lies ahead of it before catching league leader Napoli. However, its performances on the European stage can turn out much differently. A close 1-0 win in the first leg over Porto, courtesy of a Lukaku strike, means that all eyes now look towards the rematch away from home at the Estádio do Dragão. Forward Lautaro Martinez has been the standout player for this season with 13 goals, sitting as the second-highest scorer in the Serie A, and will aim to play a more crucial role in the reverse fixture.

9. Tottenham Hotspur

Key Player: Harry Kane

In a rocky season for the Lillywhites, they find themselves trailing by one goal going into the second leg, a result that gives fans hope. Talisman Harry Kane leads the team with 20 goals, but he will need help from other players if Tottenham is to progress. Kane is yet to win a major title in his career full of illustrious records, and the Spurs have been searching for a trophy for 15 years, a fact that all rival fans remind them of. One reason behind their poor performances is the decline of forward Son Heung-min. Just a season ago, he won the Premier League Golden Boot, but now he looks like a shadow of his former self, with only nine goals in 37 appearances. Manager Antonio Conte’s tactical usage of Son has come under fire, but even so, Son needs to find his form––and fast. Tottenham has the experience and is looking to make another deep UCL run, but they will have to beat A.C. Milan first.

8. A.C. Milan

Key Player: Rafael Leão

Currently sitting fourth in the Serie A, defending Italian champions A.C. Milan could be having a better domestic season. However, Milan’s combination of valued experience and youthful energy adds a dynamic aspect to its squad that few other teams in Europe share. The presence of veterans such as Zlatan Ibrahimović and Olivier Giroud has guided the development of the talented next generation in Rafael Leão, Milan’s top scorer and assist provider this season. Despite a quiet performance from Leão, midfielder Brahim Díaz stepped up to secure a 1-0 win in the first leg, and Milan will now aim to close the tie away from home at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

7. Paris Saint-Germain

Key Player: Kylian Mbappé

In the city of lights, there’s always one that shines brightest––Kylian Mbappé. He amazes on the biggest stages, already having lifted a World Cup and broken numerous goalscoring records at the youthful age of 24. Though not coming away with a goal, Mbappé had numerous chances and wreaked havoc on the Bayern’s defense, all while carrying an injury. Alongside him at Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) are superstars Lionel Messi and Neymar, both needing no further introduction. The only reason why PSG aren’t at the top of the ranking is their woeful performance against Bayern Munich in the first leg, losing 1-0 at home. While Mbappé’s return to fitness is a relief, the rest of the team has been below par. The remaining players have lacked consistency and can’t create goals for themselves. Adding to the challenge, the Parisians know Neymar’s season is over and will be missing him dearly. If PSG wins in Bavaria, teams will be praying they don’t get drawn against PSG’s deadly attack.

6. Borussia Dortmund

Key Player: Karim Adeyemi

Currently second in the Bundesliga and level on points with league leader Bayern Munich, Dortmund was aiming to get the job done against an off-form Chelsea side. That is exactly how the evening went for the German side. Despite managing fewer shots on target and enjoying less possession of the ball, Dortmund held back its uninspiring opposition. The breakthrough goal came in the form of a brilliant solo counterattack run when youngster Karim Adeyemi ran the ball from a defensive clearance all the way to the Chelsea net and found a tidy finish around the keeper. Now, Dortmund will aim to use their one-goal advantage to see the second leg out at Stamford Bridge.

5. Benfica

Key Player: Gonçalo Ramos

While it may be a shock to many, Benfica has been tearing up the competition, both domestically and across Europe. Leading the league by eight points and having only lost one game, Benfica seems to be showing signs of a true competitor. While lacking a superstar after the departures of Enzo Fernández and Darwin Núñez, they have made up for it with rising sensation Gonçalo Ramos. He has hit his stride in the league and in the World Cup, but only has one goal to his name in the UCL. Looking past players, Benfica has been ranked highly due to their strong results in the competition thus far. It came out of arguably the hardest group as undefeated winners and handily put aside Club Brugge 2-0 in the first leg. If Benfica can get the job done in the second leg, there’s no reason why they can’t go further and win it all.

4. Manchester City

Key Player: Erling Haaland

With the summer transfer of Erling Haaland, many believed that City was the favorite coming into this year’s edition of the UCL. While Haaland’s play has been out-of-this-world at times, notching 39 goals in 38 games, he has been unable to link up City’s play and stay consistent in his form against top teams. He heavily relies on midfielder Kevin De Bruyne for service, and when De Bruyne is not delivering, Haaland isn’t either. Additionally, City’s poor history in the competition is not reassuring, as they have never won, even though they’ve spent £818.5 million on players in the last five years alone. Though these players have been largely successful, they have not been enough to push them over the top. Manager Pep Guardiola has won the trophy twice with Barcelona, but is yet to replicate that success in Manchester. Needing a win at home against Leipzig, they have the best squad and best manager to win it all.

3. Bayern Munich

Key Player: Jamal Musiala

In what many considered to be the biggest showdown of the round of 16, Bayern faced a difficult matchup in the form of French giant PSG. On paper, PSG was considered the heavy favorite, boasting an exquisite front line of Mbappé, Messi, and Neymar. While some teams may accept their bad luck in drawing such heavy opposition, Bayern rose to the challenge exceptionally well. Dominating possession, creating more offensive opportunities, and recording more shots on target, the German side even managed to contain an electrifying Mbappé display off the bench. Rising star Jamal Musiala put on a show for the fans, proving himself as Bayern’s future with an impressive 24 goal contributions this season. Despite a rocky run of results in the league, Bayern has proven its desire for European silverware this season and will now aim to repeat this same display during the second leg.

2. Napoli

Key Player: Victor Osimhen

Closing in on their first Scudetto since the days of the legendary midfielder Diego Maradona, Napoli is arguably the best team in Europe right now. Sitting at the top of the Serie A with a lead of 17 points, the Italian side has won nine games out of their 11 since the turn of the year, including a seven-game winning streak. The well-rounded squad boasts many world class players, including breakthrough defender Kim Min-jae and skillful midfielder Piotr Zieliński. The team’s success can be mainly attributed to the dynamic duo of Georgian left-winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen. With both players hitting scintillating forms recently, Kvaratskhelia has notched 19 goal contributions in just 21 games this season, while Osimhen is the league’s top scorer with 19 goals, scoring eight in his last seven games. Its comfortable 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg was another routine display from the Italian side, as Napoli has become one of the favorites to win the entire tournament.

1. Real Madrid

Key Player: Vinicius Junior

Real Madrid has everything it takes to become back-to-back winners: years of experience, strong results, and passionate fans. The biggest factor may be the many key veterans in its squad, with 10 of the 11 starters from last year’s UCL final returning. Though the loss of Casemiro broke up one of the greatest midfield trios to ever play the game, ready-made players were able to step up, namely summer signing Aurélien Tchouaméni and compatriot Eduardo Camavinga. Star winger Vinicius Junior was seen as a future talent for some time and is now one of the best wingers in the world, lighting up stadiums across Europe with his Brazilian flair. He has six goals and two assists in seven UCL appearances, key to Madrid’s success thus far. Midfield maestro Luka Modric and Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema have also heavily impacted this team, as they both search for their sixth UCL title. Watch out for the champions––they are hungry to lift the trophy with big ears for the 15th time.

Favorites such as Napoli and Benfica will aim to secure their ticket to the quarter-finals, while big names like PSG and Chelsea will be fighting to reverse first leg deficits. Could Liverpool surprise everyone with an incredible comeback against Madrid? We will give updated power rankings and reflect on our thoughts from this ranking. Look out in Issue 12 for a ranking of the teams left in the Quarter-Finals of the UCL!