Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings: Liverpool climb and Man City fall after quarter-final draw

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After just over two months away, the Champions League returned in style, with the last 16 throwing up plenty of talking points and surprises as Europe's elite continue to battle for the greatest prize the continent has to offer.

Defending champions Chelsea remain alive and are joined in the quarter-finals by some of the best teams European football has ever seen, though Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Ajax all fell in the first knockout round.

So, who are the favourites to lift the trophy following the draws for the latter stages, and which teams are set for continental disappointment?

GOAL's Champions League Power Rankings are here to lay it all out...

(Previous rankings after last 16 second legs, March 17)

  • Benfica celebrate 2021-22Getty Images

    8Benfica | Last time: 8th

    Regardless of who Benfica drew, they were always going to be considered as outsiders for the competition, but they could barely have asked for a more difficult tie than facing Liverpool.

    In Darwin Nunez, the Portuguese side possess one of Europe's most in-form attackers, but the Uruguay international will have to produce something special if his team are to make it into the final four.

  • Villarreal celebrate 2021-22Getty Images

    7Villarreal | Last time: 7th

    After knocking out Juventus in emphatic fashion in the last 16, Villarreal will fear no one going forward, but a quarter-final tie with Bayern Munich will be far from straightforward.

    The Europa League champions have shown they have what it takes to win knockout ties in continental competition, but it feels like taking down the Bundesliga giants might be a step too far for Unai Emery's men.

  • Antoine Griezmann Renan Lodi Atletico Madrid 2021-22Getty Images

    6Atletico Madrid | Last time: 6th

    Undoubtedly the weakest side in their half of the draw, Atletico Madrid will have to be at their very best to go all the way to the final, knowing they will have to beat Manchester City and either Chelsea or Real Madrid to do so.

    That said, if any team can cause an upset in the competition, it is the one managed by Diego Simeone, and they will not make life easy for City in the quarter-finals as they look to complete a Manchester double in this season's competition.

  • Cesar Azpilicueta Chelsea 2021-22Getty Images

    5Chelsea | Last time: 5th

    Chelsea will take confidence from the fact that they beat Real Madrid in the semi-finals of last season's tournament when they face off again in this year's quarters, but there is no doubt that the circumstances are different.

    Not only are Madrid a much better side now than they were then, they could yet have the advantage of getting to play their home leg in front of fans while Chelsea are forced to play behind closed doors at Stamford Bridge amid their ongoing ownership issues.

    Between two closely-matched sides, that could make all the difference.

  • Karim Benzema Real Madrid 2021-22Getty Images

    4Real Madrid | Last time: 4th

    The confidence boost that Real Madrid's comeback win over Paris Saint-Germain will have given them should not be underestimated heading into the latter stages.

    This is a team that is constantly told that it can win from whatever position it finds itself in, and now that they likely believe that themselves too, they will take some beating.

  • Manchester City celebrate 2021-22Getty Images

    3Manchester City | Last time: 1st

    With their potential title-decider against Liverpool falling between the two legs of the quarter-finals, one of the last things Manchester City would have wanted is a double-header against Atletico Madrid to contend with.

    City have undoubtedly ended up on the more difficult side of the draw, with a semi-final against either Chelsea or Real Madrid to follow if they get past Atleti. That is not to say they cannot still win the whole tournament – they will just have to take a difficult route to get there.

  • Bayern Munich celebrate 2021-22Getty Images

    2Bayern Munich | Last time: 3rd

    Bayern may not be in great form right now, having won just three of their last seven games in all competitions, but they will hope that the international break will provide them with the chance to recharge some batteries before the final sprint towards the season's finishing line.

    Avoiding a truly daunting Champions League quarter-final opponent by drawing Villarreal should help Julian Nagelsmann's side as they aim for a second European Cup in three seasons.

  • Liverpool celebrate 2021-22Getty Images

    1Liverpool | Last time: 2nd

    Flying in the league, still in one domestic cup having already won the other, and now having drawn what seems to be the weakest side left in the Champions League quarter-finals – life is good for Liverpool right now.

    Time will tell just how much Trent Alexander-Arnold's absence will affect them domestically, but they should have enough to reach the semi-finals without the England full-back, with the hope being he will have returned when tougher European tests emerge in May.