Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings: Barcelona and Real Madrid slide after disastrous defeats

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Cue the music – the Champions League is back!

Europe's biggest and best clubs are now well under way with the group-stage campaigns, with shock results and superb performances already grabbing the headlines.

Chelsea are the defending champions, but there are arguably more contenders this time around than in any previous iteration of the competition.

So, who are the favourites, and which teams will be sent packing before Christmas?

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

(Previous rankings after MD1, September 16)

  1. Anel Ahmedodzic Malmo 2021-22
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    Malmo | Last time: 32nd

    Two games played, no goals scored, seven goals conceded.

    If Malmo had any chance of getting out of their group, they needed to avoid defeat against fellow outsiders Zenit. Losing 4-0 in St. Petersburg, then, was not an ideal result for the Swedes.

  2. Michy Batshuayi Besiktas 2021-22
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    Besiktas | Last time: 28th

    Given they went into their match against Ajax without 11 first-team players, Besiktas actually put up a decent effort against the Dutch champions despite going down to a 2-0 defeat.

    All is not lost yet for the Turkish outfit, but maximum points from their upcoming double-header with Sporting C.P. is now a must.

  3. Emil Forsberg RB Leipzig 2021-22
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    RB Leipzig | Last time: 19th

    Despite having one of the competition's top scorers in Christopher Nkunku, Leipzig have little else to smile about following a disastrous home defeat at the hands of Club Brugge.

    A double-header against PSG is unlikely to turn the fortunes of Jesse Marsch's side around, meaning an early exit is now almost certain.

  4. Sporting C.P. 2021-22
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    Sporting C.P. | Last time: 29th

    Sporting were spared having to try and keep Erling Haaland quiet against Dortmund, but they could not avoid a second straight defeat in Europe despite only being breached once by Donyell Malen's strike.

    The Portuguese champions face an uphill battle, but it is one they can still win if they take maximum points off Besiktas in the coming weeks.

  5. Young Boys 2021-22
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    Young Boys | Last time: 27th

    Young Boys came back down to earth with defeat at Atalanta, with the 1-0 scoreline pretty generous for the Swiss champions after their Italian hosts wasted a number of opportunities.

    That opening-night win over Manchester United means all hope is not lost, but a repeat of those heroics through the rest of the group stage still seems unlikely.

  6. Shakhtar Donetsk 2021-22
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    Shakhtar Donetsk | Last time: 30th

    Following the disappointment of their opening defeat at Sheriff, Shakhtar got back on track with a battling draw at home to Inter on matchday two.

    Qualification for the knockout rounds still looks a long way off given how their group has panned out so far, but the Ukrainian outfit at least now have something to cling onto and improve upon.

  7. Dynamo Kyiv 2021-22
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    Dynamo Kyiv | Last time: 24th

    Dynamo Kyiv are not the first team this season to go to Bayern Munich and concede at least five, and they will not be the last, but the result was still a chastening one for the Ukrainian champions.

    All is not lost, especially given Barcelona's start in the same group, but wins will be needed over the Catalans if Dynamo are to challenge for a top-two finish.

  8. Burak Yilmaz Lille 2021-22
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    Lille | Last time: 22nd

    With just three wins all season, Lille have not lived up to their title of Ligue 1 champions so far, with their two Champions League performances suggesting a group-stage exit is very much on the cards.

    The saving grace for the French side following their defeat in Salzburg is that their group remains very tight, with no obvious stand-out team, meaning a fortunate win or two could yet be enough to qualify.

  9. Luis Diaz Porto 2021-22
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    Porto | Last time: 20th

    It turns out that Pepe has been the glue holding Porto together for the past few years.

    The ex-Real Madrid star was ruled out in the warm-up against Liverpool, and without him the Portuguese outfit went from holding off Atletico Madrid away from home on matchday one to a calamitous defensive display against the Reds that saw them ship five at home.

    They need their defensive leader and he should be in the line-up for the next fixture.  

  10. Sheriff Real Madrid Champions League
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    Sheriff Tiraspol | Last time: 31st

    So we all had Sheriff down to win their first two Champions League matches, including a last-minute away triumph at Real Madrid, right?!

    The Moldovan minnows have been the story of the competition so far, and will top Group D at the halfway stage regardless of results on matchday three.

    It is still hard to believe that they will remain there until the very end, but right now you wouldn't write them off, would you?

  11. Zenit celebrate 2021-22
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    Zenit | Last time: 26th

    After frustrating Chelsea for long periods on matchday one before falling to a narrow defeat, Zenit came out fighting against Malmo in what was a must-win game for the Russian outfit.

    Win it they did, and with ease too as the Swedish visitors were swatted aside on their way to a 4-0 defeat, leaving Zenit well placed heading into a double-header against Juventus.

  12. Club Brugge celebrate 2021-22
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    Club Brugge | Last time: 25th

    Given the headlines being made elsewhere, it has gone relatively unnoticed how impressive Club Brugge have been in their opening two matches of the Champions League.

    They backed up a deserved home draw against PSG with a superb win on the road at RB Leipzig, and must be heading into their double-header with Manchester City with supreme confidence of causing more shocks.

  13. AC Milan 2021-22
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    AC Milan | Last time: 14th

    Two games and no points does not tell the full story of AC Milan's return to the Champions League, who could realistically have won both of their matches thus far.

    The last-minute penalty decision that cost the Rossoneri's 10-men a point against Atletico Madrid was one of the more disastrous of the week, and now means they must beat Porto home and away in their upcoming double-header to maintain any realistic hope of qualifying from a tough group.

  14. Paco Alcacer Villarreal 2021-22
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    Villarreal | Last time: 16th

    Villarreal must have left Old Trafford on Wednesday wondering how they did not manage to beat Manchester United, never mind lose.

    Unai Emery's side dominated proceedings at the Theatre of Dreams, but will need to be more clinical in front of goal if they are to progress from a group that they now sit bottom of after two games.

  15. Frenkie de Jong, Benfica vs Barcelona 2021-22
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    Barcelona | Last time: 12th

    We are willing to admit that this position might be a but too high for Barcelona given their performances in the competition so far, but hear us out...

    Surely Ronald Koeman will not be in charge for much longer, will he? Sacking the manager will not solve all of Barca's ills, of course, but it at least might give them the jolt they need ahead of their double-header with Dynamo Kyiv.

    If it does not, or if Koeman stays, then qualifying for the Europa League as a third-placed team might even be beyond this version of the Blaugrana.

  16. Ivan Rakitic Sevilla 2021-22
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    Sevilla | Last time: 18th

    It has gone under the radar, but Sevilla have endured a massively underwhelming start to the Champions League campaign, particularly given they were the favourites to win their group.

    They escaped with a draw against Sazburg on matchday one after the Austrian side missed two of the three penalties they were awarded before, on matchday two, Julen Lopetegui's side were the beneficiaries of one of the most bizarre penalty decisions of the season so far to claim a late point against Wolfsburg.

    Improvements are required.

  17. Renato Steffen Wolfsburg 2021-22
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    Wolfsburg | Last time: 17th

    If not for one of the worst penalty decisions in recent Champions League history, Wolfsburg would be sitting pretty on four points from two games having not yet conceded a goal upon their return to the competition.

    As it is, Mark van Bommel's side will have to pick themselves up from the disappointment of Sevilla's late equaliser and go again in a group that they look well equipped to make it out of.

  18. Darwin Nunez Rafa Silva Benfica 2021-22
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    Benfica | Last time: 23rd

    The Champions League has not always been a happy hunting ground for Benfica in recent years, meaning Wednesday's 3-0 win over Barcelona was all the more special for Jorge Jesus' side.

    A double-header against Bayern Munich may well bring them back down to earth in the coming weeks, but after a disappointing draw in Kyiv on matchday one, their qualification hopes are back on track.

  19. Karim Adeyemi Red Bull Salzburg 2021-22
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    Red Bull Salzburg | Last time: 21st

    Given the other results in their group so far, Salzburg have a real shot at not just qualifying for the knockout rounds, but doing it as group winners following their 2-1 win over Lille on Wednesday.

    Karim Adeyemi is emerging as an absolute menace too, with the teenager having won four of the five penalties the Austrian champions have been awarded in their two games so far.

  20. Matteo Pessina Atalanta 2021-22
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    Atalanta | Last time: 15th

    Atalanta might not have hit the attacking heights of recent seasons as yet, but their 1-0 win over Young Boys on Wednesday at least has them on track to again make it out of the group stages.

    Their upcoming double-header against Manchester United is not as daunting a prospect as it once might have been either, and so claiming top spot in Group F is not yet out of the question either.

  21. Lautaro Martinez Inter 2021-22
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    Inter | Last time: 11th

    Inter and the Champions League are not a happy marriage, and after taking just one point from their opening two games, the Nerazzurri will need to step it up for their double-header against surprise package Sheriff in the next month.

    Fail to do so, and it could be another early exit for the Serie A champions.

  22. Ajax celebrate 2021-22
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    Ajax | Last time: 13th

    Perhaps Europe's most in-form team, Ajax are looking set to cruise through the group stages after making it two wins from two with victory over Besiktas.

    Borussia Dortmund will certainly offer them a tougher test in their upcoming games, but for now it is looking like mission accomplished for Erik ten Hag's side.

  23. Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United 2021-22
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    Manchester United | Last time: 10th

    Cristiano Ronaldo is inevitable.

    United's last-gasp win over Villarreal could well be the turning point in their season, but given the concerning nature of their performance at Old Trafford, it is hard to see to them as being among the Champions League favourites right now.

    Admittedly with Ronaldo, though, anything is possible.

  24. Luis Suarez celebrating Milan Atletico Madrid Champions League
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    Atletico Madrid | Last time: 9th

    Another side who won in spite of their overall performance were Atletico, with the Spanish champions looking in danger of being blown away by AC Milan before Franck Kessie's first-half red card.

    Atleti still left it late to come back, but with Antoine Griezmann now up and running in front of goal and Luis Suarez not slowing down in terms of his own output, Diego Simeone's side could still be a force to be reckoned with down the line.

  25. Vinicius Junior Real Madrid 2021-22
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    Real Madrid | Last time: 6th

    Perhaps the biggest upset in Champions League history, Madrid's defeat at the hands of Sheriff at Santiago Bernabeu will live on in infamy in the Spanish capital.

    Bigger picture, Carlo Ancelotti's side should still qualify from their group given the quality in the Blancos squad, but Tuesday's loss will serve as a huge wake-up call as to how far behind the true challengers they are.

  26. Donyell Malen Borussia Dortmund 2021-22
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    Borussia Dortmund | Last time: 7th

    With Erling Haaland watching on from the stands, all Dortmund needed to do against Sporting C.P, was win, and win they did thanks to Donyell Malen's first goal for the club.

    With six points from six, they can almost touch a place in the knockout stages already.

  27. Chiesa Juventus Chelsea
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    Juventus | Last time: 8th

    While there remain issues to iron out at Juventus, their 1-0 win over Chelsea was a statement from Massimiliano Allegri's side that their poor start to the season can now be put behind them.

    In Federico Chiesa they have one of Europe's most electrifying young attackers, and if the Bianconeri can build a team around the Italy international, then a deep run in the Champions League is not beyond them.

  28. Romelu Lukaku Chelsea 2021-22
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    Chelsea | Last time: 2nd

    Many expected the defending champions to claim all three points against Juventus, but Chelsea's performance posed further questions of whether Thomas Tuchel might need to alter his tactics to get the best out of the Blues this term.

    Mason Mount's return will, in theory, solve some of the issues that plagued Chelsea in Turin, but there are some concerning trends developing at Stamford Bridge.

  29. Liverpool celebrate 2021-22
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    Liverpool | Last time: 5th

    Very few people are talking up Liverpool as potential Champions League winners, and that is just how the six-time champions like it as they continue to make a strong start to the season.

    Given the strength of their group, having six points out of six is a fantastic position to be in, with their 5-1 win at Porto suggesting that as an attacking unit they are firing on all cylinders.

  30. Ruben Dias Manchester City 2021-22
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    Manchester City | Last time: 1st

    Despite their defeat in Paris, Manchester City's performance was encouraging in how much of a goal threat they possessed at the Parc des Princes.

    The question over whether they need a new No.9 will rumble on, however, particularly if a similar fate befalls them in the knockout rounds.

  31. Idrissa Gueye
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    Paris Saint-Germain | Last time: 4th

    Tuesday was the night when Lionel Messi officially arrived at Paris Saint-Germain, and what an introduction it was!

    Despite Mauricio Pochettino's much-talked about 'MNM' frontline failing to create too many opportunities against Man City, Messi showed that he only needs a half-chance to make the difference at even the highest of levels.

    That could be the difference between glory and more disappointment for the French giants in Europe this season.

  32. Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich, Champions League 2020-21
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    Bayern Munich | Last time: 3rd

    Two games, six points, eight goals scored and none conceded - Bayern could hardly hoped for a better start to their Champions League campaign.

    With their most difficult game on paper, the trip to Camp Nou, having been completed with ease, expect the Bundesliga champions to fly through the remainder of the group stage.

    Right now, it is difficult to pinpoint a team who you would back to beat the Bavarians over two legs anywhere in Europe.