Champions League restart: Who has the edge?

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="With Europe’s premier domestic competition restarting this weekend in a condensed, single-elimination format, FC Yahoo ranks the remaining contenders.» data-reactid=»16″>With Europe’s premier domestic competition restarting this weekend in a condensed, single-elimination format, FC Yahoo ranks the remaining contenders.

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="12. Chelsea» data-reactid=»17″>12. Chelsea

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Frank Lampard’s Chelsea has spent the entire season proving the doubters wrong. With a transfer ban, a hole where star player Eden Hazard used to be, a slew of untested youth products and a manager with no experience at top-flight level, the Blues finished in fourth place and reached the FA Cup final.» data-reactid=»22″>Frank Lampard’s Chelsea has spent the entire season proving the doubters wrong. With a transfer ban, a hole where star player Eden Hazard used to be, a slew of untested youth products and a manager with no experience at top-flight level, the Blues finished in fourth place and reached the FA Cup final.

However, they are an incredible long shot to reach the quarterfinal stage of this contest in Lisbon. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Lampard’s side must visit Bayern Munich on Saturday, carrying a 3-0 deficit from an uninspired outing in the first leg at Stamford Bridge back in February. Not only is a comeback highly unlikely against a Bayern side that’s looked imperious since the restart, but the task is made more impossible by an injury list that includes Pedro, Willian, N’Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta and Christian Pulisic, the American star who’s been terrific this summer.» data-reactid=»24″>Lampard’s side must visit Bayern Munich on Saturday, carrying a 3-0 deficit from an uninspired outing in the first leg at Stamford Bridge back in February. Not only is a comeback highly unlikely against a Bayern side that’s looked imperious since the restart, but the task is made more impossible by an injury list that includes Pedro, Willian, N’Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta and Christian Pulisic, the American star who’s been terrific this summer.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="There’s a reason Chelsea is the rank outsider with the bookmakers (they’re a phenomenal +20000 to win it all with BetMGM).» data-reactid=»25″>There’s a reason Chelsea is the rank outsider with the bookmakers (they’re a phenomenal +20000 to win it all with BetMGM).

With apologies to Frank Lampard, Chelsea's chances of winning the Champions League this season are pretty slim. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)With apologies to Frank Lampard, Chelsea's chances of winning the Champions League this season are pretty slim. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
With apologies to Frank Lampard, Chelsea’s chances of winning the Champions League this season are pretty slim. (Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="11. Lyon» data-reactid=»37″>11. Lyon

Lyon heads to Turin on Friday with the advantage over Juventus, thanks to a surprise 1-0 win at the end of February that represented the Ligue 1 side’s first Champions League knockout victory in over eight years.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="That win, however, was likely down to Juventus’ lack of chance creation, rather than their own domination (they had just 36% possession in that home game). Aside from a handful of friendlies, Lyon’s only competitive game since March was last weekend’s loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de la Ligue final.» data-reactid=»39″>That win, however, was likely down to Juventus’ lack of chance creation, rather than their own domination (they had just 36% possession in that home game). Aside from a handful of friendlies, Lyon’s only competitive game since March was last weekend’s loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de la Ligue final.

Rudi Garcia’s team finished the shortened season seventh in the league, and they were inconsistent in the Champions League group stage. If Lyon somehow manages to fend off Juventus, they will certainly fall to either Barcelona or Napoli in the next round.

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="10. RB Leipzig» data-reactid=»41″>10. RB Leipzig

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="After leading the Bundesliga at the end of January, RB Leipzig fell off in the second half of the season. They failed to win a single home game after the restart, with the exception of a resounding 3-0 win over Tottenham that secured a quarterfinal berth against Atletico Madrid. This represents their deepest-ever run in Europe’s top domestic competition.» data-reactid=»42″>After leading the Bundesliga at the end of January, RB Leipzig fell off in the second half of the season. They failed to win a single home game after the restart, with the exception of a resounding 3-0 win over Tottenham that secured a quarterfinal berth against Atletico Madrid. This represents their deepest-ever run in Europe’s top domestic competition.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Julian Nagelsmann’s side has looked less dynamic in recent months and will be hampered by the absence of their top goalscorer Timo Werner, who was sold to Chelsea. (The Blues will not be able to field him either.)» data-reactid=»43″>Julian Nagelsmann’s side has looked less dynamic in recent months and will be hampered by the absence of their top goalscorer Timo Werner, who was sold to Chelsea. (The Blues will not be able to field him either.)

The Germans are in the “weaker” side of the draw, and a date with either Atalanta or Paris Saint-Germain awaits in the quarterfinals. However, given their recent form and the sale of their star striker, a deep run seems unlikely.

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="9. Barcelona» data-reactid=»45″>9. Barcelona

If Barcelona is going to win the Champions League again, Lionel Messi might have to drag them to the trophy. (Photo by Mateo Villalba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)If Barcelona is going to win the Champions League again, Lionel Messi might have to drag them to the trophy. (Photo by Mateo Villalba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
If Barcelona is going to win the Champions League again, Lionel Messi might have to drag them to the trophy. (Mateo Villalba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Suffice to say, this has not been Barcelona’s year. They ceded the league title to Real Madrid with a series of disappointing post-restart draws, they crashed out of the Copa del Rey in the quarterfinals, and they churned out a constant stream of chaos off the field.» data-reactid=»57″>Suffice to say, this has not been Barcelona’s year. They ceded the league title to Real Madrid with a series of disappointing post-restart draws, they crashed out of the Copa del Rey in the quarterfinals, and they churned out a constant stream of chaos off the field.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Anything is possible if Lionel Messi is having a good day, but it would be fitting for Barca to finish the season with nothing to show for it.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»58″>Anything is possible if Lionel Messi is having a good day, but it would be fitting for Barca to finish the season with nothing to show for it. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="They are fifth favorites to win the tournament outright (+900 at BetMGM), but that seems far too generous for a team that finished the season at a low point, who seem to have trouble with Quique Setien’s high press, and who have an inconsistent midfield that will be without Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal. A rumored switch to a 3-5-2 formation does not speak to their stability and confidence.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»59″>They are fifth favorites to win the tournament outright (+900 at BetMGM), but that seems far too generous for a team that finished the season at a low point, who seem to have trouble with Quique Setien’s high press, and who have an inconsistent midfield that will be without Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal. A rumored switch to a 3-5-2 formation does not speak to their stability and confidence. 

A home win against Napoli this weekend may be possible, and even a 0-0 draw will see them through. However, it is likely that Bayern Munich will be waiting in the quarterfinals, where Barcelona’s European quest will almost certainly conclude. 

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="8. Napoli» data-reactid=»65″>8. Napoli

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Since the restart, Napoli has looked strong, finishing Serie A with a comprehensive win over Lazio last weekend. Manager Gennaro Gattuso’s side also claimed the Coppa Italia, with impressive post-lockdown wins over Inter Milan and Juventus.» data-reactid=»66″>Since the restart, Napoli has looked strong, finishing Serie A with a comprehensive win over Lazio last weekend. Manager Gennaro Gattuso’s side also claimed the Coppa Italia, with impressive post-lockdown wins over Inter Milan and Juventus.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="However, they must score at the Nou Camp on Saturday to stand a chance of progressing, and incisiveness in front of goal has not been a strength lately. An injury to striker Lorenzo Insigne certainly does not help matters.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»67″>However, they must score at the Nou Camp on Saturday to stand a chance of progressing, and incisiveness in front of goal has not been a strength lately. An injury to striker Lorenzo Insigne certainly does not help matters. 

Napoli has also kept only two clean sheets in the league since the restart, which might present an issue when coming up against Messi and his Catalan friends.

Gattuso’s team has the quality to upset Barcelona, and there has seldom been a better time to do so. But they do not have the quality to overcome likely quarterfinal opponents Bayern Munich. 

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="7. Juventus» data-reactid=»70″>7. Juventus

Juve may have secured its ninth successive league title, but not in overly impressive fashion. Maurizio Sarri’s men won only two of their final eight league games.

Relieving Max Allegri of his managerial duties after winning five straight league titles indicates the Italian giants’ ambition. They’ve reached the Champions League final twice in the past five years, but still haven’t won the competition since 1996.

Can Cristiano Ronaldo lead Juventus to its first Champions League title since 1996? (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)Can Cristiano Ronaldo lead Juventus to its first Champions League title since 1996? (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)
Can Cristiano Ronaldo lead Juventus to its first Champions League title since 1996? (Marco Bertorello/AFP via Getty Images)

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="As majority owners, the Agnelli family has taken drastic measures to win Europe again, such as gambling on a blockbuster deal for Cristiano Ronaldo. All attacking play funnels through the Portuguese superstar, who will need to help overturn the first-leg deficit against Lyon before a taxing quarterfinal against either Manchester City or his former employer Real Madrid.» data-reactid=»84″>As majority owners, the Agnelli family has taken drastic measures to win Europe again, such as gambling on a blockbuster deal for Cristiano Ronaldo. All attacking play funnels through the Portuguese superstar, who will need to help overturn the first-leg deficit against Lyon before a taxing quarterfinal against either Manchester City or his former employer Real Madrid.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Juventus is favored to advance past Lyon, but stands at a justifiably long +1600 with BetMGM to win the tournament.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»85″>Juventus is favored to advance past Lyon, but stands at a justifiably long +1600 with BetMGM to win the tournament. 

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="6. Paris Saint-Germain» data-reactid=»86″>6. Paris Saint-Germain

The perennial French champions are ranked in the top three of this tournament by most bookmakers. They may not have played a league game since March, but PSG has won two domestic cups in recent weeks and possesses one of the best squads in Europe.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="However, they fall down these rankings due to the lack of competitive games in recent months, injury concern for star striker Kylian Mbappe, and a recent tendency to falter when the going gets tough in the Champions League.» data-reactid=»88″>However, they fall down these rankings due to the lack of competitive games in recent months, injury concern for star striker Kylian Mbappe, and a recent tendency to falter when the going gets tough in the Champions League.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="In quarterfinal opponent Atalanta, PSG faces one of the most thrilling and entertaining teams in the world right now. If they manage to clear that hurdle, Champions League juggernaut Atletico Madrid will likely await at the semifinal stage.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»89″>In quarterfinal opponent Atalanta, PSG faces one of the most thrilling and entertaining teams in the world right now. If they manage to clear that hurdle, Champions League juggernaut Atletico Madrid will likely await at the semifinal stage. 

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="5. Real Madrid» data-reactid=»90″>5. Real Madrid

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="It may surprise some to see Real Madrid so high up these rankings. After all, they head to the Etihad Stadium on Friday trailing Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City by a 2-1 scoreline. The bookmakers place them as ninth favorites in a field of 12 (+2200 to win the tournament with BetMGM).» data-reactid=»91″>It may surprise some to see Real Madrid so high up these rankings. After all, they head to the Etihad Stadium on Friday trailing Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City by a 2-1 scoreline. The bookmakers place them as ninth favorites in a field of 12 (+2200 to win the tournament with BetMGM).

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Having watched Real Madrid in recent months, this is baffling. They have powered their way to the La Liga title, often with clinical and narrow wins. With Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane in the back, Casemiro in the middle and Karim Benzema up front, their team has one of the best spines in the game.» data-reactid=»92″>Having watched Real Madrid in recent months, this is baffling. They have powered their way to the La Liga title, often with clinical and narrow wins. With Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane in the back, Casemiro in the middle and Karim Benzema up front, their team has one of the best spines in the game.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="And most crucially, this is a team designed to win European tournaments. Zinedine Zidane has done it three times as manager in the past five seasons.» data-reactid=»93″>And most crucially, this is a team designed to win European tournaments. Zinedine Zidane has done it three times as manager in the past five seasons.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="It’s odd to call Real Madrid a dark horse, but if they can turn around their tie with Manchester City, they can very easily win this tournament.» data-reactid=»94″>It’s odd to call Real Madrid a dark horse, but if they can turn around their tie with Manchester City, they can very easily win this tournament.

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="4. Atletico Madrid» data-reactid=»95″>4. Atletico Madrid

Much like their more celebrated city counterparts, it is never wise to underestimate Atletico Madrid.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Atleti has continually featured in the latter stages of this tournament and booked a quarterfinal with RB Leipzig by virtue of eliminating reigning champions Liverpool in their own backyard.» data-reactid=»97″>Atleti has continually featured in the latter stages of this tournament and booked a quarterfinal with RB Leipzig by virtue of eliminating reigning champions Liverpool in their own backyard.

Furthermore, Atleti hasn’t lost since February. Diego Simeone’s charges are heavy favorites to progress past RB Leipzig and will find themselves potentially in the final (once again) after 90 minutes against either PSG or Atalanta.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="They may not have the defensive fortitude of seasons past, but discount Los Rojiblancos at your peril.&nbsp;&nbsp;» data-reactid=»99″>They may not have the defensive fortitude of seasons past, but discount Los Rojiblancos at your peril.  

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="3. Atalanta» data-reactid=»100″>3. Atalanta

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Hang on, what on earth is Atalanta doing so high in the rankings of a competition that seldom allows a smaller team to creep into its latter stages? Atalanta’s home stadium is so modest that they play Champions League home games at the nearby San Siro. Their crest looks like a shampoo label.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»101″>Hang on, what on earth is Atalanta doing so high in the rankings of a competition that seldom allows a smaller team to creep into its latter stages? Atalanta’s home stadium is so modest that they play Champions League home games at the nearby San Siro. Their crest looks like a shampoo label

But in their first-ever Champions League campaign, Atalanta is the team the big boys secretly fear. They scored a staggering 98 goals in 2019-20, with seven players on the roster scoring 10 or more goals. They press high and furiously, they can unlock any defense, and their passing combinations can be dazzling. They are daunted by no one.  

Their matchup with Paris Saint-Germain is poised to be the highlight of the quarterfinals, such will be the firepower on display. Nobody could have possibly predicted the Italians would come this far, so who says they can’t go further? It’s 2020, and stranger things have happened. 

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="2. Manchester City» data-reactid=»104″>2. Manchester City

Pep Guardiola hasn't won the Champions League since 2011. Manchester City has never won it. Will both change this month? (Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)Pep Guardiola hasn't won the Champions League since 2011. Manchester City has never won it. Will both change this month? (Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
Pep Guardiola hasn’t won the Champions League since 2011. Manchester City has never won it. Will both change this month? (Matt McNulty/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are favorites to win the Champions League, just as they were for most of last season. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="They hold a 2-1 advantage over Real Madrid ahead of the tournament restart, they closed out the Premier League season in style with 21 goals in their final five matches, and they resoundingly defeated UEFA on the Away Lawyers Rule in the Court of Arbitration. Only an inexplicable FA Cup semifinal defeat to Arsenal blots their record in recent weeks.» data-reactid=»117″>They hold a 2-1 advantage over Real Madrid ahead of the tournament restart, they closed out the Premier League season in style with 21 goals in their final five matches, and they resoundingly defeated UEFA on the Away Lawyers Rule in the Court of Arbitration. Only an inexplicable FA Cup semifinal defeat to Arsenal blots their record in recent weeks.

City is magnificent, they are in good form and Guardiola is long overdue an appearance in another Champions League final. 

There is, however, one team that is likely to stop that from happening.

1. Bayern Munich

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Although they have very famously suffered at the hands of Chelsea in their home stadium in this competition, Bayern Munich will gently brush away the Blues when they conclude their Round of 16 tie on Saturday.» data-reactid=»121″>Although they have very famously suffered at the hands of Chelsea in their home stadium in this competition, Bayern Munich will gently brush away the Blues when they conclude their Round of 16 tie on Saturday.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="After that, one must feel sorry for any other team that gets in their way. The Bavarians are on a 17-game winning streak, they are looking to complete their second treble in eight years, and they boast striker Robert Lewandowski, who is the Champions League’s top scorer with a mere 51 goals in all competitions this season.» data-reactid=»122″>After that, one must feel sorry for any other team that gets in their way. The Bavarians are on a 17-game winning streak, they are looking to complete their second treble in eight years, and they boast striker Robert Lewandowski, who is the Champions League’s top scorer with a mere 51 goals in all competitions this season.

Bayern have been breathtaking under Hansi Flick and they are Europe’s most in-form team. A monthlong break in competitive action may work to their disadvantage, but a team that always seems to come back stronger after the German midseason break will likely take the time off in stride.

This tournament is Bayern Munich’s to lose.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More from Yahoo Sports:» data-reactid=»125″>More from Yahoo Sports: