The first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 is done. Four Premier League teams entered the ring. They all took punches. Will they still be standing when the last bell rings?
I admit that I ignored the Champions League for a long time. I remained ignorant of its importance until last year. After watching Ajax’s run, Tottenham’s improbable appearance in the final, and Jurgen Klopp counting to six on a victory bus at the end, I realized that big trophy was a HUGE deal.
The Champions League now, for me, never fails to bring drama and thrills. It’s a must-watch.
As expected, four Premier League teams advanced to the first knock-out stage: Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, and Tottenham. After watching the first legs of this round of 16, each team can be ranked into four different categories.
Based on the eye test and analytics, here are my power rankings of the four English top-flight teams in the UCL.
All statistics were courtesy of FBRef.com
Honorable Mention: Bayern Munich
Yes, I know, I said I would rank the Premier League teams in this power ranking. However, the top German club can not be ignored in this conversation.
Bayern was in the same group as Tottenham. On October 1st, they played at Spurs home stadium and clinically demolished them in every possible manner. How clinical was it? The Germans had an expected goals (xG) of 1.6 and scored seven goals. Serge Gnabry scored four goals in thirty minutes.
In their next match-up, Two months later in Munich, Tottenham and Bayern both rolled in having changed managers. It did not matter. The home club put in another clinical performance, winning 3-1.
On Tuesday, the Bundesliga leaders came back to London to face Chelsea. Serge Gnabry again turned London red, by knocking in two more goals en route to a 3-0 first leg win.
Die Roten leads all Champions League in the following statistics: xG, expected goal differential (xGDiff), expected goal differential per 90 minutes (xGDiff/90 min), expected goals plus expected assists per 90 minutes (xG+xA/90 min), non-penalty expected goals per 90 minutes (npxG/90 min), and non-penalty expected goals plus expected assists per 90 minutes (npxG+xA/90 min).
This team is dangerous and I would not want to play against them.
Speaking of which…