Ranking the 5 favorites for the UEFA Champions League this season (2021-22)

Paul Merson

#3 Manchester United

Queens Park Rangers v Manchester United - Pre-season Friendly
Queens Park Rangers v Manchester United - Pre-season Friendly

I've gone for Manchester United as one of the top five contenders for the UEFA Champions League in the 2021-22 season and I'll explain why. I know they were knocked out in the group stages last season, but the way they play suits UCL football more than the Premier League.

They counterattack as well as anyone in Europe and have a squad that has match-winners across the pitch with the additions of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane. Sancho adds a bit more guile to the team, while Varane is an experienced defender who will not only allow them to play a higher line but also complement Harry Maguire perfectly.

Manchester United are the biggest club in world football in my opinion, so I'm not going to call them dark-horses. They've gone almost eight years without winning the Premier League or the UEFA Champions League and that could so easily become 15 or 20 if they don't take the initiative.

They look like a strong team and it goes without saying that each one of their forwards, barring Edinson Cavani, are incredibly quick! I don't know if Manchester United will win the Premier League title, but when you look at the way they play, they could be a force to be reckoned with in the UEFA Champions League.

#2 Paris Saint-Germain

Paris Saint-Germain Training And Press Conference
Paris Saint-Germain Training And Press Conference

Paris Saint-Germain didn't win the French league for the first time in a few years last season and will look to reclaim their domestic crown from Lille. In my opinion, they'll have so many winnable games this season, so they can afford to concentrate on the UEFA Champions League when the situation calls for it.

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar are already there, but if Lionel Messi seals a move to Paris, it could get awfully messy! Another important factor to consider is the return of fans to stadiums - that will be an invaluable boost for many sides across the continent. To put things in perspective - go and play Galatasaray away with a packed stadium and face the same side without the fans. Fans being available for away legs is a massive game-changer - for many teams, it's even a leveler, in many ways.

Lionel Messi going to PSG could make them potential favorites for the UEFA Champions League, but you also have to give them credit for some of the other signings they've made. Gianluigi Donnarumma is a top goalkeeper and Sergio Ramos is one of the most experienced players of his generation, while Gini Wijnaldum can also have his say in midfield.

PSG have players that can hurt you and are expected to win the Ligue 1 title comfortably, so as I mentioned before, they could well put all eggs in the UEFA Champions League basket during the knockout stages.

#1 Manchester City

Manchester City v Barnsley: Pre-Season Friendly
Manchester City v Barnsley: Pre-Season Friendly

Manchester City reached the UEFA Champions League final last season but fell short at the final hurdle, as Chelsea pipped them to the coveted trophy. They broke the Premier League record to sign Jack Grealish, but they need a goalscorer to replace Sergio Aguero.

Goalscoring has been their Achilles' heel and they haven't been able to win the competition with Aguero in their team all these years, so we'll have to wait and see how this one pans out. Manchester City have been linked with Harry Kane and most recently, with Lionel Messi as well!

The whole Lionel Messi situation is major - who saw that one coming? It looked like he was going to sign a new contract with Barcelona, but everything seems to have changed in a matter of hours. If he goes to Manchester City or PSG, it will be harder for those teams to not win the competition than to actually win it!

One thing I will say is this - Manchester City won't let me down. They will always be in the running and have a strong squad that is capable of competing on all fronts. The next two or three weeks in the transfer market will be interesting, only time will tell if they manage to add a striker to their star-studded squad.

Also Read: Jim Beglin's greatest Premier League XI of all-time

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Edited by Vishal Subramanian
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