Panic Index: Chelsea, Liverpool, AC Milan in trouble when it comes to next season's Champions League

1 month ago 52

8:44 PM GMT

  • Bill ConnellyESPN Staff Writer


      Bill Connelly is simply a unit writer for

The vibes are unusual passim the apical of European shot astatine the moment. The apical teams successful some the Premier League (Arsenal) and LaLiga (Barcelona) either didn't suffice oregon didn't beforehand to the Champions League knockout rounds, which statesman conscionable a week from now, and nary of the existent favorites successful the tract are successful peculiarly bully form.

Since play resumed aft the World Cup, Manchester City, the betting favorite, mislaid for the 3rd clip successful six games and has mislaid to Southampton and drawn with Everton. The No. 2 favorite, Bayern Munich, concisely forgot however to people and conscionable won its archetypal league lucifer successful 4 tries. The No. 3 favorite, PSG, has dropped 2 of its past 4 league roadworthy games. The No. 4 favorite, Liverpool, has won 1 of its past seven matches successful each competitions.

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Be it post-World Cup fatigue oregon axenic happenstance, things are beauteous screwy. That could marque for immoderate fascinating round-of-16 results. But nary substance however these adjacent fewer weeks go, astatine slightest City (barring fast-moving sanctions, anyhow, Bayern and PSG are each but assured of playing successful next year's Champions League. Liverpool? Chelsea (the No. 7 favorite)? Not truthful much.

Of the 32 teams that qualified for this year's Champions League radical stage, 19 were from Europe's Big Five leagues: 5 from the Bundesliga (which snared an other bid with Eintracht Frankfurt's Europa League win), 4 from the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A and 2 from Ligue 1. Of those 19, FiveThirtyEight's SPI ratings task six of them -- Bayern, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Napoli, PSG and Manchester City -- with astatine slightest a 98% accidental of making adjacent year's field. Four much are astatine 70% oregon higher (Inter Milan, RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund, Marseille) and 3 are each but hopeless astatine 2% oregon little (Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus, Sevilla).

That leaves six teams successful between, including 2022's Champions League runner up (Liverpool), 2021's champion (Chelsea) and the defending Serie A champion (AC Milan). As we get acceptable to enactment our continental hats backmost connected and dive into Europe's biggest nine competition, let's speech astir these six uncertain clubs and the varying levels of panic each should beryllium feeling astatine the moment.

(Note: Teams are listed successful bid from worst likelihood to best. And successful presumption of panic, 1 means "we're relaxed" and 5 is equivalent to "red alert.")


- Current position: ninth successful the Premier League (10 points extracurricular the apical four)
- Odds of reaching adjacent year's Champions League, per 538: 5% to decorativeness successful the apical four, 5% to triumph this year's Champions League
- Results since restart: 2 wins, 3 draws and 3 losses successful each competitions (1.1 points per game)

In assemblage football, we speech a batch astir "winning the offseason." Did you enlistee well? Did your caller starting backmost look bully successful outpouring ball? Did you debar immoderate silly suspensions oregon attrition successful the dull summertime months?

In immoderate ways, the shot mentation of this is winning the transportation windows, and Chelsea surely did that. Back successful the summertime arsenic the caller ownership squad led by Todd Boehly looked to marque a splash, the Blues spent much than €280 cardinal successful transportation fees to bring successful 8 players, including veterans Raheem Sterling (from Manchester City), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli) and, for immoderate reason, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Barcelona), positive burgeoning young stars similar Wesley Fofana (Leicester City) and Marc Cucurella (Brighton). A batch of these acquisitions came astir with guidance from manager Thomas Tuchel ... who was fired rapidly aft the summertime transportation model closed.

Even successful a free-spending Premier League, their moves stood out... and that was earlier a maniacal January, successful which they added 7 much transfers, each 22 oregon younger -- including big-time prospects similar Enzo Fernandez (Benfica) and Mykhaylo Mudryk (Shakhtar Donetsk) -- for astir €330 cardinal more. They adjacent brought successful disgruntled Atletico Madrid striker Joao Felix connected indebtedness for bully measure.

That's much than €600 cardinal successful transfers since June, positive the second-highest payroll successful the Premier League, per Spotrac. Congrats for winning the windows, Chelsea. You've earned galore headlines for it.

Winning matches, however, has been a spot trickier, beryllium it nether Tuchel oregon replacement Graham Potter. When you walk much than fractional a cardinal Euros connected transportation fees successful a azygous season, you'd similar to get something retired of it successful the abbreviated term, right? The lone happening that Chelsea's gotten is worse.

Changes successful cardinal Chelsea rankings from the past 2 seasons (Premier League only):

- Goals per match: from 3rd successful 2021-22 to 13th successful 2022-23
- Shots per possession: from 4th to 12th
- xG per shot: from seventh to 15th
- Goals per lucifer allowed: from 3rd to fourth
- Shots per possession allowed: from 3rd to sixth
- xG per changeable allowed: from eighth to 14th
- xG differential: from 3rd to 10th

Chelsea's defence has gotten somewhat worse this season, but it's inactive beauteous good. The attack, however, has collapsed. Chelsea signed seemingly each attacker successful Europe, but has scored much than 1 extremity successful a lucifer conscionable erstwhile since Nov. 2. (They scored doubly against Bournemouth successful December, which hardly counts.)

Panic level (1-5): 5

As we've seen with Arsenal's occurrence this season, not each transfers are designed to wage disconnected immediately, particularly erstwhile you spell young. And to beryllium sure, this is simply a beauteous young squad now. The transfers made definite of it, and cardinal injuries to veterans similar N'Golo Kante person lone exacerbated things.

In Chelsea's archetypal post-window lucifer past week, a 0-0 gully with Fulham, newcomers Fernandez (22) and Benoit Badiashile (21) played the full match, and 3 much sparkly caller additions -- Mudryk (22), Noni Madueke (20) and David Datro Fofana (20) -- combined for 105 minutes. Madueke led the squad with a brace of chances created, and Fofana astir won the lucifer for Chelsea successful the 79th infinitesimal lone to person his changeable cleared disconnected the enactment by Tim Ream.



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In the American sports satellite from which Boehly came, adjacent big-market, high-budget teams sometimes acquisition younker movements and retooling jobs. In their archetypal twelvemonth with Boehly arsenic portion of the ownership team, the Los Angeles Dodgers went conscionable 86-76 and missed the playoffs. They've since ripped disconnected 10 consecutive playoff bids, with 3 World Series appearances and 1 championship.

As Gab Marcotti pointed retired successful the nexus above, however, Chelsea is toeing a beauteous tenuous enactment erstwhile it comes to expenditures, particularly since they've already committed to different big-money transportation for RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku this coming summer. (What's amended than having 1,000 attackers? Having 1,001!) That enactment gets overmuch much tenuous without Champions League revenue, and the combined likelihood of Chelsea playing successful the Champions League adjacent play are down to astir 10%.

As a burgeoning younker movement, this task is intriguing. As a bid of big-spending moves that request corresponding gross to debar semipermanent problems, this full happening is awfully dicey astatine the moment.


- Current position: 10th successful the Premier League (11 points extracurricular the apical four)
- Odds of reaching adjacent year's Champions League, per 538: 15% to decorativeness successful the apical four, 5% to triumph this year's Champions League
- Results since restart: 3 wins, 2 draws and 5 losses successful each competitions (1.1 points per game)

Liverpool's travails are beauteous well-established by now. The Reds came achingly adjacent to winning 4 trophies past season; they won the FA and Carabao Cups, but finished 2nd successful the Premier League contention and mislaid to Real Madrid successful the Champions League final. They mislaid winger Sadio Mane and spent astir each of their transportation fund connected 2 attackers, guardant Darwin Nunez (added successful the summer) and winger Cody Gakpo (winter). They punted connected addressing their bladed and aging midfield, hoping to coax 1 much twelvemonth of precocious prime and reliability retired of players similar Jordan Henderson (32), Fabinho (29), Thiago (31) and James Milner (37), who combined for much than 11,000 minutes successful each competitions past season.



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The gamble has backfired. Henderson and Thiago were some injured successful August, and the midfield has been mediocre each season. So has Liverpool. A caller onslaught has gone done immoderate increasing pains: Nunez has created 13.2 xG successful each competitions (second connected the team), but has turned it into lone 10 goals acknowledgment to a finishing slump, Gakpo has nary goals oregon assists successful 497 minutes, and injuries person constricted Luis Diaz to nether 1,000 minutes and Diogo Jota to nether 500.

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The beforehand enactment is neither scoring nor pressing arsenic good arsenic normal, and the modulation defence has been abysmal, giving up astir arsenic galore high-quality chances arsenic Liverpool did 2 seasons ago, erstwhile each the center-backs were hurt. A whopping 61% of opponents' shots travel from wrong the defending box, and 13% are worthy astatine slightest 0.3 xG; some figures are highest successful the league.

Changes successful cardinal Liverpool rankings from the past 2 seasons (Premier League only):

- Goals per match: from 2nd successful 2021-22 to 5th successful 2022-23
- Shots per possession: from 2nd to third
- xG per shot: from 3rd to 12th
- Goals per lucifer allowed: from archetypal to 12th
- Shots per possession allowed: from 2nd to third
- xG per changeable allowed: from 15th to 20th
- xG differential: from 2nd to sixth

At its best, Klopp's Liverpool overwhelms opponents from the position of changeable quantity and creates capable high-quality opportunities to relationship for opponents' occasional high-xG breakaways. This season, the Reds' quantity dominance has lessened slightly, and their changeable prime has collapsed.

Panic level (1-5): 5

Liverpool person been a spot much unlucky than Chelsea wide -- their xG differential ranks sixth to Chelsea's 10th -- but their caller signifier has been arsenic atrocious oregon worse than that of the Blues. They've won lone erstwhile since the calendar flipped to 2023, and that lone triumph (1-0 implicit 15th-place Wolves successful the FA Cup) was counterbalanced by a 3-0 nonaccomplishment to Wolves implicit this past weekend.

At immoderate point, some Nunez and Gakpo volition look from their respective finishing slumps, different cardinal players volition find amended form, and Liverpool volition apt commencement generating much points. But 11 points and 5 teams basal betwixt the Reds and their seventh consecutive Champions League bid. They request a tally similar the 1 they unleashed past wintertime and outpouring to span that gap, but they look acold little susceptible of delivering it astatine the moment.


- Current position: 5th successful the Premier League (one constituent extracurricular the apical four)
- Odds of reaching adjacent year's Champions League, per 538: 37% to decorativeness successful the apical four, 5% to triumph this year's Champions League
- Results since restart: 5 wins, 1 gully and 3 losses successful each competitions (1.8 points per game)

That Spurs amusement up connected this database tells you conscionable however tricky beingness successful the Premier League is astatine the moment. They conscionable defeated Manchester City successful league play, they won their (admittedly beauteous easy) Champions League group, and contempt a lengthy tally of mediocre signifier from winger Son Heung-Min and a tally of 3 losses successful 4 league matches earlier the World Cup break, they are hardly beneath past year's gait -- they averaged 1.87 points per crippled past twelvemonth and are presently astatine 1.77.

Even with some Liverpool and Chelsea collapsing, however, Spurs are sitting successful 5th spot due to the fact that Arsenal person surged, Manchester United person recovered a batch of its antecedently mislaid signifier and, possibly astir importantly (and unexpectedly), Newcastle United are acold up of schedule. Spurs took six points from Newcastle past season, beating them by a combined 8-3, but they mislaid 2-1 astatine location to the Magpies backmost successful October, and Newcastle presently leads them by a constituent with a crippled successful hand. Two heavyweights person faltered, and the contention for the apical 4 is inactive arsenic stiff arsenic ever.



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That's not to absolve Spurs of immoderate iffyness, however. Their attacking numbers are astir identical to past year's contempt Son's funk (they averaged 1.82 goals per lucifer successful 2021-22 and are astatine 1.86 this year), but contempt a bunker-and-counter mentality -- their possession complaint is conscionable 50.1% this season, and they've accounted for conscionable 44% of each touches successful the attacking 3rd -- their antiaircraft numbers person cratered.

Changes successful cardinal Tottenham rankings from the past 2 seasons (Premier League only):

- Goals allowed: from 4th successful 2021-22 to 13th successful 2022-23
- Shots allowed per possession: from 15th to 18th
- xG allowed per shot: from archetypal to third

Like a batch of counterattacking teams, Antonio Conte's Spurs are blessed to fto you effort contested shots from longer distances. Even portion ranking 4th successful goals allowed past season, they were 15th successful shots allowed per possession -- astir of those shots were debased quality. This year, they're allowing adjacent more shots, and they're allowing a higher percent of good shots. They've allowed aggregate goals successful each league loss, and they person perpetually fallen down this season: Their extremity differential of -0.2 per 90 possessions portion tied ranks 11th successful the league.

Panic level (1-5): 3

Son's signifier has begun to rebound a bit: helium has 3 goals and an assistance successful his past 7 games successful each competitions, which approaches the output from his archetypal 21 games (five goals, 2 assists). Combined with Harry Kane's ain signifier (seven goals successful 9 matches) and a instrumentality to 100 percent wellness for some Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison, it each suggests breathtaking things astir Spurs' attack. But scoring hasn't truly been the issue.

Still, back-to-back 1-0 wins person possibly hinted astatine antiaircraft improvement, which mightiness person travel astatine an advantageous time: Six of their adjacent 7 opponents are 13th oregon worse successful the Premier League table. Sturdy defence and an improving onslaught could effect successful a blistery streak and a drastic betterment successful Spurs' Champions League odds.

Eintracht Frankfurt

- Current position: 5th successful the Bundesliga (one constituent extracurricular the apical four)
- Odds of reaching adjacent year's Champions League, per 538: 45% to decorativeness successful the apical four, 1% to triumph this year's Champions League
- Results since restart: 2 wins and 2 draws successful each competitions (2.0 points per game)

Die Adler got into the Champions League the hard mode past year, finishing 11th successful the Bundesliga but beating Real Betis, Barcelona, West Ham and Rangers successful succession to triumph the Europa League. Since they qualified for the Champions League knockout rounds, they can't instrumentality the aforesaid way this clip around; either they triumph the full happening (unlikely) oregon they decorativeness successful apical 4 successful Germany.

Despite adding Champions League play to the docket, they person improved their cardinal stats dramatically since past season.

Changes successful cardinal Eintracht rankings from the past 2 seasons (Bundesliga only)

- Goals per match: from 11th to second
- Shots per possession: from 13th to 15th
- xG per shot: from 15th to first
- Goals per lucifer allowed: from eighth to fourth
- Shots per possession allowed: from 5th to third
- xG per changeable allowed: from 5th to ninth
- xG differential: from 12th to fourth

Eintracht mislaid Filip Kostic, the Europa League's Player of the Season, to Juventus successful the summer, but replaced him with 2 of the season's astir inspired additions. Veteran Mario Gotze has stayed steadfast (he's astatine 2,161 minutes successful each competitions) and has led the squad with 35 chances created and 5.1 expected assists (xA), but helium has been lone the team's second-best addition.

Up front, 24-year aged Randal Kolo Muani, brought successful via a escaped transportation from Nantes, has 12 goals and 11 assists successful each competitions. His signifier was bully capable to gain him a spot connected France's World Cup roster, and said signifier mightiness person really improved since Bundesliga play resumed: He has scored 4 goals successful his past 3 matches. Eintracht inactive doesn't sprout arsenic overmuch arsenic the mean Bundesliga team, but with Kolo Muani, Gotze and the endlessly originative Jesper Lindstrom, their changeable prime has skyrocketed.

Like Tottenham, however, Eintracht's biggest contented is the extent of challengers arsenic overmuch arsenic anything. Both RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund person been fantabulous since the restart, and similar Dortmund, stubborn underdog Union Berlin has won each lucifer since the restart. Eintracht is conscionable 5 points down league person Bayern but sits successful conscionable 5th place. They're lone a constituent up of sixth-place Freiburg, too.

Panic level (1-5): 3

Eintracht's underlying xG figures suggest they've been a spot fortunate since the restart: they've taken 8 points from 4 matches, but their xG differential is minus-0.6 per match. Granted, their xG differential for the play is amended than either Union's oregon Freiburg's, but it's hard to accidental their existent signifier volition warrant them a top-four finish. They mightiness person to footwear things up a notch contempt having a knockout circular conflict with Napoli connected the horizon.

AC Milan

- Current position: sixth successful Serie A (zero points extracurricular the apical four)
- Odds of reaching adjacent year's Champions League, per 538: 50% to decorativeness successful the apical four, 1% to triumph this year's Champions League
- Results since restart: 1 win, 2 draws, 5 losses successful each competitions (0.6 points per game)

Oh, dear. For arsenic poorly arsenic Chelsea and Liverpool are playing, their struggles bash not clasp a candle to those of the defending Scudetto winners. Their likelihood of finishing successful the apical 4 successful Serie A are inactive solid, some due to the fact that of a bully commencement to the play and due to the fact that of Juventus' caller 15-point penalty (and virtual elimination from top-four contention). But trends are... not benignant to the Rossoneri.

Their results since the restart:

- Road triumph implicit Salernitana (currently 16th successful Serie A), 2-1. Fine.
- Home gully with Roma (third), 2-2. Not optimal, but fine.
- Extra-time location nonaccomplishment to Torino (seventh), 1-0, successful the Coppa Italia. Not great.
- Road gully with Lecce (14th), 2-2. Unnecessary.
- Blowout nonaccomplishment to Inter (second), 3-0, successful the Supercoppa Italiana successful Saudi Arabia. Oh no.
- Blowout roadworthy nonaccomplishment to Lazio (fourth), 4-0. OH NO.
- Blowout location nonaccomplishment to Sassuolo (15th), 5-2. WHAT IN THE WORLD.
- Another nonaccomplishment to Inter, 1-0, successful league play.

After getting outscored 12-2 successful their erstwhile 3 matches, you could accidental that the 1-0 decision was a measurement successful the close direction. Maybe. Their defence held Inter to lone a mates of prime chances and 0.87 xG implicit 15 shots, which, aft getting torched repeatedly, is so an improvement. But they besides got unopen retired for the 3rd clip successful 4 matches (and for the 2nd clip successful a enactment against Inter) and managed conscionable 4 shots worthy 0.32 xG. Which is to accidental they created astir nothing.

Panic level (1-5): 5

Milan's coagulated pre-World Cup tally gave them immoderate borderline for error, but they've conscionable astir utilized it up by being 1 of the worst teams successful Serie A implicit the past month. They've averaged conscionable 0.8 points successful league play since the restart, and their xG differential successful that span (-0.5 per match) ranks 16th, astir relegation worthy.

Their defence has been problematic each play -- they're allowing 1.4 goals per lucifer (13th) and 0.10 xG per changeable (also 13th) successful league play -- and has gotten worse since an wounded to goalkeeper Mike Maignan. They've allowed the astir set-piece goals successful the league portion scoring the second-fewest, and present their open-play onslaught has disappeared, too. It's not conscionable a finishing slump either: Their six goals successful the past 7 matches person travel from shots worthy conscionable 6.3 xG.

They spent €32 cardinal connected attacker Charles De Ketelaere, who has yet to people successful 24 matches this season, and they are arsenic reliant arsenic ever connected 36-year aged Olivier Giroud -- who, on with nine teammate Theo Hernandez, played heavy into the World Cup with France -- for goals.

After a agelong bid of fantabulous moves successful caller years, the roster has grown stale, and Stefano Pioli has yet to find answers. If the answers appear, they could rally to a semi-easy top-four finish. But said rally amended statesman soon.

Atletico Madrid

- Current position: 4th successful LaLiga (three points up of 5th place)
- Odds of reaching adjacent year's Champions League, per 538: 59% to decorativeness successful the apical four
- Results since restart: six wins, 3 draws and 1 nonaccomplishment successful each competitions (2.1 points per game)

Diego Simeone's squad near itself with immoderate enactment to bash this season. At the break, Atleti were 5th successful LaLiga, tied with some Athletic Club and Real Betis astatine 24 points and narrowly up of 3 different teams (Osasuna, Rayo Vallecano and Villarreal). And aft finishing past successful a beauteous anemic Champions League group, they ditched immoderate wage arsenic well, loaning retired forwards Joao Felix (to Chelsea) and Matheus Cunha (to Wolves) and selling defender Felipe to Nottingham Forest. They brought successful Memphis Depay from Barcelona via inexpensive transfer, but helium has played lone 20 minutes for them.

No matter!

Despite the turnover and contempt finishing the autumn successful mediocre form, Atleti has recovered coagulated signifier successful the caller year. They've mislaid lone to Barcelona, and adjacent that was an unfortunate result: They doubled Barcelona's changeable attempts (20 to 10) and astir tripled their xG (1.84 to 0.66). Draws with Almeria and Getafe person prevented them from steering further from danger, but with different top-four contenders faltering -- Villarreal person mislaid doubly successful a row, Real Betis person mislaid 3 of four, and Athletic conscionable won their archetypal league lucifer successful six tries -- they person inactive built a spot of a cushion.

Panic level (1-5): 2

They person the champion xG differential successful LaLiga and they're 3rd successful points, since the restart. That's contempt some turnover up beforehand -- they released Luis Suarez implicit the summer, past temporarily offloaded Felix -- and a miserable finishing slump from Antoine Griezmann, who has attempted 24 shots worthy 3.0 xG but scored lone once. Their defence has rounded nicely into Simeone-esque form, and their onslaught volition apt advancement to the mean soon, particularly if Depay finds a rhythm.

Even with Real Sociedad looking similar it has staying powerfulness successful 3rd place, it's hard to prime against Atletico to capable the 4th Champions League spot successful LaLiga.

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