Power Ranking the Top 20 European Clubs

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterAugust 20, 2013

Power Ranking the Top 20 European Clubs

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    Welcome to the inaugural weekly ranking of Europe's top 20 clubs.

    English and Spanish clubs have played once, German clubs twice, Dutch thrice and the Ukrainians six times. It makes for a tough job to correlate those results, as a byproduct, some surprise names make the grade.

    Teams such as Athletic Bilbao, Valencia, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool were unlucky enough to miss out, as competition for a berth in the first week's copy is fierce.

    There is only one Serie A team in the rankings since the season starts this weekend.

20. Porto

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    FC Porto started their title defence with a win over minnows Vitoria Setubal, but they had to rely on some rather ridiculous antics from the opposing goalkeeper.

    After Porto drew level via the penalty spot, Vitoria's shot-stopper Pawel Kieszek headbutted goalscorer Josue in the aftermath and then pretended he was the victim, throwing himself to the floor in dramatic fashion.

    The referee wasn't fooled. He red-carded the 'keeper, and Porto scored two more to claim the victory.

19. Sporting

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    Crisis? What crisis?

    Sporting have had to sell off the bulk of their best assets—including Ricky van Wolfswinkel to Norwich City—but you wouldn't know it, as the Portuguese giants got off the mark with a 5-1 victory over FC Arouca.

    Fredy Montero bagged a hat-trick to make fans forget all about "The Wolf," and Colombia will hope he continues to perform in the build-up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

18. Ajax

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    A fire sale was expected this summer at Ajax, but so far all the key peripherals are still with the club and performing well.

    Toby Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen and Viktor Fischer have impressed early on, with the latter in particular maturing quickly into a key player.

    They recovered well from a Week 2 setback to beat rivals Feyenoord 2-1, courtesy of a Kolbeinn Sigthorsson brace.

17. Lyon

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    Lyon have been in decline over the past few seasons, but one thing has always remained constant: their ability to nurture young talent.

    That ability has now come to the fore with a collection of homegrown stars—Clement Grenier, Alexandre Lacazette, Maxime Gonalons, Samuel Umtiti—providing the spine of a talented, if shallow, squad.

    The re-emergence of a fit and motivated Yoann Gourcuff is a major factor in their great start to the season.

16. Marseille

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    Elie Baup's side have strengthened intelligently this time around, and it shows on the pitch. They're hitting their potential immediately and looked convincing in their two opening matches.

    Obvious weaknesses have been dealt with. Crucially, the side look capable of scoring more prolifically this year. With Dimitri Payet, Andre-Pierre Gignac and Mathieu Valbuena on board, they can match up to some of the best.

    Expect their form to continue.


15. Real Sociedad

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    Real Sociedad know they have a big season ahead, and winning on the first matchday was absolutely vital.

    They did so, looking very assured in their 2-0 win over Getafe despite resting key men Xabi Prieto and Antoine Griezmann. Carlos Vela was his usual imperious self, but Haris Seferovic is being given a real go up top.

    Depth could be an issue later in the season, but for now they look happy and settled.

14. Galatasaray

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    Galatasaray reminded the neutrals how strong they are at the Emirates Cup, with Didier Drogba putting on a masterclass to win the mini-tournament for Fatih Terim's side.

    They've carried that form into the opening day, beating Gaziantepspor by two goals to one. Wesley Sneijder is off the mark already, and star man Burak Yilmaz netted too.

    Over the summer, they secured the permanent signing of Felipe Melo to improve their defensive midfield quota. If last season is anything to go by, they'll be expected to push the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League yet again in 2014.

13. Bayer Leverkusen

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    So far, so good. Despite losing key personnel in Andre Schurrle and Dani Carvajal, Bayer Leverkusen have played two, won two and sit second in the table.

    They were rampant in Week 1, with Heung-Min Son and Sidney Sam simply too much for Freiburg to handle. They followed the win up with an impressive victory away to Stuttgart.

    Son has stepped into the void Schurrle left, Giulio Donati is excelling at right-back and Lars Bender is still around—it's pretty good to be a Werkself right now.

12. PSV Eindhoven

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    PSV Eindhoven have started the season in ridiculous fashion, winning all three of their games and collecting a goal difference of plus-nine.

    What's amazing is that they're dominating with a team full of kids. Jetro Willems, Karim Rekik, Adam Maher, Memphis Depay and Co. are all 22 years or younger.

    Phillip Cocu has the chance to build something special with this group.

11. Monaco

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    It would have been typical of midsummer hype for Monaco to walk into their opening two fixtures and fall flat on their faces.

    But the French principality have recorded two wins from two, with Emmanuel Riviere hitting a stupendous hat-trick in their second game at home to Montpellier to prove Radamel Falcao isn't the only big cat in town.

    It'll be a tough ask for Les Rouge et Blancs to continue this form given the attention they're drawing, but for now they're one of the form sides in Europe.

10. Atletico Madrid

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    Atletico Madrid have started the season extremely well, but Diego Simeone's comments paint the bigger picture.

    Per Sky Sports, the Argentine tactician has branded La Liga "boring" and admits it's a two-horse race until the television deal for financial distribution is revised.

    His team, and specifically Diego Costa, did extremely well to secure a 3-1 away win at Sevilla. While the fans are delighted with the football and team on show, it's going to take a bit more to convince their manager they're ready to push for the big time just yet.

9. Shakhtar Donetsk

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    The Ukrainian Premier League has been underway for some time, and it's business as usual as far as Mircea Lucescu and Shakhtar Donetsk are concerned.

    Played six, won six, scored 15 and only conceded two, they are looking far and away the best side in the division once again.

    Shakhtar may have lost Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Borussia Dortmund and Fernandinho to Manchester City, but they have recruited yet more young talent in Fernando, Bernard and Fred.

8. Real Madrid

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    It's tough to gauge Real Madrid's strength at this stage. The game they played against Real Betis could have been won 6-1 just as easily as it could have been lost 4-1.

    In the end the hosts claimed a 2-1 victory, with new boy Isco playing the role of saviour for Los Blancos. He assisted the first goal, moved the ball quickly to instigate attacks and scored a late winner.

    Carlo Ancelotti has a lot to do, but he'll be pleased with what he saw.

7. Chelsea

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    Credit to Hull City for holding onto just a two-goal deficit, as at one stage, it looked like Chelsea might put 10 past Allan McGregor.

    The dependable Oscar got the Blues off to a great start after Kevin De Bruyne's fantastic through ball, and Frank Lampard made amends for an early penalty miss by slamming home a 25-yard free kick.

    Defensively very solid, attacking with numbers and incisiveness; this is Jose Mourinho's Chelsea. Beware the resurgent force.

6. Manchester United

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    Manchester United survived a stern test at the Liberty Stadium, claiming a pivotal 4-1 victory over Swansea City.

    For David Moyes, getting off to a winning start was beyond critical, and Robin van Persie delivered two stunning strikes to help seal three points for the Red Devils.

    Danny Welbeck has already doubled his goal tally from last season and seems set to become a key player under the new manager.

5. Borussia Dortmund

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    Borussia Dortmund have looked a little rusty—shaky, even—but they're getting the job done, and that's what counts.

    A 4-0 win over Augsburg on the opening weekend saw new signing Pierre Emerick Aubameyang grab a hat-trick, but it was far from plain sailing. The home side looked sharper and better for long periods.

    The following 2-1 victory over Eintracht Braunschweig was much, much harder than it should have been, but wunderkind Jonas Hofmann came up trumps with a sublime finish to set the ball rolling.

4. Juventus

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    With the Serie A season set to kick off this weekend, Juventus are the only Italian side in our rankings this week courtesy of the Supercoppa match versus Lazio.

    They crushed the Biancocelesti 4-0, with former Lazio right back Stephan Lichtsteiner grabbing two assists and a goal after Paul Pogba had opened the scoring with a fantastic strike on the turn.

    Carlos Tevez started, but we're yet to see what Fernando Llorente can bring to the side.

3. Manchester City

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    Manchester City announced their intentions to reclaim the Premier League title on Monday night, smashing Newcastle United to pieces in a 4-0 home victory.

    The Citizens were already up 2-0 and cruising when Steven Taylor was shown a straight red card for clattering Sergio Aguero around the head, and from there it was a one-sided, dominant display.

    The free-flowing formation Manuel Pellegrini set up was a fantastic watch, and he clearly has every player on board with his own philosophies.


2. Bayern Munich

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    Bayern Munich have eased their way into the Pep Guardiola regime, winning both Bundesliga games but not by the landslide scores their fans have come to expect.

    The 4-1-4-1 formation employed by Pep leaves them a little susceptible to counterattacks—proven by Borussia Monchengladbach in a fiercely contested opening encounter—but they're getting the job done as they adapt to a new style.

    The squad depth is just absurd, and Die Bayern's wealth of options will ensure everyone remains fresh as a daisy throughout the season.

1. Barcelona

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    What better way to start your season than by beating Levante 7-0?

    Barcelona came tearing out of the blocks, faith renewed in a tiki-taka system restored by Gerardo "Tata" Martino, and set the tone early on with an Alexis Sanchez goal inside three minutes.

    Pedro, Cesc Fabregas and Lionel Messi were running riot, and at the halftime interval the hosts were up 6-0. The Granotes changed things at the break and stemmed the flow of goals, but they still ended up on the wrong side of an eventual 7-0 scoreline.