Power Ranking the Top 20 European Clubs
Welcome to the second edition of B/R's weekly power rankings and, with a little more form to go by, it's starting to take shape.
We order European teams not on reputation or size, but on current form and how they're playing right now.
There's a new team atop the tree, while several new sides enjoy a moment in the sun, courtesy of decent starts and new leagues kicking off.
Here's last week's edition for comparison if you're interested and, without further ado, let's get to it.
The Gunners have recovered extremely well from their opening-day defeat to Aston Villa, but for them to join the top 20 is too soon. A result against Tottenham Hotspur next weekend would change things, though.
A solid start to the season saw Roma comfortably best Livorno with Erik Lamela on the bench. They've been weakened this summer and they're tough to gauge, so they're sitting out for now.
Brendan Rodgers has started the season with two wins, but was pushed close by Aston Villa on Saturday. Consider the Reds extremely unlucky to miss out this week.
After opening the season with back-to-back draws, PSG finally found a win to ease early-season concerns. Edinson Cavani is up and running in impressive fashion.
So far, so good for the Walter Mazzarri project but, given Inter's propensity to fall flat on their faces, we're not bumping them up just yet.
A disappointing draw to Heerenveen, in addition to their loss to AZ Alkmaar and good form from those around them, sees the Godenzonen drop out this week.
Played two, won two. Porto miss out only due to other teams impressing.
Gala only managed a draw with Bursaspor this weekend and it was enough for them to drop out.
20. PEC Zwolle
Movement: New Entry
There will be a lot of readers who have never heard of PEC Zwolle—a Dutch team currently shocking the fans of the Eredivisie.
They've scored 12 goals in four games, won each and every one of them, and sit top of the table on 12 points.
The Blauvwingers seem to be enjoying decent success by picking up Feyenoord outcasts such as Kamohelo Mokotjo and Guyon Fernandez, with the two combining for five of the side's goals so far.
How long will this fairytale last? Probably not much longer, but this week Zwolle enjoy some deserved limelight.
Fredy Montero is firing Sporting up the table, securing first place for the second consecutive week.
The Lisbon outfit beat Academia to the tune of a 4-0 scoreline this weekend and if you combine that with the 5-1 opening win, it's fair to say you've got a team in form.
Perhaps most remarkable is the financial duress they're under while pulling off these results.
18. Tottenham Hotspur
Movement: New Entry
Tottenham have crept into our top 20 this week due to the fact that, despite looking a little rocky, they are winning games.
The squad is yet to gel and while it hasn't been decimated by the absence of Gareth Bale, there is a lack of spark and creativity when teams shut them out in the final third.
Two Premier League games, two 1-0 wins courtesy of Roberto Soldado's penalties. What tips them in favour ahead of the likes of Liverpool? The best of this side is far, far away and the Europa League crushing of Dinamo Tbilisi helps.
17. Athletic Bilbao
Movement: New Entry
Athletic Club struggled a little in their week one win, but Ernesto Valverde's troops are starting to gel and clicked into gear against Osasuna.
In one of the strangest derbies you'll ever watch—los Leones played rivals Osasuna in fellow rivals Real Sociedad's stadium—the "home" team produced a brilliant performance to make it six points from six.
Oscar de Marcos provided a slick finish to ice the cake, while Aymeric Laporte was incredible in defence.
16. PSV Eindhoven
Movement: Down Four
PSV Eindhoven stole a draw in the closing stages away to Heracles this weekend, ensuring they continue their unbeaten start to the season.
They've accrued 10 points from four games and drawn with Milan in their UEFA Champions League qualifier, using a side made up almost entirely of U-21 players.
Phillip Cocu, an ex-Barcelona player, has them playing some free-flowing, scintillating stuff—all it needs is a bit of composure to round it off.
Movement: New Entry
Napoli started the season with a bang, putting three past Bologna in a one-sided match.
New signings Gonzalo Higuain, Jose Callejon, Raul Albiol and Pepe Reina seem to have settled quickly, but it's the club's Slovakian mainstay who stole the show.
Marek Hamsik scored two of the three strikes to bury the Rossoblu and, if the first game of the season is anything to go by, the Partenopei are title contenders.
Movement: Down Three
Monaco dropped their first points of the Ligue 1 season, drawing 0-0 with Toulouse at the weekend.
It marks their first blank on the scoresheet since recruiting talents such as Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez, serving as a valuable reminder that they're not the complete package yet.
They're still second in the league, though, and boast an unbeaten record to boot.
Movement: Up Three
A late Andre-Pierre Gignac goal ensured Marseille maintain a perfect record in Ligue 1 this season.
Mathieu Valbuena was phenomenal once again, and when Dimitri Payet and Andre Ayew hit top form too, this team will dominate.
They're the top dogs of France so far and their 1-0 win away to Valenciennes this weekend proved they can grind out results.
Next up is an enticing home matchup with Monaco.
12. Bayer Leverkusen
Movement: Up One
Bayer Leverkusen overcame a tough test at the weekend, dispatching Borussia Monchengladbach by a 4-2 scoreline.
It's three wins from three for the Werkself, and Sami Hyypia's charges seem intent on proving this is a three-team—not two-team—league.
For now they are still clearly third-best outfit in the Bundesliga, but the signs are positive: keep this up and B04 will be flying up our rankings in no time.
11. Real Sociedad
Movement: Up Four
Real Sociedad will be disappointed with their 1-1 draw against Elche on Saturday, but it's an early lesson to manager Jagoba Arrasate regarding squad depth.
The midweek victory over Lyon was scintillating, with two wonder strikes from Antoine Griezmann and Haris Seferovic, but a team in this position needs to beat La Liga's minnows, too.
La Real will be everyone's favourite second team this season, but this bright start is only that—a bright start.
10. Shakhtar Donetsk
Movement: Down One
So it seems Shakhtar Donetsk are a fallible force after all.
After winning their first six fixtures at a canter, Mircea Lucescu's side finally came unstuck against Dnipro.
The side looks a little less formidable now that Fernandinho, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Razvan Rat have departed, and the reigning champions are in a state of flux as they integrate new signings.
Fernando, Fred and Bernard are the replacements, but they're not settled yet. The Hirnyky have been knocked off the top of the Ukrainian Premier League, but they'll be back, don't doubt it.
9. Manchester City
Movement: Down Six
Welcome to the Premier League, Manuel Pellegrini.
The hostile atmosphere in South Wales on Sunday inspired Cardiff City to a shock win against the 2011-12 champions, with Fraizer Campbell bagging a brace.
On a small pitch, in a loud stadium, City failed to break the Bluebirds down, with tactical discipline instilled in the home side's shape, formation and tendencies.
The Citizens were dominated at set pieces, and Joe Hart has again been called into question for his positioning and suspect aerial ability.
8. Real Madrid
Played two, won two, scored two. No, it's not the record of a mid-table club starting the season in solid, if unspectacular fashion, it's the record of the mighty Real Madrid.
They haven't quite settled yet under Carlo Ancelotti, but that's to be expected amid a summer of upheaval and change.
Xabi Alonso will miss three months, Asier Illarramendi is not fit and there's a Welsh bloke who they're rumoured to be interested in, clouding the future.
What's important is they're winning and keeping clean sheets—with or without Iker Casillas.
Jose Mourinho's second reign at Chelsea looked as if it were set to start with a bang, but since half-time against Hull City on the opening weekend, they've been a little underwhelming.
The fact that we believe they're underachieving, yet still sit unbeaten in the Premier League with seven points, just goes to show how high expectations are at Stamford Bridge.
The biggest question centres on why Romelu Lukaku hasn't been given a shot at the starting gig, but perhaps "The Happy One" intends to shock us all by starting him against Bayern Munich.
6. Manchester United
Manchester United have started the David Moyes era unbeaten, with one Community Shield title, one league win and one draw to date.
The 0-0 result against Chelsea was perhaps a little disappointing as neither team really went for the jugular, but the club at least look rather stable in the aftermath of Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement.
We're yet to see Shinji Kagawa, which is irking fans and neutrals alike, but the team look far more solid than many believed they would.
5. Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund's 1-0 win over Werder Bremen was commanding, sure, but the fact they only scored one goal is a concern.
Werder hardly threatened and only really had two attacks of note, but the propensity to nick an equaliser was present and BVB simply missed chance after chance to put the game to bed.
The same problem reared its head against Eintracht Braunschweig and it's a product of Jurgen Klopp changing the front four in his 4-2-3-1 formation.
Players are adjusting to each other, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is adapting and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's role is being refined.
Nevertheless, it's nine points out of nine for die Schwarzgelben.
4. Atletico Madrid
Movement: Up Six
The Vicente Calderon was set alight this weekend as Atletico Madrid smashed five goals past Rayo Vallecano without reply.
Diego Costa is looking monstrous, and with two wins and a draw against Barcelona under their belts, Diego Simeone won't be miserable for much longer.
They need another strong start to battle with the best and they've achieved that, and what matters now is how long they can keep it up. The squad is deeper than it was last year and they're no longer reliant on one man to score goals.
Movement: Up One
Juventus began their title defence with a steely 1-0 victory over Sampdoria.
The Bianconeri were uncharacteristically dominant—particularly in possession—and Carlos Tevez's lone goal on his league debut sealed all three points.
It wasn't quite the spectacle the 4-0 thrashing of Lazio was the previous week, but a clean sheet and a win is the perfect way to start the season. Paul Pogba continues to impress, while we're yet to see what Antonio Conte has in store for Fernando Llorente.
Good times for the Old Lady.
Movement: Down One
Barcelona stunned us with a 7-0 win over Levante last weekend, but Malaga brought them back down to earth.
Granted, they faced—and beat—los Boquerones without Lionel Messi, but the introduction of Andres Iniesta and good form of Cesc Fabregas should have seen them comfortably best the Andalusian outfit.
Instead they scored a single goal and, despite dominating the final third, came oh-so-close to conceding a fairly standard counter-attacking goal on two separate occasions.
It's still two wins from two, none conceded and eight scored—hardly time to panic—but it's enough to knock them off top spot this week.
1. Bayern Munich
Movement: Up One
It took just two weeks for Bayern Munich to reach the top spot in our power rankings as they continue their steady march to retain the Bundesliga title.
They're nowhere close to top gear as Pep Guardiola continues to tinker and play with the side, finding the right formula and formation to house his incredibly deep, talented squad.
But they're still formidable and ominous and, with the best yet to come, many teams are fearing the afternoon they have to face up to Pep's charges. Thiago Alcantara sustained a bad injury at the weekend, but such is the talent available, Bayern won't even be troubled by it on the pitch.
Three wins from three and back in a familiar spot at B/R—the pinnacle.