Power Ranking the Top 20 European Clubs: Man Utd Plummet, Juventus Rise
Welcome to the first edition of our European club power rankings in 2014!
With the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 still on a winter hiatus, it's a tough assignment to rank the teams. Borussia Dortmund have fallen one spot as a product of those around them exchanging places, but we've maintained both Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich's positions.
Take a look, get stuck in and tell us where you think we've gone wrong in the comments below!
Real Sociedad and Athletic Club
The former beat the latter in a fierce Basque derby on Sunday, dropping Athletic out of our top 20 and pulling La Real into the honourable mentions.
Benfica and Porto
They're both waiting for Sporting to slip up at the top of the Liga Sagres, and the latter drew with the Lisbon club in the Taca de Portugal recently.
20. Manchester United
Last Week: 15
Manchester United have lost two consecutive home games for the second time this season.
Boos rang around Old Trafford following the Red Devils' loss to Swansea in the FA Cup third round, with many stalwart fans used to consistent success left in a state of stunned shock.
They drop to the very bottom of our power rankings and remain lucky to be in.
19. Shakhtar Donetsk
Last Week: N/R
Welcome back to the big time, Shakhtar Donetsk.
Their exit from the UEFA Champions League Group Stage, in addition to early stutterings in the Premier Liga, saw them drop out of contention for several months, but Mircea Lucescu has found a magic formula and looks set for Ukrainian domination once again.
They're five points clear domestically and look primed for a deep run in the UEFA Europa League.
Last Week: 20
Sporting rounded off the first half of the Liga Sagres season in first place despite the star-studded squads of Benfica and Porto chasing their tails.
Their final action of 2013 was to draw 0-0 with Porto in the Taca de Portugal (cup), but in truth only excellent goalkeeping by the Dragoes' Fabiano kept them in the tie.
17. Tottenham Hotspur
Last Week: 18
Tim Sherwood's 4-4-2 honeymoon didn't last long.
We analysed the system here and asked: Will it hold up against the big sides? In losing convincingly to Arsenal, we can essentially assume the answer is no.
Their New Year's Day victory at Old Trafford was spectacular, though, and it keeps them about level in our rankings.
Last Week: 17
Ligue 1 took the weekend off again, but a tasty affair between Monaco and Vannes took centre stage in the Coupe de France instead.
Les Monegasques walked out 3-2 winners courtesy of Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco goals.
The principality outfit resume league action against Montpellier on Friday.
15. Bayer Leverkusen
Last Week: 15
Bayer Leverkusen have their sights on a second-place finish in the Bundesliga season, but Sami Hyypia will know he must tweak his roster to maintain this great form.
The Werkself resume service at Freiburg on January 25, and by then the Finnish legend will hope to have secured a new left-back. According to an article by Sportal.de (in German), Manchester United's Fabio is a target.
Last Week: 14
Everton stuttered on New Year's Day, drawing 1-1 with Stoke in the type of game they are now expected to win.
With great progress comes great expectations, and fans were disappointed with the result, but at least they got to see Nikica Jelavic find the goal trail in a convincing FA Cup win just four days later.
Seamus Coleman scored again. Obviously.
13. Borussia Dortmund
Last Week: 12
Borussia Dortmund are going to have to hit form very quickly following the Bundesliga's return to action, as they currently sit 12 points off Bayern Munich.
Mats Hummels' injury is supposedly coming along rather nicely, and Ilkay Gundogan has finally returned to training following a complicated spinal issue.
It will be interesting to see how Robert Lewandowski plays now he's officially committed his future to Bayern Munich.
Last Week: 10
Roma kicked off the second half of their season with a maiden defeat.
It took 18 games for a team to beat the Giallorossi, but when it finally happened, Rudi Garcia's team appeared to implode from within.
They were outdone tactically by Juventus, lost by three goals and had two men sent off. Nightmare.
Last Week: 13
Napoli were rampant during their 2-0 victory over Sampdoria on Monday.
It was an enthralling match that could have housed six goals on a different day, and the attacking trident of Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens and Gonzalo Higuain is starting to look a premier outfit.
The match also brought a clean sheet all too rare in Naples nowadays. It's a perfect start for Rafa Benitez.
Last Week: 10
Liverpool avenged their demons in a 2-0 win over Hull City on New Year's Day, putting to bed memories of their 3-1 loss at the KC Stadium earlier this season—widely accepted as the club's worst performance this season.
They followed that up with a 2-0 win over Oldham to progress in the FA Cup, but it wasn't all rosy for the Anfield side. Victor Moses seems to be on his very last chance in Red.
Last Week: 9
Chelsea are now settling into a very Jose Mourinho-esque groove, winning games convincingly and refusing to concede goals.
Their immense 3-0 crushing of Southampton on New Year's Day was followed up by a 2-0 victory over Derby County in tough circumstances.
The Rams parked the bus, but Willian's excellence and Oscar's drive broke through.
8. Real Madrid
Last Week: 7
Real Madrid looked pretty shoddy on their return to Liga action initially but ramped it up in the second half and bagged a convincing win.
Karim Benzema finally broke the deadlock in the 67th minute, and Cristiano Ronaldo added two late on—a perfect start in front of an expectant home crowd.
A clean sheet and three goals scored? Carlo Ancelotti would take that for the rest of the season.
Last Week: 8
Arsenal's dominant showing against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday was proof there is plenty left in the North London outfit's tank.
Fans are fearful their side will run out of steam, but they look to have the buzz and enthusiasm of champions elect.
Theo Walcott's ACL injury is a big blow, but can Serge Gnabry use it as his big break?
6. Manchester City
Last Week: 4
Manchester City came close to an almighty slip-up in the FA Cup on Saturday and will settle for a replay with Blackburn Rovers.
Dedryck Boyata had another suspect game and was eventually sent off with just a few minutes remaining, and Manuel Pellegrini will likely send a stronger side out at the Etihad Stadium to get the job done.
On New Year's Day they beat Swansea City in an enthralling encounter.
Last Week: 6
Juventus dismantled Roma with ease on the way to a convincing 3-0 victory on Sunday night.
The result puts the Bianconeri eight points clear at the top of Serie A after just 18 games, and given the inconsistencies Napoli are showing, it looks set to be a third straight Scudetto for Antonio Conte's men.
Can anyone stop them?
Last Week: 5
Barcelona returned to usual form this weekend by smashing Elche 4-0.
By the second half the opposition weren't even bothering to attack, simply slamming 10 men behind the ball and trying to protect their goal difference in preparation for the relegation battle they're set to face.
Alexis Sanchez became the first hat-trick hero of Camp Nou that wasn't an academy product since Seydou Keita in 2009.
3. Paris Saint-Germain
Last Week: 3
We haven't seen Paris Saint-Germain since late December, and they'll return to action—one meaningless friendly against Real Madrid aside—on Wednesday when they tackle Stade Brest 29 in the Coupe de France.
With no tangible results it becomes difficult to place PSG effectively, so we'll leave them where they ended up at the end of 2013: third, and in dominant form.
2. Atletico Madrid
Last Week: 2
The questions surrounding Atletico Madrid this weekend were all to do with momentum.
Were Los Colchoneros simply thriving because of the steam they'd built up over the course of a packed fixture list? Were they set to falter after the break?
A 1-0 away win at Malaga set them off on the right foot, securing a clean sheet and seeing Koke hit the scoresheet once again.
1. Bayern Munich
Last Week: 1
It becomes tough to finish off the top of these rankings when the Bundesliga clubs are on an extended winter break, but we don't believe Bayern Munich should move down when they haven't had a chance to fight back against the opposition.
In the meantime, Jan Kirchhoff has joined Schalke on an 18-month loan deal to find regular football—could die Roten enter the market for a new centre-back?
We eagerly await Friday, January 24, for Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Bayern.
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