Power Ranking the Top 20 European Clubs

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2014

Power Ranking the Top 20 European Clubs

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    Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press

    Welcome once again, world football fans, to the latest edition of the European club power rankings.

    Almost all the major domestic leagues are back up and running now after their winter breaks, with just the German Bundesliga enjoying an extended period of downtime—but they kick-off again this coming weekend.

    We've tried to incorporate their pre-winter break form as usual, though with teams around them in the rankings playing, it could mean they rise or fall depending on results.

    Check out a new leader and a new entrant in the top 20!

Honourable Mentions

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Newcastle United continued their impressive season with a 3-1 away win at West Ham to close the gap on the top seven.

    Fiorentina got back to winning ways with a 3-0 success at bottom club Catania to stay in the hunt for a Champions League place.

    Athletic Bilbao came from a goal down to finish strongly and sweep Real Valladolid aside by a 4-2 scoreline.

    Villarreal meanwhile remain just two points behind Athletic, who sit in fourth, after a 2-0 win over Almeria.

    Lille lost further ground on the top two in Ligue 1 after a 2-0 reversal at Saint Etienne. They've now failed to win their last three.

20. Ajax

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    Last Week: N/R

    Differential: New!

    If ever there was a "big" 1-0 win, Ajax's victory over PSV Eindhoven is probably it.

    Not only was the win against one of their big historical rivals, but it kept Ajax top of the Dutch Eredivisie on goal difference. As an added bonus, it brought PSV's two-game mini-revival to a halt—they remain marooned in mid-table.

    Ajax, meanwhile, have now won seven straight Eredivisie matches with five clean sheets in the process, difficult form to ignore.

19. Manchester United

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Last Week: 18

    Differential: -1

    Manchester United faced a tough test but also an opportunity when they faced Chelsea at the weekend; an opportunity to kick-start their season and at least prove they could compete with the top sides this season.

    They failed abjectly and were roundly beaten 3-1 by the London side.

    Chicharito Hernandez scored the goal after coming on as substitute, but with Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie both missing, there were more than a few questioning why he hadn't started the game.

18. Benfica

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    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    Last Week: 20

    Differential: +2

    Benfica's stride toward the Liga Sagres title got a big help with their defeat of Porto last week, but equally important is continuing to beat the lower sides.

    They did that with ease at the weekend, swiping aside mid-table Maritimo by a 2-0 scoreline thanks to a Rodrigo brace.

    Benfica lead the Primeira by two points and have won four on the spin.

17. Bayer Leverkusen

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Last Week: 16

    Differential: -1

    Bayer Leverkusen kick off their second half of the season away to Freiburg, who are struggling near the foot of the table.

    It will be imperative they start with three points to try and maintain their top-two position for as long as possible, especially having ended before the winter break with successive defeats.

16. Everton

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Last Week: 14

    Differential: -2

    Everton dropped a place in the Premier League this week, despite a fairly creditable draw at West Brom.

    Such is the nature of the top flight in England at present, even a single match which is not won is regarded as a blow to top-four aspirations.

    Kevin Mirallas scored their goal on Monday night, but it wasn't enough for all three points.

15. Monaco

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    Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press

    Last Week: 17

    Differential: +3

    Monaco got back to winning ways with a fine 2-0 win over Toulouse.

    The highlight from the game was undoubtedly a spectacular overhead kick from Lucas Ocampos.

    Left-back Layvin Kurzawa was also on the scoresheet—his second goal in two games.

14. Tottenham Hotspur

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    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Last Week: 15

    Differential: +1

    It's all looking rather rosy for Tottenham suddenly, who have put together a string of four successive wins in the league to move right back into contention for a top-four spot.

    Swansea City were their latest victims as Spurs ran out comfortable 3-1 winners away from home. Emmanuel Adebayor scored twice, with Chico Flores adding an own goal.

    Spurs are now fifth on 43 points, the same as Liverpool, who occupy the final Champions League spot above them.

13. Borussia Dortmund

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Last Week: 13

    Differential: None

    Dortmund get back into Bundesliga action at home to Augsburg on Saturday, looking to kick-start their season after injuries decimated the squad pre-winter break.

    BVB won only one of their last four and sit five points behind second place.

12. Napoli

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    Felice Calabro'/Associated Press

    Last Week: 11

    Differential: -1

    Napoli were minutes away from a fine away win at Bologna at the weekend—but 2-1 up and with their opponents a man light, they conceded a last-minute equaliser to drop two points.

    The 2-2 draw saw them both lose ground on the top two and see the gap between themselves and Fiorentina narrow, but they remain third in Serie A.

    Gonzalo Higuain scored again, this time from the penalty spot, with Jose Callejon netting the other.

11. Liverpool

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Last Week: 10

    Differential: -1

    Liverpool's home form has been largely excellent over the past few months, so a home game against mid-table Aston Villa would have been seen as another opportunity for three points.

    In the end, it took a big turnaround just either side of half-time for the Reds to even rescue a point after being surprised by Villa, who forced the home team into a big tactical reshuffle after taking a 2-0 lead.

    Daniel Sturridge and a Steven Gerrard penalty eventually restored parity and the game finished 2-2, just about leaving Liverpool in the Premier League's top four.

10. Roma

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    Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

    Last Week: 12

    Differential: +2

    AS Roma made it two wins from two, with two clean sheets thrown in for good measure, after dispatching Livorno 3-0 at the weekend.

    Mattia Destro, Kevin Strootman and Adem Ljajic were the goalscorers this time.

    Livorno might be struggling near the foot of Serie A, but Roma were not exactly free-scoring earlier this season, averaging just under two goals a game, so seven in their past two matches is a real upturn which they will hope to continue.

9. Arsenal

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Last Week: 7

    Differential: -2

    Arsenal won't have expected to drop in the rankings after a 2-0 win over Fulham—but they've been outmuscled by better results and performances around them.

    In truth, the Gunners were below par for large stretches of their victory, especially the first half, but they upped the tempo for a 15-20 minute spell after the break and simply blew Fulham apart.

    Santi Cazorla hit both goals for an ultimately routine win which leaves Arsenal still sitting atop the Premier League.

8. Real Madrid

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Last Week: 9

    Differential: +1

    Real Madrid rattled five goals past Real Betis without reply at the weekend, and four of the strikes were pretty spectacular.

    Cristiano Ronaldo hit the best of the lot with a top-corner rocket, but Gareth Bale's free kick was tasty too. Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and Alvaro Morata also were on target.

    It was a big win and a big weekend for Real, who closed the gap at the top considerably.

7. Chelsea

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Last Week: 8

    Differential: +1

    In case you hadn't noticed, Chelsea are pretty much in top form right now, results wise.

    That message was reinforced and hammered home as they swept aside Manchester United, albeit after the away side had made the better start to the game. A 3-1 scoreline was arguably reflective of the game as a whole, with Samuel Eto'o netting his first league treble for the Blues.

6. Barcelona

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    Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

    Last Week: 4

    Differential: -2

    It was most certainly a case of two points dropped for Barcelona at the weekend, as they failed to spark and only drew 1-1 at Levante.

    Barca in fact fell behind early on, needing a Gerard Pique header off a corner kick to level matters.

    They simply weren't anywhere near their fluid best, and though they remain top of La Liga, they've now drawn two in a row.

5. Manchester City

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Last Week: 6

    Differential: +2

    As crazy as it sounds, Manchester City keep on increasing their average goals scored per home game and are inching their way towards four per game in that regard.

    A 4-2 win over Cardiff City kept up that ratio, with Edin Dzeko hitting their 100th goal of the season in all competitions early on. Jesus Navas, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero all also hit the back of the net.

    That means the top three clubs in England now have an identical recent league form record: WWWWW.

    That's how tough it is going to be to win the Premier League this season.

4. Juventus

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Last Week: 5

    Differential: +1

    Speaking of teams with a five-straight-wins recent record, Juventus achieved the feat about two months ago; they still haven't dropped a point since then and their 4-2 win over Sampdoria makes it a phenomenal 12 Serie A wins in a row.

    Arturo Vidal scored twice, with Fernando Llorente scoring in between, before Paul Pogba sealed the win.

    Juve lead the table by eight points.

3. Atletico Madrid

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Last Week: 2

    Differential: -1

    Atletico Madrid blew their chance to go top of La Liga this weekend as their late kick-off ended in a 1-1 draw at home to Sevilla.

    David Villa's early goal was cancelled out by a second-half penalty for Sevilla, who finished the game with 10 men.

    This was Atleti's second consecutive draw, but they remain in second place in the table.

2. Bayern Munich

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    Steve Bardens/Getty Images

    Last Week: 1

    Differential: -1

    Bayern Munich still haven't restarted after the winter break, of course, so the drop is no reflection on them.

    They get cracking again on Wednesday 29 January, away to Stuttgart, and plenty of people will be watching to see if they can go the entire season unbeaten.

1. Paris Saint-Germain

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    Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press

    Last Week: 3

    Differential: +2

    Our new power rankings leaders are French Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

    PSG played at home to fifth-placed Nantes at the weekend and the away side might have been expected to put up a good challenge to the title holders—but PSG blew them away, winning 5-0.

    Of course, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored, twice in fact, and he was joined on the scoresheet by Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani and Thiago Motta.

    PSG are top of Ligue 1 by five points and deservedly take their place atop the rankings too.