Power Ranking the Top 20 European Clubs: Atletico and Spurs Drop, Chelsea Climb

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2014

Power Ranking the Top 20 European Clubs: Atletico and Spurs Drop, Chelsea Climb

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Welcome back for our latest update on the top-performing clubs in Europe.

    This weekend, we've had a big fixture list from all the major leagues with some surprise results involving teams at the top in Spain in particular.

    Borussia Dortmund, Napoli and Tottenham also failed to pick up three points in their respective divisions.

    Let's find out how that affects the top 20!

Honourable Mentions and Dropouts

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Bayer Leverkusen's worrying form continues apace, and they slide out of our 20 as a result. They lost 3-1 at Wolfsburg at the weekend to make it four defeats on the bounce in all competitions and five in seven overall.

    Sporting Lisbon left it late to turn around an away defeat, but two goals in the last 20 minutes gave them a 2-1 victory at Rio Ave to move back into second place in the Portuguese Primeira Liga.

    Galatasaray won 1-0 in their big match against Besiktas in Turkey, leapfrogging their rivals into second place. With Fenerbahce drawing, Roberto Mancini's men have closed the gap at the top to just four points.

    Villarreal got back to winning ways thanks to a last-minute penalty save on Monday night as they claimed a 2-1 win at Espanyol. Villarreal are fifth in La Liga which is four points off Athletic in fourth.

20. Ajax

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    Last Week: New

    Movement: New

    Ajax bounced back from their midweek Europa League disappointment to record a thumping 4-0 victory in the Eredivisie at the weekend.

    Siem de Jong, Lerin Duarte (twice) and Ricardo Kishna hit the back of the net against AZ to leave Ajax six points clear at the top of the table and looking good for another league title.

    The Dutch club have been in good form domestically for some time and deserve to take their place in the top 20 at last.

19. Schalke

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    Martin Meissner/Associated Press

    Last Week: 18

    Movement: -1

    Schalke's four-game winning streak came to an end before the weekend as they were held to a home 0-0 draw by Mainz.

    Still placed in fourth in the Bundesliga, Schalke shouldn't be too downhearted by the result having made up good ground on the two sides immediately above them in recent weeks—and even this single point brings them closer as the weekend itself played out in surprising fashion.

18. Athletic Bilbao

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Last Week: 19

    Movement: +1

    Athletic Bilbao ensured Real Betis' horror season continued with a routine 2-0 win away from home with two Betis players seeing red during the game.

    Iker Muniain scored a penalty, and Guillermo added a late second to wrap up the points for the Basque side.

    These three points leave them comfortably suspended in fourth place, four ahead of their nearest challengers for the final Champions League place yet well out of the three-way race for the title.

17. Tottenham Hotspur

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Last Week: 15

    Movement: -2

    Tottenham suffered a big blow in their race for fourth place in the Premier League as they went down 1-0 to struggling Norwich City on Sunday.

    It wasn't Spurs' best performance of recent weeks by a long way, and they found opposition stopper John Ruddy in good form.

    That result leaves Spurs six points off the Champions League places and dropping in our rankings.

16. Everton

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    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    Last Week: 16

    Movement: None

    Everton suffered an unlucky last-minute defeat at the weekend against Premier League leaders Chelsea.

    The 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge probably leaves Everton without much remaining hope of sealing a top-four finish, but they still have lots to play for this season. Their performance doesn't warrant them dropping any further in our rankings.

15. Benfica

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    Armando Franca/Associated Press

    Last Week: 17

    Movement: +2

    Benfica extended their lead at the top of the table to five points after a win over Vitoria Guimaraes on Monday night. Their victory came thanks to a superbly worked team goal, culminating in a deft chip over the goalkeeper and tap home into the empty net from Lazar Markovic.

    Coupled with Porto's shock home defeat to Estoril, Benfica are now heavy favourites to win the Liga Sagres.

14. Napoli

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    Pressphoto/Associated Press

    Last Week: 13

    Movement: -1

    Napoli already looked out of the title race before this weekend, but a 1-1 home draw against Genoa confirmed it. In fact, they need to find some consistency in their domestic form to avoid getting dragged into a battle for third place—the last Champions League spot in Serie A.

    They still have a comfortable six-point buffer over fourth-placed Fiorentina, but with Roma and then Fiorentina themselves to play in the next four games, it's looking a little too close for comfort suddenly.

13. Monaco

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    Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press

    Last Week: 14

    Movement: +1

    AS Monaco' Ligue 1 title hunt is still on course—or just about.

    They left it very, very late to record a 3-2 home win over seventh-placed Reims on Friday with Layvin Kurzawa again proving his ability in front of goal with a 90th-minute winner after the away side were reduced to 10 men late on.

    Twice, Monaco had led, only to be pegged back before their winner late on sparked scenes of joy. The result left them temporarily two points behind leaders PSG ahead of their game on Sunday.

12. Borussia Dortmund

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Last Week: 11

    Movement: -1

    Borussia Dortmund had improved to the tune of three straight victories recently, but that came crashing to an end after a heavy 3-0 defeat at relegation strugglers Hamburg.

    Dortmund never looked in the game, and Hamburg, which had lost four in a row before this weekend, scored a goal either side of half-time to take control before the late spectacular third came from a free-kick.

    Dortmund remain in third place in the Bundesliga.

11. Atletico Madrid

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    Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

    Last Week: 7

    Movement: -4

    A big drop this week for Atletico Madrid after a disappointing performance and heavy defeat.

    Level on points at the top, the motivation to stay involved in the title race should be all they need to play at their highest level every week. But football rarely works that way, and Atleti went down 3-0 at Osasuna on Sunday.

    This was their second defeat in three league games, meaning they have only scored in two of their last six games in all competitions—with four defeats.

10. Liverpool

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Last Week: 12

    Movement: +2

    Liverpool were involved in one of the games of the weekend again, and they ran out 4-3 victors over Swansea City after a topsy-turvy fixture.

    Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson both netted a brace, the latter scoring the winning goal after the Reds had twice surrendered leads.

    The win keeps Liverpool in touch with the league leaders, four points off the pace, while also opening up a six-point gap between themselves and Spurs in fifth in the race for the Champions League places.

9. Roma

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    Studio FN/Associated Press

    Last Week: 10

    Movement: +1

    AS Roma picked up a 1-0 win at Bologna at the weekend thanks to a Radja Nainggolan strike before half-time.

    That was the only goal of the game and kept Roma nine points behind the Serie A leaders Juventus. At this stage, barring a collapse from Juve, it looks as though Roma will claim second.

8. Arsenal

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    Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

    Last Week: 9

    Movement: +1

    A good performance and a comfortable win were exactly what Arsenal would have hoped for after their Champions League disappointments.

    They routinely took apart Sunderland in their 4-0 win with Tomas Rosicky putting the finishing touches on another excellent team goal.

    Arsenal remain second in the table, one point off the top.

7. PSG

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Last Week: 8

    Movement: +1

    The irrepressible Zlatan Ibrahimovic was at the centre of things again as he netted another hat-trick for Paris Saint-Germain at the weekend.

    PSG remain top and clear by five points thanks to a 4-2 win at Toulouse.

    Ezequiel Lavezzi scored the second for his team just after the break with Ibrahimovic netting the others.

6. Barcelona

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Last Week: 6

    Movement: None

    Barcelona, like Atletico Madrid, suffered a costly defeat at the weekend as they look for another league title.

    Unlike Atleti, though, they lost to rather impressive opposition: sixth-place Real Sociedad, which continue their own fight for European football next season.

    A goal from Leo Messi was not enough as Antoine Griezmann and Co. condemned Barca to their third league defeat of the season.

5. Manchester City

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Last Week: 4

    Movement: -1

    Manchester City made very hard work of their home win over Stoke City with Yaya Toure netting the only goal of the game in the 70th minute.

    Although they can afford to see it as "job done" in terms of getting the points on the board, City seem to be struggling to find their best form at the most important time of the season; they need to have their best players back on top of their game quickly—and a fit Sergio Aguero wouldn't go amiss either.

4. Chelsea

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    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    Last Week: 5

    Movement: +1

    Chelsea picked up a win by the same scoreline as Manchester City, but their more difficult opposition and the fact it keeps them top of the Premier League dictates that they rise above City in our rankings.

    John Terry scored the last-minute winner to keep his team atop the table by a single point with 11 matches left to play.

3. Juventus

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    Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3

    Movement: None

    No change in our top three as they all claimed victories.

    Juventus remain top in Italy's Serie A thanks to a 1-0 derby win over Torino with Carlos Tevez scoring the winning goal.

    Antonio Conte's team are the highest scorers in the league, have won more and lost fewer than anybody else and now have a nine-point lead which they look far from surrendering. Another title beckons.

2. Real Madrid

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Last Week: 2

    Movement: None

    Real Madrid were the big winners in Spain's La Liga this weekend as they ran out easy 3-0 winners against Elche to go three points clear at the top—and then sat back and watched as their rivals crashed.

    Atletico and Barcelona's respective defeats at last opens a gap at the top, and Real Madrid will now hope to continue showing the consistency which has seen them win 13 of their last 15 league matches.

    Asier Illarramendi, Gareth Bale and Isco were the scorers against Elche.

1. Bayern Munich

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Last Week: 1

    Movement: None

    Bayern Munich remain top of our rankings and top of the Bundesliga after another goal fest at the weekend.

    Few teams can live with the German giants and midtable Hannover certainly couldn't, swatted aside 4-0 as Bayern picked up another three points on the road.

    Thomas Mueller scored twice and Thiago Alcantara and Mario Mandzukic also netted as Bayern's lead was extended to 19 points.