Power Ranking the Top 20 European Clubs: Juventus, Atletico, Napoli Rise

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterMarch 11, 2014

Power Ranking the Top 20 European Clubs: Juventus, Atletico, Napoli Rise

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    Salvatore Laporta/Associated Press

    Welcome to the latest edition of our European club power rankings, where we have ranked the top 20 teams on the continent according to their form, results and performances over the past month or so.

    Two of our top 10 lost in shocking fashion, there's plenty of movement in the middle of the pack and we have two entrants in the lower order.

    Read on to find out how the cards fall this week!

Honourable Mentions

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Ajax

    Ajax put up a disappointing draw at home to SC Cambuur Leeuwarden. Siem de Jong gave them the lead, but Martijn Barto equalised for the visitors.

     

    Sporting CP

    Following Sporting's 2-2 draw with Vitoria Setubal, they have it all to do if they're to catch up with Benfica.

     

    Shakhtar Donetsk

    The Ukrainian league has restarted, and Shakhtar are winning again. The Waxtap have a five-point lead over closest challengers Dynamo Kiev.

20. Schalke

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Last Week: New!

    Differential: New!

    Schalke sneak into our top 20 this week following a much-needed 4-0 win over Hoffenheim.

    The two devastating losses they succumbed to last week must be taken with a pinch of salt, although Sporting's and Ajax's draws have undoubtedly made room for the Royal Blue here.

19. Lille

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    Michel Spingler/Associated Press

    Last Week: New!

    Differential: New!

    Lille were a mainstay on the lower rungs of our top 20 several months ago but over Christmas lost their way.

    But Vincent Enyeama and Co. are now five games unbeaten again and impressed during their 2-0 victory over Montpellier this weekend.

    Welcome back to the big time.

18. Tottenham Hotspur

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    Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

    Last Week: 17

    Differential: -1

    Tottenham Hotspur were heavily defeated at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, and to be honest it was all their own fault.

    The offside trap was poor, defensive errors directly contributed to three goals and Tim Sherwood's aghast reaction put his side firmly back into uncertainty.

17. Everton

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    Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

    Last Week: 18

    Differential: +1

    Everton were very much in the tie against Arsenal for 60 minutes, but the Gunners ran away with it in the second half thanks to some Olivier Giroud magic.

    Roberto Martinez will have been happy to hang with Arsene Wenger's men for so long and score a beautiful attacking goal, but an obvious lack of options off the bench harmed him here.

    Thanks to Tottenham's capitulation, they end up actually moving up.

16. Athletic Bilbao

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    Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

    Last Week: 16

    Differential: None

    Athletic Bilbao's uncertain away form continued as they drew 1-1 vs. Valencia at Mestalla.

    Aritz Aduriz reliably got himself on the scoresheet in the second half but Los Leones couldn't overcome the early Paco Alcacer goal for the hosts.

    Fortunately for Ernesto Valverde's men, both Real Sociedad and Villarreal lost.

15. Monaco

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    Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press

    Last Week: 15

    Differential: None

    Monaco recovered from last weekend's setback to beat Sochaux 2-0 and recharge their title challenge.

    Dimitar Berbatov and James Rodriguez did the damage in front of goal, with Joao Moutinho and Layvin Kurzawa pulling the strings behind them once again.

14. Benfica

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    Armando Franca/Associated Press

    Last Week: 13

    Differential: -1

    Benfica beat in-form Estoril 2-0 to tighten their grip on top spot in the Liga Sagres.

    They've conceded just one goal in their last 16 games and have put together five wins in a row in the league. With a seven-point gap and an unstoppable attitude, this title race is as good as over.

    However, Napoli move above the Eagles in the rankings.

13. Napoli

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    Salvatore Laporta/Associated Press

    Last Week: 14

    Differential: +1

    Jose Callejon admitted last week to Roman newspaper Il Messaggero (h/t Football Italia) that Napoli's match with Roma could end up a "final for second place" in Serie A and that it was vital for the Partenopei to win.

    And win they did, courtesy of Callejon's 81st-minute strike, which moved the southern Italian club to within three points of their Roman rivals.

12. Roma

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    Salvatore Laporta/Associated Press

    Last Week: 11

    Differential: -1

    The "final for second place" in Serie A ended in favour of Napoli, but up until Jose Callejon's strike Roma's makeshift side had done everything right.

    The Giallorossi do have a game in hand to stretch their lead over the Partenopei back to six points, but they must play the rest of the season without ACL-stricken Kevin Strootman.

     

11. Arsenal

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    Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

    Last Week: 10

    Differential: -1

    Arsenal forgot all about their dismal loss to Stoke City last weekend by thrashing Everton 4-1.

    The Toffees were in the game for a long time but never looked capable of scoring a second goal, and once Olivier Giroud came on to link up with Mesut Ozil the tie was over.

10. Liverpool

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Last Week: 8

    Differential: -2

    Liverpool didn't play this weekend and are thus tough to gauge.

    Their last performance against Southampton was a remarkable display of counterattacking speed and talent. Plus, they put forward six players for England duty, and they all excelled vs. Denmark.

    On the other hand, the clubs around them in the rankings have performed well, and so Liverpool move down a bit.

9. Borussia Dortmund

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Last Week: 9

    Differential: None

    Borussia Dortmund scraped past an impressive Freiburg outfit by the skin of their teeth this weekend, relying on a remarkable Sebastian Kehl golazo to settle things.

    They now turn their attention to Zenit St Petersburg, hoping there will be no upset and that defender Mats Hummels can come back into the fold unscathed.

8. Atletico Madrid

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    Lalo R. Villar/Associated Press

    Last Week: 12

    Differential: +4

    Atletico Madrid beat Celta Vigo this weekend courtesy of two goals in two minutes from David Villa.

    After that quick blitz they leant on their formidable defense and saw out the victory, thus moving into second place following Barcelona's loss.

7. Manchester City

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Last Week: 6

    Differential: -1

    This weekend, Manchester City lost to Wigan Athletic. At home. 2-1. 

    It was quite the performance from Uwe Rosler's men, who fully deserved the victory, but for the Citizens this was a grand opportunity thrown down the toilet.

    The Capital One Cup may be in the bag, but this is unforgivable. Manuel Pellegrini's side needs to win the league to make up for it.

6. Paris Saint-Germain

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Last Week: 7

    Differential: +1

    Paris Saint-Germain wrapped up a routine victory over Bastia by scoring three goals and keeping a clean sheet.

    Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Moura both impressed flanking Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while Marquinhos played well in a more natural, central role.

5. Barcelona

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    Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Last Week: 4

    Differential: -1

    Barcelona dropped a real clanger on Saturday, losing 1-0 away to Real Valladolid.

    It served as the catalyst for numerous "the era is over" comments from Cules fans, as Barca reminded everyone they're far from the peak of their powers, but the title race is not over. There's still a long way to go.

4. Juventus

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    Massimo Pinca/Associated Press

    Last Week: 5

    Differential: +1

    Juventus dominated the opening stages of their tie with Fiorentina, scored a beautiful goal via Kwadwo Asamoah's right foot and then defended their lead.

    Angelo Ogbonna actually played well for the Bianconeri. Fiorentina had no idea how to break Juve down, and David Pizarro almost gifted the Old Lady a goal to make it worse for the Viola.

3. Real Madrid

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Last Week: 3

    Differential: None

    Real Madrid made light work of Levante this weekend and now sit three points clear at the top of La Liga.

    There was a stage earlier in the season when Carlo Ancelotti's men were more than five points shy of the top two, so the turnaround must be applauded.

    In the Champions League, Los Blancos hold a 6-1 lead over Schalke heading into the second leg of the Round of 16.

2. Chelsea

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    Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

    Last Week: 2

    Differential: None

    Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 on Sunday to strengthen their hold on first place in the Premier League.

    The scoreline flatters them a little, as it was largely a catalogue of Tottenham errors that gifted them three of the goals, but a commanding lead over a top-tier rival is not to be sniffed at.

     

1. Bayern Munich

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    Gero Breloer/Associated Press

    Last Week: 1

    Differential: None

    Bayern Munich smashed Wolfsburg 6-1 at the weekend, but it looked a little flaky early on.

    Naldo put the Wolves ahead, and Pep Guardiola's men were being pressed and harried to no end. Much of Germany was in shock, but Thomas Muller and Co. found a way through and took over as they always do.