Power Ranking the Top 20 European Clubs: Liverpool Win Again, Real Madrid Rise

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2014

Power Ranking the Top 20 European Clubs: Liverpool Win Again, Real Madrid Rise

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Welcome back, folks, to another round of our European power rankings, as we assess the weekend fortunes of the continent's biggest sides.

    An incredible weekend this time around saw almost all of last week's 20 pick up victories...and the four teams who didn't, all lost, and they all are huge clubs at or near the top of their respective domestic leagues.

    How will that affect things in our rankings? Do we have a new No. 1 again? Read on to find out and see if you agree!

Honourable Mentions

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    Miguel Angel Morenatti

    With most sides picking up three points, it's impossible for any newcomers to squeeze their way into the top 20 this time around. A handful of sides continue to impress, though, and they still have time to find a top 20 spot before the end of the campaign if they can keep their consistency.

    Once more, quality of opposition, manner of victories and other such factors will be important in moving ranked sides up or down, especially since so many picked up wins.

     

    Fiorentina won 5-3 at Hellas Verona to keep themselves in fourth place in Serie A.

    Sevilla made it 11 wins from 14 in all competitions with a 2-0 success at bottom club Betis in Spain.

    Feyenoord beat PSV 2-0 in the weekend's big game in the Eredivisie, making it six league wins on the spin for the second-placed team.

20. Sporting Lisbon

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    Armando Franca

    Last week: 18

    Differential: -2

    Sporting CP simply keep going, keeping pace with the league leaders and awaiting any sign of a slip-up.

    This weekend saw them pick up a routine 2-0 win at home to bottom-half club Gil Vicente, thanks to a goal right at the beginning and another right at the end of the match.

    Islam Slimani and Heldon notched the goals to keep Sporting within seven points of the leaders, though time is almost up in the Primeira Liga.

19. Schalke 04

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    Martin Meissner

    Last week: 20

    Differential: +1

    Schalke 04 continued their excellent late season form by picking up a hard-fought 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt, with both goals coming in the second half.

    Max Meyer scored from close range before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar missed a penalty, with Jefferson Farfan scoring the second in added time.

    The result keeps Schalke in third place, some seven points clear of nearest challengers Bayer Leverkusen, and thus close to assured of a Champions League position for next term.

18. Lille OSC

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    Divock Origi (red shirt) in action for Lille
    Divock Origi (red shirt) in action for LilleMichel Spingler

    Last week: 17

    Differential: -1

    Lille are determined to keep hold of third place and a Champions League spot for next term, though they could only manage a narrow 1-0 home win over relegation-threatened Valenciennes this time out.

    Belgian youngster Divock Origi was the match-winner, scoring his fifth of the season with just 20 minutes left on the clock, to give LOSC a third straight victory in Ligue 1.

    Anything above third is likely beyond them now, but with five games left and a seven-point buffer to fourth place, they're looking good for the top three.

17. Athletic Bilbao

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    Alvaro Barrientos

    Last week: 19

    Differential: +2

    Aritz Aduriz scored another brace for Athletic Club, taking his total for the campaign to an impressive 15 for the 33-year-old.

    He was joined on the scoresheet by Ander Herrera, in a 3-0 Bilbao win over Malaga, helping the team string together back-to-back league victories for the first time since late February.

    Athletic remain in fourth place, with just five matches to go until the end of the season.

16. Arsenal

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Last week: 14

    Differential: -2

    Arsenal didn't feature in the Premier League this weekend, as they had a date at Wembley for the FA Cup semi-final.

    They were hugely unconvincing in needing a late equaliser to draw 1-1 against Championship side Wigan Athletic, before a penalty shoot-out sent the Gunners to the final to face Hull City.

    Arsenal are in league action on Tuesday evening against West Ham United.

15. Monaco

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    Lionel Cironneau

    Last week: 15

    Differential: —

    Monaco made it back-to-back wins at the weekend after a 1-0 success at Rennes, with Emmanuel Riviere scoring the only goal of the game early in the second half.

    Though the win means they claw back points on top spot, Monaco remain 10 points off first place and it is clear that, despite a phenomenal season back in the top flight, they have an awful lot of work remaining if they are to really challenge for the Ligue 1 title next season.

    Champions League football, though, is all but secured now.

14. Napoli

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    Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

    Last week: 16

    Differential: +2

    Gonzalo Higuain was Napoli's hero as he struck a hat-trick in Serie A to lead his side to a 4-2 victory over Lazio.

    Dries Mertens had already seen Napoli draw level after falling behind, before a Lorik Cana red card saw the match turn completely; Higuain dispatched the penalty shortly after the break, putting his side a man and a goal up.

    Two more for the Argentine before the end meant Napoli returned to winning ways, marooned in third place with gaps of 12 and nine points above and below them respectively.

13. Benfica

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    Paulo Duarte

    Last week: 13

    Differential: —

    It's 10 wins on the bounce now for Benfica, who are now just one victory away from securing another Primeira Liga title.

    They lead Sporting CP by seven points, with three games to play.

    A 2-0 away win over Arouca was recorded this time, with Rodrigo and Nicolas Gaitan on the scoresheet.

12. Everton

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    Paul Thomas/Getty Images

    Last week: 12

    Differential: —

    No movement for Everton either, at least in the rankings; they did, however, make a significant move in the Premier League, moving into the top four with just five matches left to play.

    A difficult match at bottom club Sunderland ended 1-0 to the Toffees, thanks to a Wes Brown own goal 15 minutes from time.

    Nothing is sure as Everton have a tough run in, but they've now won seven in a row to be in a great position to secure Champions League football.

11. Chelsea

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    Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

    Last week: 10

    Differential: -1

    Chelsea needed Demba Ba again to score them a vital goal at the weekend, securing a 1-0 defeat at Swansea City in the process.

    It was a laboured and uninspiring performance from the Blues, against 10 men for almost the entire game, but they got the three points to keep themselves in second place, just two points off the top of the Premier League.

    With four matches to play it's beginning to look like an all-or-nothing fixture will be held at Anfield in a couple of weeks.

10. Roma

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    Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

    Last week: 9

    Differential: -1

    AS Roma swept aside Atalanta in Serie A this weekend, going three goals up before their opponents found a late reply for 3-1.

    Rodrigo Taddei and Adem Ljajic were both on target in the first half, before Gervinho added a third for a rampant Roma side.

    They remain second and won't win the title but just four more points will assure them of a Champions League group stage berth for next term.

9. Paris Saint-Germain

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    Laurent Cipriani

    Last week: 7

    Differential: -2

    Finally, we arrive at the first of our sides to lose a fixture this weekend!

    Paris Saint-Germain were recently knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea, late on in their quarter-final tie, and things didn't pick up domestically either as they lost 1-0 to rivals Lyon.

    PSG are still 10 points clear at the top, with five games to play, so they should pick up their second successive title, but Laurent Blanc will want a fast and telling reaction from his players next time out.

8. Borussia Dortmund

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    Kerstin Joensson

    Last week: 11

    Differential: +3

    A Marco Reus-inspired Borussia Dortmund have been back in good form of late, with their latest success their most impressive yet.

    A 3-0 away win at league winners Bayern Munich brings a touch of "what-if" to BVB's season, riddled by injury early on, though there is still the domestic cup final to play for.

    Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Reus and Jonas Hofmann scored the goals this time out, keeping Dortmund in second.

7. Manchester City

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Last week: 6

    Differential: -1

    Manchester City travelled to Liverpool for a table-topping clash in the Premier League, but they left empty-handed after a 3-2 defeat.

    City were already behind before they lost Yaya Toure to injury and a 2-0 half-time scoreline didn't bode well for Manuel Pellegrini's men. They did well, then, to rally and look the more dangerous side in the second half, pulling back to 2-2 and spurning two great chances to take the lead.

    A late winner for the home side, though, consigned City to defeat; they're still third and have two games in hand, but they are now seven points off top spot and the title is no longer in their hands.

6. Juventus

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    Dino Panato/Getty Images

    Last week: 8

    Differential: +2

    Juventus made it two wins in a row since defeat to Napoli, with a 2-0 victory at Udinese at the weekend.

    The result keeps them eight points clear with five games to go; two more victories could be enough for the title, but three absolutely will be.

    Sebastian Giovinco and Fernando Llorente scored Juve's first-half goals.

5. Bayern Munich

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    Kerstin Joensson

    Last week: 2

    Differential: -3

    Bayern Munich, of course, suffered that heavy 3-0 reversal at the hands of rivals Borussia Dortmund, with right-back Rafinha sent off near the end.

    While defeats are never nice to take, especially big ones against important opponents, Pep Guardiola and Co. won't be overly concerned as the title is already wrapped up. The Champions League and the domestic cup will be the trophies left in their sights.

    Even so, back-to-back Bundesliga defeats and no wins in three sees Bayern continue their slide down the rankings.

4. Barcelona

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    Daniel Tejedor

    Last week: 1

    Differential: -3

    Barcelona's run of five league wins came to an end at the weekend, when they were beaten 1-0 by a determined and defensive Granada side.

    Barca had almost 30 shots and over 80 percent possession, but they couldn't really find too many clear paths to goal past the packed Granada defence.

    It sees them slip to third in La Liga, four points off the pace now with only five matches left to play.

3. Atletico Madrid

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    Andres Kudacki

    Last week: 5

    Differential: +2

    Form is everything at this stage of the season, and Atletico Madrid racked up their seventh league win on the spin at the weekend to remain top of La Liga.

    They overcame Getafe 2-0 away from home, with Diego Godin and Diego Costa on the scoresheet.

    Striker Costa gave them an injury scare when he collided with a post while scoring but no significant bone damage was discovered.

2. Liverpool

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Last week: 4

    Differential: +2

    The reverse of Manchester City: Liverpool won the big Premier League match 3-2, keeping themselves top of the table with just four matches left to play and opening up a significant seven-point gap on City. They are just two points ahead of second-placed Chelsea, who visit Anfield in two weeks—that looks now like the title-decider.

    Raheem Sterling and Martin Skrtel both scored for the Reds in the first half before City's fight-back after the break.

    Philippe Coutinho was the big hero with the winning goal, before Jordan Henderson was sent off in injury time on an all-round emotional day at Anfield. That's an incredible 10 wins on the spin now for Liverpool.

1. Real Madrid

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    Andres Kudacki

    Last week: 3

    Differential: +2

    We do indeed have a new No. 1, with Real Madrid now leading our rankings.

    Real simply powered past Almeria, winning by a crushing 4-0 scoreline this weekend in the aftermath of Barcelona's defeat.

    Angel Di Maria blasted in the opener from an angle, before Gareth Bale ran onto a pass to double the lead. Isco and Alvaro Morata also added neat finishes to give the scoreline a realistic look for Madrid's domination. They are second in La Liga, three points off top spot with five to play.