European Power Rankings: The Old Continent's 25 Best Football Clubs

Michael Cummings@MikeCummings37World Football Lead WriterFebruary 20, 2012

European Power Rankings: The Old Continent's 25 Best Football Clubs

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    Another week, another set of European power rankings.

    Who leads the pack? Who's making their debut? Who dropped out?

    We'll answer that last one straight away. Arsenal, Inter, Chelsea and Lazio dropped out of the rankings this week, for mostly obvious reasons.

    But you'll have to read on for the rest.

    For last week's rankings, click here.

25. Liverpool

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    Previous ranking: New entry

    Last week: Beat Brighton 6-1 (FA Cup fifth round)

    Up next: Cardiff City, Carling Cup final, at Wembley, Feb. 26

    Comments: Call us sentimental, but Liverpool's thrashing of Brighton got us feeling nostalgic for one of the Reds' old-fashioned cup runs. A different cup run ends next weekend at Wembley.

    Even with all their cup success, however, Liverpool are still inept in the league.

24. Basel

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    Previous ranking: 24

    Last week: Drew 2-2 at Young Boys (league)

    Up next: Home to Bayern Munich, Feb. 22 (Champions League); home to Zurich, Feb. 26 (league)

    Comments: Basel will lose Xherdan Shaqiri to Bayern Munich at the end of the season. Will the Bavarians also knock Basel out of Europe?

23. Valencia

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    Previous ranking: 18

    Last week: Won 1-0 at Stoke City (Europa); lost 5-1 at Barcelona (league)

    Up next: Home to Stoke City, Feb. 23 (Europa); home to Sevilla, Feb. 26 (league)

    Comments: The away win over Stoke City was excellent. The capitulation at the Camp Nou: Not so much. In fairness, though, Lionel Messi makes lots of teams look bad.

22. Udinese

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    Previous ranking: 22

    Last week: Drew 0-0 at home to PAOK Salonika (Europa); drew 0-0 at home to Cagliari (league)

    Up next: At PAOK, Feb. 23 (Europa); at Bologna, Feb. 26 (league)

    Comments: It was a forgettable week for Udinese, but it could have been worse. Serie A rivals Lazio lost to Atletico Madrid 3-1 in the Europa League then fell 5-1 at Palermo in the league.

21. Montpellier

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    Previous ranking: 25

    Last week: Drew 2-2 at PSG

    Up next: Home to Bordeaux, Feb. 25 (league)

    Comments: Montpellier just keep sticking around in Ligue 1, and on Sunday they very nearly beat PSG away. Even with a draw, this is a team on the rise.

20. CSKA Moscow

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    Previous ranking: 21

    Last week: None

    Up next: Home to Real Madrid, Feb. 21 (Champions League); home to Zenit, March 3 (league)

    Comments: CSKA, who have been dormant since November, move up basically because most of the teams ahead of them lost. But this could be a week of reckoning with Real Madrid heading to Russia. It won't help that CSKA's roster is rather thin.

19. Athletic Bilbao

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    Previous ranking: New entry

    Last week: Lost 2-1 at Lokomotiv Moscow (Europa); beat Malaga 3-0 at home (league)

    Up next: Home to Lokomotiv, Feb. 23 (Europa); at Villarreal, Feb. 26 (league)

    Comments: Mea culpa. Athletic Bilbao should have made the rankings last week. Losing at Lokomotiv looks bad, but that away goal could come in really handy this week. Domestically, the Copa Del Rey finalists are currently fourth in La Liga and in line for Champions League qualification. Mea maxima culpa.

18. Schalke 04

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    Previous ranking: 19

    Last week: Drew 1-1 at Viktoria Plzen (Europa); beat VfL Wolfsburg 4-0 at home (league)

    Up next: Home to Viktoria Plzen, Feb. 23 (Europa); at Bayern Munich, Feb. 26 (league)

    Comments: It's a big week for Schalke. Coming off an important win over Wolfsburg, they'll continue their Champions League push on the road in Munich.

17. Lyon

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    Previous ranking: 15

    Last week: Beat APOEL Nicosia 1-0 at home (Champions League); lost 1-0 at Bordeaux (league)

    Up next: Home to PSG, Feb. 25 (league)

    Comments: Lyon are still alive in Europe, but it's getting harder and harder to rank this team. That win over APOEL was ugly, and the loss at Bordeaux won't help their bid for Champions League qualification. Ick.

16. AZ Alkmaar

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    Previous ranking: New entry

    Last week: Beat Anderlecht 1-0 at home (Europa); lost 3-0 at Utrecht (league)

    Up next: At Anderlecht, Feb. 23 (Europa); home to Heerenveen, Feb. 26 (league)

    Comments: Despite Sunday's disappointing loss, Alkmaar are level with PSV for the Eredivisie lead. They're also still alive in the Europa League and Dutch Cup.

15. Borussia Monchengladbach

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    Previous ranking: New entry

    Last week: Won 2-1 at Kaiserslautern (league)

    Up next: Home to Hamburg, Feb. 24 (league)

    Comments: Gladbach, who also should have been ranked last week, keep rolling in the Bundesliga. Their unbeaten run is now at eight after beating Kaiserslautern on Saturday. The DFB Pokal showdown with Bayern looms large.

14. Porto

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    Previous ranking: 14

    Last week: Lost 2-1 at home to Manchester City (Europa); won 3-1 at Vitoria Setubal (league)

    Up next: At Manchester City, Feb. 23 (Europa); home to Feirense (league)

    Comments: Losing to Manchester City, even at home is respectable—and Porto even led 1-0 at halftime. If Porto's European campaign ends this week, the league will become the top priority. Having played an extra match, Porto trail Benfica by two points.

13. Benfica

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    Previous ranking: 11

    Last week: Lost 3-2 at Zenit (Champions League)

    Up next: At Guimaraes, Feb. 20 (league)

    Comments: Speaking of Benfica, their Champions League match at Zenit St. Petersburg was probably the weirdest of the first batch of first legs (Arsenal's meltdown included). When one team made a mistake, the other topped it.

    You have to fancy Benfica to advance, though, with those two away goals.

12. Zenit St. Petersburg

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    Previous ranking: 17

    Last week: Beat Benfica 3-2 at home (Champions League)

    Up next: None

    Comments: This ranking is likely only temporary. We fully expect Benfica to advance after the return leg on March 6. By that time, the Russian Premier League will be running again. Woohoo!

11. PSV

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    Previous ranking: 13

    Last week: Won 2-1 at Trabzonspor (Europa); lost 3-0 at Groningen (league)

    Up next: Home to Trabzonspor, Feb. 23 (Europa); home to Feyenoord, Feb. 26 (league)

    Comments: OK, so losing 3-0 at Groningen in the league was bad. Really bad. But winning 2-1 at Trabzonspor in the Europa League was really, really good. PSV still lead AZ Alkmaar on goals scored atop the Eredivisie. And the two clubs are still on course for a showdown in the Dutch Cup final.

10. PSG

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    Previous ranking: 10

    Last week: Won 1-0 at Dijon (French cup); drew 2-2 at home to Montpellier (league)

    Up next: At Lyon, Feb. 25 (league)

    Comments: PSG escaped with a draw at home to Montpellier. In the process they stayed atop Ligue 1 and maintained their No. 10 ranking here. The double is still possible.

9. Tottenham Hotspur

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    Previous ranking: 8

    Last week: Drew 0-0 at Stevenage (FA Cup)

    Up next: At Arsenal, Feb. 26 (league)

    Comments: Relax, Spurs fans. We're not hating. Once the Arsenal game and the replay with Stevenage are over, you could be much higher. And, hey, it could be worse. We took Chelsea (No. 12 last week) off this list entirely.

8. Juventus

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    Previous ranking: 9

    Last week: Drew 0-0 at Parma; beat Catania 3-1 at home (both in league)

    Up next: At AC Milan, Feb. 25 (league)

    Comments: Again, it's not that we're hating on Spurs. We just wanted to show Juve some love. That scoreless draw at Parma was better than it looks, and the win over Catania came after Juventus fell behind in the opening five minutes.

    Like PSG, Juventus can still win their domestic double. They trail Milan by just one point with a game in hand.

7. Bayern Munich

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    Previous ranking: 5

    Last week: Drew 0-0 at Freiburg (league)

    Up next: At Basel, Feb. 22 (Champions League)

    Comments: Bayern fell further behind Borussia Dortmund with Saturday's scoreless draw at bottom feeders Freiburg. Now third in the league, the alarm bells are starting to sound in Bavaria.

6. AC Milan

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    Previous ranking: 7

    Last week: Beat Arsenal 4-0 at home (Champions League); beat Cesena 3-1 away (league)

    Up next: Home to Juventus, Feb. 25 (league)

    Comments: Beating Arsenal was big, but the Gunners are in disarray. Beating Juventus next weekend would be even bigger.

5. Borussia Dortmund

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    Previous ranking: 6

    Last week: Won 1-0 at Hertha Berlin (league)

    Up next: Home to Hannover 96, Feb. 26 (league)

    Comments: Dortmund are unbeaten in their last 16 Bundesliga matches, a run dating to Sept. 18. But there's no rest for the weary: the defending champs hold only a three-point lead atop the table, and the DFB Pokal semifinal against SpVgg Greuther Furth looms on March 20.

4. Manchester United

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    Previous ranking: 4

    Last week: Won 2-0 at Ajax (Europa)

    Up next: Home to Ajax, Feb. 23 (Europa); at Norwich City, Feb. 26 (league)

    Comments: United picked up an impressive win in Holland midweek, and Sir Alex Ferguson and Nani insist the Red Devils want to win the Europa League. We believe them.

3. Manchester City

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    Previous ranking: 3

    Last week: Won 2-1 at Porto (Europa)

    Up next: Home to Porto, Feb. 22 (Europa); home to Blackburn Rovers, Feb. 25 (league)

    Comments: City's Europa League win was nice, but not as nice as that two-point lead atop the Premier League.

2. Real Madrid

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    Previous ranking: 2

    Last week: Beat Levante 4-2 at home; beat Racing 4-0 at home (both in league)

    Up next: at CSKA Moscow, Feb. 21 (Champions League); at Rayo Vallecano, Feb. 26 (league)

    Comments: Real Madrid are on an absolute roll. After thrashing Levante and Racing, their lead atop La Liga now stands at 10 points. But…

1. Barcelona

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    Previous ranking: 1

    Last week: Won 3-1 at Bayer Leverkusen (Champions League); beat Valencia 5-1 at home (league)

    Up next: At Atletico Madrid, Feb. 26 (league)

    Comments: …but Barcelona have had the upper hand on Real Madrid in head-to-head meetings this season. Until that changes, or until Barcelona are knocked out of Europe, this ranking stays the same.

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