European Power Rankings: The Continent's 20 Best Football Clubs

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentDecember 3, 2012

European Power Rankings: The Continent's 20 Best Football Clubs

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    This article will power rank Europe’s 20 best football club based on this season’s form.

    A combination of league and continental cup performances have been taken into account.

    Please note that this list is not based on scientific data. It is purely subjective, so please comment below with your thoughts. 

20. Paris Saint-Germain

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    Team Talking Points

    4-1-2-1-2, 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-2-1? The constant tinkering by Carlo Ancelotti, specifically the in-game adjustments, indicates that Paris Saint-Germain still don't have an identity, let alone a philosophy. 

    The club have already lost 10 potential points via five league draws. This could have been different if PSG treated Nenê, their best player last season, with a bit more respect instead of making him feel like an outsider. 

    He's a world-class talent who is a make-something-happen type of player. He has magic in his boots, and if he didn't get in a fight with No. 18, the highest-paid player at the club, perhaps the Brazilian would be combining brilliantly with the big Swede. 

    The sad part of the story is, Nenê wants to stay at the club, as he told the Parisien (via AFP): 

    I've always said that I want to stay here. I love Paris. I love the club. I want to stay. It seems difficult to me but I don't know. My head's in Paris. Whatever is going to happen will happen. I'm just doing my job and it's the club that'll decide whether I stay on or not.

    Salvatore Sirigu has made crucial saves at vital moments to ensure his fellow compatriot, Ancelotti, still has a job. For example, he came up big when he denied Reim's Diego from 12 yards out—PSG scored what turned out to be the winner 25 minutes later. 

    Javier Pastore has been a nonfactor this season, as he's only been involved in four of PSG's 24 league goals. He's going through the motions like Josip Iličić at Palermo. 

    Jérémy Menez and Ezequiel Lavezzi look like stars, but they don't produce the end product. Both have combined for a goal and four assists in league-play. 

    This tweet from French football journalist Jonathan Johnson perfectly sums up the situation Ancelotti is facing. 

    Frustrates me when asked if PSG are less than the sum of their parts. A "sum" suggests a collective, unity. Not enough of that for PSG. #psg

    — Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) December 1, 2012

    One positive is that PSG's UEFA Champions League campaign hasn't crashed and burned (yet). 

    MVP:  Zlatan Ibrahimović, Swedish Centre-Forward, Age: 31

    The Parisien club have received 12 WhoScored MoTM awards, and half of them have gone to Ibrahimović.

    This is the responsibility he craved at Barcelona, where he infamously told Pep Guardiola (via Tom Chivers at The Telegraph): "You bought a Ferrari, but you drive it like a Fiat."

    Well, Ancelotti is certainly driving Zlatan like a Ferrari, with the Swedish international scoring 15 goals and providing seven assists in 17 combined Ligue 1/UEFA Champions League games. 

    Miscellaneous Points  

    The acquisition of Ashley Cole would be a massive upgrade from Sylvain Armand/Maxwell—the latter is better in midfield.  

    Lucas Moura, the €45 million man from São Paulo, will make his highly anticipated Ligue 1 debut in January. 

    Maxwell looks more at home in midfield than at left-back. When he moved back into defence, he didn't mark Valentin Eysseric, who scored the shock winner for Nice. 

    Lanky 17-year-old Adrien Rabiot is a marvelous prospect. Calm in possession, moves swiftly across the field and belongs on the same field he shares with professionals that have played the game much longer than him.  

19. Fiorentina

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    Team Talking Points

    With Vincenzo Montella adopting the in-vogue Italian 3-5-2 formation, the wing-backs can surge up the flanks with reckless abandon and drag opposing players out of position. 

    The two wing-backs, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado and Manuel Pasqual, each offer contrasting characteristics.

    JGC's burst of acceleration would rival that of Edgar Álvarez, which is why Cuadrado penetrates opposing defences so easily. 

    Pasqual is an adept final third passer, hence why he leads the team in average key passes per game. 

    At heart of Fiorentina's midfield is Borja Valero and David Pizarro, who are dominating. Valero has provided six goals, and Pizarro offers an all-around package—he wins back the ball 4.4 times per game and has created 25 shots for his teammates.  

    Montella's side are legit, having held Juventus to a goalless draw, beaten AC Milan plus Lazio and deserved at least points in losses to Inter Milan and Napoli.  

    If not for Gonzalo Rodríguez conceding a penalty and then being sent off 45 minutes later, Inter would have had a sterner test. 

    Fiorentina were the better side against Napoli, as the Violas shot 10 times more and garnered 55 percent of possession. 

    Juve were fortunate that the crossbar was their best defender when they beat Montella's side. 

    MVP: Stevan Jovetić, Montenegrin Deep-Lying Forward, Age: 23

    Talentwise, you'd have to put Jovetić in the same sentence as Kurt Hamrin, Gabriel Batistuta and Roberto Baggio. 

    The 23-year-old is such a potent dribbler that he has been fouled 40 times in 11 league games. He has scored and created a combined nine goals and literally is Fiorentina's most valuable player. 

    If club president Andrea Della Valle plays the situation right, he could sell Jovetić for €30-40 million.

    After all, ADV did sell teenager Matija Nastasić, who didn't have an accomplished CV, to Manchester City for £12 (€14.7) million and Stefan Savić (not that he was worth a whole lot at the time). 

    That being said, Jovetić has pledged his loyalty to Montella's ambitious project. 

    Miscellaneous Points 

    Alberto Aquilani, who played like the Roma Aquilani against Atalanta, isn't even a regular starter for Montella. 

    Matías Fernández, once touted as the future of Chilean football, hasn't contributed as a starter or a sub. 

18. Saint-Étienne

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    Team Talking Points

    Are Saint-Étienne contenders or pretenders? We'll find out in the coming weeks when they face league-leading Lyon, sixth-place Bordeaux and second-place Marseille.

    Saint-Étienne have recorded three consecutive clean sheets even with prodigious centre-back Kurt Zouma sidelined. Though, one of the main reasons for ASSE having Ligue 1's best defence is due to the shot-stopping prowess of Stéphane Ruffier. 

    The holding midfield partnership of Jérémy Clément and Fabien Lemoine has functioned cohesively. 

    Who is responsible for all these players performing to the best of their abilities? 

    Manager Christophe Galtier. 

    So far, the signs are positive, having beaten Valenciennes and ending Paris Saint-Germain's bid for total French domination in the Coupe de la Ligue. 

    MVP: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabonese Centre-Forward, Age: 23 

    Alain Traoré and Yohan Mollo are fun to watch, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is not only an entertainer, but one of the best players in the league. 

    PEA can score goals and create for his teammates like Zlatan Ibrahimović. Aubameyang has a cumulative league goals/assists tally of 12 compared to Ibra's 15.  

    However, the 23-year-old lacks the granite strength that makes Zlatan near unstoppable (when he's in the mood). 

    Miscellaneous Points 

    Galtier's men are on a 10-game unbeaten run in Ligue 1. The next best is five by Nice, who poured more misery on the cashed-up Paris Saint-Germain with a surprising 2-1 win.   

17. Schalke

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    Team Talking Points

    Lars Unnerstall, Lewis Holtby, Joel Matip, Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Julian Draxler are all under 23 and have featured prominently for Huub Stevens' Schalke side this season. 

    Schalke's average squad age is 25.1, but there are eight clubs with a younger average squad age. 

    Stevens' success lends credence to the Bundesliga's culture of giving youngsters a chance in the top flight. Schalke are on top of a UEFA Champions League group containing Arsenal and are three points from overtaking Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. 

    Roman Neustädter, a Borussia Mönchengladbach alumni like Marco Reus and Dante, has been an imposing presence in midfield. Neustädter has won back possession 101 times in 15 league games. 

    MVP: Jefferson Farfán, Peruvian Right Attacking Midfielder, Age: 28   

    It's ironic that Schalke's best player is a veteran who once received flack for appearing out of shape and not living up to the vast potential he had. 

    Farfán is second behind Hiroshi Kiyotake in total shots created, but the Peruvian leads the league in average shots created per game. 

    The 28-year-old player is also a creative spark off the dribble, getting past opponents 2.7 times per game, whilst 37.1 percent of his crosses find a teammate. To give you a comparison, Antonio Valencia completes 22.4 percent of his crosses. 

    With Klaas-Jan Huntelaar being distracted by transfer rumours, Farfán is finally maximising his ability and being a consistent menace to opposing teams.

    Something he should have been doing season in, season out for the majority of his career. If he had done that, perhaps he'd be playing for Real Madrid or Bayern Munich.

    Miscellaneous Points 

    In the event of Huntelaar leaving the club, Mainz's Ádám Szalai would be a logical replacement. 

16. Lyon

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    Team Talking Points

    Lyon were once a dynasty that Paris Saint-Germain aspired to become. Now, PSG are equipped to challenge Lyon's seven consecutive Ligue 1 titles, but Olympique Lyonnais are the best club in France right now. 

    Bafétimbi Gomis is on his way to a career-best season, having scored 10 in 14 league games. 

    Having sold Hugo Lloris to Tottenham Hotspur, longtime backup keeper Rémy Vercoutre has made some great saves. He's not as flashy as Simon Pouplin, but Vercoutre has been steady in goals. 

    MVP: Steed Malbranque, French Defensive Midfielder, Age: 32

    A sabbatical from the game was what revitilised Malbranque into arguably Ligue 1's best performing midfielder this season. 

    Not only is he shielding the back four, but he's been a creative outlet for Rémi Garde's side by creating five goals. 

    Miscellaneous Points 

    Keep an eye out for 18-year-old forward Yassine Benzia, who's currently an impact sub. He has the X-factor, but it remains to be seen if his career will take off like Karim Benzema or flop like Florian Maurice.

15. Napoli

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    Team Talking Points

    Walter Mazzarri's Napoli have a world-class No. 9, an excellent playmaker in Marek Hamsik, a resilient midfield and the second-best defence in Serie A.

    Talking about resilience, a special mention goes out to Valon Behrami, who leads Europe's elite leagues with 5.6 tackles per game. 

    Napoli are lethal when they're in the flow of things. Just ask Palermo, AIK, Lazio, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, Genoa and Pescara, who've all conceded three or more goals to Mazzarri's side. 

    The upcoming UEFA Europa League game against PSV Eindhoven could be goals galore.

    The Dutch side are a high-powered offence that have already scored 50 goals in league play. 

    MVP: Edinson Cavani,  Uruguayan Centre-Forward, Age: 25

    With a B side, he played one of the best football games of his life, as he netted four against Dnipro. He was in a small slump early in the season, but has scored 10 and provided one assist in his last seven games. 

    Miscellaneous Points 

    The talented trickster Eduardo Vargas, a deep-lying forward, has been hot and cold. Hot in scoring a hat trick against AIK and cold in being AWOL when given chances as an impact sub. 

14. Inter Milan

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    Team Talking Points

    Júlio César can sympathise with Wesley Sneijder's situation because the Brazilian goalkeeper was offered a similar ultimatum by Inter Milan. One that he ultimately didn't take, which is why he's now playing in the Premier League with Queens Park Rangers.  

    It's a win-win situation for Inter because if Sneijder accepts the restructured contract, the club saves a lot of cash. If he doesn't accept it, he'll want to move away, which gives the club a get-out route from paying him the money he's contractually meant to earn. 

    The Andrea Stramaccioni era has been better than expected.

    A key victory over Juventus, which ended their 49-game unbeaten league run, gives you an idea why some Interista were ambitiously throwing his name in as new manager for Inter after he led a modest batch of youngsters to the NextGen Series win.  

    Massimo Moratti has a hire-and-fire approach like Roman Abramovich, but the Italian needs to give Stramaccioni a chance, even if Inter break down toward the end of the season. 

    MVP: Andrea Ranocchia, Italian Centre-Back, Age: 24

    How does one player go from a walking liability to one of the league's best centre-back in the space of a year? Playing alongside another natural ball-winner like Juan Jesus has been a factor in Ranocchia's drastic improvement. 

    The 24-year-old leads Inter in tackles, interceptions and clearances. His partnership with Juan will define how far Stramaccioni goes as Inter manager. 

    Miscellaneous Points 

    Palermo loanee Matías Silvestre has forgotten how to defend. His positioning is all over the place, and it's no surprise Roma, Rubin Kazan and Atalanta scored three against Inter with Silvestre in the team. 

    Here's a cheeky quote from Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini (from Calciomercato Sicilia via "We did not let Silvestre leave for the money, we got rid of him because I did not like him. We conceded a lot of goals with him in defence, so we decided to let Inter have him."

13. Bayer Leverkusen

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    Team Talking Points

    Stefan Kießling is doing his best impression of Edin Džeko with some well-taken goals that have propelled Bayer Leverkusen back into relevancy. 

    Even though Andre Schürrle could be a special No. 9, he's still getting past opposing full-backs and has created five league goals this season. 

    Lars Bender continues to enforce in midfield, with 4.2 tackles per league game, whilst also forming a good midfield trio with Stefan Reinartz and Simon Rolfes. 

    Philipp Wollscheid teeters from world-class to unconvincing centre-back. He's still 23, but needs to start stamping his authority on games if he wants to be mentioned in the same sentence as Mats Hummels.

    Sami Hyypiä is one of the few managers that doesn't incorporate a 4-2-3-1 and is successful with it. His 4-3-3 is partly the reason why Leverkusen are three points ahead of Borussia Dortmund. 

    MVP: Gonzalo Castro, German Right Forward, Age: 25

    Castro was a top-flight standard fullback, but nothing special. Since moving into a more forward role, he has been exceptional as a provider and goal scorer. He's a good defender, has been solid in centre midfield and quite threatening as a wide forward—he's your ideal utility player. 

    Miscellaneous Points 

    Former Real Madrid Castilla player Daniel Carvajal is blossoming into a top-notch right-back for Leverkusen. 

12. Manchester City

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    Team Talking Points

    Roberto Mancini blasted Micah Richards for even mentioning that players were sick and tired of adapting to in-game adjustments (via Tim Rich at The Guardian):

    Maybe Micah doesn't know this because he has been out for two and a half months. He has probably worked on it less than other players but the next time we play this system Micah can stay on the bench and we will use another player who understands the system.

    If you are a top player, it is not important what system you use. If you don't understand that, then you are not a top player and you cannot play for a top club. I understand what people are writing but we work every day here on tactical situations. 

    The ultimate irony of Mancini's much-maligned 3-5-2 is that Matija Nastasić, who featured in that formation at Fiorentina, struggles.

    Yet as soon as he starts in a conventional back four, he has been superb. He's been Manchester City's best player in recent times. He should be a lock to win the November Etihad Player of the Month.

    With one of the most expensive squads in history, Manchester City were humbled by a bunch of Ajax youngsters, the same side that conceded three to Heracles four days earlier and were beaten 2-0 by Vitesse a few weeks later. 

    Ajax also lost Jan Vertonghen, the reigning Eredivisie Player of the Season, to Tottenham Hotspur. Vurnon Anita, the club's best defensive midfielder, was sold to Newcastle United. 

    Dmitri Bulykin, the supersub, left for Twente. 

    It was pathetic that for the second season running, City flopped in the UEFA Champions League. 

    Some of Mancini's decisions are odd—and that's putting it kindly. 

    Subbing on James Milner even though City needed three points against Real Madrid.

    Benching Mario Balotelli against Everton after he finally scored against Wigan Athletic.

    The pointless rotation system being used so early in the season.

    The stubbornness in refusing to listen to his players, who don't want anything to do with the 3-5-2, according to Richards. 

    Micah Richards on 3-5-2 cont: "The players just want to play. It's a hard system because we're not used to it." #MCFC #UCL

    — Iain Strachan (@IainStrachan) October 24, 2012

    Roberto, perhaps you're not a top manager.

    Somehow, some way, City are unbeaten after 15 Premier League games.

    Will they implode like Chelsea?

    Or will they finish the league season unbeaten like Arsenal? After 15 games, The Invincibles had won 10, drawn five. City have won nine, drawn six. 

    MVP: Edin Džeko, Bosnian Centre-Forward, Age: 26

    With Grafite and Zvjezdan Misimović, Džeko led Wolfsburg to the Bundesliga over Bayern Munich. The Bosnian is the man, and he can't accept a secondary role as a supersub. 

    It's degrading to him, which is why he has voiced his frustrations with that role (via Jason Burt at The Telegraph): "You can call me whatever you want but I will never accept that I'm a super-sub."

    Miscellaneous Points 

    Manchester City's NextGen team didn't perform to their potential, but Denis Suárez was a class act. If he was a Real Madrid or Barcelona player, he'd be playing Segunda football, which is the equivalent of the Championship.

    In Spain, Real and Barça have reserve sides in the second division, hence why they consistently produce elite footballers from their cantera. 

11. Benfica

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    Team Talking Points

    Jorge Jesus is a funny character. He once thought putting David Luiz at left-back against Hulk was a good idea—Porto won 5-0.

    Then there's the animated theatrics on the sidelines that would put Antonio Conte to shame. 

    Here's a sample of Jorge being Jorge. 

    We [Benfica] beat a team [Celtic] who have been lucky in the Champions League (via Reuters).

    Now we [Benfica] are playing on the biggest stage in the world [Nou Camp] against the biggest team in the world [Barcelona]. If we have a bit of luck we can do it (via BBC Sport).

    Lucky like Celtic, eh, Jorge? 

    No matter how limited Óscar Cardozo looks, he keeps on scoring goals. 

    Rodrigo Lima, who was one of Braga's best players, has made the step up at a bigger club in Benfica. 

    MVP: Eduardo Salvio, Argentine Right-Winger, Age: 22

    Statistically, you can't make the case for Salvio being Benfica's best player, but like Moussa Dembélé when he was at Fulham, the eye test is more applicable than the stat test. 

    The turn of pace, the quick feet and the sharp movements makes Salvio such a tricky proposition for defenders to deal with. 

    If he can add more goals and assists on a regular basis, Benfica will be selling him for a substantial transfer fee. 

    Miscellaneous Points 

    It's sad to see Ola John, who was so dominant with Twente, play in such a timid fashion for Benfica.

    The Dutchman needs to run at defenders more and just get back into the groove that saw him become one of the best young players in Europe. 

10. Manchester United

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    Team Talking Points

    Anders Lindegaard's supposed strength over David de Gea in handling crosses. Well, that was debunked against Reading.

    Lindegaard was rooted on the spot, looked anxious and didn't exude any confidence. In fact, he looked and played like De Gea. 

    DDG is a fragile soul, and the way Sir Alex Ferguson is treating the Spaniard will backfire. He's the £17 million bench warmer to a player in Lindegaard, whose CV screams "backup."

    There's no midfield dynamism, and someone like Kevin Strootman or a cheaper alternative in Morgan Schneiderlin would be good transfer targets. 

    Last season, Ferguson's side were outplayed by Athletic Bilbao. This season, the Red Devils were outclassed by a modest Braga team. 

    Worrying signs for Ferguson. Yet which club is on top of the Premier League? United. 

    MVP:  Robin van Persie, Dutch Centre-Forward, Age: 29 

    It's as if RVP and Wayne Rooney have been playing for years. Their seemingly telepathic relationship will be the main reason for United winning the league. 

    Miscellaneous Points 

    It's approaching eight years since Manchester United plucked Dong Fangzhuo out of obscurity. He's currently playing in the Chinese second division. With the benefit of hindsight, he was the cheaper Chinese version of Bébé. 

9. Shakhtar Donetsk

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    Team Talking Points

    Rinat Akhmetov, who's even richer than Roman Abramovich, is the mastermind behind Shakhtar Donetsk. 

    Unlike Abramovich, Akhmetov has signed some of Brazil's best young talents at reasonable transfer fees compared to the ones Abramovich has been dishing out. 

    The only Chelsea-esque mistake Akhmetov made was overpaying for an overhyped and overrated Nery Castillo. 

    Akhmetov actually knows football and has surrounded himself with some of the best scouts in the world. 

    MVP: Darijo Srna, Croatian Right-Back, Age: 30 

    There are so many wonderfully gifted Shakhtar players to choose from: Willian, Fernandinho, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Luiz Adriano and Alex Teixeira.

    Though it has to be Srna who is a world-class attacking right-back. He tormented Ryan Bertrand when Chelsea claimed an undeserved 3-2 win. 

    Srna is the right-back's answer to Leighton Baines. 

    Miscellaneous Points 

    Shakhtar have won 17 of 18 league games, hence the plus-43 goal difference. If anyone is wondering, Barcelona's goal difference is plus-32. 

8. Málaga

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    Team Talking Points

    Málaga's identity is rooted in hard-nosed defending, which is epitomised with players like Ignacio Camacho, Jérémy Toulalan, Martín Demichelis and Nacho Monreal. 

    With all due respect to Real Betis, whose back line can be leaky i.e. 4-2 loss to Atlético Madrid and 5-1 loss to Sevilla, they lean more toward pretenders whereas Málaga are contenders for third place.  

    Manuel Pellegrini is working miracles with a team that should be down and out because their future is still uncertain. 

    Isco needs to up his game when he plays in La Liga and start producing week in, week out.

    MVP: Monreal, Spanish Left-Back, Age: 26

    Real Madrid's Marcelo called himself the world's best left-back, which is an absolute joke. He's not even the best LB in La Liga considering how well Monreal is playing. 

    Miscellaneous Points 

    Monreal's 56.4 passes per league game is the highest average for a Málaga player. 

7. Porto

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    Team Talking Points

    What are the odds of Atlético Madrid replacing Falcao with Jackson Martínez, who then becomes a better player than Falcao? 

    That would be such a harsh twist of fate for Chelsea since El Tigre is headed to London if Roman Abramovich wants a real No. 9. 

    Martínez has scored some freakish goals like an acrobatic overhead kick against Beira Mar and a backheel against Sporting Lisbon.  

    League games against Moreirense, Vitoria de Setubal and Nacional should be wins. Then O Clássico, which will be a treat to watch. 

    MVP: James Rodríguez, Colombian Right/Left Forward, Age: 21

    Rodríguez shouldn't be tempted by the big-money offers from Europe's super clubs. He needs to stay in Portuguese Primera Liga and dominate. 

    Miscellaneous Points 

    Question: Do you think Porto have the best scouting system in the world? 

6. Atlético Madrid

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    Team Talking Points

    Atlético Madrid have assembled an astonishingly talented squad.

    A young goalkeeper with high upside in Thibaut Courtois, who is a Chelsea loanee and the heir to Petr Čech. 

    An elite left-back in Filipe Luis who would be as renowned as Ashley Cole if Luis didn't suffer such a horrific leg break. 

    Two great holding midfielders in Mario Suárez and Gabi. A world-class wide player in Arda Turan, who can attack and defend. 

    Then there's No. 9. 

    MVP: Falcao, Colombian Centre-Forward, Age: 26

    He actually hasn't been playing that well in recent games, scoring once in his last five games, but he still has netted 11 goals in 13 league games. 

    Chelsea are so desperate for a world-class striker that you shouldn't rule out Roman Abramovich breaking the £50 million transfer fee he submitted for a deteriorating Fernando Torres.

    Miscellaneous Points 

    Atlético's 4-1 demolition of Chelsea could have been 6-1 or even 7-1. The game didn't receive the coverage it deserved because it was buried under transfer deadline day. 

5. Real Madrid

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    Team Talking Points

    José Mourinho made it about himself once again when he beckoned the Real Madrid supporters to boo him as he faced the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium faithful by himself prior to El Derbi Madrileno.

    A few months ago, Mourinho moaned that he didn't have a team, pointing to the lackluster displays of the club.  

    Will he be managing the club next season? If Real do win the UEFA Champions League, the Only One will call it quits and return to his beloved Premier League. So many skirmishes within the Real organisation and also between Mourinho and the journalists. It's not going to end well. 

    MVP: Cristiano Ronaldo, Portuguese Left Attacking Midfielder, Age: 27

    CR7 has come up big when it counts this season as evident with six successive El Clásico goals. When the commentators were critiquing his free-kick accuracy, he sent one straight past Thibaut Courtois.

    Miscellaneous Points 

    Real Madrid are tied with Málaga for the least goals conceded in La Liga. 

4. Borussia Dortmund

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    Team Talking Points

    Jürgen Klopp is a genius for constructing this Borussia Dortmund side and playing such an aesthetic brand of football. 

    They were fortunate to hang on for a point against Bayern Munich. BVB had Roman Weidenfeller to thank as he made several superb saves. 

    How long can Klopp hang on to his stars without them doing a "Shinji Kagawa" and leaving?

    MVP: Mario Götze, German Attacking Midfielder, Age: 20

    He just zips past opposing players and evades so many tackles. He's completed 41 dribbles yet has been fouled 22 times. 

    He could be one of the greatest No. 10s in Bundesliga history. 

    Miscellaneous Points 

    It's unfortunate that someone of Moritz Leitner's quality isn't given more of an extended run. Same can be said of Ivan Perisić, who has world-class technique. 

3. Juventus

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    Team Talking Points

    The two league losses to AC Milan and Inter Milan, where Juventus only scored once, highlighted a desperate need for a world-class centre-forward. 

    Fabio Quagliarella has overachieved this season but there's a reason why he has never scored 30 goals or more in a season. 

    Fernando Llorente would be a welcome addition in January. 

    MVP: Andrea Pirlo, Italian Deep-Lying Playmaker, Age: 33

    Pirlo averages 78.8 passes per league game, has completed 116 of 147 long passes and just oozes of class. In hindsight, AC Milan motivated Pirlo to be a better player than the version at Milan.

    Miscellaneous Points 

    Paul Pogba, who left under a shroud of controversy, has been exceptional in little cameos.

2. Bayern Munich

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    Team Talking Points

    When you look at Bayern Munich, this is a team that Roman Abramovich should attempt to emulate. A combination of promoting academy talents and making shrewd signings. 

    Bayern's propensity to keep possession, 63.5 percent per league game, illustrates high technical ability. 

    Bayern are a more complete side than Barcelona but the Lionel Messi factor will hide the Catalunya club's weaknesses. 

    One major concern is the club's inability to close games which come back and haunt them. BATE Borisov, Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund were games in recent memory that Bayern should have won.

    MVP: Franck Ribéry, French Left Attacking Midfielder, Age: 29

    Only Hatem Ben Arfa averages a higher dribbles per game than Ribéry, who is the top-rated player by kicker  and BILD

    Miscellaneous Points 

    Let's wish Holger Badstuber a speedy recovery after he was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn cruciate ligament

1. Barcelona

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    Team Talking Points

    Why do Barcelona love playing defensive midfielders as makeshift centre-backs? They're so dominant that they're willing to handicap themselves.

    Aside from defence, Alexis Sánchez's form is worrying and Alex Song doesn't look anywhere near the Arsenal Song. 

    Carles Puyol will fight on but his body will probably betray him again. 

    MVP: Lionel Messi, Argentine Deep-Lying Forward, Age: 25

    League/UCL Goals Shots Per Goal Assists Shots Created Per Game Dribbles Per Game
    LM10 26 3.9 7 1.9 3.1
    CR7 18 7.4 2 1.9 1.6

    This is why Messi will win another FIFA Ballon d'Or.  

    Miscellaneous Points 

    Barça are currently on a seven-game La Liga winning streak. 

    Espanyol Scouting Report for Inter Loanee Samuele Longo

    Statistics courtesy of

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