European Club Rankings After August 17-19 Matches

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterAugust 20, 2018

European Club Rankings After August 17-19 Matches

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    Teams from each of Europe's top five leagues were all in action this past weekend, with Spain and Italy joining England and France in league formalities, plus Germany playing out the first stage of their domestic cup.

    Added all together, it represented a generous serving of competitive football, filling stomachs whose appetites had been whet by a brilliant UEFA Super Cup contest between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid just days before.

    In accordance with it all, we've updated our European Club Rankings, listing the continent's top teams in order of estimated strength at this stage of the season. Results play a part in forming the order, but they're not the be-all and end-all at this stage; a team's general quality factors in too.

    You can read last week's rankings here.

16-20

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    20. Valencia (Stay)

    Valencia's La Liga campaign begins on Monday evening as they host the formidable Atletico Madrid.

              

    19. Arsenal (Stay)

    Two games, two losses. Despite the fact Arsenal's opening fixtures have been incredibly tough, judgments of Unai Emery's work are already flooding through—and they're not positive. They're up against West Ham United at home this weekend and badly need a result to keep people onside.

            

    18. Lyon (Stay)

    Lyon suffered their first loss of the season to Stade de Reims this weekend, manager Bruno Genesio cycling through his attacking options to no avail. Their opponents took the lead in the first half with one of just two shots on target and then held firm.

               

    17. AS Roma (Stay)

    It wasn't easy, it wasn't particularly pretty, but Roma ground out an opening victory against Torino thanks to a super Edin Dzeko strike and a game-changing cameo from Justin Kluivert.

                  

    16. Borussia Dortmund (Stay)

    BVB will play Furth in the DFB-Pokal on Monday evening and then open their Bundesliga season with a blockbuster tie with RB Leipzig on Sunday.

11-15

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    15. Schalke 04 (Stay)

    A penalty and an own goal sealed Schalke's progression in the DFB-Pokal first round this weekend. Their Bundesliga campaign kicks off on Saturday at Wolfsburg.

          

    14. Lazio (-1)

    An early Ciro Immobile goal got Lazio off to a flyer against Napoli on Saturday, but things fell to pieces in the second half, Arek Milik and Lorenzo Insigne consigning the Biancocelesti to an opening home loss.

            

    13. Manchester United (-3)

    Manchester United's iffy performance against Leicester City was acknowledged but subsequently buried as they won the game despite it. Their most recent showing, against Brighton & Hove Albion, won't receive the same airbrush treatment.

    Defensive calamities and error-strewn midfield performances helped the hosts take a commanding early lead and hold on for an upset. Jose Mourinho proved predictably furious with the performance, and after the match he refused to criticise his players, stating, "When I am critical with my players you just don't accept it," per the Guardian.

    Those cracks we saw in pre-season? They just widened.

            

    12. Napoli (+2)

    Napoli put a wretched pre-season behind them to come up big on the opening Serie A weekend, beating Lazio 2-1 in the capital despite falling behind early. It's a result few expected and shakes up how Italy's top order is perceived once again. 

           

    11. Inter Milan (-2)

    There's a lot of excitement about Inter Milan because of their strong work in the transfer window. The XI they can now theoretically field—including all of their new blood—is an incredible one.

    But the XI that took to the pitch on Sunday was a far-cry from that black-and-blue utopia. It was missing at least five top players, so perhaps it shouldn't surprise that the side lost a seventh game in eight attempts against a traditionally tricky rival in Sassuolo. 

10. Chelsea (+2)

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    We expected Chelsea to exhibit teething issues under Maurizio Sarri, and while they are present, they're nowhere near as pronounced (or damaging) as anticipated.

    This squad are taking to a new style remarkably quickly—Jorginho's knowledge of the system is crucial to that as he dictates from the centre of the park—and players such as Pedro, whose career at Stamford Bridge looked to be winding down, have sparked into life.

9. Tottenham Hotspur (+2)

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    Harry Kane scoring in August? Is the end nigh?

    While the England international's "feat" of netting his first Premier League goal in this particular month took all the focus, Mauricio Pochettino might well have allowed himself a private smirk, as it was his second-half tactical tweaks that won Tottenham a difficult game against Fulham.

    How he juggles his centre-back options moving forward is still a big question mark—as is who gets free-kick duty, given the excellence in Kieran Trippier's effort—but for now, he'll bask in the glow of a perfect start. 

8. Liverpool (Stay)

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    Liverpool play Crystal Palace on Monday evening at Selhurst Park. Jurgen Klopp is clearly expecting a physical encounter—he's been using rugby tackle bags in training this week, per the Guardian.

7. Paris Saint-Germain (Stay)

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    It was in Guingamp last year that Neymar made his spectacular Paris Saint-Germain debut. Almost exactly one year later, he returned to wreak more havoc.

    His goal and assist, plus Kylian Mbappe's second-half brace, turned a game that initially did not go according to plan on its head.

    There was also a moment of strange history, as Gianluigi Buffon played on the same pitch as Marcus Thuram, son of Lillian Thuram, a team-mate he played alongside in 1997—the same year Marcus was born!

6. Real Madrid (-3)

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    Last Wednesday's UEFA Super Cup was a bleak, early glimpse at life without Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid fans. It's likely no coincidence they lost their first big game following his departure.

    That said, while his absence was a factor in Los Blancos' inability to conjure a late charge in the face of a two-goal deficit, the poor performances of Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane likely concerned Julen Lopetegui more.

    They bounced back (to a degree) on Sunday, wiping the floor with Getafe. The scoreline read 2-0 at full-time, though it could have been six.

5. Bayern Munich (+1)

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    Bayern Munich begin their Bundesliga season this weekend against Hoffenheim.

    They move up as a result of their DFB-Pokal first-round win over SV Drochtersen/Assel and Real Madrid's loss in the UEFA Super Cup.

4. Juventus (-1)

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    Well, that was a struggle.

    With the eyes of the watching world bearing down on them, Juventus limped over the line in their Serie A opener against Chievo. It wasn't the incredible debut Cristiano Ronaldo will have dreamed up; instead of playing the part of instant hero, he squandered a lot of chances as Stefano Sorrentino continually denied him.

    It was Federico Bernardeschi who saved the day, stabbing home late to rescue the Old Lady from embarrassment. It's a win that keeps them in our top five, but it wasn't anywhere near convincing enough to allow them to remain in the top three.

3. Atletico Madrid (+2)

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    Finally, Atletico Madrid got one over on their greatest rivals on the European stage.

    A UEFA Super Cup win won't heal the wounds of 2014 and 2016—years in which they lost Champions League finals in agonising circumstances—but it will fuel them with belief that the gap between the two is closer than it has been in years.

    Their La Liga campaign kicks off on Monday against Valencia.

2. Barcelona (Stay)

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    Barcelona missed a ridiculous number of chances against Deportivo Alaves.

    None of them came back to haunt them as, eventually, a 3-0 win was secured, but six Dani Pacheco saves and two strikes of the woodwork meant the scoreline was kind to the Camp Nou's first visitors of the season.

    Lionel Messi was in outrageous form, netting two and leading a brilliant team showing.

1. Manchester City (Stay)

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    Manchester City were expected to sail past Huddersfield Town with consummate ease on Sunday, but that didn't stop their 6-1 victory raising eyebrows across the world. This team are just ruthless.

    Kevin De Bruyne may be out for the next three or so months, but with David Silva still in there pulling the strings, Sergio Aguero prowling the box and Benjamin Mendy dominating the wing, this City side will still be ridiculously hard to stop.

    They're playing incredible football and racking up the scorelines to match.

       

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