European Club Rankings After December 7-9 Matches

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterDecember 10, 2018

European Club Rankings After December 7-9 Matches

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    Another weekend packed full of rivalry and heavyweight action? Football, you spoil us sometimes.

    With the displaced Superclasico between Boca Juniors and River Plate in the Copa Libertadores put to one side, Chelsea's 2-0 win over Manchester City was the headline fixture across Europe over the last few days. Following up that was Borussia Dortmund's 2-1 victory in the Revierderby and Barcelona's attacking masterclass in their Catalan clash with Espanyol.

    All of this plays a prominent role in this week's European Club Rankings, a list of the continent's top teams in order of form and performance at this stage of the season.

    You can read the previous set of rankings here.

20-16

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    20. Borussia Monchengladbach (New!)

    Replacing Eintracht Frankfurt in the top 20 is Borussia Monchengladbach, whose four wins from six games have propelled them to second in the Bundesliga. It's tight at the top of the league so that lofty position could change in the next week, but for now they command a strong position.

            

    19. Real Madrid (+1)

    Los Blancos finished off a 10-1 aggregate win over Melilla in the Copa del Rey in midweek, but the real test came on Sunday. Santiago Solari's men negotiated a severe second-half wobble to beat Huesca 1-0 courtesy of a Gareth Bale goal.

    That's Huesca, bottom of the league with just seven points all season. All is not yet fixed at the Bernabeu.

            

    18. Lyon (-2)

    Last week was an off week for Lyon. As good as they can be at times, they shoot themselves in the foot on an all-too-regular basis. Their 2-0 loss to Rennes could not be avenged at the weekend as their fixture against Toulouse was called off.

            

    17. FC Porto (+1)

    Porto's current win streak in all competitions is 11. The glamour of that run is soured a little by the fact the best teams they have beaten in that time are Braga and Schalke 04, but it's still an impressive sequence.

           

    16. Ajax (+1)

    You have to go back to September to find an Eredivisie game that Ajax didn't comprehensively win. They've been destroying teams lately, really finding their groove, with PEC Zwolle the latest victims in a 4-1 defeat.

15-11

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    15. Manchester United (Stay)

    Given how the week that preceded this one went for United—poor draws with Crystal Palace and Southampton sandwiched a squeaky win over Young Boys—a 2-2 draw against Arsenal and a comprehensive 4-1 win over Fulham is pretty good going. They've finally hit positive goal difference territory in the Premier League too.

              

    14. Tottenham Hotspur (Stay)

    The north London derby loss the previous weekend saw Tottenham slip below Arsenal in the table, but two wins on the bounce has seen them leap straight back above them into third.

    Now, a date with destiny at the Camp Nou awaits. Can Spurs make it a historic night and qualify for the Champions League latter stages?

           

    13. Inter Milan (-1)

    There's no shame in coming out on the wrong side of a 1-0 scoreline to Juventus after a hard-fought game. That said, the result made it one win in six for Inter in all competitions; there's something to figure out for Luciano Spalletti there and fast.

           

    12. Sevilla (+1)

    Sevilla were just seconds away from an impressive victory away to Valencia on Saturday, but they saw a three-point haul snatched from their grasp in stoppage time. Put that late disappointment aside, though, and it's still a good result.

           

    11. Bayern Munich (+1)

    Bayern's 3-0 win over Nuremberg this weekend made it three on the bounce, with two of those convincing. Are Die Roten back on track, or is this another false dawn?

10. Atletico Madrid (Stay)

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    A 3-0 win over Deportivo Alaves isn't usually anything to shout about, but given how strong they've looked this season—camped inside the top four for much of it—it counts as an excellent result for Atletico.

    That performance followed a comprehensive 4-0 triumph over Sant Andreu, completing a great week.

    Nikola Kalinic, a player you'd be forgiven for forgetting had joined Atleti in the summer, scored in both games, stepping into the void created by Diego Costa's injury. How important could he prove to be in the coming weeks?

9. Arsenal (Stay)

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    A strange midweek game saw Arsenal walk away from Old Trafford with a hard-earned, well-deserved point.

    It had been more than three years since the Gunners had achieved such a result on that pitch, so it's one the supporters will savour even if it could have been more.

    Huddersfield Town provided stubborn opposition at the weekend, holding Unai Emery's men at bay for 82 minutes, but eventually Lucas Torreira provided an acrobatic strike to seal three points. 

    Arsenal continue to tick along nicely.

8. Chelsea (Stay)

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    Chelsea chalked up a big win on Saturday, defeating Premier League champions Manchester City 2-0, thanks to a display of grit and determination.

    The performance was far from perfect—they were dominated for spells and struggled to get out of their own third with the ball—but Kepa Arrizabalaga was hardly worked in goal, and Eden Hazard flashed brilliance operating from the centre-forward role.

    It's a result so good that it's quickly wiped away any resentment following the midweek collapse against Wolves—and it keeps them afloat in eighth in our ranking.

7. Liverpool (Stay)

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    Liverpool were made to work for their 3-1 midweek victory over Burnley, falling behind initially before summoning a second-half effort. Goalkeeper Alisson Becker's brilliance was pivotal in keeping the Reds in it at times.

    Saturday was distinctly easier, Mohamed Salah blitzing Bournemouth with a magnificent hat-trick (and overall performance). The Reds' midfield shone, with Naby Keita putting in another strong performance and Roberto Firmino finally perking up.

    All of this serves as fantastic preparation for a monumental game at Anfield this week, where Liverpool must beat Napoli 1-0 or by two clear goals to avoid dropping to the Europa League.

6. Paris Saint-Germain (-1)

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    After winning 14 Ligue 1 games in a row to begin the season—and setting a new European record in the process—Paris Saint-Germain have drawn two straight. 

    The first draw, against Toulouse, didn't show PSG in a good light, and the latest one versus Strasbourg is even worse. The chance to stop this mini-run at home to Montpellier on Saturday was taken away due to a match postponement, too.

    A win against Red Star Belgrade this week guarantees Champions League progression—a feat that looked like it might elude them following a rough start.

5. Napoli (+1)

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    Two results factor into Napoli's rise into the top five this week: Their impressive 2-1 victory away to Atalanta on Monday, plus their more routine 4-0 win over Frosinone on Saturday.

    Both games featured goals from Arkadiusz Milik, taking him to seven in Serie A for the season. It's good to see him fit and firing after a torrid opening few chapters to life in Naples, riddled with injuries and difficulties adapting to the style of play.

    The points gap between Napoli and Juventus in the table (eight) can trick you into thinking the Partenopei's season hasn't been great, but it has. Top of a ludicrous Champions League group and marking themselves out as the clear second-best team in Italy is great going.

4. Borussia Dortmund (Stay)

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    The Revierderby, contested between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04, is often one of the most enthralling rivalry matches on the planet, and this weekend's edition was no different.

    The 2-1 win Lucien Favre's men earned was their first at the Veltins-Arena since 2013, and it was secured thanks to a brilliant, late Jadon Sancho winner.

    It keeps them nine points clear of Bayern Munich and leaves them with just one genuinely difficult fixture before the winter break: Borussia Monchengladbach at home on December 21.

3. Barcelona (Stay)

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    Barcelona were on top form on Saturday, administering a 4-0 defeat to neighbours Espanyol courtesy of an incisive, incredible attacking display.

    Lionel Messi was at the heart of it all, netting two free-kicks and pulling the strings, but Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal all stepped up too.

    Attention now turns to the final Champions League group game and what kind of XI Ernesto Valverde will field against Tottenham. With progression already secured, will Messi and Co. be rested—therefore giving Spurs a huge chance to upset the odds?

2. Manchester City (-1)

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    It's rare to see a Pep Guardiola side run out of ideas, but that's exactly what happened as Manchester City lost their first Premier League game of the season at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

    With an injury list including Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero and Benjamin Mendy, and then later adding David Silva's name, they went from dominating early (without scoring) to listlessly drifting to a 2-0 defeat.

    It was a strange thing to watch. Only one truly excellent chance was made, the xG total was just 0.73, per Understat, and Leroy Sane was withdrawn quite early because he couldn't get the better of Cesar Azpilicueta. How often do you see any of that from the Citizens?

1. Juventus (+1)

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    In a week in which Juventus beat a strong Inter Milan side and Manchester City lost, this conclusion was inevitable: The Old Lady rise to the top of the European Club Rankings, a spot they last held in early November, over a month ago.

    Mario Mandzukic has hit the sort of goalscoring form this season that evaded him last term, and it was he who made the difference against Inter, netting a back-post header to secure a 1-0 win.

    It's a result that brings into focus, once again, how superb the Turin club's start to the season has been: Fourteen wins and a draw has brought 43 points in Serie A already, they are top of their Champions League group and have lost just one game all campaign.

          

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    All statistics via WhoScored.com.