European Club Rankings After March 8-10 Matches

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterMarch 12, 2019

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 5: (L-R) Hakim Ziyech of Ajax, Dusan Tadic of Ajax, David Neres of Ajax, Nicolas Tagliafico of Ajax, celebrates 0-3 during the UEFA Champions League  match between Real Madrid v Ajax at the Santiago Bernabeu on March 5, 2019 in Madrid Spain (Photo by Erwin Spek/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

If last week's UEFA Champions League and Europa League action is anything to go by, this week in football is set to be one you cannot afford to miss.

Can Juventus pull off what Ajax did to Real Madrid, or what Manchester United did to Paris Saint-Germain? Can Liverpool beat an increasingly impressive Bayern Munich side in their own back yard? And can Arsenal overturn a two-goal deficit at home to Rennes?

It promises to be another pivotal three days of the 2018-19 season.

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The European Club Rankings is 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. Eintracht Frankfurt (New!)

Benfica's response to being brought into the top 20 last week was to lose at the earliest opportunity, 1-0 to Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League. They then drew 2-2 against Belenenses in the Primeira Liga on Monday, which wasn't enough to repair their stock.

Replacing them are Eintracht Frankfurt, who won their third straight Bundesliga game on Monday night and still have potential Europa League success on the cards.

      

19. Real Madrid (-9)

Real Madrid endured what might just be the worst seven-day span in their history last week as they lost three straight home games, ending their hopes of winning the Champions League, La Liga and the Copa del Rey.

They beat relegation-threatened Real Valladolid 4-1 on Sunday to "bounce back" (to a degree), but even that performance was ropey. They struggled at the start of each half, went behind, conceded a penalty, saw two more Valladolid goals ruled out by VAR and had Casemiro sent off.

They drop nine spots as, simply put, their disastrous season now has a cap on how successful it can be—and that bar isn't particularly high. Without the Champions League to prop them up, the reality of their situation (destined to be trophyless, 14 losses in tow and counting) sets in.

Zinedine Zidane's been brought in to rescue the situation. Now begins the longest pre-season in history!

Real Madrid's Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois reacts as he concedes a fourth goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Ajax at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March 5, 2019. (Phot
GABRIEL BOUYS/Getty Images

        

18. Milan (Stay)

AC Milan have the small matter of the Derby della Madonnina against Inter Milan this coming weekend, and they've warmed up for it in impressive fashion: seven wins and three draws in their last 10 games, the latest result being a 2-1 win over Chievo.

       

17. Lille (Stay)

Lille beat Saint-Etienne this weekend thanks to both a clean sheet and a late Nicolas Pepe goal. It was fitting, as those are the two things that define their performances and results right now.

           

16. Arsenal (Stay)

What to make of Arsenal's week?

The performance against Rennes on Thursday wasn't up to scratch, and the result (3-1) leaves them in real danger of dropping out of the Europa League.

But against Manchester United they looked magnificent, fully earning their 2-0 win, leapfrogging the Red Devils in the table in the process.


15. Lyon (Stay)

A mad two minutes in the second half against Strasbourg on Saturday—in which two goals were conceded  almost back-to-back—cost Lyon a victory.

Lapses in midfield led to it, and if that happens again on Wednesday against Barcelona, Les Gones will be sent packing from the Champions League.

        

14. Chelsea (-1)

Chelsea made light work of Dynamo Kiev last Thursday, beating the Ukrainian outfit 3-0 and essentially killing their round-of-16 tie off at the midway point.

Wolves proved much harder to break down on Sunday, with the Blues relying on Eden Hazard to take matters into his own hands in order to secure a point in the late stages.

They move down in the wake of FC Porto's ascent.

     

13. Tottenham (-1)

Tottenham did a reverse-Arsenal: Rather than lose in Europe and excel in the Premier League, they beat Borussia Dortmund 1-0 at Signal Iduna Park last Tuesday before losing 2-1 to Southampton on Saturday.

They really should have been out of sight in the first half of the latter game, but they squandered their chances before collapsing late on due to some appalling defending. It's now been over a month since they won a league game.

Porto's Malian forward Moussa Marega celebrates a goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match between FC Porto and AS Roma at the Dragao stadium in Porto on March 6, 2019. (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP)        (Photo credit
MIGUEL RIOPA/Getty Images

           

12. Porto (+7)

What a week it was for FC Porto. Progression to the Champions League quarter-finals was secured by beating Roma 3-1 after extra time, then four days later they beat Feirense 2-1 to take them joint-top of the Primeira Liga (but second on goal difference).

Last week we dropped them harshly due to a collapse in form, but this week they make that ground back.

         

11. Napoli (Stay)

You can now tell from the strength of the XIs Napoli field that manager Carlo Ancelotti is prioritising the Europa League. They called on their stars to beat RB Salzburg 3-0 in midweek then rotated heavily for the 1-1 draw with Sassuolo on Sunday.


10. Borussia Dortmund (-1)

League: 2nd | DFB-Pokal: Out (3rd round) | Champions League: Out (Round of 16)

DORTMUND, GERMANY - MARCH 09: Marco Reus of Borussia Dortmund celebrates after scoring his team's first goal with team mates during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and VfB Stuttgart at Signal Iduna Park on March 9, 2019 in Dortmund, Germany
TF-Images/Getty Images

The complexion of Dortmund's season looks so different now compared to a month ago. Out of all cup competitions and having slipped to second in the league on goal difference, it would be no surprise if the alarm bells are ringing.

Manager Lucien Favre has done a magnificent job to get them this far regardless, and they still have a good chance of winning the Bundesliga. However, for the first time in months they're in a chasing position, rather than a leading one. How will the squad react?

       

9. Ajax (+5)

League: 2nd | KNVB Cup: Final | Champions League: Quarter-finals

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 5: (L-R) Dani de Wit of Ajax, Matthijs de Ligt of Ajax, Dusan Tadic of Ajax, Andre Onana of Ajax, celebrates the victory after the game during the UEFA Champions League  match between Real Madrid v Ajax at the Santiago Bernabeu on Ma
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Ajax produced the storyline of the Champions League last week, beating Real Madrid 4-1 away from home to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit and qualify for the quarter-finals.

It was a night on which budding stars like Frenkie de Jong staked their claim at the top table of European football. However, older heads like Dusan Tadic reminded the world what they're capable of too.

De Godenzonen followed those heroics up with a 4-0 win over Fortuna Sittard, meaning they've won five straight and scored 21 goals in the process.

       

8. Paris Saint-Germain (-5)

League: 1st | Coupe de France: Semi-finals | Coupe de la Ligue: Out (Quarter-finals) | Champions League: Out (Round of 16)

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 06: Marcus Rashford of Manchester United and Victor Lindeloef of Manchester United celebrate and Marco Verratti of Paris Saint-Germain sits on the gorund during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Paris Sai
TF-Images/Getty Images

PSG's worst fears were realised (again) as they squandered a 2-0 aggregate lead to Manchester United, losing 3-1 at home and dropping out of the Champions League at the round of 16 in embarrassing circumstances (again).

This exit places a glass ceiling on where PSG can place in these rankings, as the best team they can now play for the rest of the season...is Lille.

          

7. Manchester United (+1)

League: 5th | Carabao Cup: Out (3rd round) | FA Cup: Quarter-finals | Champions League: Quarter-finals

Manchester United's Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku chases the ball during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 10, 2019. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDI
BEN STANSALL/Getty Images

Last week Manchester United achieved what many thought impossible, and almost all believed improbable: They beat Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes 3-1 to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals.

It was some turnaround, featuring skill, guts and fortune to perhaps equal degrees. The night sapped the team both emotionally and physically, however.

It was perhaps no surprise they came up short in the next game against Arsenal, though don't let the 2-0 reverse scoreline fool you into thinking they played badly—they just fell the wrong side of the fine margins for the first time in a while.

      

6. Atletico Madrid (+1)

League: 2nd | Copa del Rey: Out (Round of 16) | Champions League: Round of 16

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 09: Diego Pablo Simeone, Manager of Atletico de Madrid reacts during the La Liga match between  Club Atletico de Madrid and CD Leganes at Wanda Metropolitano on March 09, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Im
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Leganes at home was a fixture Atletico had to "get through" this weekend. Once that was done and dusted, focus could fully turn to the most important match of their season so far: Juventus away, on Tuesday.

They have a 2-0 lead to protect and haven't conceded a goal since February 9, but they are managing a nasty injury list, with Filipe Luis, Thomas Partey, Diego Costa and Lucas Hernandez all missing from the squad travelling to Turin. 

      

5. Juventus (Stay)

League: 1st | Coppa Italia: Out (Quarter-finals) | Champions League: Round of 16

Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (Rear R) and Juventus' Argentine forward Paulo Dybala (L) sit in the substitutes area prior to the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Udinese on March 8, 2019 at the Juventus Allianz stadium in Turin.
MIGUEL MEDINA/Getty Images

Max Allegri could have fielded 11 youth players and lost 3-0 to Udinese this past weekend and the fans probably wouldn't have cared. It is all about the Champions League for this club, and this week is genuinely make or break.

They're 2-0 down to Atletico Madrid on aggregate but face them at home on Tuesday, and with Mr. Big Moment (Cristiano Ronaldo) on their side, no one should be completely ruling them out.

      

4. Bayern Munich (+2)

League: 1st | DFB-Pokal: Quarter-final | Champions League: Round of 16

MUNICH, GERMANY - MARCH 09: Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Muenchen warms up prior to the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and VfL Wolfsburg at Allianz Arena on March 09, 2019 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Bayern Munich's thumping 6-0 win over Wolfsburg on Saturday took them to the top of the Bundesliga table for the first time since September. It's a remarkable length of time for such a club to be kept at bay.

Jurgen Klopp might well be concerned his old rivals are gaining steam at just the right time, as his Liverpool side must now find a way to beat a team oozing with confidence, fresh off a goal bonanza.

         

3. Liverpool (+1)

League: 2nd | Carabao Cup: Out (3rd round) | FA Cup: Out (3rd round) | Champions League: Round of 16

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Roberto Firmino of Liverpool celebrates with Sadio Mane of Liverpool after scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield on March 10, 2019 in Liverpool, United Ki
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Liverpool recovered from an early scare to beat Burnley on Sunday. Having gone behind to a corner that flew straight in—thanks in part to a foul on goalkeeper Alisson Becker which prevented him from getting to it—Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah found their groove and began to dominate.

It was probably a sterner examination than hoped for ahead of a trip to Munich to face Bayern in the Champions League, but at least their goalscorers got some practice in!

          

2. Barcelona (Stay)

League: 1st | Copa del Rey: Final | Champions League: Round of 16

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 9: Gerard Pique of FC Barcelona, celebrate his goal the 1-1 with Arturo Vidal of FC Barcelona during the La Liga Santander  match between FC Barcelona v Rayo Vallecano at the Camp Nou on March 9, 2019 in Barcelona Spain (Photo by
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

For 39 minutes on Saturday, it looked as though Real Madrid might manage to gain some small measure of revenge on Barcelona for those two defeats the previous week. Raul de Tomas, on loan from Los Blancos at Rayo Vallecano, put the Madrid-based side ahead at the Camp Nou with a brilliant solo effort. 

But eventually the quality told. First Gerard Pique, then later Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez scored to win the game 3-1 and continue Barca's march to the La Liga title. With that triumph expected, the pressure has shifted to their Champions League tussle with Lyon.

        

1. Manchester City (Stay)

League: 1st | Carabao Cup: Winners | FA Cup: Quarter-finals | Champions League: Round of 16

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: Raheem Sterling of Manchester City celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-0 during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Watford FC at Etihad Stadium on March 9, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Pho
James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Man City are soldiering on. The tense feeling that haunts Liverpool's Premier League games doesn't seem as prevalent when Pep Guardiola's men play. Raheem Sterling and Co. appear far more at home when subjected to the pressure of a title race.

Their 3-1 win over Watford on Saturday was pretty routine, and with Aymeric Laporte's fitness good enough to secure him a place on the bench, things continue to look up.

        

Instagram.com/brsamtighe

All statistics via WhoScored.com.

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