Final European Club Rankings for the 2018-19 Season

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 3, 2019

Liverpool's English midfielder Jordan Henderson (C) holds the European Champion Clubs' Cup trophy during an open-top bus parade around Liverpool, north-west England on June 2, 2019, after winning the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Tottenham. - Liverpool's celebrations stretched long into the night after they became six-time European champions with goals from Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi to beat Tottenham -- and the party was set to move to England on Sunday where tens of thousands of fans awaited the team's return. The 2-0 win in the sweltering Metropolitano Stadium delivered a first trophy in seven years for Liverpool, and -- finally -- a first win in seven finals for coach Jurgen Klopp. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)        (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Saturday night's UEFA Champions League final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool closed the curtain on the 2018-19 season. Overall it was another magnificent, thrilling effort from Europe's best, spanning nine months and bringing us joy, excitement, drama and despair in equal measures.

All that's left to do is run the final rule over each of the continent's best clubs, bringing you the definitive top 20 for the campaign as a whole.

The working here is quite simple: If a team is ranked above another, it's because we've adjudged their efforts this season to have been better than the other's. All competitions are considered, trophy hauls are important and there are some radical last-minute changes thanks to some heroic efforts.

You can read the previous set of rankings here.

20. RB Leipzig (-1)

Leipzig's season ended on a disappointing note with a 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal final, but the scoreline didn't reflect how the game went.

Die Roten Bullen held their own for a good hour before wonder goals from Robert Lewandowski and Kingsley Coman put the game out of reach.


19. Sporting CP (New!)

Sporting CP had a strange season that seesawed violently depending on which competition they were playing in. 

In the league, they were well off the title-chasing pace, finishing 11 points off second, and they made little impact in Europe. 

In the domestic cups, though, they were a different animal, winning both the Taca da Liga and the Taca de Portugal...and beating FC Porto in both finals.

OEIRAS, PORTUGAL - MAY 25:  Bruno Fernandes of Sporting CP celebrates with trophy after winning the Taca de Portugal Final at the end of the Taca de Portugal Final match between Sporting CP and FC Porto at Estadio Nacional on May 25, 2019 in Oeiras, Portu
Gualter Fatia/Getty Images


18. Lyon (-1)

Lyon embarked on a run of five wins from six games to finish the Ligue 1 season strongly, securing third place and Champions League football in the process.

As usual, it's now time for their fans to settle in and see which of their talented players leave the club over the summer. On the big clubs' radars are Ferland Mendy, Tanguy Ndombele, Houssem Aouar, Bertrand Traore and Memphis Depay.


17. Lille (-1)

Seventy-five points for the season (good for second place in Ligue 1) represents a phenomenal return for Lille. For context, they avoided relegation by one point the campaign before.

Unlike Lyon, Les Dogues' fans won't spend all summer fretting over the future of multiple players; no, they'll be worried about just one: wing sensation Nicolas Pepe.


16. FC Porto (-1)

2018-19 looked as though it was setting itself up nicely for Porto, but they tripped at every final hurdle available to them.

Both cup finals were lost to Sporting, and they squandered a commanding position in the league in March, unable to recover. They did what Liverpool greatly feared doing themselves: finish a good season with no major trophies to show for it.


15. Napoli (-1)

Napoli finished in their customary second place in Serie A, miles off top but miles ahead of third. They're on their own little island at the moment, and this summer's transfer work will determine which gap they close.


14. Arsenal (-1)

An optimist might argue Arsenal's season—while ultimately ending in disappointment—showed signs of gradual progress throughout, and they enter this summer a far more cohesive unit than they did last.

However, a pessimist might point out that for the Gunners to take the next vital steps, they'll need more money than the paltry £45 million Unai Emery will receive, per Dean Jones on B/R Football Ranks.

SEVILLIA, SPAIN - MAY 25: Rodrigo of Valencia CF celebrates goal 0-2 during the Spanish Copa del Rey  match between FC Barcelona v Valencia at the Benito Villamarin Stadium on May 25, 2019 in Sevillia Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Im
Soccrates Images/Getty Images


13. Valencia (+5)

The turnaround in Valencia's 2018-19 campaign has been close to beyond belief. 

During the first half of the season, they struggled to do much other than draw games (12 in total), meaning they fell well off the pace in La Liga and dropped out of the Champions League.

Since the turn of the year, though, they've been superb, reaching the Europa League semi-finals, sneaking into the top four in the league and crowning the campaign with a 2-1 victory over Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final.


12. Benfica (Stay)

With celebrations over the title win dying down in Lisbon, fans' minds have turned to the summer transfer window.

Like Lyon, Benfica is a crucial recruiting ground for Europe's rich clubs, and there's plenty of interest in this squad: Joao Felix, Alejandro Grimaldo, Ruben Dias, Gedson Fernandes, Florentino Luis and perhaps even Andrija Zivkovic will be on many a wishlist. 


11. Paris Saint-Germain (Stay) 

The day after a drab 3-1 loss to Stade de Reims ended a disappointing season for PSG, manager Thomas Tuchel extended his contract with the club to 2021.

The message is clear: Tuchel is sticking around, and he's the man the owners want. It's now on the players to up their level for 2019-20.

10. Atletico Madrid (Stay)

League: Second | Copa del Rey: Out (round of 16) | Champions League: Out (round of 16)

VALENCIA, SPAIN - MAY 18: Diego Pablo Simeone head coach of Atletico de Madrid looks on prior to the La Liga match between Levante UD and Club Atletico de Madrid at Ciutat de Valencia on May 18, 2019 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by David Aliaga/MB Media/Get
David Aliaga/MB Media/Getty Images

As discussed on B/R Football Ranks in May, Atletico Madrid have a big summer ahead in terms of player recruitment. With legends such as Diego Godin and Juanfran and stars like Antoine Griezmann seemingly departing, money will have to be spent.

The first new face is already through the door: Felipe, who impressed greatly for Porto this season, has made a €20 million move. That's a very good start.


9. Borussia Dortmund (Stay)

League: Second | DFB-Pokal: Out (round of 16) | Champions League: Out (round of 16)

MOENCHENGLADBACH, GERMANY - MAY 18: Thorgan Hazard of Borussia Moenchengladbach controls the ball during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund at Borussia-Park on May 18, 2019 in Moenchengladbach, Germany. (Photo by
TF-Images/Getty Images

Like Atletico, Dortmund have also moved quickly to strengthen their squad ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Attacking midfielders Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt have both been signed using the Christian Pulisic money, while Nico Schulz joins to bolster left-back.

That was all done before June. Talk about moving fast.


8. Tottenham Hotspur (-3)

League: Fourth | Carabao Cup: Out (semi-finals) | FA Cup: Out (fourth round) | Champions League: Out (Finalist)

MADRID, SPAIN - JUNE 01: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur looks dejected during the UEFA Champions League Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on June 1, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Going into a final as an underdog, you need the stars to align if you're to pull off the unthinkable. 

But the rub of the green deserted Spurs as early as the first minute in the Champions League final when a bizarre penalty concession essentially incinerated Mauricio Pochettino's pre-match plans and preparations.

They huffed and puffed, trying to get back into things, but they couldn't find a way past a defence led by Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker before conceding a second late on.

It stings, but the Liverpool side they faced were just a step further along. 


7. Chelsea (+1)

League: Third | Carabao Cup: Out (Finalist) | FA Cup: Out (fifth round) | Europa League: Winners

Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard holds the trophy after winning the UEFA Europa League final football match between Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC at the Baku Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijian, on May 29, 2019. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)        (Pho
OZAN KOSE/Getty Images

Chelsea's rampant 20-minute spell in the second half against Arsenal last week essentially secured the UEFA Europa League trophy. If it was Eden Hazard's goodbye—as the player himself intimated—then this isn't a bad present to soften the blow.

Third in the league, a European trophy and a runners-up medal in a domestic cup. That's pretty damn good.


6. Juventus (-1)

League: Winners | Coppa Italia: Out (quarter-finals) | Champions League: Out (quarter-finals)

TURIN, ITALY - MAY 19: Cristiano Ronaldo (R) and Federico Bernadeschi of Juventus celebrate with the Serie A trophy following the Serie A match between Juventus and Atalanta BC at Allianz Stadium on May 19, 2019 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/
Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Juventus want Maurizio Sarri and, per the Guardian, Sarri wants Juventus.

It's an intriguing potential matchup filled with reasons why it may and may not work. It's also a decision the Bianconeri board absolutely have to nail, as they're in win-now mode with an ageing squad. 


5. Bayern Munich (+2)

League: Winners | DFB-Pokal: Winners | Champions League: Out (round of 16)

BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 25: Head coach Niko Kovac of FC Bayern Muenchen celebrates with the DFB Cup after winning the DFB Cup final between RB Leipzig and Bayern Muenchen at Olympiastadion on May 25, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images
TF-Images/Getty Images

A 3-0 DFB-Pokal final victory over RB Leipzig finished a season that, at surface level, looks very successful for Bayern Munich. After all, who sniffs at a domestic double?

But manager Niko Kovac has had an uncomfortable nine months, constantly fighting for approval at board level, in the stands and even in the dressing room, and he knows things must improve in 2019-20—particularly on the European stage.


4. Barcelona (-1)

League: Winners | Copa del Rey: Out (Finalist) | Champions League: Out (semi-finals)

SEVILLE, SPAIN - MAY 25: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on during the Spanish Copa del Rey Final match between Barcelona and Valencia at Estadio Benito Villamarin on May 25, 2019 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

A season that for a long time looked like it would deliver at least a domestic double, or perhaps the fabled European treble, turned out to be one that delivered neither.

Winning La Liga is no small achievement and Barca's retention of the trophy saves 2018-19 from being a complete disaster, but fans were once again left with a feeling of unfulfillment. 


3. Ajax (+1)

League: Winners | KNVB Cup: Winners | Champions League: Out (semi-finals)

(L-R) Carel Eiting of Ajax, Dani de Wit of Ajax, Matthijs de Ligt of Ajax, Frenkie de Jong of Ajax during the Dutch Eredivisie match between De Graafschap Doetinchem and Ajax Amsterdam at De Vijverberg stadium on May 15, 2019 in Doetinchem, The Netherland
VI-Images/Getty Images

There are those who believe Ajax's league-and-cup double isn't so much of an achievement. But as Barcelona and Juventus have proved this season, it's hardly a foregone conclusion that the best side in the country wins it all.

That Ajax managed to win both while balancing a charge to the Champions League semi-finals—during which they beat Real Madrid and Juventus—almost seems doubly impressive in light of what's happened.


2. Manchester City (-1)

League: Winners | Carabao Cup: Winners | FA Cup: Winners | Champions League: Out (quarter-finals)

Manchester City's Belgian defender Vincent Kompany holds aloft the Premier League trophy as Manchester City's Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (L) holds the League Cup trophy during an open-top bus parade through Manchester, northern England on May 20, 2
PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Even if Manchester City never win the Champions League under Pep Guardiola, an unprecedented men's domestic treble makes for a strong legacy.


1. Liverpool (+1)

League: Second | Carabao Cup: Out (third round) | FA Cup: Out (third round) | Champions League: Winners

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp (C) holds the European Champion Clubs' Cup trophy during an open-top bus parade around Liverpool, north-west England on June 2, 2019, after winning the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool an
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

It was far from vintage Liverpool, but it got the job done.

On Saturday night at the Wanda Metropolitano, Jordan Henderson lifted the Champions League trophy, delivering a deserved garnish to a phenomenal season.

They may have only won one trophy this season, but it was the biggest and most prestigious one on offer on the club circuit. Combine that with their 97-point haul in the Premier League, and it makes for what is, in our view, the best season of any club in Europe.

It's a big call, as Manchester City secured three competitions, but the weight of the Champions League has to factor in. 



All statistics via WhoScored.com.