B/R Football Ranks: The Top 10 Must-Watch Teams in the 2019-20 Season

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterAugust 19, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18: Christian Pulisic of Chelsea in action during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on August 18, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)
Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images

This weekend, Italy's Serie A will begin, meaning every major league across Europe is back in the business and the 2019-20 season officially in full swing.

We'll now be spoiled for choice in what to watch, flitting from country to country to find the best matches and teams to watch.

You'll always watch the team you support, but aside from that, it's important to have a staple of sides you know you'll want to check in on, be it for entertainment purposes, sheer drama or perhaps the spectre of what they might achieve.

So in the name of public service, enhancing your footballing calendar from here till May, B/R Football has ranked the top 10 must-watch teams in Europe.

We've left aside your Manchester Citys, Liverpools and Barcelonas—you don't need to be told to watch them—but have included some major sides if there's a true feeling of potential achievement this term.

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10. Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad's Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard reacts during the Spanish League football match between Valencia and Real Sociedad at the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia on August 17, 2019. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read J
JOSE JORDAN/Getty Images

Ever wondered what became of Martin Odegaard, the teenage prodigy who joined Real Madrid in 2015 after a grandiose tour of Europe's top clubs? Turn your eyes towards San Sebastian, home of Real Sociedad, to find out.

Odegaard is on loan there this season, hoping to make another positive step in his development after two-and-a-half years in the Eredivisie with Heerenveen and Vitesse Arnhem. He's joined by fellow young guns Mikel Oyarzabal (European Under-21 Championship winner with Spain) and Alexander Isak (from Borussia Dortmund).

In Willian Jose, Adnan Januzaj, Asier Illarramendi and Mikel Merino, there are plenty of other talented players in the setup, meaning La Real represent a good watch for those intrigued by some of the continent's top youngsters playing in a strong side.


9. Leeds United

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17: Marcelo Bielsa coach of Leeds United awaits the start of the match between Manchester United and Leeds United at Optus Stadium on July 17, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)
James Worsfold/Getty Images

It feels dangerous to type this given the club's propensity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but surely Leeds United are getting promoted to the Premier League this season?

They didn't do much in terms of summer transfer business due to financial constraints (the loans of Eddie Nketiah, Jack Clarke and Helder Costa are exciting, though) but did retain the services of manager Marcelo Bielsa, one of the most influential and inspiring tacticians in the game today.

His work is a joy to watch; the football he coaches is sublime, and he transforms players' careers for the better, teaching them new positions or unlocking several extra levels they probably didn't know they had.

If you're neutral, you may not even mind if the Whites shoot themselves in the foot again; in fact, it might enhance the viewing. You can guarantee it will be entertaining whatever happens.


8. Leicester City

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18: James Maddison of Leicester City holds off the challenge from NGolo Kante of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on August 18, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo
Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images

There are some who believe Leicester City might be cooking up something special this season, and this writer subscribes to that theory.

They brought Brendan Rodgers on board for the final three months of last season, allowing the squad to fully bed in and learn the nuances of his tactical approach, and they have started the campaign fairly well, drawing against two strong sides in Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea.

Securing Youri Tielemans permanently in the summer completed what is an excellent midfield that is superbly balanced between creative and solid. While many will suggest losing Harry Maguire is a death knell to potential success, the club rightly see Caglar Soyuncu as the man to pick up the torch.

The Foxes play good football, mix solid defensive work with potent attacking and boast a full-back tandem most sides in the league would pay big bucks for.


7. Lyon

Lyon's Dutch forward Memphis Depay (C) is congratuled by teamate Lyon's French forward Moussa Dembele (R) after scoring a goal celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Olympique Lyonnais (OL) and Angers SCO on August 16,

When you watch Lyon, you're highly likely to be watching at least four players bound for the very top clubs in Europe in the next few years.

In the past it's been Karim Benzema, Alexandre Lacazette, Hugo Lloris and most recently Ferland Mendy and Tanguy Ndombele; from the current crop, we would nominate Houssem Aouar, Memphis Depay, Moussa Dembele and Joachim Andersen, among several others.

Last year, they were brimming with talent, but manager Bruno Genesio failed to strike a consistent tune out of them. Genesio has been replaced by Sylvinho (the former Barcelona, Arsenal and Manchester City full-back), and he's off to a perfect start, as Lyon top Ligue 1 with a goal difference of plus-nine.

Perhaps they're not quite title challengers alongside Paris Saint-Germain, but they're the sure-fire second-best side in France and a lot of fun.


6. Inter Milan

VALENCIA, SPAIN - AUGUST 10: Milan Skriniar of FC Internazionale in action during the Bwin Trofeo Naranja friendly match between Valencia CF and FC Internazionale at Estadio Mestalla on August 10, 2019 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Get Ready Images/MB Med
MB Media/Getty Images

Of all the teams angling towards ending Juventus' ludicrous streak of Serie A titles—the count is eight in a row—Inter Milan look the best-placed right now.

Antonio Conte has been appointed manager, and he's a man who tends to inspire incredible short-term results. His gruelling pre-season training and disciplined framework often generates immediate dividends.

He's a man who knows Serie A well, having won the Scudetto with Juve three of those eight times, and he has spent the summer crafting a squad that can carry out his plan.

Diego Godin should be a pillar at the centre of the back three, while Nicolo Barella and Stefano Sensi revamp the midfield. Romelu Lukaku will net plenty up front; the striker is finally united with the manager who so dearly wanted him when he was at Chelsea, per The Independent.


5. Roma

LILLE, FRANCE - AUGUST 03: Benjamin Andre of Lille and Amadou  Diawara of Roma compete for the ball during the Friendly match between Lille and AS Roma at Stade Pierre Mauroy on August 03, 2019 in Lille, France. (Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)
Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

Roma's new manager, Paulo Fonseca, has produced attractive football wherever he's pitched his tent, and the pre-season signs from Italy's capital are that we're in for more of the same.

Several summer signings have the potential to really excite, with Amadou Diawara (Jorginho's former understudy at Napoli) brought in to control from deep in midfield, Leonardo Spinazzola set to raid down the left flank and Pau Lopez a massive upgrade on Robin Olsen between the sticks.

On top of that haul, there's an abundance of young talent just waiting to be harnessed. Cengiz Under, Justin Kluivert, Gianluca Mancini, Nicolo Zaniolo and even Patrik Schick could all break out in their own ways this year.

There's still some recruitment to be done—particularly in central defence, where Fonseca's high line suits only some of the incumbent defenders—but one of the most important pieces of business completed was retaining Edin Dzeko, who signed a new deal last week.

Oh, and those kits!


4. Bayer Leverkusen

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 17: Kai Havertz of Bayer 04 Leverkusen celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Bundesliga match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and SC Paderborn 07 at BayArena on August 17, 2019 in Leverkusen, Germany. (Photo b
TF-Images/Getty Images

After just 25 minutes of Leverkusen's Bundesliga opener against Paderborn on Saturday, the score was unsurprisingly 2-2. 

That's what you get when you buy a ticket for the Peter Bosz Express.

Bosz, a gung-ho tactician, rarely gets the balance of his side right but also doesn't seem to care. Bodies pile forward ahead of the ball in search of goals—and at times they end up costing themselves at the other end as a result.

Leverkusen scored the fifth and final goal of the game against Paderborn, winning 3-2, and there'll be a lot more of that this season. They're strong contenders for a Champions League spot, and they'll do it the fun way.

Kai Havertz is perhaps the next player to follow Jadon Sancho or Joao Felix's rapid rise to the top, and you can catch his every step at the BayArena.


3. Chelsea

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18: Christian Pulisic of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on August 18, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Chelsea are a fascinating watch right now, with so many reasons to keep up to date on what they do.

The narrative is a strong one in the form of Frank Lampard's homecoming, and the fact he's not really ready for the job yet only makes it better. He's learning as he goes in a high-pressure environment.

What he and the club achieve this season will answer some questions we've long had, the most important of which is: Can Chelsea's fabled youth stock make the step up and cut the mustard?

That's Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Kurt Zouma, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James et al; they'll all get their chance this year, but can they seize it?

After just a single season managing in the Championship with Derby County, Lampard takes this Eden Hazard-less crop into four competitions and must figure it all out on the fly. Expect plenty of ups and downs.


2. Atletico Madrid

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - AUGUST 10:   Joao Felix of Atletico Madrid celebrates scoring a goal to make the score 2-1 during the International Champions Cup match between Atletico Madrid and Juventus on August 10, 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Charlie Cro
Charlie Crowhurst/International Champions Cup/Getty Images

Atletico Madrid have done incredibly well to spin a summer in which they've lost Antoine Griezmann, Rodri, Diego Godin and Filipe Luis into a positive one.

They've done that by recruiting arguably the world's most precocious young talent, Joao Felix, to spearhead a new cast of Rojiblancos, one that can get down and dirty if required but also sparkle and dazzle in a way the previous crop perhaps couldn't.

Pre-season performances and results have been sensational, and there are elements of intrigue all over the pitch. Can Felix live up to his billing? Can Marcos Llorente make Real Madrid regret letting him go? Can Kieran Trippier carve out a successful career abroad?

You don't want to miss a second.


1. Borussia Dortmund

DORTMUND, GERMANY - AUGUST 17: Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund celebrates after scoring his team's second goal with team mates during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Augsburg at Signal Iduna Park on August 17, 2019 in Dortmund, Ger
TF-Images/Getty Images

As discussed on the B/R Football Ranks podcast last week, Borussia Dortmund have a serious chance of winning the Bundesliga this season.

If they do so, it will break Bayern Munich's streak of seven successive titles, resetting the German footballing hierarchy for at least a year.

If that's not a narrative you can get behind, what is?

They'll go about this task with a wonderful team to watch, as evidenced by their opening 5-1 win over Augsburg. The squad boasts some of the finest young talents on earth, and one in particular—Jadon Sancho—who should be filed under "can't-miss."

Good summer transfer work has given the squad a good mix of experience and exuberance, and it's also handed manager Lucien Favre a litany of attacking options to cycle through as he searches for solutions on a weekly basis.

Strap in and enjoy it. It promises to be great.


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