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The latter stages of the UEFA Champions League are the ultimate revealer of a team’s strength. They serve as the only true way for us to measure each country’s best against others, making it a valuable tool when constructing our European Club Rankings.
On the back of a wild round of 16, we have taken a more stringent look at each team’s season so far and adjusted their position accordingly. If some moves (up or down) seem particularly generous or cruel, that’s why.
These rankings are a season-long measurement of clubs, tracking teams throughout 2017/18 and taking into account results from all competitions.
Sides that have lost the fewest games naturally rank higher—though the strength of opposition met in a loss is considered—and both UEFA Champions League form and presence are used as tiebreakers for those with similar records. Teams that gather big wins against strong opponents get a boost.
20. RB Leipzig (New!)
When it comes to predicting who will win the UEFA Europa League, the consensus seems to put it down to either Atletico Madrid or Arsenal.
But what RB Leipzig have managed in their maiden voyage in the competition shouldn’t be overlooked, and this past week has been particularly brilliant for them.
To secure an aggregate victory over Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia and then beat Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga three days later is season-defining stuff.
19. Sevilla (New!)
Shakhtar Donetsk’s Champions League exit signals the end of their time in our rankings and replacing them is a team who made it one step further in Europe: Sevilla.
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Given they are in the quarter-finals of football’s elite competition, you would they deserved a top-10 berth but that’s not the case.
Los Rojiblancos have lost a whopping 13 games this season, are miles off La Liga’s top four and stand a deeply flawed side. Pull something crazy off against Bayern in April, though, and perhaps they will be due for reassessment.
18. AS Monaco (+1)
Monaco’s scintillating mini-run of form continued with a 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Lille. Stevan Jovetic scored to continue his rich vein of form, and Rony Lopes—a player having an under-the-radar, coming-of-age season—grabbed the other.
17. Schalke 04 (+1)
Another week, another clean sheet victory for Schalke. As impressive as RB Leipzig look at times and as exciting as Bayer Leverkusen can be, it’s Domenico Tedesco’s men who are the most able to churn out results. That’s why they are second in the Bundesliga.
16. Lazio (Stay)
Having watched AC Milan beat Chievo early on Sunday and move to within three points of them in the table, Lazio needed to respond appropriately against Bologna.
What they actually did was concede within three minutes and force themselves to fight back for a draw—hardly ideal. The Serie A table is beginning to turn against them now, and we may soon see Simone Inzaghi place all of his eggs in the Europa League-shaped basket he’s carrying around.
15. Inter Milan (Stay)
Mauro Icardi was one of three stars to score four goals this weekend, but he was the only one to do it against his former team and in their own backyard.
Sampdoria, the club who “discovered” the Argentinian hitman and brought him to Europe in 2012, fell victim to his predatory instincts on Sunday as he led a sudden and immediate resurgence in Inter Milan’s performances.
14. Chelsea (Stay)
Chelsea made hard work of it, but eventually saw off Leicester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals to keep their season alive.
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Chelsea’s hopes of silverware rest on the FA Cup 🏆 https://t.co/LODMKZMpII
The midweek loss to Barcelona is no stick to beat the Blues with as it was an entirely expected result, but going out of two competitions in a week is an effective way of turning the tide against yourself.
13. Valencia (Stay)
The week before last saw Valencia all but clinch Champions League football for next season, and plans for 2018-19 are seemingly already in motion.
Geoffrey Kondogbia, a loan star in midfield this term, has been secured on a permanent deal, according to manager Marcelino (h/t Football Italia), and the team are playing with a freedom which suggests they know it’s mission accomplished for now.
12. Tottenham Hotspur (-1)
It appears Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino has developed a full-proof, two-point plan for coping without Harry Kane:
- Play Son Heung-Min in his place
- Win by three goals
Despite its effectiveness—evidenced against both Bournemouth and Swansea City—Tottenham move down this week as they drop below a team who made it further in Europe.
11. AS Roma (+1)
After a fairly tense midweek victory over Shakhtar Donetsk, Roma head coach Eusebio Di Francesco rang the changes for the trip to Crotone and was rewarded with a 2-0 win earned by a side half-filled with fringe players.
It continues a stellar run of form in which they have produced three straight clean-sheet victories and a win over Napoli, steadily building confidence levels. They will need as much of that as possible having drawn Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals.
10. Manchester United (-3)
United’s past week in football is a surefire contender for one of the most bizarre in history.
An infuriatingly negative game plan saw them lose at home to Sevilla midweek, knocking them out of the Champions League; and although they bounced back (to an extent) by beating Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup, manager Jose Mourinho launched a verbal volley at his players anyway.
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Jose Mourinho goes in on his own team (again) 👀 https://t.co/1hZKGfJClz
He listed off the many failings while addressing the written press; he criticised Luke Shaw, implied Antonio Valencia did not follow tactical instructions and said Scott McTominay had his worst game in a senior Red Devils shirt (h/t BBC Sport).
At least Nemanja Matic was fine.
9. Napoli (+1)
If this weekend’s 1-0 win over Genoa is a benchmark, every single one of Napoli’s games from now until the end of the season will be a nerve-filled affair.
The Partenopei simply have to win to continue fighting Juventus for the Scudetto, but unlike their illustrious rivals, they have no experience in getting over the line.
Maurizio Sarri will have been distraught to lose Marek Hamsik after just 20 minutes on Sunday, and he will be hoping Raul Albiol’s winner will instil the belief this side need to win the title.
8. Atletico Madrid (-2)
There will be mixed feelings for Diego Simeone after Atletico Madrid lost to Villarreal this weekend.
On the one hand, the result ended any lingering hopes of a title challenge; on the other, he watched as a player he’s already signed for next season—Rodri—dictated the game from central midfield. The 21-year-old completed a whopping 92 passes at the heart of the Yellow Submarine’s formation.
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Ángel Correa 🤤 Antoine Griezmann 🤤🤤🤤 A world class goal from a world class player 👏 https://t.co/YZhoQ5LZQI
Midweek brought more success, as Los Colchoneros destroyed Lokomotiv Moscow in the Europa League and Antoine Griezmann scored a beautiful goal.
7. Paris Saint-Germain (-2)
It’s nine league victories in a row for PSG, but they move down in our rankings regardless.
Why? Because as we enter the home stretch of the 2017-18 season and prepare for the Champions League quarter-finals, they aren’t involved.
Their exit from the competition places a glass ceiling on how successful their season can be considered in relation to those of others. Playing in a weak Ligue 1 now begins to cost them.
6. Real Madrid (+3)
Anyone else get that unshakeable feeling Real Madrid are going to win the Champions League again?
This is the time of year when Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. come alive—rarely, if ever, have we seen a team so well-attuned for the big occasions—and their form of late has been ominous.
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50 career hat-tricks for Cristiano Ronaldo 💪 https://t.co/I1deysoOqz
Able to pour all of their energies into the Champions League, anyone who crosses paths with them is in serious trouble.
5. Liverpool (+3)
Mohamed Salah put on his finest rendition of Lionel Messi yet as he scored four of Liverpool’s five goals against Watford.
As you would expect from a 5-0 win, almost every one of the Reds’ players were superb, but Salah was so incomprehensibly brilliant that he’s all anyone is talking about right now.
4. Bayern Munich (Stay)
Bayern lost just their third game all season on Sunday, falling to RB Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena. It was a deserved defeat as they looked by far the lesser side, with their commitment perhaps open to question.
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That Die Roten will win the Bundesliga is a fact everyone has accepted—they are 17 points clear even after the loss—and what happened in Leipzig this weekend would change nothing.
Jupp Heynckes knew that, and having played Besiktas midweek, he left Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng and Robert Lewandowski on the bench from the start—a telling indicator if there ever was one.
3. Juventus (-1)
Last week we moved Juventus into second place thanks to a relentless streak of form. As if on cue, they then failed to overcome relegation candidates SPAL in Serie A on Saturday.
The 0-0 draw sends them back down to where they were at the first opportunity, capping off a disappointing week in which they were drawn against Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals. Juve are strong, but they will enter that contest with the holders as clear underdogs.
2. Manchester City (+1)
Pep Guardiola’s charges had the weekend off and spent it doing some warm-weather training in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. They move up because of Juventus’ failings.
1. Barcelona (Stay)
Barcelona’s march to a longest unbeaten La Liga run continued on Sunday, with manager Ernesto Valverde’s men making light work of Athletic Club Bilbao to record 36 without a loss. They need two more to draw level with Real Sociedad’s 1979/80 record.
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He’s just so good. https://t.co/dspC9icr1m
Even more impressive was their—or, more accurately, Lionel Messi’s—dismantling of Chelsea in midweek, paving Barca’s path to the Champions League quarter-finals.
Their reward? An ideal matchup against Roma. What a wonderful week it was.
All statistics via WhoScored.com