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You know it’s the business end of the season when titles are being won, and this weekend saw two champions crowned: Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.
That, in addition to the chaos that was the the Champions League and Europa League quarter-final second legs, made it one hell of a week for football fans, with excitement and drama at every turn.
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 enjoy big wins against strong opponents get a boost.
20. RB Salzburg (New!)
RB Salzburg have been underestimated at every turn this season, but that stops here. They deserve respect for reaching the Europa League semi-finals, having beaten Lazio, Borussia Dortmund and Real Sociedad on the way, whilst at the same time dominating their domestic league.
19. Arsenal (-1)
Arsenal avoided a major scare in Russia last week, recovering from 2-0 down to draw with CSKA Moscow and secure aggregate progression to the Europa League semi-finals.
The fact they lost to Newcastle United three days later won’t matter to most—the focus is squarely on Atletico Madrid at the end of the month—but it does force a drop in our rankings.
18. Marseille (New!)
Directly replacing RB Leipzig in our rankings is Marseille—the team who knocked them out of the Europa League last week thanks to a brilliant attacking performance. L’OM followed it up with a 3-2 win over Troyes on Sunday, keeping themselves shy of the Champions League spots solely by goal difference.
17. Schalke 04 (+2)
Schalke vs. Borussia Dortmund. The Revierderby.
FC Schalke 04 @s04_en
💬 #Tedesco: “It’s a privilege to stand in the Nordkurve. The whole team deserves to celebrate with them. I thought the fans were going to tear up the arena if I didn’t go up there!” #S04BVB #s04 https://t.co/jy65Xr0BxJ
It’s a classic fixture that entrances and excites, and this weekend the former ran out 2-0 winners thanks to Yehven Konoplyanka and Naldo goals. The manager, Domenico Tedesco, ended up in the stands with the fans at full-time. That’s what rivalries are all about.
16. Chelsea (Stay)
Chelsea are still in the business of making things as difficult as possible for themselves, but at least put three points on the board this past weekend. An eight-minute triple salvo, spearheaded by Olivier Giroud, avoided a disaster against relegation-threatened Southampton.
15. Inter Milan (Stay)
Drawing in Bergamo with Atalanta (and keeping a clean sheet) is not a bad result in isolation, but in the context of the weekend’s results, it counts as one for Inter Milan. They appear to be nose-diving away from those four Champions League spots.
14. Lazio (+1)
Lazio’s sights narrowed last week, with elimination from the Europa League meaning there’s just Serie A left to focus on. If they don’t finish in the top four, pipping either Inter Milan or Roma to a spot, they’ll find it near-impossible to hold onto their star assets.
They only move up this week due to a big mover creating an odd shift in this part of the rankings.
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13. Valencia (-1)
This past weekend, Valencia lost a game there really is no shame in losing. Playing at the Camp Nou against a Barcelona team who are on the verge of making history is the most gruelling of tasks, and one los Che made a genuine fist of at times.
12. Napoli (-2)
Napoli all but kissed goodbye to the Scudetto this weekend, drawing 0-0 with AC Milan just a few hours before Juventus tucked Sampdoria away with ease.
The gap between the two sides stands at six points. It might not seem much, but given how emotionally racked the Partenopei appear to be, it feels like game over.
11. Tottenham (Stay)
Tottenham played about as badly as possible on Saturday against Manchester City, but that was perhaps more to do with the irrepressible nature of their opponents than anyone else. It shouldn’t set the alarm bells ringing just yet.
What is important, though, is that Harry Kane finds his groove ahead of this week’s FA Cup semi-final clash with Manchester United. He really didn’t look himself on Saturday, failing to register a single shot on goal—you know things aren’t right when that happens!
10. Manchester United (-1)
Manchester United managed what many had deemed the unthinkable on Sunday: Losing 1-0, at home, to 20th-placed West Bromwich Albion—an act that confirmed rivals Manchester City as Premier League champions.
Everyone knew last week’s victory was simply a delay in proceedings, that City’s glory was inevitable, but for it to be decided by this might feel particularly sour.
9. Roma (+4)
The famous victory Roma procured over Barcelona last week won hearts and minds the world over. They refused to be beaten, refused to give up, and the sight of Kostas Manolas erupting with joy having scored the crucial goal will last a while.
The result allows the Giallorossi to shoot up our rankings; they’ve booked a place in the last four of the toughest competition in football, and that must be recognised.
Sunday saw them return to the rigours of Serie A, where they’re still fighting to secure a berth in the Champions League next year. Lazio proved a predictably tough test, and given how emotionally draining a week it will have been, Eusebio Di Francesco will be quietly pleased with a point.
8. Paris Saint-Germain (Stay)
Ligue 1 was decided late on Sunday night, Paris Saint-Germain’s destruction of Monaco earning them the trophy with five games to spare.
They were four up by the 27th minute, entering party mode as Giovani Lo Celso slotted home. It’s arguable that this is the bare minimum requirement, but add it to the Coupe de la Ligue already secured and a potential Coupe de France title to come, and three trophies represents good work—even in the face of sky-high expectations.
7. Atletico Madrid (Stay)
They made slightly tougher work of it than expected, but Atletico progressed to the Europa League semi-finals courtesy of a 2-1 aggregate win over Sporting CP. They’re still favourites to win it, but will meet the second-strongest outfit left, Arsenal, at the semi-final stage.
The return to domestic matters brought a more comfortable 3-0 win over Levante—a game in which an 18-year-old named Juan Aguero made the bench. No relation, but that name carries pedigree!
6. Juventus (Stay)
Juventus recovered from genuine heartbreak at the Bernabeu this week by slamming Sampdoria in ruthless fashion, in the process all but securing the Serie A title.
The game was notable for two things: a rare Benedikt Howedes goal and a remarkable hat-trick of assists from Douglas Costa.
5. Real Madrid (-1)
It feels almost inevitable that Real Madrid will lift the Champions League trophy for the third successive year, and games such as the one they played against Juventus last week are a prime example of why.
Even when they seemingly can’t play any worse, when they’re on the cusp of throwing it all away, a certain Cristiano Ronaldo steps up and delivers when his team need him the most. The composure he showed to dispatch a perfect penalty in the 97th minute on Wednesday…out of this world.
4. Liverpool (+1)
Liverpool’s last two weeks have been among the very best in the club’s recent history.
Not only have they conjured two famous victories against Manchester City, paving their way to a Champions League semi-final against Roma, but they’ve been sandwiched between some good, professional results in the league.
They haven’t won a thing yet, and that’s why they remain below City in these rankings for the moment, but they do skip above Real Madrid—a team whose season almost mirrors theirs—as they won both of their quarter-final games, whereas los Blancos only triumphed in one.
3. Manchester City (Stay)
Manchester City: Premier League champions.
All eyes were glued to Wembley Stadium on Saturday as the Citizens faced Tottenham, desperate to see how Pep Guardiola’s charges responded to a horror week.
They passed any potential “tests” set in peoples’ minds with flying colours, producing a breathtaking display and tearing a very, very good team to shreds. Manchester United’s defeat to West Bromwich Albion the following day wrapped up the title for good.
All that’s left to play for now is the chance to break records.
2. Barcelona (-1)
Barcelona’s remarkable defeat at the Stadio Olimpico last week sees them drop from top spot. Sadly, it represents a dark, stormy and likely permanent cloud over what has otherwise been an excellent season.
Days later they beat Valencia, extending their unbeaten domestic record to 39 games and setting a record, but that feels almost hollow in the wake of “La Romantada.”
B/R Football @brfootball
Barcelona have gone a La Liga record 39 games without defeat Only one player has been there for all of them 🔒 https://t.co/12DhQngrlt
They’re still on course for one, perhaps two trophies, and could still complete an “invincible” La Liga campaign, but it might take a while for these Champions League wounds to heal.
1. Bayern Munich (+1)
For the first time this season, Bayern Munich rise to the summit of our European Club Rankings. It’s half a measure of how much they’ve improved since dispensing with Carlo Ancelotti, and half a matter of other clubs messing up.
Bayern’s progression to the Champions League semi-finals was the main catalyst for this change, with Barcelona and Manchester City failing to replicate that feat a significant factor too.
It still feels as though we’re yet to see Bayern’s top level this term, but from a results and trophies perspective, their 2017-18 campaign has been undeniably excellent: they’re the only side in Europe’s top five leagues who can still win the (European) treble.
All statistics via WhoScored.com