Welcome to the first edition of my European Club Power Rankings. The rankings are based on some combination of league position and form, European form (Champions and Europa League), and my own personal bias and subjectiveness. That last category is there because I obviously do not watch every game that each of these teams play, as that would be basically impossible, so I try to order them as best I can. Any power rankings will have dissenting opinions, and those are encouraged here, provided you argue your position. As today has just wrapped up a round of European fixtures, I’m giving that most importance, but league form, both current and overall, is weighed heavily as well. Without further ado, here is the list:
1. Bayern Munich
The Bavarians fell to Arsenal in Munich on Tuesday 2-0 in what was a worrying performance, but they were without two of their best players in Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger, and made it to the Champions League quarter finals despite the loss. They still are tops in the Bundesliga by 20 points and are into the semi finals of the German cup.
La Vecchia Signora has a comfortable lead atop Serie A, 9 points ahead of fading Napoli, and just wiped the floor with Celtic in their round of 16 Champions League tie. Juve did recently bow out of the Coppa Italia to Lazio, and only time will tell if they deserve to be above the Spanish duopoly on this list, but they might have the best defense in Europe and look set to secure their second straight Scudetto.
3. Real Madrid
The Merengues are in their best form of the season under Jose Mourinho, beating Barcelona twice along with Manchester United in a historic week. The league is more than likely a lost cause, but the Spanish giants can still pull off a Champions League and Copa del Rey double, bringing the long awaited Decima to Madrid.
4. FC Barcelona
The blaugrana convincingly quieted their doubters against Milan, with perhaps their best game performance since they lifted the Champions League trophy at Wembley in 2011. The Catalans could just as easily be number one on this list, but two consecutive losses to rivals Real Madrid showed they are susceptible at the back. Barcelona must continue to prove themselves in the quarter finals.
5. Borussia Dortmund
The darlings of Europe earlier this season when they topped the Group of Death, Dortmund have had a blip in form domestically, most recently falling to local rivals Schalke. They were also eliminated from the German Cup, which they won the last 2 years, by Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich. They still managed to dominate Shakhtar Donetsk at the Westfalenstadion last week and will be a difficult out for any side in the next round.
6. Manchester United
Despite being eliminated by Real Madrid after Nani’s now infamous red card, the Red Devils have a stranglehold on the Barclays Premier League and are still alive in the FA Cup. Sir Alex Ferguson will have to do his best to forget Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir’s decision at Old Trafford and focus on getting past Chelsea in their cup replay. Barring a meltdown, they will at least end the season lifting the Premier League trophy.
Manuel Pelligrini’s side continued its Cinderella season against Porto yesterday, reaching the quarter finals in the debut year in Champions League for this club. Málaga remain in fourth place in La Liga on goal differential, but may not be able to play in next years Champions due to UEFA penalties. For now the dream continues for Málaga fans as they await tomorrow’s draw in Switzerland.
8. Paris Saint-Germain
PSG’s expensive off-season acquisitions have been paying off recently, as they sit first in Ligue 1 and are still alive in the Champions League. They may not have been tested as much as others on this list, but they have a bonafide superstar in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, in addition to quality attacking support in Ezequiel Lavezzi, Javier Pastore, and Lucas Moura. The recent signing of David Beckham will only help raise the profile of the French capital club.
Things were not looking good for Roman Abramovich and Chelsea after they became the first club to win the Champions League and be knocked out of the group stages the following year. The ousting from Europe’s premier competition got manager Roberto Di Matteo the sack, but interim boss Rafa Benitez has righted the ship since then despite constant heckling from Chelsea supporters. Chelsea are two points off third in the BPL with a game in hand, have qualified for the quarter finals of the Europa League, and just forced an FA Cup replay with Manchester United. Abramovich will hope for at least one of those trophies to atone for disappointments in the Community Shield, European Super Cup, and Club World Cup this season.
Spurs could be higher on this list if not for their last two results. They lost to Liverpool at the weekend due to costly mistakes at the back, and needed extra time to advance past Inter in the Europa League, seeing their 3-0 advantage wiped out after 75 minutes. However, Tottenham were without their star man Gareth Bale in Milan, and still progressed to the quarter finals on an away goal. They currently sit third in the Premier League, albeit having played one more game than the rest of the top five.
Galatasaray continued to shock the rest of Europe this week, beating Schalke in Germany on Tuesday, although the win was overshadowed by Barcelona’s historic comeback. The Istanbul based side are in first place in the Turkish League and feature Champions League joint top scorer Burak Yilmaz along with new signings Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder. They deserve a place on this list until they get eliminated.
12. AC Milan
Milan were embarrassed by Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Tuesday, but in hindsight they overachieved at the San Siro in the first leg and did very well to get the result. They have been coming on strong in Serie A with the addition of Mario Balotelli, and are certainly in play for one of the three Champions League berths. The young side should learn from the Barcelona beating and continue to improve.
Arsenal, Manchester City, FC Porto, Benfica, Atlético Madrid, Lazio
The rest worth mentioning:
Valencia, Real Sociedad, Real Betis, Fiorentina, Inter Milan, Schalke 04, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St Petersburg
With the draw early tomorrow morning for the Champions League quarter finals, here are the four match ups I’d like to see:
Barcelona – Borussia Dortmund: Both sides play attractive attacking football, and Dortmund may have a much better chance of unlocking Barcelona’s shaky back four than Milan did on Tuesday.
Real Madrid – Málaga: The Chilean Pelligrini against the side that unceremoniously gave him the ax after a season in which Madrid lost to Lyon in the Champions League round of 16 and finished second in La Liga to Barcelona. He’s now gone further in this competition with Malaga than he was able to go with Madrid.
Bayern Munich – PSG: Two sides on top of their respective league tables pitted against each other in a traditional France – Germany match up. Self-styled superman Zlatan Ibrahimovic against the German machine that is Die Roten.
Juventus – Galatasaray: Didier Drogba might have been playing for the Turin outfit this spring, but was signed up by Galatasaray instead. The Old Lady also faces a familiar foe in Wesley Sneijder.
Have your say…
Don’t agree with my rankings? Leave a comment below with your thoughts on what I got wrong, and/or your own order. All criticism is welcome, but given the difficulty involved in creating an accurate list, as well as my own personal bias, it is obvious that opinions will differ.