Here is the third edition of my European Club Power Rankings. The rankings are based on some combination of league standing and present form, European form (Champions and Europa League), and my own personal bias and subjectiveness. As the season is almost over, the overall quality of the domestic and European campaigns, as well as the strength of the league itself, are heavily weighed. If you disagree with the rankings, feel free to comment below.
1. Bayern Munich (unchanged)
The Bavarian powerhouse has faced the champions of Italy and the champs-to-be of Spain in its last two Champions League ties, defeating Juventus and Barcelona by a combined margin of 11-0 over the four games played. Bayern have had the edge over German rivals BVB this season, but if they lose to Dortmund at Wembley, it will be labeled as yet another choke job for Die Roten.
2. Borussia Dortmund (up 2)
Dortmund almost blew the big lead they built in the first leg against Real Madrid, but held on for a wild 15 minutes at the Bernabéu and deservedly advanced to their first Champions League final since 1997. Tempers flared in the Wembley dress rehearsal at the Westfalenstadion this weekend, with Dortmund and Bayern battling to a 1-1 draw. There is sure to be a winner next time those two meet, determining who deserves the number one spot on this list at season’s end.
3. Real Madrid (down 1)
Los Blancos came up just short in their quest for La Décima, falling in the semi finals for the third straight season. With José Mourinho’s up-and-down tenure in the Spanish capital seemingly coming to an end, Madrid will have big decisions to make this summer. Perhaps a few new Galácticos will be wearing white next year, as Madrid try to return to the summit of European football.
4. FC Barcelona (down 1)
Barcelona were without a fit Lionel Messi, yes, but they were still flat out embarrassed over two legs by Bayern Munich. Many have called it a monumental power shift in Europe, but as long as the Blaugrana have Messi, they will always challenge for silverware in every competition. It is only a matter of time before Barcelona mathematically lock up the La Liga title, but they really haven’t hit top form at all in 2013.
5. Juventus (unchanged)
Juventus sealed their 29th official Scudetto at the weekend, although supporters had no problem celebrating it as the 31st title win, conveniently overlooking the two stripped from the club for match fixing. The Old Lady has lacked a world class striker all year, but Fernando Llorente has already been signed from Bilbao, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gonzalo Higuaín are other names rumored to make the switch to Turin next season.
6. Manchester United (up 2)
The biggest news coming out of Manchester recently is not the title win, which was foreseen months ago, but the announcement that Sir Alex Ferguson will step down after this season. The next manager (pegged in England as Everton’s David Moyes) will certainly have big shoes to fill. It’s fitting that Fergie goes out on top of the Premier League, right where he was for so much of his time on the Old Trafford sidelines. Life will go on for the Red Devils, however, and with a few smart signings they should be again challenging for their fourth European Cup.
7. Manchester City (up 4)
With Chelsea’s draw against Tottenham today at Stamford Bridge, the Sky Blues of Manchester need just one point from their final two matches to lock up second place in the Premier League. Roberto Mancini will be looking to win his second FA Cup in the past three seasons this weekend, and his side will be heavily favored against opponents Wigan Athletic. Will Mancini be around to guide City in what they hope will be a more successful Champions League campaign next season?
8. Benfica (up 1)
Benfica overcame a very tough challenge in Fenerbahce to reach the Europa League final, but slipped up on Monday in domestic play against Estoril. Before facing Chelsea in Amsterdam next Wednesday, the Lisbon-based outfit must travel to the Estádio Do Dragão, where they can secure the Portuguese league title with a win against heated rivals Porto.
9. Chelsea (up 3)
Chelsea have already missed out on seven available trophies this season: the Community Shield, Barclays Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cub, and of course the Champions League. Despite all those letdowns, the Blues can still bring home some silverware before season’s end, as they will duel it out with Benfica for the Europa League trophy next week. Chelsea also sit two points above Arsenal for third place in the BPL table with two games to go, and barring a meltdown will compete with Europe’s elite again next season.
10. Paris Saint-Germain (down 3)
PSG failed to wrap up the Ligue 1 trophy at the weekend, and could only draw 1-1 with Valenciennes. Carlo Ancelotti may be leaving Paris for the supposedly greener pastures of Real Madrid this offseason, and potential (though unlikely) replacements include Mourinho and Arsene Wenger. PSG can take home the French title this Sunday with a win against rivals Lyon.
11. Málaga (down 5)
Málaga have gone into a tailspin recently, but still are worthy of a spot on this list just for being minutes away from advancing past Borussia Dortmund several weeks ago. The Andalucians will almost certainly not be competing in Europe next season whether they qualify or not, thanks to a UEFA ban for financial irregularities, pending appeal. With all the uncertainty surrounding the club’s future, Málaga likely won’t crack the rankings too often in the future, so they remain here now as a testament to their outstanding season.
12. Galatasaray (down 2)
Galatasaray have won the Turkish Super League and have a strong squad that will be back in Europe’s top competition next year looking for more. Galatasaray and Borussia Dortmund were the only teams able to record a win against Real Madrid in the Champions League, which is impressive considering Madrid also faced strong opposition like Manchester United, Manchester City, and Ajax. Don’t expect this team to go away any time soon.
13. Atlético Madrid (unchanged)
Los colchoneros secured Champions League football for next season with a 0-0 draw to Deportivo La Coruña at the weekend, and beat up on lowly Celta Vigo today 3-1. After losing twice to Real Madrid this season and extending the winless draught against their crosstown rivals to 14 years, Atlético will hope to prove in the Copa del Rey final that they are more than an afterthought in the Spanish capital.
14. Arsenal (unchanged)
It is coming down to the wire in the race for fourth place in the BPL table, but thanks to Tottenham’s draw with Chelsea today, Arsenal now control their own destiny. If they can win their next two games against Wigan and Newcastle, Arsenal will qualify for the Champions League for the 16th consecutive season.
15. Shakhtar Donetsk (previously unranked)
Shakhtar hold a commanding 13 point lead atop the Ukrainian league, and have advanced to the final of their domestic cup. They were eliminated in the Champions League round of 16, but it was at the hands of eventual finalists Dortmund, and they did well to advance out of group that included last year’s winners Chelsea and Italian champions Juventus. Their overall body of work merits them a place on the list for the first time this year.
Next two tiers (not ranked within each tier):
Tier 2: Tottenham, Real Sociedad, Valencia, FC Porto, Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke 04, Napoli, AC Milan, Fenerbahce, CSKA Moscow, Anzhi Makhachkala
Tier 3: Celtic, Real Betis, Marseille, Fiorentina, Roma, Lazio, FC Basel, Ajax, Eintracht Frankfurt, Zenit St Petersburg, Rubin Kazan
Think I got something wrong? Leave a comment below with your rankings, or just tell me what I messed up. All feedback is welcome.