Power Ranking the Top 25 European Clubs After Week of August 16-19
Welcome to the latest edition of our European club power rankings, where we order the top teams on the continent based on pre-season form and transfer negotiations.
The English Premier League has returned, we've seen Super Cup action in Europe and Germany, and Real Madrid are set to lock horns with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
The new season is taking shape. How has your club fared so far?
Last Week: 23
As ever, we speak to B/R's Ligue 1 correspondent, Jonathan Johnson, for an AS Monaco update.
"Leonardo Jardim could not have made a worse start to life at Monaco if he tried," Johnson said. "Two games in and les Monegasques have suffered two defeats, conceding six goals in the process. It took 10 weeks before they conceded that many last season under Claudio Ranieri.
"Monaco have looked bereft of quality and desire after a summer that has seen a number of key players leave. The influence and leadership of Eric Abidal in defence and Mounir Obbadi in midfield have been sorely missed, not to mention the obvious major loss of James Rodriguez.
"Failure to turn this poor form around in the next few games could see Jardim become the first major European coaching casualty this term."
Last Week: 25
Everton's start to the season wasn't fantastic. Despite earning a hard-fought draw at newly promoted Leicester City, they lost Ross Barkley to a long-term injury on the eve of the game.
It was refreshing to see Steven Pienaar come in and play well. Steven Naismith and Aiden McGeady both proved that losing Barkley isn't the end of the world as we know it.
23. PSV Eindhoven
Last Week: 24
PSV Eindhoven made it two wins from two in spectacular style, beating NAC Breda 6-1 at the Philips Stadion. As incredible as the display was, the game is actually more famous for the anti-Wi-Fi banner held aloft by PSV fans (warning: image contains unsavoury word).
Memphis Depay grabbed a brace, as did Georginio Wijnaldum, and Luuk De Jong looks to have found a home once more.
Last Week: N/A
As ever, we speak to B/R's Ligue 1 correspondent, Jonathan Johnson, for a Lille update.
"Once again, Rene Girard's side have started the season in excellent defensive form," Johnson said. "An opening-day draw with newly promoted Metz was followed by a narrow win over Caen, another newcomer this campaign.
"As well as preserving the central defensive partnership of Marko Basa and Simon Kjaer in front of talented goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, les Dogues have also added the excellent Sebastien Corchia at right-back.
"However, a lack of creativity and clinical finishing going forward is impairing LOSC at present. They need attacking reinforcements before the transfer window closes."
21. Schalke 04
Last Week: 17
Schalke 04 lost 2-1 to Dynamo Dresden on Monday evening, a 2. Bundesliga side who were unfancied despite playing at home in the Glucksgas Stadion.
In terms of season preparation, this isn't a strong start. The Royal Blue are expected to try to close to the gap on Borussia Dortmund this season as their young stars improve, but this is an early black mark.
Last Week: 22
Considering the turbulent summer Benfica have endured, the XI they put out against Pacos de Ferreira wasn't bad.
Better yet, they won 2-0, with Nicolas Gaitan and Maxi Pereira notching to lift the Eagles into joint-second in the Liga Sagres table.
19. FC Porto
Last Week: 21
There was a lot to like about FC Porto's first game of the season this weekend—chiefly, Ruben Neves becoming the youngest goalscorer in the club's history.
The Dragoes beat Maritimo with relative ease to open their season with a win, and they look a far better outfit already than they did last year.
18. Zenit St. Petersburg
Last Week: 20
Zenit St. Petersburg made it four wins from four with a home victory over FC Ufa this weekend.
It was only a 1-0 scoreline courtesy of a Hulk penalty, far removed from the realms of their recent 8-1 win over Torpedo Moscow, but they all count.
Andre Villas-Boas is top of the league.
Last Week: 18
Ajax pulled out a tough away victory at AZ Alkmaar in just their second gameweek, signalling their intent and ability to dominate the Eredivisie once again.
Lasse Schone was fantastic, Ricardo Kishna was impressive again, and Daley Blind came back into the fold to play in midfield.
16. Athletic Bilbao
Last Week: 16
Athletic Bilbao will face Napoli on Tuesday at the Stadio San Paolo, hoping to take a close result—or a win—back to the new San Mames.
They're incredibly well matched as far as quality goes, and the two coaches certainly know their way around a tactics board.
Unlike Napoli, though, los Leones have lost a star player this summer.
Last Week: 15
Napoli have an almighty test on their hands in the form of Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday, but experience should see them through and into the UEFA Champions League proper.
This is, more or less, the same side who were very unfortunate not to make the knockout stages last season, with Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund just pipping them to the post.
14. Tottenham Hotspur
Last Week: 14
Tottenham Hotspur rode their luck at times at Upton Park on Saturday, and when their luck ran, out Hugo Lloris' safe and steady hands came to the rescue.
A 1-0 win, courtesy of a bizarre Eric Dier goal in the final minute, is enough to install a feel-good factor at White Hart Lane, and for Mauricio Pochettino, there were plenty of positives to take.
Dier's defending, Erik Lamela's quick feet and Christian Eriksen's link-up were all pleasing on the eye.
13. Manchester United
Last Week: 8
Well, that didn't go as planned, did it?
"Vanchester" proved a happy hunting ground for Swansea City on the opening day, with Ki Sung-Yueng scoring the first goal of the Premier League season and Gylfi Sigurdsson putting the Swans ahead in the second.
Garry Monk's men have been doubted heavily throughout the pre-season, but they performed superbly on the day. Manchester United, on the other hand, failed to live up to the hype.
Last Week: 12
Roma kick off their Serie A season on August 30 against Fiorentina—an enticing matchup we cannot wait for.
The Giallorossi were poor in the International Champions Cup but were two weeks behind the other contenders with regard to fitness. Rudi Garcia won't be worried; he knows he's put together an impressive squad this summer.
11. Borussia Dortmund
Last Week: 13
Borussia Dortmund started their season in the same fashion as the last: ripping Bayern Munich to shreds in the DFL Supercup.
With Marco Reus, Ilkay Gundogan, Mats Hummels and more all out of the matchup, many believed they'd be levelled by Pep Guardiola's men. But the performances of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang more than made up for the absences.
Last Week: 11
Liverpool squeezed a win out of their opening encounter with Southampton, and if it weren't for Simon Mignolet's heroics, they'd be staring at a two-point deficit in the title-challenging pack already.
The 4-2-3-1 formation they began in didn't really suit them. The switch to 4-3-3 helped a little, but it was the diamond that truly made them tick. Why Brendan Rodgers didn't start in that shape isn't clear, but he deserves credit for making the switch.
9. Paris Saint-Germain
Last Week: 10
As ever, we speak to B/R's Ligue 1 correspondent, Jonathan Johnson, for a Paris Saint-Germain update.
"After a draw on the opening day of the Ligue 1 season, PSG got back to winning ways against Bastia with a 2-0 win last Saturday," said Johnson. "It was by no means a vintage performance, but the French capital outfit had more than enough for former assistant coach Claude Makelele and his new team.
"Lucas Moura and Edinson Cavani getting on the scoresheet is a big boost for Laurent Blanc, but losing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gregory van der Wiel and Thiago Motta to injury will be a major test of the champions' depth over the coming weeks.
"Don't forget, captain Thiago Silva has already been ruled out for the next month."
Last Week: 9
Juventus are still off touring East Asia and Australia, making them very difficult to gauge.
The Serie A season starts later than most others, giving Massimiliano Allegri far more time to take stock of what he has.
He's got a big, big squad to sort through.
7. Atletico Madrid
Last Week: 7
Atletico Madrid's preparations for the Supercopa de Espana haven't involved winning a fancy European title like their rivals have, but they have won back-to-back games and look in strong shape.
The Louis van Gaal-Manchester United precedent makes us wary of projecting a team well following a strong pre-season, but you can trust Diego Simeone to have Atletico sorted and ready.
6. Manchester City
Last Week: 6
Manchester City barely had to shift out of first to beat Newcastle United on Sunday, and as good and positive as the latter were, they had no answer to the reigning champions' cutting edge.
Edin Dzeko, David Silva, Fernando, Aleksandar Kolarov and Gael Clichy were the star performers, with FIFA World Cup 2014 stars also beginning to make their comebacks.
They still haven't hit stride, but winning ugly is always positive.
Last Week: 4
Arsenal struggled to get going against Crystal Palace on Saturday, surprising many who assumed they'd already hit full flow against Manchester City the week before.
It took a late Aaron Ramsey winner to save Arsene Wenger's blushes; drawing at home to a manager-less team would arguably have been worse than the losing start to 2013-14.
4. Bayern Munich
Last Week: 2
Bayern Munich were, frankly, destroyed by Borussia Dortmund in the German Super Cup (DFL Supercup) last week.
The 3-4-3 formation Pep Guardiola set out struggled due to BVB's pressing, and they need to go back to the drawing board systematically—even if they were missing big-name players.
Die Bayern also lost Javi Martinez for more than six months to a knee injury. Talk about your bad days.
Last Week: 5
Chelsea went behind at Burnley in a shock twist at Turf Moor on Monday night, but they recovered quickly, scored three goals and ended the contest by half-time.
Branislav Ivanovic showed he still has plenty to offer Jose Mourinho despite the recruitment of Filipe Luis from Atletico Madrid, and Cesc Fabregas stole the show with a wonderful display.
Diego Costa's off the mark too.
Last Week: 3
A 6-0 win is never bad news, and for Barcelona, stuffing poor old Mexican side Leon was fantastic for a number of reasons.
Luis Suarez made his bow, albeit for just 15 minutes, to the applause of the crowd, but the big news was Neymar's return to football and the fact that he scored two goals.
Lionel Messi notched too.
1. Real Madrid
Last Week: 1
Real Madrid, reigning champions of Europe after securing La Decima, stay at No. 1 after battering Sevilla last week in the European Super Cup.
They play again on Tuesday evening against Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Supercopa de Espana, with Carlo Ancelotti looking to get off to a strong start at home in order to secure yet more silverware.