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We consider it our foremost responsibility and duty to keep you updated on European football’s happenings—so much so, we’ve released a final European Club Rankings of 2018 despite the fact several leagues are on a break.
With La Liga, Ligue 1, the Bundesliga and the Eredivisie putting their feet up, we have a limited pool to report on but were still treated to festive action in England, Italy and Portugal.
The European Club Rankings is a list of the continent’s top teams in order of form and performance at this stage of the season.
You can read the previous set of rankings here.
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20. Borussia Monchengladbach (Stay)
Borussia Monchengladbach are on a winter break. They return to action January 19, away to Bayer Leverkusen, for the start of the second half of their season.
19. Lyon (-1)
Lyon’s final game of 2018 was a 1-1 draw at Montpellier three days before Christmas, and they won’t return to action until January 5 against Bourges Foot in the Coupe de France.
18. Inter Milan (+1)
Inter perked up over Christmas, winning both their festive fixtures 1-0. The first, against Napoli, was a particularly important result as it allowed them to close the gap between themselves and second place in the table.
17. Real Madrid (Stay)
La Liga is on a mini-break over the Christmas period and won’t be returning until the first week of January. Real Madrid will play Villarreal on January 3, an enforced rearrangement due to Los Blancos’ FIFA Club World Cup commitments.
16. Arsenal (-1)
Consider Unai Emery’s honeymoon period over. With just one win in five, a couple of really disappointing scorelines and performances mixed into that run, they are on the slide both in the Premier League table and in our rankings.
Arsenal’s season has attracted plenty of hysteria and overreaction; fans have gone from believing the Gunners are “back” to signing their own team’s death warrant in the space of a month.
The reality? They weren’t as good as the 22-match unbeaten run had some believe, and they’re not as bad as they look right now.
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15. Manchester United (+1)
In Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s three games as interim manager so far, United have played three sides off the park, scored 12 goals and unlocked the best from Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
At the other end, they have looked a little open and suspect—Eric Bailly’s red card on Sunday illustrating the difficult situations the centre-backs are finding themselves in—but it’s one hell of an improvement, all things considered.
14. FC Porto (Stay)
A scratchy 2-1 win over Belenenses—in a game FC Porto fell behind in—was enough to secure passage through to the latter stages of the Taca da Liga.
13. Ajax (Stay)
Ajax resume duties on January 20, when they face Heerenveen in the Eredivisie. They will also line up against the same opponent four days later in the KNVB Cup.
12. Chelsea (Stay)
Chelsea’s festive fixture list was quite kind, handing them two away trips but only as far as Watford and Crystal Palace. They won both games, placing a buffer between themselves and Arsenal in the Premier League table and in these rankings.
11. Sevilla (Stay)
La Liga will return in the first week of January. Sevilla will welcome Atletico Madrid to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on January 6.
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You should never switch a game of football off early; you never know what late drama you might miss.
This statement holds particularly true when Napoli are playing, as three of their last four Serie A matches have been settled in the 88th minute or later.
Against Inter Milan, they lost to a last-gasp Lautaro Martinez goal; against Bologna, Dries Mertens saved them in similar fashion.
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Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-1 home loss to Wolves this weekend brought its customary round of “bottled it” accusations.
Whether they bottled anything—can you bottle a title race you’re not really involved in?—is not a particularly interesting debate. What the loss to Wolves really illustrated is how shallow Mauricio Pochettino’s squad is due to the injury pile-up that’s occurred.
The midfield looked as slow and energy-sapped as you would expect, given it was essentially the same personnel playing its fourth game in 10 days.
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With La Liga’s mini-break over the Christmas period, no action will be seen until the first week of January. Atletico Madrid will face a stern test in the form of Sevilla away on the 6th.
Without even playing, they move up. They can thank Napoli and Tottenham’s losses for that.
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Bayern Munich are on a winter break. They return to action January 18, away to Hoffenheim.
They move up one as a result of Tottenham’s fall.
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We’ve become used to watching Manchester City win game after game, so to see them lose two in a row was something of a shock to the system.
It’s no coincidence that those two defeats came while Fernandinho was injured—and, consequently, it was no coincidence they got back to winning ways against Southampton when the Brazilian returned on Sunday.
This December wobble—three losses from five Premier League games—has left them in a scenario where they must beat Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday to start clawing back at the sizeable gap of seven points between themselves and the Reds.
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Borussia Dortmund, and the rest of Bundesliga, are on a winter break. They return to action on January 19, away to RB Leipzig.
They move up one in the wake of Manchester City’s fall.
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Paris Saint-Germain’s final game of 2018 was a 1-0 win over Nantes three days before Christmas, and they won’t return to action until January 6, against Stade Pontivy in the Coupe de France.
In the meantime, all the attention is focused on Adrien Rabiot. Journalist Guillem Balague reported on Sunday that Barcelona are interested in the midfielder, who has been slowly phased out of the first-team setup this season due to a refusal to sign a new contract.
They move up one in the wake of Manchester City’s fall.
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It’s nine Premier League wins in a row for Liverpool, who have negotiated the tricky festive period in expert fashion, rotating wilfully but never skipping a beat.
Bar a hairy opening 10 minutes against Arsenal on Saturday they were stupendous, ripping apart Unai Emery’s men to the tune of five goals. It even bettered their effort of four against Newcastle United just a few days before.
Many on social media are already declaring Liverpool the title winners, and while there is a long way to go, it’s impossible not to admit this team is 1) great, and 2) has a real shot of unseating Manchester City.
The meeting between the two clubs on Thursday will go a long way towards shaping this race.
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Atalanta away, followed by Sampdoria at home is a pretty grueling Christmas schedule to negotiate, and Juventus only just managed to emerge from it with a respectable points tally.
It took VAR ruling out a late Sampdoria equaliser from Riccardo Saponara in the final moments of the second game to garner four points. It was hardly the most convincing mini-period for the Old Lady.
In among it all, there was room for another Cristiano Ronaldo record: He became the top-scoring Portuguese player in a single Serie A season, passing Rui Barros at the top with his 13th and 14th goals.
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With La Liga on its midseason break, Barcelona will kick back into action at Getafe on January 6.
In the meantime, they’ve been busy, signing Jeison Murillo on loan from Valencia as much-needed defensive cover for the second half of the season. They’ve been down to the bare bones in that area lately.
All statistics via WhoScored.com.