EACH WEEK, FOX SOCCER'S EXPERTS GET TOGETHER TO RANK THE WORLD'S TOP CLUBS. CASES ARE MADE, VOTES ARE TALLIED AND THEN SOMEONE NEEDS TO MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL. THIS WEEK, THAT MAN IS THOMAS HAUTMANN.
Ahead of the final weekend for most domestic leagues across Europe (the French like to take their time), we take a look at the highlight and lowlight of the season for each of our top 10 teams. Have Chelsea moved up a couple spots thanks to their dramatic late win over Benfica in the Europa League final? Speaking of, could Benfica hang on to a spot in this list despite two back-to-back heartbreaking losses in less than a week? Read through as we dish out the penultimate edition of this season’s power rankings!
Posted May 17, 2013Follow @HautmannOnFOX
Bayern Munich (28-4-1)
Highlight: Can I say the entire season? No? Fine. Bayern’s best moment may still be ahead of them, but for now it’s a tie between the 7-0 aggregate beat-down of Barcelona and February’s 1-0 win over Dortmund in the German Cup quarterfinals, the first meaningful victory over Dortmund in over two years. Lowlight: Thinking. Thinking… It didn’t matter much, but Munich’s home loss to Arsenal was the only game all season in which Bayern failed to score.
Borussia Dortmund (19-9-5)
Highlight: Beating Real Madrid 4-1 at home to all but advance to their first Champions League final since 1997, with Robert Lewandowski scoring all four goals. It just doesn’t get better than that. Unless… Lowlight: Losing that German Cup quarterfinal tie to Bayern, after which Jurgen Klopp made himself look like a sore loser by accusing Bayern of copying their match tactics.
Highlight: Lionel Messi breaking Gerd Muller’s record for goals in a calendar in an early December match against Real Betis. Messi tied Muller’s mark of 85 goals in the 16th minute, then surpassed the German just nine minutes later to add yet another incredible accolade to his resume. Lowlight: Getting whipped every which way by Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinals. With or without Messi at 100%, Barca players had to swallow the fact that a new team has overtaken them at the top of the soccer mountain.
Real Madrid (25-6-5)
Highlight: Winning Copa del Rey? Lowlight: Their 4-1 Champions League destruction at the hands of Borussia Dortmund. While they salvaged the 2nd leg with a 2-0 victory, it wasn't enough to put the heavily hyped and favored Spanish side into the final.
Manchester United (28-4-5)
Highlight: United had plenty of reasons to cheer this season, but how can you not go with Sir Alex Ferguson's swan song? The final home game of his untouchable managerial career, Paul Scholes' simultaneous farewell at Old Trafford, the post-match speech, the Premier League trophy presentation, the tears. An unforgettable day. Lowlight: United fans will claim they were robbed after Nani’s controversial red card flipped the game on its head, but the Red Devils’ Round of 16 loss to Real Madrid at Old Trafford must still leave a bitter taste in their mouths.
Highlight: While they didn't go undefeated like last year's squad, Juventus powered through to their 2nd consecutive Scudetto and their 29th Serie A title overall. While it's a great accomplishment, supporters would love to see their Italian dominance carry over into the next European campaign. Lowlight: Receiving the knockout blow in the Italian Cup after Lazio's stoppage time goal eliminated the club in the semifinal, a large blemish in an otherwise succesful domestic campaign.
Paris Saint-Germain (23-8-5)
Highlight: Avenging last year's runner-up finish and securing the Ligue 1 title for the first time in 19 years. This is a club who's stock is certainly on the rise and fans can expect more expensive signings during the summer transfer window. Lowlight: Being unable to get over the hump of becoming a truly elite team, losing to Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals on away goals. Just 20 minutes from advancing to the semifinals, they conceded a goal at Camp Nou that ended their European campaign.
Highlight: Both ends of the season calendar. Napoli started Serie A play strong, winning six of its first seven and looking like a serious threat to Juventus. After a bad lull in February, Napoli won 8 of its last 9 games and locked up second place in Italy. Lowlight: A 7-game winless streak in which they scored just two goals and were knocked out of the Europa League 5-0 on aggregate to Victoria Plzen. Napoli almost fumbled away a Champions League spot for next season, too, if it weren’t for a dominant bounce-back final two months of the season.
Highlight: Everything until this past weekend. Benfica was undefeated in the league and on the cusp of winning their first European title in over 50 years, until…Lowlight: Losing to Porto on a stoppage time winner—essentially conceding the Primeira Liga title to their rivals with just one game to go—then losing another heartbreaker to Chelsea just four days later in the Europa League final.
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