The 2020-21 European soccer season is getting closer to being in full swing as the Premier League and La Liga began play this past week. While many of the high-profile teams have yet to take the field due to their deep runs in the Champions League and Europa League, a top 25 matchup took place in France and Liverpool nearly dropped points against Leeds United in the game of the weekend.
Here is this week’s European soccer top 25.
Other teams in consideration: Ajax (NED), Everton (ENG), Roma (ITA), St. Etienne (FRA), PSV (NED)
Dropped from rankings: Lyon (24), Roma (25)
25) Stade Rennes (FRA)
Last week: Not Ranked (W 4-2 vs. Nîmes)
Rennes were the surprise of Ligue 1 in 2019-20 and have looked just as good through three games this season. Sehrou Guirassay found the back of the net twice to give them back-to-back wins and seven points from their first three games. The longer they keep this up, the more difficult it is to dismiss last season as a fluke.
24) Arsenal (ENG)
Last week: Not Ranked (W 3-0 vs. Fulham)
The Gunners opened the Premier League season in style with excellent debuts from Willian and Gabriel. Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang has his first goal of the campaign and a new contract. This club headed in the right direction under Mikel Arteta. One win over a team expected to go straight back to the Championship doesn’t mean they’re back among the best teams in England though.
23) Bayer Leverkusen (GER)
Last week: 23 (W 7-0 vs. Eintracht Norderstedt)
Leverkusen scored six goals in 28 minutes against fourth-tier side Eintracht Norderstedt in the first round of the DFB-Pokal on Sept. 13. New signing Patrick Schick added another in the second half to give Peter Bosz’s team seven goal scorers in the 7-0 victory. They face Wolfsburg on Sept. 20 to begin their Bundesliga season.
22) Napoli (ITA)
Last week: 22
Rumors are flying about the potential departures of Kalidou Koulibaly and Arkadiusz Milik to Manchester City and Roma, respectively. While their futures get sorted out, Gennaro Gattuso’s team travel to Parma on the second day of the Serie A season (Sept. 20).
21) Tottenham (ENG)
Last week: 17 (L 1-0 vs. Everton)
It took one game for José Mourinho to publicly criticize his team’s performance. A home defeat is obviously not an ideal way to begin a new campaign, but Spurs had their fair share of chances before Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed home Lucas Digne’s cross. There is no reason to get overly concerned yet and Gareth Bale is almost certainly making his way back to White Hart Lane very soon.
20) Marseille (FRA)
Last week: 18 (W 1-0 vs. PSG, L 2-0 vs. St. Etienne)
Marseille missed an outstanding opportunity to distance themselves from the rest of Ligue 1 early in the season. Florian Thauvin scored his second goal in as many games to defeat PSG and move André Villas-Boas’ side six points clear of the perennial favorites. Up next was a meeting with St. Etienne, the only other team in the league with a perfect record. Marseille had 59% of the possession but gave up a goal in each half to the visitors and lost 2-0. A week that started with so much promise ended in rather disappointing fashion.
19) Sevilla (ESP)
Last week: 20
Sevilla had hoped to sign left back Sergio Reguilón — who was on loan last season — on a permanent deal from Real Madrid and brought in Sporting Lisbon’s Marcos Acuña when it became unlikely Reguilón would return. They won’t start their season until Sept. 27 due to their Europa League exploits.
18) Wolves (ENG)
Last week: 21 (W 2-0 vs. Sheffield United, L 1-0 vs. Stoke City)
It was a record-setting beginning to the season for Wolves, who scored two goals in a season opener faster than any team in Premier League history. Raul Jimenez got things going in the third minute and Romain Saiss headed hom a corner in the sixth to secure a 2-0 win. Manager Nuno Espirito Santo signed a new three-year deal as well. The first weekend of the season couldn’t have gone much better. Very little attention should be given to a loss to a respectable Stoke side with a heavily rotated squad in the EFL Cup.
17) Leicester City (ENG)
Last week: 18 (W 3-0 vs. West Brom)
Timothy Castagne marked his debut for the club with a goal, Jamie Vardy converted two penalties and the Foxes cruised to a 3-0 victory over Premier League newcomers West Brom. Brendan Rodgers’ use of Wilfred Ndidi as a makeshift center back with Johnny Evans (suspension) and Wes Morgan (injured) unavailable worked out just fine. James Maddison’s appearance as a substitute was a welcome sign for a team decimated by injuries at the end of last season.
16) Borussia Mönchengladbach (GER)
Last week: 16 (W 8-0 vs. FC Oberneuland)
Not to be outdone by Leverkusen, Mönchengladbach put eight past poor FC Oberneuland, who play in the German fifth division. Patrick Hermann scored twice in two minutes and assisted on another goal. They face Borussia Dortmund in the best matchup of the Bundesliga’s opening weekend.
15) RB Leipzig (GER)
Last week: 15 (W 3-0 vs. FC Nurenberg)
Leipzig received a stiffer test than some of their counterparts in the DFB-Pokal but dispatched of Nuremberg with relative ease. Hwang Hee-Chan contributed a goal and an assist in his first game for the club. The team announced that midfielder Konrad Laimer will be out four weeks after undergoing surgery on Sept. 17.
14) Lazio (ITA)
Last week: 14
Lazio announced the signing of striker Vedat Muriqi from Turkish side Fenerbahce on Sept. 15. The 26-year-old netted 15 goals and contributed six assists last season. They were supposed to play Atalanta this weekend but have to wait until Sept. 26 to begin their season because of Atalanta’s delayed start.
13) Atalanta (ITA)
Last week: 13
Things are rather quiet for Atalanta at the moment. They’ve held onto their key players as they get some time off before opening their Serie A campaign on Sept. 26. Not much is going to change rankings-wise for them until they take the field.
12) Atlético Madrid (ESP)
Last week: 12
Atleti find themselves in a rather precarious position at the moment. Manager Diego Simeone tested positive for the coronavirus and is currently self-isolating. New assistant manager Nelson Vivas is also self-isolating because he was in contact with Simeone and could return to training next week. In the meantime, strength and conditioning coach Óscar Ortega has taken charge of the team. Simeone is expected to be back for their first game on Sept. 27.
11) Barcelona (ESP)
Last week: 11
Lionel Messi is back playing for Barcelona, which seemed rather unlikely a month ago. Manager Ronald Koeman wants to be reunited with Liverpool midfielder and Dutch international Georginio Wijnaldum, but Wijnaldum is allegedly on the verge of a new contract to stay at Liverpool instead. They have to wait until Sept. 27 to kick off their season against Villareal.
10) Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
Last week: 4 (L 1-0 vs. Marseille, W 1-0 vs. Metz)
It’s been an eventful week for Thomas Tuchel’s side. They got Neymar and Ángel Di María back against Marseille only to lose 1-0 and have three players sent off in stoppage time. The league is investigating Neymar’s claim he was racially abused by Álvaro González in the leadup to his red card. PSG then went down a man against Metz but were saved by Julian Draxler’s 93rd-minute winner. Three points from three games means they have work to do but it could have been even worse.
9) Borussia Dortmund (GER)
Last week: 10 (W 5-0 vs. MSV Duisburg)
It was good news all around for Lucian Favre’s side. Jude Bellingham scored 30 minutes into his Dortmund career. Gio Reyna continued his excellent form with a free kick goal. Marco Reus marked his return from injury with a tally on the score sheet as well. As previously mentioned, they face a stiff test in Mönchengladbach to begin their domestic season on Sept. 19.
8) Juventus (ITA)
Last week: 9
Not much has happened in Turin over the past week. Juventus is in the market for a striker and it does not sound like it will be Luis Suárez. They host Sampdoria in their first Serie A game on Sept. 20.
7) Manchester United (ENG)
Last week: 8
It is becoming less and less likely United make another major splash in the transfer market. Dortmund aren’t dropping their asking price for Jadon Sancho and the Red Devils don’t appear to be aggressively pursuing any other big names at the moment. Their Premier League campaign gets underway against Crystal Palace on Sept. 19.
6) Inter Milan (ITA)
Last week: 7
Antonio Conte seems poised to add to his squad’s remarkable depth with the signing of Arturo Vidal from Barcelona though the deal is not done yet. Inter still have over a week before they take on Fiorentina in their Serie A opener on Sept. 26.
5) Chelsea (ENG)
Last week: 6 (W 3-1 vs. Brighton)
Chelsea were without Hakim Ziyech, Mateo Kovačić, Christian Pulisic, Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell for their trip to Brighton. The 3-1 scoreline is not indicative of how the game went as the Blues were rather fortunate to take all three points. Reece James got his first Premier League goal in spectacular style and it turned out to be the game-winner. There’s no point reading too much into a team that was nowhere near Frank Lampard’s preferred 11.
4) Real Madrid (ESP)
Last week: 5
Both Tottenham and Manchester United appear interested in the services of the aforementioned Bale and Reguilón. Spurs reportedly have the inside track to both of them but Bale’s hefty salary makes things more complicated. Los Blancos begin their 2020-21 La Liga season against Real Sociedad on Sept. 20.
3) Manchester City (ENG)
Last week: 3
The biggest news out of the blue part of Manchester revolves around the potential addition of another center back. City are reportedly exploring Sevilla’s Diego Carlos and Atlético Madrid’s José Giménez as possible alternatives if they can’t secure the services of Napoli’s Koulibaly. The Cityzens open their Premier League season with a trip to Wolves on Sept. 21.
2) Liverpool (ENG)
Last week: 2 (W 4-3 vs. Leeds United)
A combination of wonderful goals and horrific defending resulted in a 4-3 thriller at Anfield that Liverpool stole with Mo Salah’s second penalty kick (and third goal) of the game in the 88th minute. Jack Harrison got the better of Trent Alexander-Arnold on Leeds’ first goal and Virgil Van Dijk gifted them their second. The defending Premier League champions haven’t looked like themselves since play resumed in June. They won’t be holding onto the No. 2 spot with another performance like that against Chelsea on Sept. 20.
1) Bayern Munich (GER)
Last week: 1
Bayern managed to increase their lead at the top of these rankings without playing a game. One Liverpool win — no matter how convincing — wasn’t going to displace them anyway. Nearly dropping points at home to a newly promoted side certainly isn’t putting any pressure on the Bavarians.
Photo by Ronnie Macdonald / Flickr