The likes of Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Manchester United and Juventus made their season debuts this past week with United losing to Crystal Palace. While there weren’t too many surprises, the depth of the Premier League was on full display as a ninth English team found its way into the rankings.
Here is this week’s European soccer top 25.
Other teams in consideration: Ajax (NED), Marseille (FRA), AC Milan (ITA), St. Etienne (FRA), PSV (NED)
Dropped from rankings: Marseille (20)
25) Everton (ENG)
Last Week: Not Ranked (W 5-2 vs. West Brom, W 5-2 vs. Fleetwood Town)
It’s still extremely early, but Everton have outscored their four opponents 14-4 and have yet to lose. New signings James Rodriguez, Allan and Adboulaye Doucouré have been superb. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is scoring goals for fun (4 in two Premier League games). No EPL team has done more to improve their perception through the first two weeks than the Toffees.
24) Stade Rennes (FRA)
Last week: 25 (W 2-1 vs. Monaco)
Two late goals propelled Rennes past Monaco, giving them their third consecutive victory. Seven different players have scored in their four league games, which speaks to the depth of this team. Romain Salin is in line to replace Edouard Mendy in net with Mendy’s move to Chelsea now complete. Up next is a meeting with St. Etienne, who is tied with Rennes for the best record in Ligue 1 so far (3 wins, 1 draw).
23) Bayer Leverkusen (GER)
Last week: 23 (D 0-0 vs. Wolfsburg)
Leverkusen failed to find the back of the net in their Bundesliga opener against a solid Wolfsburg side. It was definitely not an ideal start to the season but not a horrendous one either. A win over RB Leipzig on Sept. 26 would put Peter Bosz’s team in an excellent position to stay near the top of the table again.
22) Arsenal (ENG)
Last week: 24 (W 2-1 vs. West Ham, W 2-0 vs. Leicester City)
Eddie Nketiah’s 85th-minute goal gave the Gunners three points from a rather uninspiring performance against West Ham. Nketiah struck again in the EFL Cup, adding an insurance goal to preserve Mikel Arteta’s flawless record in cup competitions. Their Sept. 28 meeting with Liverpool will be a terrific indicator of where this club is at.
21) Tottenham (ENG)
Last week: 21 (W 5-2 vs. Southampton, W 3-1 vs. Shkëndija)
It’s been a busy week for Spurs with the arrival of Gareth Bale and Sergio Reguilón, a historic performance against Southampton, the cancellation of their EFL Cup game due to Leyton Orient’s positive Covid-19 tests and a victory in Europa League qualifying. Son Heung-Min’s four goals against Southampton were all assisted by Harry Kane, marking the first time one Premier League player set up four goals for another. Spurs are in discussions with Leyton Orient about the possibility of rescheduling the game but no final decision has been made.
20) Napoli (ITA)
Last week: 22 (W 2-0 vs. Parma)
Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne found the back of the net in Napoli’s comprehensive win to begin their Serie A season. If Gennaro Gattuso’s team is going to rebound from an extremely disappointing 2019-20 campaign, they will be a big reason why. With games against Juventus and Atalanta on the horizon, we’re going to learn quite a bit about this team in the first month of the season.
19) Wolves (ENG)
Last week: 18 (L 3-1 vs. Manchester City)
Wolves struggled to string passes together against Manchester City in the first half and then proceeded to control the game after halftime. They got one goal back through Raúl Jiménez to make it 2-1 but were unable to capitalize on the chances they created. Gabriel Jesus added a third late on and that was that. Bringing in Nélson Semedo from Barcelona theoretically allows Adama Traoré to assume a more advanced role with Diogo Jota leaving for Liverpool.
18) Borussia Mönchengladbach (GER)
Last week: 16 (L 3-0 vs. Borussia Dortmund)
There is absolutely no shame in losing at Signal Iduna Park, though Marco Rose will be disappointed with his team’s performance after the first 15 or so minutes. Alassane Pléa and Marcus Thuram came on in the 57th but didn’t make much of an impact. It should not come as a surprise that Gladbach aren’t on the same level as Dortmund at the moment.
17) Sevilla (ESP)
Last week: 19 (L 2-1 vs. Bayern Munich)
Taking the best team in the world to extra time in an ultimately meaningless game is an encouraging sign for Sevilla heading into their first La Liga game against Cadiz on Sept. 27. If their performance in the UEFA Super Cup is any indication of how they will do this season, Julen Lopetegui’s team is not finishing any lower than fourth in La Liga.
16) Leicester City (ENG)
Last week: 17 (W 4-2 vs. Burnley, L 2-0 vs. Arsenal)
Leicester recovered from an early Chris Wood goal to put four past Burnley and sit atop the Premier League table heading into this weekend. Brendan Rodgers named an entirely different starting lineup for the EFL Cup match against Arsenal. The deserved loss might end up being a blessing in disguise with the Europa League group stage less than a month away. Losing Wilfred Ndidi for 6-12 weeks is a much, much bigger concern.
15) Lazio (ITA)
Last week: 14
There is not much to report with Lazio set to kick off their season against Cagliari on Sept. 26. Abdelhamid Sabiri, a 23-year-old midfielder, might be arriving from Paderborn in the near future. Striker Ciro Immobile will be looking to defend his status as the most prolific goalscorer in Europe, scoring 36 goals in Serie A last season.
14) RB Leipzig (GER)
Last week: 15 (W 3-1 vs. Mainz)
Leipzig outshot Mainz 23-9 and put 10 shots on goal to their opponent’s one in a comprehensive victory. Emil Forsberg scored from the penalty spot and assisted on Leipzig’s third, netted by Amadou Haidara. Bayer Leverkusen will provide a stiffer test in their next league game on Sept. 26.
13) Atalanta (ITA)
Last week: 13
Things are quiet in Bergamo as Atalanta prepare for their Sept. 26 season opener against Torino. With their 2020-21 campaign about to begin, this would be a good time to remind everyone that Atalanta finished with a +50 goal differential and found the back of the net 98 times in league play last season, both tops in Serie A.
12) Atlético Madrid (ESP)
Last week: 12
After controversy surrounding his application for Italian citizenship amid a potential move to Juventus and some tense negotiations, Suárez is now a member of Atlético Madrid. That move paved the way for Álvaro Morata to be loaned out to Juventus. Additional reinforcements might be on the way in the form of Arsenal’s Lucas Torreira as well. Atleti begin their La Liga season by playing host to Granada on Sept. 27.
11) Barcelona (ESP)
Last week: 11
As previously mentioned, the Luis Suárez era is over at the Camp Nou and Semedo has departed for England. Barcelona seemed poised to replace Semedo with 19-year-old U.S. international Sergiño Dest, whom Ronald Koeman is familiar with from the battle between the U.S. and the Netherlands for Dest’s international allegiance. They get their season underway against Villarreal on Sept. 27.
10) Manchester United (ENG)
Last week: 7 (L 3-1 vs. Crystal Palace, W 3-0 vs. Luton Town)
The United team that showed up against Crystal Palace in their Premier League opener looked more like the one that struggled at the beginning of last season than the one in such great form at the end. Central defense continues to be an issue and Palace punished United for their mistakes. Donny Van de Beek came off the bench to score on his debut, so there’s that. The Red Devils rebounded with a win over a Luton Town team playing really well in the EFL Cup, which was expected but a positive development nonetheless.
9) Borussia Dortmund (GER)
Last week: 9 (W 3-0 vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach)
It was Dortmund’s pair of 17-year-olds, Gio Reyna and Jude Bellingham, who stole the show against Gladbach over the weekend. Reyna netted his first Bundesliga goal courtesy of an assist from Bellingham and drew the penalty Erling Håland converted for Dortmund’s second goal. Håland and Jadon Sancho took care of things from there as Lucian Favre’s team dispatched a very good Mönchengladbach team with relative ease.
8) Juventus (ITA)
Last week: 8 (W 3-0 vs. Sampdoria)
The Andrea Pirlo in Turin era is off to a fine start. Dejan Kulusevski marked his Juventus debut with a goal 13 minutes in while Ronaldo contributed a goal and an assist. Pirlo also put newcomer Weston McKennie and 21-year-old Gianlucca Frabotta in his starting 11 with Paulo Dybala and Federico Bernardeschi unavailable. There’s not too much to take away from a comfortable win over a mid-table side but it was a promising way to begin the campaign. The return of Morata gives Pirlo another option in attack with Dybala injured.
7) Inter Milan (ITA)
Last week: 6
Arturo Vidal is officially a member of Inter, adding to the wealth of options available to Antonio Conte. The most recent rumors involving Inter revolve around Tottenham’s interest in Milan Škriniar. However, the two sides don’t seem to be close to a deal right now. They face Fiorentina in their first game of the season on Sept. 26.
6) Chelsea (ENG)
Last week: 5 (L 2-0 vs. Liverpool, W 6-0 vs. Barnsley)
Chelsea were hanging in there against Liverpool before Andreas Christensen got sent off at the end of the first half. Liverpool dominated the final 45 minutes and the Blues’ best chance of getting back into the game was squandered when Jorginho failed to convert from the penalty spot. Senegalese goalkeeper Mendy has been brought in from Rennes to provide competition for — or replace — the struggling Kepa Arrizabalaga. Kai Havertz scored the first, second and third goals of his Chelsea career in the beatdown of Barnsley in the EFL Cup.
5) Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
Last week: 10 (W 3-0 vs. Nice)
Things look much better for PSG now as another victory pulled them within four points of first place St. Etienne. Kylian Mbappé returned to the starting lineup after testing positive for the coronavirus and opened the scoring with a penalty kick in the 38th minute. Ángel Di María — who was handed a four-game suspension on Sept. 23 for spitting at Marseille’s Álvaro González — added a second right before halftime and Marquinhos put the game away in the 66th. Order will be restored at the top of the Ligue 1 table soon enough.
4) Real Madrid (ESP)
Last week: 4 (D 0-0 vs. Real Sociedad)
The absence of Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio caused Zinedine Zidane to start youngsters Vinícious (age 20), Rodrygo (19) and Martin Odegaard (21) in support of Karim Benzema up front in Madrid’s La Liga opener. Los Blancos dominated possession and created more chances but never looked completely in sync. There are going to be growing pains with so many young players expected to feature so prominently this season.
3) Manchester City (ENG)
Last week: 3 (W 3-1 vs. Wolves, W 2-1 vs. Bournemouth)
Manchester City’s incredible depth makes it easy to forget they were without Aymeric Laporte, İlkay Gündoğan, Riyad Mahrez and Sergio Agüero for their clash with Wolves. Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden gave City a 2-0 halftime edge and they were able to hold on despite some shaky moments in the second half. Foden also scored the winner in their EFL Cup contest against Bournemouth as Pep Guardiola sent out a heavily rotated side.
2) Liverpool (ENG)
Last week: 2 (W 2-0 vs. Chelsea, 7-2 vs. Lincoln City)
Liverpool were lively from the get-go against Chelsea and put in a much more convincing performance than they did against Leeds United. Thiago came on at halftime for his Liverpool debut and controlled the final 45 minutes like he’s done for years at Bayern. Diogo Jota — their other recent signing — will have a tough time cracking the starting lineup on a consistent basis but is a significant upgrade over Liverpool’s other attack-minded reserves. The Reds had themselves a very good week.
1) Bayern Munich (GER)
Last week: 1 (W 8-0 vs. Schalke, W 2-1 vs. Sevilla)
It was business as usual for Bayern, who dismantled Schalke and claimed another trophy in the form of the UEFA Super Cup. Javi Martínez’s header in extra time gave the Bavarians their second Super Cup, with the other coming back in 2013. Serge Gnabry notched a hat trick in the victory over Schalke.
Photo by Granada / Wikimedia Commons