Barcelona (and Juventus) on top; Liverpool make an appearance: Top 20 Power Table

Voting: Each writer picks their top 20 teams. We then assigned points to each vote, with 20 points awarded for a first place vote, 19 for second, 18 for third and so on, to create the final list.

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The National presents its seventh edition of the European football top 20 Power Table, our view of the best football teams of the moment on the Continent. As voted on this month by Thomas Woods, Steve Luckings, Jon Turner and Jonathan Raymond.

Others receiving votes: Bayer Leverkusen 7; Dynamo Kiev 6; Shakhtar Donetsk 6; Olympiakos 6; Sevilla 5; Arsenal 1

Dropped from Top 20 without votes: Lyon (19)

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20 – Liverpool (8 points; last: unranked)

Try not to see this as a slight, but rather as an acknowledgement of a flawed team that Jurgen Klopp has nonetheless often wringed the best out of, in cases (like against Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League) to spectacular result. Their Premier League campaign may have been inconsistent and largely disappointing, but the club now find themselves with a reasonable path into the Champions League.

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19 – FC Rostov (11 points; last: 20)

A spectacular 3-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg in their last league outing leaves the Leicester of Russia a point ahead of CSKA Moscow atop the Russian Premier League with five matches to play. It followed a quality win over fourth-placed Krasnodar and one more major hurdle, in title outsiders Lokomotiv Moscow (five points back in third) two clear in two rounds on May 6.

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18 – Manchester United (13 points; last: 17)

Louis van Gaal’s men never seem to be all that inspiring, but they keep racking up positive results all the same, with four successive wins keeping them in the hunt for the Premier League top-four and a trip to Wembley for the FA Cup final – against a Crystal Palace side they just beat convincingly.

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17 – AS Roma (14 points; last: 11)

A relatively steep fall from our last survey, which is probably unfair given their consecutive wins in Serie A, including a massive 1-0 victory over Napoli that has them within two points of second place and an automatic trip to the Champions League with three matches to go.

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16 – Ajax (16 points; last: 13)

A recent disappointing draw to Utrecht at home in the Dutch Eredivisie has put the title back in play, with the latter taking maximum points since the Amsterdam giants won their head-to-head meeting on March 20 and the points even at the top with two matches remaining in the Netherlands.

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15 – PSV Eindhoven (18 points; last: unranked)

Obviously, we’re splitting hairs a bit here, but our voters go with the form club over Ajax’s plus-6 advantage in goal difference at the top of the Dutch table. PSV, with seventh-placed Zwolle away on the final day of the season, have the marginally harder remaining fixtures, but they can take hope from the fact Twente – whom Ajax host on Sunday – did take a point from the leaders way back in September.

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14 – Sporting CP (21 points; last: 18)

They have to make up at least three points on their Lisbon rivals Benfica with three matches remaining in the Portuguese Primeira Liga season to claim the title, with their run of six successive league wins keeping the heat on the leaders since they lost in the Derby de Lisboa at home on March 6.

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13 – Villarreal (23 points; last: 16)

A weak goalless draw with Real Sociedad and an inexplicable loss to Rayo Vallecano are nearby in their rearview mirror, putting their hold on fourth place in La Liga in a slightly more tenuous position with Celta Vigo four points back. But, their manhandling of Sparta Prague to reach the Europa League’s last four speaks to their priorities at the moment.

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12 – Napoli (33 points; last: 15)

Their title battle is over, and they have given significant ground on second place with their losses to Roma and Inter Milan during Gonzalo Higuain’s four-match ban. Still, the Argentine’s return for a pretty simple final three fixtures – Atalanta, Torino and Frosinone – should help them hold off the capital club for Italy’s second and final automatic Champions League place.

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11 – Manchester City (40 points; last: 14)

Like every other team in England, their season has been a mixed bag. But with a maximum of five matches remaining, here are the facts regarding Pep Guardiola’s future team: They have a five-point cushion (though with an extra match played) in the Premier League race to finish top four and they are on level footing with Real Madrid (though they must travel to Spain for the second leg) to reach the Champions League final. Not too bad, right?

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10 – Benfica (41 points; last: 10)

They gave Bayern Munich all they could handle in the Champions League quarter-final, a credible 3-2 exit to the German giants. And now after defeating Rio Ave, they have a straightforward path to securing the Primeira Liga title and remain in the hunt for a second trophy, with Braga to overcome in the Taca da Liga (Portuguese Leage Cup) semi-final.

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T8 – Borussia Dortmund (50 points; last: T6)

Really looked for a second there like they just might overtake sluggish Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and stomp their way to a European trophy – then a 2-2 draw with Schalke and the Merseyside miracle ended both those campaigns in a four-day span. Still, they recovered nicely (three wins by a 9-0 combined scoreline last three league matches) and have had an all-in-all impressive season.

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T8 – Tottenham Hotspur (50 points; last: 9)

It just wasn’t to be for Spurs. Their late hope was snuffed out in a disappointing 1-1 draw with West Brom, the kind of mostly dominant performance yet flat end result that has dogged them on too many occasions this season. But they will be runners-up with the knowledge that next season offers much promise for their young side.

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7 – Paris Saint-Germain (52 points; last: T4)

It’s just so hard to judge this side, given the flat track that is Ligue 1 they have made a routine of bullying. Their Champions League campaign fizzled out against Manchester City, and now all they really have to look forward to is stamping their complete domination over France with a Coupe de France final victory against Marseille on May 21.

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6 – Real Madrid (63 points; last: T4)

It’s tightly bunched at the top, and Real followed up some fantastic recent results – reviving their La Liga title hopes and keeping alive the dream of an 11th European Cup – with a largely flat 0-0 draw against Manchester City in the first leg of their semi-final. Still, they were missing Cristiano Ronaldo, and they have the advantage with the second leg to come at the Bernabeu.

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5 – Atletico Madrid (65 points; last: 8)

Probably deserve of a little more credit, after beating Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final and going level on points with Barcelona at the top of La Liga. But they will be able to prove their point soon enough, with a final-day challenge to come against Celta Vigo obstructing their path to the title (if Barcelona drop points) and the second leg to be played in Bavaria.

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4 – Leicester City (68 points; last: T6)

All but assured to be English champions now, it remains nonetheless marvelling to step back and assess their consistent, unrelenting run to the Premier League title. If it were any other club, we wouldn’t be calling it a miracle – we’d be calling it dominant.

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3 – Bayern Munich (74 points; last: 2)

If Pep Guardiola’s line-up selection against Atletico was head-scratching (no Thomas Muller until 70 minutes?) and if Bayern have never, at really any point this year, looked totally, dominantly world-beating, then we are still giving them the benefit of the doubt at the moment for where they still are: Winning the Bundesliga, in the DFB-Pokal final and very much in their Champions League semi-final tie.

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T1 – Barcelona (75 points; last: 1)

Out of the Champions League, slipping in La Liga but rebounding with a 14-0 scoreline in their last two matches – years from now it will still be difficult to explain what happened to the Barcelona of 2015/16 in that bizarre two-week stretch in early April. Still, if someone asked you to pick a best team in the world of right now, it’s probably Barca right?

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T1 – Juventus (75 points; last: 3)

Or maybe it’s the remarkable Italian champions Juventus. Yes, they were somewhat staggeringly knocked out of Europe, but they form they have been on, and their broader resurgence in Serie A after stunning early season-form, have had them looking like a team who can claim to be the world’s best.

Published: April 28, 2016 04:00 AM

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