European Teams of the Week: Juventus beat Napoli for top, too easy for Barcelona in eighth

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The only thing in football more contentious than a dubious refereeing decision is a rankings system.

There are plenty of them out there, though many are deliberately divisive, but given the tribal nature of football they do drum up some interesting debates among supporters.

We’re going to add our twist to the list. Each week we pick out the 10 best teams from Europe’s top-five leagues (minus cup competitions).

It’s not cumulative, the rankings is based on a team’s performance in that particular game week.

So, who makes the top-10 this week? Check it out below:

1) Juventus (beat Napoli 2-1)

Juventus, virtually, wrapped up an eighth-successive Serie A crown with a turbulent 2-1 win at second-placed Napoli that contained a red card apiece and late missed penalty for the hosts. A 16-point lead is now theirs.

The victory also ended an unbeaten home run that stretched back exactly a year until March 3, 2018.

2) Bayern Munich (beat Borussia Monchengladbach 5-1)

Buoyed by long-term leaders Borussia Dortmund’s shock 2-1 loss at Augsburg on Friday, more on that later, Bayern Munich dismantled, then, third-placed Borussia Monchengladbach 5-1 to go level on 54 points.

The champions were nine points in arrears just nine rounds ago. Bayern also became the first team to score 4,000 Bundesliga goals.

3) Lazio (beat Roma 3-0)

A surprisingly one-sided contest in the Eternal City saw Lazio smash Roma 3-0.

This was only the second time that the Biancocelesti had recorded a three-goal winning margin in the Derby della Capitale’s 90-year history, plus it ended the vanquished’s eight-match unbeaten run in Serie A. It’s getting tight in the race for the top four.

4) Augsburg (beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1)

BVB continue to stumble towards the Bundesliga’s finishing line after they incurred a damaging 2-1 loss at Augsburg.

South Korea’s Ji Dong-won scored both goals to inflict a first league defeat since December on his former employers. This ended Augsburg’s three-match losing run and kept them out of the relegation play-off spot.

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5) Getafe (beat Real Betis 2-1)

Head coach Jose Bordalas would have taken multitudes of joy out of Getafe’s 2-1 win against Real Betis.

The result kept his Madrid minnows on course for remarkable Champions League qualification. It also saw Bordalas strike a hammer blow to Quique Setien’s job prospects – animus caused by contrasting styles stretches back to 2013.

6) Stuttgart (beat Hannover 5-1)

In the relegation dog fight with Hannover, Stuttgart roared to a 5-1 victory.

This result followed a debilitating run of two points from eight matches and also saw a star emerge in Turkey youth centre-back Ozan Kabak. In Bundesliga history, only Jadon Sancho and Reiss Nelson were younger when they got braces.

7) Cagliari (beat Inter Milan 2-1)

Cagliari eased worries of the drop and increased the pressure at Inter Milan with Friday’s impressive 2-1 victory.

Leonardo Pavoletti’s 43rd-minute strike proved the difference, ending the Nerazzurri’s three-match winning streak in Sardinia. A healthy nine-point gap to 18th-placed Bologna is ample reward for Cagliari’s efforts at Sardegna Arena.

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8) Barcelona (beat Real Madrid 1-0)

Victory at Santiago Bernabeu would usually earn top ranking in our team of the week.

Barcelona, however, have made results like Saturday’s 1-0 triumph seem de rigueur. They became the first away club ever to win four La Liga matches in a row at Real Madrid, plus now lead the head-to-head for the first time in 87 years.

9) Fortuna Dusseldorf (beat Schalke 4-0)

Dusseldorf heaped more misery on Domenico Tedesco’s sorry Schalke with a 4-0 thrashing.

Striker Dawid Kownacki got a double to seal a second-successive win for the promoted side. They’ve now emerged victorious from seven of their last 10 Bundesliga matches, racing clear of the relegation places.

10) Brighton & Hove Albion (beat Huddersfield Town 1-0)

Brighton’s long wait for a first top-flight win in 2019 is over – at the eighth time of asking.

Substitute Florin Andone’s superb header ended this dire run, that had included taking just two points from 21 available. A five-point gap to the drop zone provides welcome breathing space.

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RAKBANK to hold exclusive screening of Real Madrid vs Barcelona

David Cooper 28/02/2019
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Exclusive screening: Real Madrid vs Barcelona this weekend

Fans have the chance to watch an exclusive screening of Real Madrid vs Barcelona hosted by RAKBANK on Saturday night sd the Spanish giants lock horns. The two sides meet for the second time this week following their Copa del Rey semi-final last night, and lucky fans have the chance to soak up the action with one of Barcelona’s main sponsors.

Ernesto Valverde’s men currently sit top of the league, nine points clear of Madrid in third, and even a defeat for the league leaders is unlikely to de-rail their title charge. Both Madrid and Barcelona also have one eye on the Champions League with Solari’s men leading Ajax 2-1 ahead of their Round of 16 second leg tie at the Santiago Bernabeu. Meanwhile Lyon visit the Camp Nou after holding Barcelona to a 0-0 draw in the first leg.

Lionel Messi broke several records during his superlative display against Sevilla last weekend, the hit man scored his 50th career hat-trick in the match, which saw Barcelona triumph 4-2, including a stunning volley, and assisted the fourth as the Catalans twice came from behind to maintain their lead at the top of La Liga. Madrid go into the match after a 2-1 defeat at home to Girona and a very unconvincing win away to Levante on Sunday, in the league.

Barcelona haven’t been in the best form themselves of late, having picked up just one victory in five – that sole win a narrow one at home to Valladolid – Ernesto Valverde’s side ended the month in style against Sevilla on Saturday with Lionel Messi hitting top form.

RAKBANK, the official credit card provider of the La Liga champions, will be hosting a night of football festivities. The screening will be taking place at the Belgian Cafe, Rooftop Grand Millennium, Barsha Heights, on the 2nd of March. A competition is being held on Sport360’s twitter and Facebook pages offering fans the chance to win a spot at the invite-only event, where they’ll be treated to free food and drink all night. Five fans will be selected at random and notified on the day of the event.

Fans who spend money using the RAKBANK FC Barcelona Platinum Mastercard Credit Card, score exclusive rewards and privileges thanks to RAKBarçaRewards, including Camp Nou experiences, special offers on merchandise and rewards on dining. The RAKBANK FC Barcelona Platinum Mastercard Credit Card rewards users for spending, whether that’s on daily necessities, shopping, monthly bills and more. The more you spend, the more RAKBarçaRewards you earn.

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El Clasico

Sandwiched between cup ties and European games, an exciting round of league-fixtures await us this weekend. From El Clasico to North London derby, we will be treated to a wide range of footballing extravaganza.

As always, we will help you plan your weekend by picking out the best of the bunch.

LA LIGA

FIXTURE: Real Madrid v Barcelona

WHERE: Santiago Bernabeu

WHEN: 2nd March 2019, Saturday

TIME: 11:45 PM, GST on beIN Sports 2&11HD

Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos

Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos

The last of three Clasicos to be played in a month, this one promises to be a cracker. A six-point gap to Atletico Madrid and a nine-point lead over Madrid has Barcelona firmly on course to defend their La Liga crown. But this game could maybe change things, although it will require the hosts to massively outscore their eternal rivals.

The Catalan giants have enjoyed playing at the Bernabeu in the past couple of years, winning three of their last four encounters in the league.

However, Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema are peaking at a crucial time so could hand Los Blancos the initiative. But if this season – or rather this decade – has thought us anything, Lionel Messi will be the one deciding which team will bags points and pride.

While a win for Madrid will put pressure on Barcelona, three points for the visitors practically ends Madrid’s league campaign. A 12-point deficit at this point of the season is nearly impossible to recover.

PREMIER LEAGUE

FIXTURE: Tottenham v Arsenal

WHERE: Wembley stadium

WHEN: 2nd March 2019, Saturday

TIME: 4:30 PM, GST on beIN Sports 1&11HD

Harry Kane

The return of Harry Kane will provide a boost to Spurs’ chances against Arsenal

A second London derby in four days sees Spurs host North London rivals Arsenal in an early kick-off on Saturday afternoon.

In the last six fixtures between the two teams in the Premier League, both teams have won two games each. The reverse fixture had it all – sparks flying between the Spurs players and the Arsenal bench, Lucas Torreira revealing his sculpted physique after a well-taken goal and Jan Vertonghen seeing red.

Spurs had their revenge for the 4-2 defeat as they eliminated Arsenal from the League Cup just two weeks later.

There are no favourites in a derby and recent form of both teams suggest that this could go to the wire.

BUNDESLIGA

FIXTURE: Borussia Monchengladbach v Bayern Munich

WHERE: Borussia Park

WHEN: 2nd March 2019, Saturday

TIME: 9:30 PM, GST on beIN Sports 3HD 

Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski

It’s a battle between number two and number three in Bundesliga as Bayern Munich take the road in an attempt to close in on league leaders Borussia Dortmund. Niko Kovac’s men capitalised on Dortmund’s dull run of three draws and are now breathing down their neck with just a three-point deficit.

Monchengladbach cruised to a three-goal win over their rivals when the two teams met in the reverse fixture. But deeming them favourites would not be in accordance to their current form. The hosts have not won a game in their last three and will be desperate to get out of their slump.

Thorgan Hazard and Robert Lewandowski are likely to make the front-page of German newspapers on Sunday morning.

SERIE A

FIXTURE: Lazio v Roma

WHERE: Stadio Olimpico

WHEN: 2nd March 2019, Saturday

TIME: 11:30 PM, GST on beIN Sports 3HD

Ciro Immobile

Ciro Immobile

The Rome derby is back this weekend, as Lazio take on Roma at the Stadio Olimpico. The fact that both teams are fighting for European spots only makes an already tense derby all the more exciting.

With 44 points, Roma are just one point adrift from a Champions League spot, while Lazio are one point away from entering the Europa League qualification places after securing 38 points.

The reverse fixture saw Roma thump Lazio 3-1, thanks to goals from Lorenzo Pellegrini, Aleksandar Kolarov and Federico Fazio. Revenge will be on Lazio’s mind as they look to put a disappointing run of results behind them with a derby win.

Two of the best strikers in the league, Edin Dzeko and Ciro Immobile, will go head to head in an attempt to earn their team three points.

LIGUE 1

FIXTURE: Marseille v Saint Etienne

WHERE: Stade Velodrome

WHEN: 4th March 2019, Monday

TIME: 12:00 AM, GST on beIN Sports 4HD

Florian Thauvin

Florian Thauvin

It’s a ‘winner takes European spot’ tie in Ligue 1 as fourth-placed St Etienne travel to the Velodrome, the home of fifth-placed Marseille. Only two points separates the two teams and the winner will positioned in the last of the European spots after the fixture.

St Etienne have beaten Marseille twice this season – in a friendly and in the reverse fixture in Ligue 1. But recent form places Marseille -who are on a four-game unbeaten run – as favourites.

Wahbi Khazri and World Cup winner Florian Tauvin will be crucial for St Etienne and Marseille respectively in this crunch fixture.

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