European Teams of the Week: Bayern Munich are top with Arsenal in second after Man United win

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Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry

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 out below.

1 Bayern Munich (beat Wolfsburg 6-0)

With the Champions League opening up and Bayern back on top in the Bundesliga, it’s not farcical to consider them clinching a remarkable double. Die Rotten’s rediscovered killer instinct has seen them go from the hunter to the hunted, and they are the league’s most prolific side after smashing six past Wolfsburg.

Robert Lewandowski emerged as the highest scoring non-German in Bundesliga history with a double and he is benefiting immensely from Bayern’s final-third incision.

2 Arsenal (beat Manchester United 2-0)

Games are won in moments and Arsenal succeeded by profiting from crucial chances despite United enjoying better and more sustained phases. Unai Emery is now at the wheel with the Gunners in the driving seat for the top four.

Granit Xhaka’s odd, swerving strike and a penalty decision tinged with softness inflicted a first Premier League defeat for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer since taking charge. After the chastening Europa League defeat to Rennes, a spirited riposte is exactly the tonic Emery had hoped for, though.

Arsenal players celebrate

Arsenal players celebrate.

3 Southampton (beat Tottenham 2-1)

The final period of the Premier League season can often throw the entire narrative on its head, but even by its mental standards, Spurs dropping from title challengers to embattled top-four hopefuls is utterly remarkable.

Saints served notice of their ability by frightening Man United and the two scorers last weekend, Yan Valery and James Ward-Prowse, replicated their feat to stun Spurs. They deserved the points for their enterprise after going behind and the winner was another set-piece beauty from Ward-Prowse.

4 Juventus (beat Udinese 4-1)

Moise Kean doesn’t get too many opportunities, which is a bit strange considering Mario Mandzukic’s all-action style should really require more breaks, but when the teenager does, he always impresses.

Still only 19, the striker’s time will come and he was instrumental in helping Juventus decimate Udinese. The Italian displayed all the traits of an elite centre-forward with clinical finishes, intelligent movement between centre-backs and constant activity on the ball. He scored twice, won a penalty and could well feature against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

5 Newcastle (beat Everton 3-2)

Everton’s season has completely flat-lined, as evidenced by Newcastle’s quite incredible comeback victory which kept their survival hopes well and truly alive. The visitors were 2-0 up through Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison before the break only for Rafael Benitez’s men to dig in and battle back.

The supposedly lightweight Ayoze Perez delivered the heavy blows, delightfully setting up Salomon Rondon for the first before benefiting from poor goalkeeping to equalise in the 81st minute. The winner arrived minutes later as he smacked Everton into the realms of unconsciousness.

Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon

Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon.

6 Marseille (beat Nice 1-0)

Not exactly a high-quality game but a trademark Mario Balotelli header against his former employers settled a fixture with European ramifications. A gap is beginning to emerge now OM are four points clear in fourth with the top 10 having been so close all season.

Balotelli’s January move is proving the difference as the Italian has now scored five goals in seven games since. His movement to manoeuvre space in the box before directing Lucas Ocampos’ cross from the left into the opposite corner was vintage Balotelli. It just had to him.

7 Sevilla (beat Real Sociedad 5-2)

Without a win in their last five, including four defeats during that period, Sevilla’s top-four ambitions were beginning to burn. The nadir arrived last weekend when rock-bottom dwellers Huesca picked up three points with an injury-time winner.

However, Wissam Ben Yedder has flamed at just the right time and his hat-trick against Real Sociedad saw his side roar back into contention. Pablo Sarabia’s 25th-minute opener was quickly cancelled out by Mikel Oyarzabal but Ben Yedder took centre stage after the interval.

8 Barcelona (beat Rayo Vallecano 3-1)

Everyone seems to have forgotten that Atletico Madrid remain in the title hunt and, after winning early on in the weekend, Barcelona were under pressure to dispose of Rayo Vallecano.

Fears were heightened when Real Madrid loanee Raul de Tomas’ driving run and artful low finish gave the capital side – who came in on a five-match losing streak – hope.

Barca remained undaunted, though, and equalised through Gerard Pique’s header from a Lionel Messi free-kick. The Argentine scored from the spot after the break with Luis Suarez securing the win late on.

Lionel Messi scores from the penalty spot

Lionel Messi scores from the penalty spot.

9 Cardiff (beat West Ham 2-0)

Cardiff just keep coming back. At every step when they appear to be dead and buried, they respond with a massive win. After three straight defeats, even Neil Warnock seemed to be losing hope, but then they ran into a West Ham side which has curiously struggled at home and escaped with three points.

Junior Hoilett returned to the team and justified his selection by scoring the first and playing a pivotal role in the second as Victor Camarasa stabbed home. The Bluebirds remain in 18th after results elsewhere went against them, but they’re giving themselves a fighting chance.

10 Wolves (drew 1-1 Chelsea)

One week Maurizio Sarri is in, the next he’s out. Recent performances suggested they had turned a corner until Wolves provided a pretty robust roadblock.

Nuno Espirito Santo should be marvelled at for the work he has done with his newly-promoted outfit this season. Granted, they were focused in the extreme on a defensive approach, but the Portuguese deserves admiration for pivoting between scintillating football and resolute protection depending on their opponent.

It took a cracking Eden Hazard injury-time winner to cancel out Raul Jimenez’s smash-and-grab opener.

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