European Teams of the Week: Rayo Vallecano shock Real Madrid to top the rankings

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In a week of upsets, no team positioned between third and sixth in the Premier League and the La Liga table managed to win their game.

Barcelona clinched the Liga title as Manchester City inched closer to defending the Premier League crown.

Objectively picking the top teams of the week is not easy, especially with some teams performing well to make a bid for a Champions League spot and others pulling themselves out of the danger zone at the bottom of the table.

However, 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. Rayo Vallecano (Beat Real Madrid 1-0)

Defeating Real Madrid is not as significant an achievement as it used to be, with Los Blancos suffering 10 defeats in the league this season. But basement side Rayo Vallecano deserve all the credit they can get for completely outplaying the 13-time European champions. It’s interesting to note that they achieved this without the services of their best player Raul de Tomas – a Madrid loanee who is bound by is contract to not play against his parent club. This also provides Vallecano some hope of survival in the top flight, although one defeat in the remaining three games can all but push them to the second division.

2. Schalke (Beat Borussia Dortmund 4-2)

Having won just one of their previous five games, Schalke were not in the best place heading to the Ruhr derby. But a brace from Daniel Caligiuri – including a glorious second-half free-kick – and goals from Salif Sane plus Breel Embolo earned them an important away win. Dortmund were reduced to nine men after Marco Reus and Marius Wolf were rightly given their marching orders as they fell further behind leaders Bayern Munich. This win provides Schalke some solace after what has been a woeful season. It’s more than three points for the Dortmund-based club, it’s about earning the bragging rights.

3. Leicester City (Beat Arsenal 3-0)

Leicester have managed to steady the ship after a poor start to the season and are on course to finish on a high. A dominating performance at home against a shambolic Arsenal side saw them emerge 3-0 winners in a rather one-sided contest. Youri Tielemans opened the scoring on the hour mark and Jamie Vardy struck twice at the death to provide insurance as Arsenal succumbed to yet another away defeat. This result could heavily influence the top-four race, with Manchester United and Chelsea also dropping points.

4. Torino (Beat AC Milan 2-0)

Mathematically, two of the four Champions League spots are still up for grabs but Inter are favourites to clinch one of those. This leaves Roma, Torino, AC Milan, Atalanta and Lazio – all separated by just three points – fighting for one spot. Of all the teams, Torino made the biggest bid for qualification, defeating fellow top-four contenders AC Milan 2-0 at home, their first win over the Rossoneri  in 18 years. Goals from Andrea Belotti and Alex Berenguer helped Torino assert themselves over the visitors and position themselves at a vantage point, ahead of their rivals.

5. Girona (Beat Sevilla 1-0)

Halfway through the season, Girona were on course to challenge for a spot in the Europa League. The trajectory slowly directed downwards in March and the club from Barcelona were on the back of a six defeats in a row as they took to the field against a rampant Sevilla side. Portu’s goal in the second half and an inspirational performance from centre-back Bernardo Espinosa handed Girona three vital points. This result lifted Girona from the relegation zone and prevented Sevilla from climbing into the top four.

6. Barcelona (Beat Levante 1-0)

Barcelona

Barcelona defended the La Liga crown to make it eight league titles in the last 11 years. The performance from the Spanish giants was anything but convincing, but they managed to get the job done and lay their hands on the trophy before facing Liverpool in the semi-final of the Champions League. Lionel Messi came off the bench to put Barcelona ahead in the second half after Ousmane Dembele did well to start the move with some eye-catching dribbling. The Blaugrana proved their tag as the most consistent team in Spain by recording yet another title-win and by some margin.

7. Manchester City (Beat Manchester United 2-0 and Burnley 1-0)

In a span of just five days, Manchester City reclaimed and maintained their spot at the Premier League table with important wins over city rivals United and Burnley. On Wednesday, Pep Guardiola’s men eased their way past a United side which offered no resistance thanks to goals from Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane. City then followed the derby win by grinding out a 1-0 win against a resilient Burnley. They are now two wins away from defending the title and in the right dynamics to achieve it.

8. Liverpool (Beat Huddersfield 5-0)

Liverpool

Mohamed Salah inspired Liverpool to a thumping 5-0 win over bottom-placed Huddersfield. The Egyptian scored two and created Naby Keita’s opener to provide the Reds a massive boost ahead of their Champions League date with Barcelona. This win also ensured Liverpool kept the pressure on City in the Premier League title and are positioned well to pounce on any slip-ups from Guardiola’s men. The top players peaking at the right time should definitely do a lot of good to the remainder of the season for Jurgen Klopp’s outfit.

9. Nuernberg (Drew Bayern Munich 1-1)

Next season Nuernberg will play second division football but they go down with a memorable draw against a Bundesliga behemoth. League leaders Bayern failed to capitilise further on Borussia Dortmund’s slip up as they were held by a mightily impressive Nuernberg. In truth, Bayern were somewhat fortunate to escape with a draw after Tim Leibold passed up a glorious opportunity to secure all three points after his late penalty hit the post. Prior to that, Matheus Pereira had fired the home side into a shock lead three minutes after the restart until Serge Gnabry equalised.

10. Roma (Beat Cagliari 3-0)

To their standards, Roma have not had a great season so far. After slipping out of the top-four and facing elimination from the Champions League, Roma had a tough hill to climb as they looked to end their season on a high. The Romans finally entered the Champions League zone in the Serie A table with an emphatic 3-0 win over Cagliari. Federico Fazio, Javier Pastore and Aleksander Kolarov netted to cap a dominating performance, the best since Claudio Ranieri took temporary charge.

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Saudi Professional League: Talking points as its all change at Al Hilal for high-pressure title clash

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(Twitter/@Alhilal_FC).

Extremes of humiliation and pressure have forced holders Al Hilal into a dramatic change ahead of Monday’s, potentially, Saudi Professional League-defining clash with King’s Cup destroyers Al Taawoun.

Friday’s 5-0 semi-final defeat – a record loss in the Crescent’s modern history – against the same opponent saw embattled coach Zoran Mamic dismissed after less than three months in charge.

Al Faisaly’s Pericles Chamusca immediately got the call to finish off an unwinding season, beginning with a critical game in hand. With a spot in the 2020 AFC Champions League on the line for Taawoun, here are the talking points:

HILAL’S NEW HOPE

It was a night that will live in infamy.

An admittedly depleted and fatigued Hilal, shorn of some key players such as ex-France striker Bafetimbi Gomis, were swatted aside by opponents who, also, clearly had one eye on Monday’s fixture.

Mitigation by the fact this was an eight match out of nine in April was not enough to save Mamic.

Loanee Chamusca offers a required switch in direction and emphasis. The well-travelled Brazilian has moved Faisaly from 11th upon arrival in October to sixth.

Influential Saudi Arabia midfielder Abdullah Otayf’s return from injury was also the only positive from the Taawoun humiliation.

TAAWOUN’S TIME

This is not an exclusively must-win fixture for Hilal.

Taawoun have generated momentum after losing just once in their last 12 games. Win at King Saud University Stadium, it would be a ninth in this run, and they’ll be just one point behind third-placed Al Shabab in the Asian race.

Taawoun held plenty in reserve when they trashed Hilal. They could lay waste to their ambitions for a second time in 72 hours.

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WATCH: Angry Neymar appears to lash out at fan after Coupe de France final loss

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PSG's Brazilian star Neymar

A furious Neymar appeared to lash out at a fan after Paris Saint-Germain’s shock defeat to Rennes in the Coupe de France final on Saturday.

As the Brazilian star made his way up the stairs of the Stade de France to receive his runners-up medal, he appeared to exchange words with a fan and then use his hand to push away a phone being used to film him before lightly striking the fan’s face.

A fan-shot video of the incident has gone viral on social media.

On the pitch, Dani Alves and Neymar had given PSG a two-goal lead but Presnel Kimpembe’s own goal and Edson Mexer’s header either side of the interval levelled the match at 2-2 and led to extra time.


Kylian Mbappe saw red just before the end and after a perfect 10 penalties from the designated takers, Ismaila Sarr put Rennes 6-5 up and Christopher Nkunku blazed over to hand Rennes the trophy.









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