European Teams of the Week: Bayer Leverkusen top, Liverpool and Man City feature

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Bayer Leverkusen boss Peter Bosz

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. Bayer Leverkusen (beat Eintracht Frankfurt 6-1)

Bosz Ball has found a perfect marriage at Leverkusen. The Dutchman’s dynamic, direct and high-energy pressing game meshes beautifully with the youthful exuberance of the Bayer squad and more evidence of its success emerged on Sunday. By every metric Bayer battered their top-four rivals Eintracht. They attempted more than 1,000 passes, owned 82 percent of the possession and scored six slick goals. Just what Eintracht required before a massive Europa League semi-final appointment with Chelsea.

2. Manchester City (beat Leicester 1-0)

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany

The Foxes are a different animal under Brendan Rodgers, less foxy more equine. They have galloped since he took over and in reality, with the squad at his disposal and the style of play the former Liverpool boss is instilling, they resemble a top-six side. Indeed, this was an enormous challenge for Pep Guardiola’s outfit and while Leicester came to play – their at times slick ability to pass out of the back was almost City-light – the visitors still dominated. City did, though, require Vincent Kompany to channel his inner Cristiano Ronaldo for the three points.

3. Espanyol (beat Atletico Madrid 3-0)

The season is ending and neither Espanyol or Atletico Madrid have anything to play for, but that does not excuse the visitors or indeed take anything away from the hosts. Espanyol traditionally give Atletico headaches at the RCDE Stadium and yet it was back issues which saw them suffer their heaviest defeat of the campaign. Diego Godin slid the ball into his own net, Juanfran gave away a penalty while Jan Oblak shouldn’t have been beaten at his near post with the angle so tight for Borja Iglesias to score his second.

4. Valencia (beat Huesca 6-2)

One Europa League semi-finalist conceding six goals, the other score the same amount. After losing 3-1 at Arsenal in their first-leg tie, Valencia responded by pummelling Huesca 6-2. Do not go gentle into that good night is the famous quote but it seems Huesca took it literally. Instead of putting up a fight, though, they were knocked back hard into the Segunda division with this startling result. Los Che remain in the hunt for top-four after Daniel Wass and Santi Mina both scored twice, Rodrigo Moreno ended his personal goal drought, plus an own goal.

5. Leganes (beat Sevilla 3-0)

Sevilla have been prone to some pretty wretched displays this season and it’s ultimately the reason why they likely will miss out on a Champions League spot. Yet, full credit to Leganes who secured their top-flight status by recording a first ever win at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium. Youssef En Nesyri’s fine touch and top-corner finish opened the scoring, Martin Braithwaite sliced home his fourth for the club since joining on loan in January before Oscar Rodriguez converted late on to complete a fabulous night for Leganes.

6. Torino (drew 1-1 with Juventus)

The Derby della Mole has long been a one-sided affair with Torino unable to win at Juventus since 1995. In fact, Il Toro own just one victory at all against Juventus in the last 24 years. So when Sasa Lukic profited from slack defending – a goal which encapsulated this fixture, one which meant a great deal to Torino’s European qualification hopes but little for the champions – that run looked over. The only bit of context with any weight on Juve’s side was that Cristiano Ronaldo is chasing the golden boot. Predictably, he equalised late on with a header. The wait goes on.

7. Liverpool (beat Newcastle 3-2)

Divock Origi celebrates scoring against Newcastle

Divock Origi celebrates scoring against Newcastle

Divock Origi rose from the bench and into the air to head home an 86th-minute winner against a tricky Newcastle side, and it seemed the script writers were penning a Liverpool title triumph. Rafael Benitez’s dogged men had extra bite in this fixture, eradicating any suggestions the Spanish boss would do his old side a favour. But while Liverpool were far from their best, a tenacious trait saw them through. They’ve battled hard all season, but ultimately the script has them losing the war with City.

8. Atalanta (beat Lazio 3-1)

Atalanta are close to completing a true underdog tale. The Bergamo outfit, possessing one of Serie A’s smallest wage budgets, have been punching above their weight class all season and a knockout blow of rivals Lazio could see them qualify for the Champions League. Gian Piero Gasperini’s risk and reward philosophy is paying off – no side has scored more than their 71 goals this term – and securing fourth-place is in their hands. Duvan Zapata scored his 22nd goal of the season at the Stadio Olimpico, a great example of Gasperini’s exemplary work with this side, as the hulking striker showed poise to score, demonstrating the manager’s intelligent use of him running at defenders as opposed to turning his back on them.

9. Werder Bremen (drew 2-2 with Borussia Dortmund)

Claudio Pizarro

Claudio Pizarro

Imagine a Formula One car racing in rally. A beautiful piece of machinery we can all agree, but it would look awfully fragile on those testing conditions. That’s the best way to describe this Borussia Dortmund team. They are a wonderful side and genuinely entertaining to watch, but they lack durability to win the Bundesliga title. From 2-0 up against Bremen, including a glorious solo-effort from Christian Pulisic, they fell to a draw thanks to second-half goals from Kevin Mohwald and Claudio Pizarro.

10. Bournemouth (beat Tottenham 1-0)

Can you imagine what Son Heung-min’s face was like when after three minutes of second-half football, substitute Juan Foyth marched in and joined him the changing room? There’s no need to imagine Mauricio Pochettino’s emotion because the Spurs boss was quietly vexed on the touchline as his side were forced to play with nine-men against Bournemouth. The hosts were dreadful, though, and it took Nathan Ake to head home a corner in injury time – left unmarked because Spurs simply didn’t have enough men to cover – to seal all three points. A good result, but with context, not the best.

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