European Teams of the Week: Roma top, Man City close behind, while Milan and Borussia Dortmund also make cut

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Roma pulled off a crucial win against Juventus.

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. Roma (beat Juventus 2-0)

Milan and Atalanta had already won by the time Roma took to the field on Sunday night – and Claudio Ranieri’s side had the toughest task of all, hosting champions Juventus. The returning manager’s defensive tactics have brought a mixed reaction from the Roma faithful but they worked perfectly at the Stadio Olimpico on this occasion, and vindication could have arrived sooner had first-half chances been taken. Instead it took until the 79th minute, but after Roma had soaked up some pressure from Juventus, Alessandro Florenzi, captaining the side, found the back of the net – minutes after he had seemingly been mocked by Cristiano Ronaldo for his lack of height – and Edin Dzeko sealed the points in injury time to ensure they stayed in the hunt for a Champions League spot.

2. Man City (beat Brighton 4-1)

The title was slipping away. Liverpool scored at Anfield to take the lead in the as it stands table, then Manchester City conceded a shock opener to Brighton and it seemed like the twists and turns of a dramatic title race were set to claim Pep Guardiola’s side as their final victim. What followed was typical City, however. Sergio Aguero levelled the scores almost instantly, Aymeric Laporte put his side back in the driver’s seat before half-time, and the second half ended up being a procession as club-record signing Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan both scored wonderful goals to seal the title. 100 points last season, 98 points this, it’s been a remarkable two-year spell from City and they show no signs of slowing down.

3. Lyon (beat Marseille 3-0)

This was the toughest assignment left for Lyon in their bid for a top-three finish in Ligue 1, and the Champions League spot that comes with it. Saint-Etienne had lost earlier in the weekend to give Bruno Genesio’s side the advantage in the race and they didn’t waste the opportunity. Maxwell Cornet opened the scoring in the first half and after Marseille went down to 10 men, Lyon held all the cards and they duly wrapped up the win, with Moussa Dembele scoring and Cornet grabbing a second, to go four points clear of Etienne with two games to play.

4. Atalanta (beat Genoa 2-1)

Atalanta’s dream of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history remains on track. The side, which has thrilled Italy in recent years with their promotion of youth and free-flowing football, are three points ahead of nearest challengers AC Milan after a 2-1 win over Genoa. Gian Piero Gasperini’s team have been guilty of not taking their chances in recent games but on Saturday they did just enough, scoring two goals in seven minutes after half-time through Musa Barrow and Timothy Castagne before holding on. The result vaulted Atalanta into third place prior to Inter Milan’s game on Monday night, ahead of a momentous week for the club: on Wednesday they play Lazio in the Coppa Italia final, before facing Juventus on Sunday in their last major hurdle in the top-four race.

5. Real Sociedad (beat Real Madrid 3-1)

Zinedine Zidane may believe that Real Madrid‘s performance didn’t deserve a loss, but for Real Sociedad this was a worthy win. They bounced back from conceding an early goal, and ended the game with more possession (55 percent – 45 percent), more passes (535 – 452), better passing accuracy (85 percent – 82 percent), and far more shots (19-7) and shots on target (6-2). Mikel Merino, Joseba Zaldua, and Ander Barranetxea scored for the hosts, who are still in with a shot of qualifying for the Europa League. They need to win next weekend against Espanyol and hope Athletic Bilbao lose to Sevilla.

6. Milan (beat Fiorentina 1-0)

Fiorentina away is never an easy game and for a team which had lost three of their last 10, a run of form that saw Milan’s top-four hopes fade while they also lost the Coppa Italia semi-final, this was a crucial result. Hakan Calhanoglu’s goal sees Gennaro Gattuso’s men stay within three points of Atalanta, and they’ve closed the gap on Inter as well to just one point, though their derby rivals will play later on Monday. That all-important Champions League qualification remains up for grabs.

7. Borussia Dortmund (beat Fortuna Dusseldorf 3-2)

A topsy-turvy day in Germany saw the title race stay alive for one more week. Borussia Dortmund, as has become their norm, dominated but nearly threw the game away against Fortuna Dusseldorf. Christian Pulisic opened the scoring on his final home game for the club, but Dusseldorf equalised and then, after Thomas Delaney put Dortmund back in front and Mario Gotze grabbed an injury-time goal to seemingly seal the points. The visitors – by this point down to ten men – got one back and nearly found an equaliser that would have handed the title to Bayern Munich. But Dortmund held on and now go into their final game, against Borussia Monchengladbach, needing a win and a Bayern loss to win the Bundesliga.

8. Cardiff City (beat Manchester United 2-0)

It’s been a poor end to the season for Manchester United, but a relegated side showing up to Old Trafford and winning comfortably? Cardiff’s victory, courtesy of two goals from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, was perhaps made even sweeter because it came against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, their manager when they were last relegated from the Premier League. It’s one of the biggest results in the Welsh club’s history.

9. RB Leipzig (drew with Bayern Munich 0-0)

That the title race isn’t over in Germany has a lot to do with Bayern’s own stumbles, but it’s hard to classify this particular result as one. Third-place Leipzig on their home turf were always going to be tough opponents and they had their chances to beat the Bundesliga leaders, who might feel hard-done by when an incredibly tight offside call went against them, courtesy of VAR, when it looked liked Leon Goretzka had given them the goal that sealed the title. But Leipzig fought tooth and nail against the top-placed side, as one would expect, and ensured a nervous, dramatic finale to the season is still possible in Germany.

10. Stuttgart (beat Wolfsburg 3-0)

Nursing a six-point lead over Hannover for the dubious honour of playing in a relegation playoff rather than heading down to 2. Bundesliga automatically, Stuttgart needed a win to be mathematically safe from that possibility. But with a Wolfsburg side chasing a Champions League spot coming to town, there was a danger that this particular race could also come down to the final day. Instead, Stuttgart pulled off a stunning 3-0 win. They saw far less of the ball but matched Wolfsburg for chances, sealing their spot in the playoff.

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Arsenal aiming for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to feature in Europa League final

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Unai Emery said Arsenal will do everything possible to allow Henrikh Mkhitaryan to play a part in the Europa League final against Chelsea in Baku later this month.

The playmaker missed an earlier match in the Azerbaijani capital in the competition this season because of fears for his safety amid ongoing political tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia, whose national team he captains.

Speaking after Arsenal ended the Premier League season with a 3-1 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor, Emery said: “I don’t know really how is the solution but we want to play with every player, with Mkhitaryan.

“Today he worked very well and we are going to do all possible to play with him.”

Emery was speaking for the first time since it was revealed Arsenal and Chelsea supporters will only be given 6,000 tickets each for the match at the 68,000-capacity stadium.

Comparing the situation to his experiences with Sevilla, Emery said: “I played one final with Barcelona in the Super Cup in Georgia three years ago and it was the same, two teams from Spain travelling to Tbilisi. And the problem was for the supporters.

“I prefer to play closer to England. Three years ago we played in Switzerland against Liverpool and the stadium was full with our supporters and Liverpool supporters and it was amazing.

“It’s going to be only 6,000 supporters for us, for Chelsea, but the stadium has a capacity of 70,000. I think it’s going to be full but not with our supporters and Chelsea supporters.”

Arsenal went into the game at Turf Moor with a very outside chance of finishing fourth but Tottenham’s draw with Everton snuffed that out.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s two goals meant he shared the Premier League’s Golden Boot with Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane while Ashley Barnes pulled one back before Eddie Nketiah’s very late third.

Emery ended the domestic season with mixed feelings, saying: “These three points give us 70 points. It’s not enough to be in the top four but I think we were progressing and we were being consistent.

“We can be not 100 per cent happy but the players, like today, worked all the season for progress and to be closer to the top four. We finished a very big distance with Liverpool and City but closer to Tottenham and Chelsea.”

Burnley’s main target of safety had already been achieved, with Sean Dyche’s side ending the campaign in 15th a year after celebrating seventh place and European qualification.

“We’ve had a lot going on this season,” said Dyche. “It’s been a big challenge and I think from where we were at Christmas to where we are now, it’s fantastic.

“We’ve all seen sides that have starts like that who disappear. Every season’s a tough season and this one definitely has been but it’s been strangely enjoyable.”

Dyche confirmed 33-year-old left-back Stephen Ward will be leaving the club at the end of his contract this summer after five years at Turf Moor.

Provided by Press Association Sport 

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Real Madrid have a tenacious, deadly finisher in Luka Jovic, but he needs technical development

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So it’s an all-English line-up in the Europa League final after Chelsea held their nerve to beat Eintracht Frankfurt 4-3 on penalties at Stamford Bridge.

After Ruben Loftus-Cheek put the hosts ahead, Luka Jovic equalised for the German visitors early in the second half, and they looked the more likely to grab a winner in a scrappy game.

30-Second Report

After two European ties of outstanding action earlier this week, we were perhaps due a game that was a little more ragged. But it led to a no less absorbing tie at Stamford Bridge as both teams threw themselves into the action.

It was more grit and guts on show than guile and great action with two sides desperate to get to the Europa League final.

Chelsea took the lead through a fine finish from rising England star Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has matured immeasurably after going to the World Cup with England last summer.

Luka Jovic, oddly kept quiet in the first half, was not to stay silent though – dragging Frankfurt level early in the second period with an effortlessly calm strike. He was a handful from then on, and here, we take a closer look at his performance.

STATS

Goals – 1

Shots – 4

On target – 2

Touches – 51

Passes – 26

Pass accuracy – 80.8%

Aerials won – 2

Dribbles – 4

GOT RIGHT – COMETH THE HOUR

A 27th goal of a decorative season for the young Serb. Coming in his 45th game, that is a ridiculously good record for a player who only turned 21 two days before Christmas.

Real Madrid have reportedly tied up a €60m deal with Frankfurt and Benfica and what a gift to give a side desperately in need of goals.

He wasn’t having a highlight reel kind of game up until his goal, but when the chance came he was ready. The ice cold composure of a deadly striker, he finished with aplomb.

GOT RIGHT – HUNGER

What someone like Manchester United would give for a star striker with the appetite for working off the ball that Jovic has. Even with things not going his way, he kept up the pace, closing Chelsea players for his team’s cause.

With the goals he’s plundered this season he could be forgiven for acting like the star who deserves all the praise. He made three tackles against Chelsea – only David Abraham and Mijat Gacinovic made more.

GOT WRONG – TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES

As terrific as he is and has been, he’s not the smoothest of operators with the ball when not shooting. He’s a deadly finisher, of that there is no doubt, and he possesses a superb work ethic and seemingly boundless energy. But if he’s going to Madrid, that won’t be enough. He’ll have to improve technically.

On a rainy night in west London he was by no means the sole player to struggle to hold onto the ball, it was a sloppy game in that way. But of his four dribbles, he was dispossessed twice and made four unskilled touches.

VERDICT: 7/10

The hallmark of all good strikers? They can find the net even when they’re not really having their best game. While Chelsea counterpart Olivier Giroud drifted in and out of the game and left no telling impression, it wasn’t happening at all in attack for Jovic, and yet he still made the difference.

A similar player to the Frenchman in that he’s a handful and is an aerial presence. But his ground game is superb and he’s deadly in front of goal.

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