Five greatest football clubs of the past decade starting 2010

As football understandably lays low for a while let’s take a look at the most successful club sides in Europe’s top leagues over the past decade.

There are different ways of doing so, points gained for example in a league, trophies won, games won, etc. This list will look at the trophies won for the most successful teams starting from 2009/10 season until the 2018/19 season, to determine which team has been the most successful.

You may have a few contenders but may also be surprised by some teams on the list, so is the club you think is the best the number 1 on this list?

Points system: Champions League = 12pts, League title = 10pts, Europa League = 8pts, Cups= 5pts, all other cups =2pts

5th: Juventus 112 pts

After being forcefully relegated in 2006, Juventus have made up for that during the past decade in Serie A winning 8 league titles in what could be described as a total domination. They have added some domestic cups too but they have failed to win the big prize in the shape of the Champions League since 1996. They will be hedging their bets that Ronaldo can finally deliver that missing piece of silverware. Still they are far and away the most successful team in Italy. Even though Inter Milan were the only Italian team to win the Champions League in the 2010s, Inter only finished our ranking with 30 points!

4th: Real Madrid 116 pts

Real Madrid were amazing in the 2010s which included winning an incredible 4 Champions League and winning 3 of those in a row. That had not been achieved since Bayern Munich in the 70s! So it was odd that Madrid sit only in 4th place and only four points above Juventus. The reason is that for all of their European glory they haven’t actuallly won many domestic trophies in the 2010s. True they still scooped up two league titles, but for their standards you take out what they achieved in Europe and you almost get the feeling of could have done better.

3rd: PSG 121 pts

Despite PSG having no wins in Europe they have dominated Ligue 1 in France winning every title since 2012 except one where Monaco surprised them. They have won countless domestic cups after they were bought in the earlier part of the decade and have dominated the league ever since. They also have an abundance of very good players who are genuinely eyeing winning this years Champions League.

2nd: Bayern Munich 140 pts

Bayern did reach 2 Champions League finals and after losing on penalties, at home to Chelsea they made up for it the year after. They have dominated the league title in Germany winning every year except one and scooped up a few domestic cups also. For a club their size they would like to add more European trophies of course but Bayern still come out as the 2nd most successful club in European football of the past decade despite this.

1st: Barcelona 150 pts

Barcelona may have played second fiddle to their rivals Real Madrid in Europe in the 2010s. But they still won 2 Champions Leagues. They also have won 7 La Liga titles which is impressive given how they have had to fend off not just Real but also Atletico Madrid who enjoyed one of their most successful decades in the history of the club. Barca fronted by Lionel Messi one of the greats of the game have been the best team in Europe trophy wise finishing with over double the points of the most successful English team which goes to Manchester City.

Notable mentions: Manchester City 71 pts, Chelsea 68, Manchester United 51, Atletico Madrid 42, Inter Milan 30.

 

 

 

Unexpected La Liga hiatus could benefit Real Madrid’s injured contingent

These are unprecedented times with European football set for a hiatus of undetermined length, with news of the suspension of the 2019/20 La Liga season coming on Friday. There is no suggestion as to when the Spanish title race will resume as the sport grapples with how to handle this situation.

The break for Real Madrid comes after a damaging defeat to Real Betis, a loss which saw Zinedine Zidane’s side once again concede their advantage over Barcelona at the top of the table. The Clasico win over the Catalan outfit looked to have given Real Madrid the momentum, but they lost that in losing at the Benito Villamarin.

There could be a silver lining to this unexpected hiatus for Real Madrid, though, especially for the players who are currently on the sidelines through injury. Eden Hazard in particular is surely relishing the opportunity that a few extra weeks of recovery will give him to get back on a football pitch before the end of the season.

Hazard underwent surgery in Dallas last week and is expected to be missing from action for quite some time. This latest injury blow was predicted to all but finish the Belgian’s season, but time is now on his side. Real Madrid haven’t seen the best of Hazard so far. He could still make an impression before this campaign is out.

Thibaut Courtois and Marcelo have also picked up knocks of late, with the duo expected to miss the games against Eibar and Manchester City had they gone ahead as planned. Courtois is a key first team figure and has finally proven himself as the ‘Galactico’ goalkeeper he was signed to be this season. Marcelo has also demonstrated his worth recently, shining in the Clasico victory over Barcelona.

Then there’s Marco Asensio. The Spanish international has missed the entirety of the season so far, suffering a serious injury just weeks before the start of the 2019/20 campaign. Asensio is now back in training though and so if the season is now to be extended into the summer, as has been mooted, then the 24-year-old will stand a better chance of returning to the pitch before the honours are handed out.

There’s no knowing how this La Liga season will end, or whether it will end at all, but there is still a scenario in which Real Madrid could benefit. The break, even in the face of grave societal challenges, might rejuvenate a number of players at the Santiago Bernabeu.

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What does the future hold for James Rodriguez?

It seemed unlikely that James Rodriguez would ever play another competitive game for Real Madrid. The Colombian had been sent on a two-year loan deal to Bayern Munich, with the Bavarians holding an option to sign him permanent after that period. Even when Bayern Munich decided not to exercise that option at the end of last season it seemed probable that Real Madrid would move him on.

And yet James was kept at the Santiago Bernabeu for the 2019/season. The initial signs were positive for the playmaker. He looked to have regained the trust of Zinedine Zidane, earning a place in the Real Madrid after a number of impressive performances over pre-season. There is still a player in there.

Now, though, James’ time at the Santiago Bernabeu might well be over. The Colombian has struggled for game time of late with Zidane overlooking the playmaker for every game Real Madrid have played since the Copa del Rey defeat to Real Sociedad at the start of February. He has been ostracised at a time of the season when Zidane could use the extra squad depth.

Speculation is already swirling over where James could pitch up next, with Wolves reported to be interested in the 28-year-old. A switch to Molineux would be somewhat remarkable, making a real statement about the progress they have made over the past few seasons under Nuno Espirito Santo.

James is still an exceptional player with exceptional talent. He could still enjoy a fruitful twilight to his career. He hasn’t played poorly in the handful of appearances he has made for Real Madrid this season, but an elite level team needs performers who can make a difference. Increasingly, James finds himself a passenger. He is no longer the headline grabber he was a few years ago. He is no longer capable of deciding a game almost entirely on his own.

Signed after the 2014 World Cup where he was the player of the tournament for Colombia, James looked like a natural ‘Galactico’ in his early days as a Real Madrid player. The aura faded quickly though and with Los Blancos in a transitional period the time has come for James to leave. That much has been proven this season. For all parties concerned, it’s probably best that a parting of ways comes this summer.

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Could Mariano Diaz play a role for Real Madrid down the title race final stretch?

It was surprising enough that Mariano Diaz was named in the Real Madrid squad for last week’s Clasico clash against Barcelona. That the striker was introduced for the final few minutes and then found the back of the net as well was even more surprising. It was just another crazy moment in what has been a crazy season in La Liga.

Until that game Mariano hadn’t made an appearance in the Spanish top flight this season. Indeed, the former Lyon striker who returned to the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer of 2018 has been ostracised by Zinedine Zidane recently, making just three appearances for Real Madrid over the 2019/20 campaign.

However, it’s possible that Mariano could play a role for Real Madrid between now and the end of the season. With Luka Jovic still struggling to find his feet at the Santiago Bernabeu after his summer signing from Eintracht Frankfurt, Zidane will need a second choice striker to provide some back up for Karim Benzema.

While Benzema has been in excellent form over the season as a whole, the Frenchman has scored just once in La Liga since the turn of the year. It could be the case that Zidane even looks to Mariano as an alternative rather than just a deputy for Benzema. His impressive performance, even if it was only for a few minutes, against Barcelona certainly won’t have harmed his cause.

Mariano’s stoppage time goal against Barca to secure all three points for Real Madrid suggest that the striker should have been given more of an opportunity since returning to the Spanish capital two summers ago. This is a player who scored 18 times in 30 starts for Lyon in Ligue 1 three seasons ago. Mariano is a proven goalscorer who surely has something to offer Los Blancos.

This is a Real Madrid side that is in transition. In any other season Zidane’s team would be in trouble, but Barcelona are also going through something of a transition. They have suffered from the same inconsistencies having already gone through one manager following the sacking of Ernesto Valverde.

In the long term, it’s possible that Mariano won’t have much of a future as a Real Madrid player. However, at this moment the 26-year-old has something to offer Zidane. His Clasico goal against Barcelona could become more than just an anomaly.

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Real Madrid must build momentum after Clasico triumph

It was the archetypal six-pointer. With a defeat, Real Madrid would have fallen five points behind Barcelona at the top of La Liga. Instead, their win over the Catalans saw them establish a one-point lead over their fiercest rivals in the race to be crowned Spanish champions for the 2019/20 season.

Indeed, last Sunday’s Clasico was a season-defining fixture for both teams, but particularly for Real Madrid given their run of poor form leading up to the match. Zinedine Zidane’s side let slip a three-point lead with a home draw against Celta Vigo and a defeat to Levante in back-to-back games before the clash with Barcelona.

Now, though, Real Madrid must build some momentum to consolidate their Clasico victory over Barcelona. Zidane’s side face a tough trip to the Benito Villamarin to face Real Betis this weekend and only a win will do, especially considering Barca’s victory at the same venue over the same opponents just a few weeks ago.

After that Real Madrid face a winnable run of fixtures against Eibar, Valencia, Real Sociedad and Real Mallorca. The games against Valencia and Real Sociedad will be a challenge, especially in the case of the latter who have been one of La Liga’s most exhilarating sides in La Liga this season. La Real have already beaten Real Madrid once in the Copa del Rey this season.

Zidane must look to establish some rhythm on the back of his team’s performance against Barcelona in last week’s Clasico. Real Madrid’s second half display in particular was encouraging from Zidane’s perspective, with Marcelo, Fede Valverde and Vinicius Junior all impressing for the hosts.

The fixtures will come thick and fast between now and the end of the season with Real Madrid facing a challenge to overturn a 2-1 first leg deficit against Manchester City in the Champions League. Zidane will have to make full use of his squad over the coming weeks. Marcelo, Eder Militao, Rodrygo, Isco and Luka Jovic, maybe even Mariano Diaz who made a surprise impact against Barcelona, will all have a part to play.

This is a critical point in Real Madrid’s season. They have once again installed themselves as title favourites, but it would only take one more slip up for Los Blancos to concede their advantage again. The Clasico win over Barcelona must prove to be a catalyst rather than just a peak followed by another trough.

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Clasico performance showed Marcelo isn’t finished at Real Madrid

When the Real Madrid team sheet was published before last week’s season-defining Clasico clash against Barcelona there was a notable surprise name included. It had been assumed that Zinedine Zidane would start Ferland Mendy against the Catalans with the French left back rested for a number of matches beforehand.

However, it was Marcelo who was picked to play at left back, raising some eyebrows. The Brazilian hasn’t enjoyed the best of seasons, with many predicting that he will leave the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the campaign. A move to Serie A has been mooted and with Mendy now seen as Real Madrid’s first choice left back there was little to keep him in the Spanish capital.

Against Barca, though, Marcelo was exceptional. He provided Real Madrid with an outlet throughout and was crucial in securing a 2-0 win that saw Zidane’s men return to the top of La Liga. After a run of poor results it was critical that Los Blancos got back to winning ways and re-established their advantage over their fiercest rivals and title challengers.

Of course, one impressive display, even one in a Clasico against an opponent of Barcelona’s calibre, doesn’t necessarily mean that Marcelo has a long term future at Real Madrid. Mendy still looks to be Zidane’s first choice in the position and at 24 years old the Frenchman will continue to get better and better as he gains maturity.

Zidane has recently stood up for Marcelo in the face of mounting criticism, making an argument in favour of one of Real Madrid’s most decorated players. “It’s upsetting because he gives his all when he plays – not just Marcelo, all the players do – but this isn’t going to change. I can say it’s upsetting, it’s not good because they go out there and play to their maximum. The fans who were there saw that.”

In the immediate term, Marcelo still has something offer. He remains an attacking force and still has the trust of his Real Madrid teammates. That was evident in his display against Barcelona and with the fixtures coming thick and fast Zidane will need to use his full squad between now and the end of the season. Marcelo will be called upon again before too long and having impressed against Barca that might now not seem like such a risk.

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Top European clubs to have most players at Euro 2020

This will be a unique European tournament. For Euro 2020, there is no single host country, but 12 different cities around the continent playing host to matches.

Europe’s top clubs are naturally well represented at the Euros. This year’s tournament should be no exception, but which clubs are set to have the most international players involved at the finals?

Assuming all are fit and well to take part in Euro 2020, the following are our predictions:

Chelsea

English Premier League outfit Chelsea could lead the way at the Euro finals with the most representation at the tournament. A case can be made for 14 players from the Blues being involved.

Spain goalkeeper Kepa, France trio Olivier Giroud, N’Golo Kante and Kurt Zouma, Denmark and Germany defenders Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger, Italy midfielder Jorginho, Croatia counterpart Mateo Kovacic, Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi, and as many as five England players, could all be at Euro 2020.

The likely inclusion of so many players from Stamford Bridge in national teams’ Euros squads is largely down to the nurturing of young talent done in West London since Chelsea legend Frank Lampard came in as manager last summer.

Bayern Munich

Bundesliga big boys Bayern Munich are always well-represented at major tournaments like the Euros and World Cup. Euro 2020 should be no exception with 13 predicted first team players set for summer duty.

Naturally, many of those are German. Manuel Neuer, Niklas Sule, Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry are all in Die Mannschaft’s setup.

There are four France internationals at Bayern: Benjamin Pavard, Lucas Hernandez, Corentin Tolisso and Kingsley Coman. As World Cup holders, Les Bleus are among the favourites at 6/1 in the international football betting on Euro 2020 with bet365.

Completing the likely Euros involvement from Munich are Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara, Poland frontman Robert Lewandowski, Croatia winger Ivan Perisic and Austria’s versatile David Alaba.

Real Madrid

Another of Europe’s top clubs, Real Madrid, look sure to have around a dozen of their players involved at Euro 2020. Spain makes up the biggest proportion of those with four: defensive duo Dani Carvajal and Sergio Ramos, midfielder Isco and winger Marco Asensio.

France duo Ferland Mendy and Raphael Varane join Belgium duo Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard, who faces a race to be fit after a fractured ankle, as locks for inclusion.

Germany playmaker Toni Kroos, Wales star Gareth Bale and Croatia’s Luka Modric could be joined by Luka Jovic if Serbia reach the tournament finals.

Barcelona

El Clasico rivals Barcelona are another rich source of international footballers. Potentially on their way to Euro 2020 from Camp Nou are Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto for Spain.

France trio Antoine Griezmann, Clement Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti, recent out of transfer window arrival Martin Braithwaite of Denmark and Portugal full-back Nelson Semedo are others set to go to the Euros.

The Catalonia based contingent is completed by Germany goalie Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic and Netherlands counterpart Frenkie de Jong. That makes 11 Barcelona players on course for Euro 2020.

3 things to look out for in El Clasico

So the day has finally arrived. El Clasico MK II is here.

And it’s been a long while since Barcelona and Real Madrid were so close in points terms going into the biggest club match in the world.

Just two points separate these La Liga behemoths, and the result could end up being decisive in the title race. Continue reading

El Clasico is now a meeting between two flawed sides

It’s a fixture that has defined an entire era of European football. Of course, El Clasico, the meeting between Spain’s two biggest and most illustrious clubs has long been a fixture to watch out for, but the rivalry between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo made it a much-watch event for all football fans around the world.

Even with Ronaldo now gone, it remains the biggest fixture in the sport. But unlike in recent years this is now a meeting between two greatly flawed sides. That will be apparent this Sunday when Real Madrid welcome Barcelona to the Santiago Bernabeu for the second Clasico of the season.

These are two teams fighting for the Spanish title at the top of La Liga. Ordinarily, this would be a sign of strength, but this season has seen both Barca and Real Madrid suffer great inconsistencies. Until two weeks ago the latter looked to be in control of the race, holding a three-point advantage at the top of the table. One draw and one defeat later, now it’s Barcelona who hold a two-point lead heading into this weekend’s clash.

“It’s not just any other game,” Sergio Ramos explained in a recent interview. “Despite there just being three points at stake, as there is in every game, El Clasico is a game unlike any other. Beating Barcelona would bring us great joy.

“What’s more, it usually has a really positive impact on the group in terms of morale. Both teams know that and it’s something that we have to deal with as best we can to turn it into an incentive that drives you on to victory. Right from the start of the week, the whole experience is different. It brings a lot of media attention, but that’s also what makes this game so great, La Liga, the players… The feeling you get is one that comes from inside, it’s really hard to explain.”

Both teams appear to be in the midst of a generation transition, but the prize on offer remains the same as always. Sunday’s Clasico will have a real bearing on where the Spanish Liga title ends up this season. A Barcelona win, despite all their problems, would put them five points clear at the top. A Real Madrid win would put them back in control. There is a lot on the line, but this is a match defined not by its strength, as has previously been the case, but its weakness.

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Is it time to assess Sergio Ramos’ Real Madrid future?

He is Real Madrid’s spiritual leader and one of the most decorated players in the club’s long and storied history, but Sergio Ramos has his flaws. Many of them. Of course, they have always been masked by what he brought to the team on the pitch. Now, though, Ramos’ contribution isn’t so positive.

The red card he was shown in the Champions League round of 16 first leg defeat to Manchester City means nobody has been sent off more times in the competition than Ramos. The defender has also previously been shown red against Galatasaray, Ajax and Olympiacos, but this could prove to be his most costly dismissal yet.

Ramos’ absence means Eder Militao will likely play alongside Raphael Varane for the second leg at the Etihad Stadium. Militao has provided Real Madrid with some depth over the course of the season, but the summer signing has still shown vulnerabilities. Man City will look to exploit that to get the job done and progress to the Champions League quarter finals.

On the flip side, Ramos isn’t the force he once was. Real Madrid might not miss him as much as they would have in seasons gone by. Against City on Wednesday night, he was something of a liability. It has been that way for much of the season, with Varane usurping Ramos as Zinedine Zidane’s defensive bedrock.

Wednesday night’s red card was the 26th of Ramos’ career to date as a Real Madrid player. He has never managed to leave that part of his game behind, but while his other qualities used to make up for this that might not no longer be the case. The end is surely approaching for the 33-year-old at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Ramos has a contract with Real Madrid until the summer of 2021. Talks have recently taken place, but no breakthrough has been made yet. If Real Madrid are to claim a transfer fee for their captain this summer presents them with the last opportunity to do so. “The relationship with the club is magnificent in every way,” Ramos explained recently

“So there is no rush on any side – mine or club. I’ve never made extra demands, I understand club’s policy with players of certain age. If club wants me to say, I’ll stay, no need to worry.” What if Real Madrid don’t want Ramos to stay, though? His future in the Spanish capital isn’t for certain.

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