Back-to-back losses against Moenchengladbach and Zenit once again revealed Dortmund’s problem this season: energy. This squad is beaten up and tired, and the loss of Marcel Schmelzer is a further blow to BVB, who could fall to third place by Tuesday should archrivals Schalke, of all teams, deal them a home loss after the weekend.
Action Images / ReutersINA FASSBENDER
Manchester City (Last week: 9)
The next seven days are critical for City. They can pull back into first place if Chelsea slip up one more time, but with a desperate Fulham team up next, followed by the difficult Manchester Derby at Old Trafford on Tuesday, Manuel Pellegrini’s men need to be alert and on their best. After that stretch, they’ll get a boost by the return of Sergio Aguero.
Action ImagesCarl Recine
Liverpool (Last week: 8)
You can’t find a hotter team in the Premier League right now. Winners of five straight and unbeaten in their last ten games, the Reds could soon clinch their return to the Champions League after a four-year absence. They have a nine-point lead and a game in hand over fifth-place Spurs with just nine games remaining.
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Juventus (Last week: 7)
Juve’s quest to become the first team to win four Europa League, UEFA Cups is still alive after Andrea Pirlo’s trademark free kick got them past Fiorentina in the Round of 16. It was their second 1-0 win in three games against La Viola, all in the past two weeks. And yes, it’s still a shame that Juve are “only” in the Europa League.
Action Images / ReutersGIAMPIERO SPOSITO
Chelsea (Last week: 6)
There’s nothing Chelsea can surprise us with anymore. After jumping into first place despite Jose Mourinho’s consistent bluffing, the Blues imploded at Villa Park to make the Premier League race just that more interesting. In the Champions League, they look confidently ahead after a convincing win over Galatasaray.
AFP/Getty ImagesADRIAN DENNIS
Atletico Madrid (Last week: 5)
By the time El Clasico commands our attention on Sunday, Atletico could already be in first place, as they own the head-to-head tiebreaker with Real Madrid. All they need to do is beat last-placed Real Betis, who come off an exhausting loss in PK's to rivals Sevilla on Thursday. If they do, Atleti will root hard for Barcelona.
Action Images / ReutersJUAN MEDINA
Paris Saint-Germain (Last week: 4)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic reached the 40-goal mark on the season with a double against St. Etienne, breaking PSG’s single-season club record with plenty of matches left in both the French and the Champions League and a chance to extend their Ligue 1 lead on Friday.
Action Images / ReutersPASCAL ROSSIGNOL
Barcelona (Last week: 3)
Barca must beat Real Madrid on Sunday to salvage any last chance at the La Liga title -- a loss leaves them seven points adrift and a draw is not enough with the season winding down. Winning at the Bernabeu is no easy task, but Barcelona do enter with plenty of confidence, having been the last team to beat Real (on Oct. 26) and coming off a 7-0 demolition over Osasuna.
Real Madrid (Last week: 2)
Undefeated in their past 32 games (in all comps), Real Madrid head into El Clasico the hottest team on the planet. Last time they met, Neymar stole the show with a goal and an assist, while Real’s marquee signing Gareth Bale was still visibly out of form. Sunday, with Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo playing their best football of the season and Real hot to crush Barca’s title dreams, it might be a different story.
Action Images / ReutersJON NAZCA
Bayern Munich (Last week: 1)
Last year, Bayern wrapped up the Bundesliga title on the 28th matchday. This year, they could technically do it on the 26th -- this weekend at Mainz, but the likelier scenario is a few days later at Hertha Berlin. If Bayern win those next two games, they break their record from a year ago.