Power Rankings: No stopping Barca’s trio; Napoli trending upwards
Borussia Mönchengladbach, Arsenal miss the cut
Reasoning: Gladbach must be licking their lips over Fabian Johnson’s scintillating goalscoring form, but a 3-3 draw against last-place Hoffenheim was a wasted chance to gain three points. Arsenal are feeling the wrath of injuries, and with pressure still on to qualify for the UEFA Champions League knockout round, a big question mark looms over the head of Arsene Wenger as to what he can muster from his scant selection.
Matthias Hangst (Bongarts) & Ste
Premier League record: 9-3-3. // Next opponent: Wolfsburg at Volkswagen Arena (live, Tuesday, 11:45 a.m. ET). // Reasoning: Despite another lackluster display which resulted in a 1-1 against Leicester, the Red Devils still sit in third-place in an ultra-competitive Premier League. Louis van Gaal praised his club after the stalemate, claiming his side had not trained for two days prior to the Leicester clash. Be that as it may, weary legs are starting to creep up at the wrong time for United with important tests against West Ham and Wolfsburg (live, FS1, FOX Sports Go, Tuesday, 2 p.m. ET) on the horizon. Editor's note: The Red Devils held to a lackluster goalless draw against short-handed West Ham United.
Premier League record: 9-5-1. // Next opponent: Host Chelsea (live, Monday, 12 p.m. ET). // Reasoning: The legend of Jamie Vardy continued last week after becoming the first player to score in 11 consecutive Premier League matches. The celebrations was short-lived after the Foxes missed the chance to claim sole-possession of first place after drawing United 1-1. Still, the Foxes are undoubtedly the league’s darlings and a weekend trip to Swansea might be the tonic needed for Leicester to extended their unbeaten run to eight league matches. Editor's note: Leicester crush Swansea City, climb atop Premier League summit.
Action Images via ReutersJohn Sibley
Serie A record: 9-4-1. // Next opponent: Road date vs. Bologna (live, Sunday, 6:30 a.m. ET). // Reasoning: The Sao Paolo is buzzing with dreams of the Scudetto and who can blame them. After claiming Serie A’s top seat after their 2-1 win over Internazionale thanks to Gonzalo Higuain’s spellbinding form, the flying Donkeys sit atop Italy’s top flight for the first time since 1990, when Diego Maradona carried Napoli to title glory. Can they maintain their form? If “Pipita” maintains his ridiculous run, anything can happen.
Action Images / ReutersCIRO DE LUCA
La Liga record: 10-2-2. // Next opponent: Visit Benfica in Champions League clash (live, Tuesday, 11:45 a.m. ET). // Reasoning: Los Che capped off a near-flawless November with a 1-0 win over struggling Espanyol in La Liga and avoided a Copa del Rey setback after defeating third-division side Reus Deportiu midweek. Sure the results were less than impressive but let’s not kid ourselves here. Diego Simeone’s men remain in title contention after a trophyless 2014-15 campaign. And really, that’s all you can ask for at this stage of the season. Editor's note: Los Colchoneros maintain scintillating form with comfortable win over Granada.
Action Images / ReutersANDREA COMAS
Bundesliga record: 11-2-2. // Next opponent: Host PAOK in Europa League match (live, Thursday, 10:30 p.m. ET). // Reasoning: Time to turn off the panic alarm, Dortmund fans. After last season’s head-scratching results, the Signal-Iduna-Park faithful were treated to a delightful 4-1 Bundesliga victory on Sunday after Thomas Tuchel’s bunch inexplicably dropped two-straight on the road. Saturday’s massive clash against third-place Wolfsburg will certainly test the Black and Yellows’ resolve as December’s busy schedule picks up steam after the weekend. Editor's note: Dortmund reduce gap on Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich with win over resilient Wolfsburg.
Action Images / ReutersINA FASSBENDER
La Liga record: 9-3-2. // Upcoming match: Host Malmo FF (Tuesday, 11:45 a.m. ET). // Reasoning: Los Blancos have seen brighter days. In the wake of a 4-0 mauling at the Bernabeu against Barca, a seemingly comfortable advantage in Champions League play at Shakhtar came devastatingly close to being overturned. On Wednesday, Rafa Benitez’s outfit progressed to the last 16 of Copa del Rey, but could face damaging consequences for fielding an ineligible player. Still, they’re right in the thick of things in La Liga, and already secured a spot in the Champions League KO stages. Editor's note: Los Merengues put their Copa del Rey woes behind them and thrash Getafe with a dominant 4-0 first-half performance.
Action Images / ReutersMARCELO DEL POZO
Premier League record: 9-2-4. // Upcoming match: Host Borussia Gladbach (Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. ET). // Reasoning: The 4-1 humbling at the hands of Liverpool, and a narrow Champions League defeat to Juventus were followed up with comprehensive wins at home to Southampton and Hull City. Kevin De Bruyne has played his hand in five of the Blues’ last seven goals, and Manuel Pellegrini’s side -- for once, a third of the way through the Premier League season -- will be thanking their noisy neighbors for curbing Leicester City over the weekend and preventing the Foxes from overtaking their place atop the table. Editor's note: Stoke City stunned the Citizens as Manuel Pellegrini's men fell to third place after suffering a 2-0 defeat at the Britannia.
Action Images via ReutersCarl Recine
Ligue 1 record: 14-3-0. // Upcoming match: Host Shakhtar Donetsk (Tuesday, 11:45 a.m. ET). // Reasoning: After notching four successive wins in all competitions, the Parisians were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw against third-place Angers, a minor hiccup and a performance that Laurent Blanc will be looking to avenge with Friday’s trip to Nice. A win could potentially see PSG extend their lead atop Ligue 1 to 16 points. Not to mention it’s only December. Editor's note: Paris Saint-Germain overwhelm Nice and grab win behind Ibrahimovic's brace.
Action Images / ReutersCHRISTIAN HARTMANN
Bundesliga record: 13-1-1. // Upcoming match: Visit Zagreb (Wednesday, 11:45 a.m. ET). // Reasoning: Almost halfway through the campaign, Pep Guardiola’s men don’t appear to show any signs of buckling, having netted 42 times and conceded just five goals. The Bavarians are rolling with five consecutive wins in all competitions, and face a different test at in-form Gladbach on Saturday. Editor's note: Gladbach end Bayern Munich's unbeaten run with surprising 3-1 victory.
Action Images / ReutersMICHAEL DALDER
La Liga record: 11-1-2. // Upcoming match: Visit Bayer Leverkusen (Wednesday, 11:45 p.m. ET). // Reasoning: Between Luis Suarez, Neymar and Leo Messi, the Blaugrana are scoring at will, scoring 16 goals in the four matches since their 4-0 El Clasico rout of Real Madrid. With Messi still easing his way back into the side following his knee injury, all signs are pointing towards an even more menacing Barca attack and more goals. Editor's note: Valencia give the Catalan club its first draw of the season with late equalizer.