Power Rankings: PSG, Atletico threaten to unseat Barca from No. 1 seat
Serie A record: 11-3-2. // Next opponent: Host Lazio at San Siro (live, Sunday, 2:45 p.m. ET). // Reasoning: After thrashing Cagliari in the Coppa Italia, the Black and Blues have not skipped a beat and remain one of the hottest teams in Europe. Mancini’s side have won three straight games and have yet to concede any goals this month. Inter have secured 36 points out of a possible 48 but will need to continue their impressive form if they hope to start 2016 atop Serie A.
Getty ImagesMarco Luzzani
Premier League record: 10-3-3. // Next opponent: Host Manchester City (live, Monday, 12 p.m. ET). // Reasoning: The Gunners are clicking on all cylinders at just the right time. Arsene Wenger's men could conceivably sit atop the Premier League table before Boxing Day as they go in search of their first league title since 2004. The only catch? A Monday night showdown against mighty Manchester City stands in their way.
AFP/Getty ImagesADRIAN DENNIS
Bundesliga record: 12-2-2. // Next opponent: Travel to Koln (live, Saturday, FS2, FOX Sports Go, 9:30 a.m. ET). // Reasoning: Having outscored their opponents 12-4 in their last five encounters, the Black and Yellows sit five points behind Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich. Dortmund will look to close the gap, however, with in-form Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang eager to add to his amazing scoring rate.
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Premier League record: 10-2-4. // Next opponent: Pay Arsenal a visit (live, Monday, 12 p.m. ET). // Reasoning: After edging out resilient Swansea City, Manuel Pelligrini’s side look steadfast and may get a much-needed boost to their offensive prowess with Sergio Aguero's possible return in time for Monday's clash against Arsenal. This is a crucial game for the Sky Blues, who must win if they hope to keep pace with Premier League darling Leicester.
Getty ImagesAlex Livesey
La Liga record: 9-3-3. // Next opponent: Host basement boys Rayo Vallecano (live, Sunday, 10 a.m. ET). // Reasoning: Where there's smoke, there's fire. Real boss Rafa Benitez has come under immense heat after last week’s loss to Villarreal. A victory over Rayo could ease the club’s nerves and move Los Blancos two points of idle Barca. Another shocking defeat will surely increase the pressure on Benitez to its highest point since his unexpected summer appointment.
Real Madrid via Getty ImagesAngel Martinez
Premier League record: 10-5-1. // Next opponent: Road date vs. Everton (live, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET). // Reasoning: After soundly defeating struggling Chelsea, the Foxes keep exceeding expectations and it seems that the more critics doubt them the better they get. Claudio Ranieri’s side are unbeaten in their last eleven Premier League away games, and will look to extend their streak against tough Everton.
La Liga record: 11-2-2. // Next opponent: Go toe-to-toe against Malaga (live, Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET). // Reasoning: Who’s Diego Simeone trying to fool? As much as the Argentine boss is playing down his side’s chances of regaining the Spanish Primera crown, Los Colchoneros have yet to taste defeat in December. A victory at La Rosaleda on Sunday will make things interesting once Barca return from their Club World Cup duties.
Getty ImagesGonzalo Arroyo Moreno
Ligue 1 record: 15-3-0. // Next opponent: Travel to struggling Caen (live, Saturday, 11 a.m. ET). // Reasoning: Some might argue the Parisians are deserving of the No. 1 spot, and they’re probably right. The defending Ligue 1 champs are unbeaten in 18 matches -- 27 going back to last season (but who’s counting?) -- but the lack of competition holds them back in our book. Look for PSG to end the year in style on Saturday with another three points.
Getty ImagesJean Catuffe
Bundesliga record: 14-1-1. // Next opponent: Visit lowly Hannover 96 (live, Saturday, FS1, FOX Sports Go, 9:30 a.m. ET). // Reasoning: News of Josep Guardiola’s reported departure at season’s end comes at a critical juncture for the German giants. Bayern will look to increase their lead atop the Bundesliga before the winter break, but will have to do so without Arjen Robben, Mario Goetze, David Alaba, Juan Bernat and Philipp Lahm in attack.
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La Liga record: 11-2-2. // Next opponent: Battle Argentina’s River Plate for FIFA’s Club World Cup title (live, Sunday, FS1, FOX Sports Go, 5:30 a.m. ET). // Reasoning: Barca dropping points to Deportivo definitely raised eyebrows over the weekend and made the Spanish Primera title race much more interesting. Truth is, Luis Enrique’s side showed signs of fatigue. With Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan patiently waiting in the wings come January, Barca will finally get to use their summer reinforcements ahead of a grueling 2016.