Real Madrid surge to top spot

Zinedine Zidane has admitted to being frustrated at times during Real’s win at their neighbours Leganes.

We’re back from the international break with a vengeance as Europe’s top teams made up for lost time with two games this week. Juventus are still cruising, but the surge of Spanish giants Real Madrid can’t be ignored as they rise to the top.

1. Real Madrid (+2)

Just when Zinedine Zidane’s side seem to be flagging, they find another burst of energy. And it couldn’t be coming at a better time given that the Champions League is up next. Real beat Alaves 3-0 despite not playing particularly well and then held on to defeat tiny Leganes 4-2 in midweek. Gareth Bale is fully fit and in form again. Alvaro Morata (hat trick vs. Leganes) and Karim Benzema are scoring. And the defence looks reasonably robust. They’re two points clear of Barca with the Clasico in just three weeks.

2. Juventus (-1)

Max Allegri’s side are cruising to the Serie A title, six points ahead of Roma with eight games to play, yet a pair of gutsy performances against Napoli caused Juventus to drop to second in the Power Rankings. Sunday’s 1-1 draw in Naples was the result of a more conservative performance, while the midweek 3-2 Coppa Italia defeat didn’t matter much as Juve went through on aggregate. There’s little for Juve to fear at this point, though facing Barcelona next week in the Champions League will require maximum effort.

3. Bayern Munich (-1)

Robert Lewandowski scored three and set up two in the 6-0 thrashing of Augsburg, but the Bundesliga champions-elect were tripped up four days later. Despite taking 21 shots at Hoffenheim, Bayern could not find the net and were beaten 1-0.

4. Barcelona (+2)

Luis Enrique announced on March 1 that he’ll step down as Barca manager after this season, and his team have responded with four wins in five La Liga games to remain within two points of Real at the top. It’s a remarkable late-season surge that sees them in fine form heading into Champions League action. A 4-0 rout of Granada and 3-1 win over Jorge Sampaoli’s Sevilla this week are testament to that.

Real Madrid’s 4-2 win over Leganes in midweek keeps Zidane’s side on course for the league title.

5. Chelsea (no change)

Chelsea’s march to the Premier League title seemingly can’t be stopped: Though the Blues lost 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace at the weekend, a game in which they had plenty of shots and couldn’t equalise, they took a 2-1 win over Pep Guardiola’s Man City in which Sergio Aguero Co. were unable to prevail. Chelsea’s resiliency under Antonio Conte is a major factor in their success.

6. Atletico Madrid (+3)

Wins over Malaga and Real Sociedad mean that Atletico have now claimed five straight victories in La Liga. That run, as well as Sevilla’s failure to win in their last five matches, mean Diego Simeone’s side are now third in the Spanish standings.

7. Tottenham (+1)

Don’t count Spurs out yet! Though they’re seven points behind Chelsea with eight games remaining, there’s plenty of fight left in Mauricio Pochettino’s side even without the injured Harry Kane. The 2-0 win at Burnley over the weekend came with a goal from Heung-Min Son, Kane’s deputy, while a remarkable turnaround at Swansea saw Spurs score three times after the 87th minute to win 3-1. Few teams can match their spirit and self-belief at present.

ESPN FC’s Alejandro Moreno focuses in on Sevilla’s swift decline and Barcelona’s ‘unstoppable’ first half at the Camp Nou.

8. AS Roma (new)

Roma may not be thinking of the title, given Juve’s indomitable form, but their bigger battle is locking up second place — and with it, the final automatic spot in the Champions League group stage. Roma’s 2-0 win over Empoli at the weekend was standard fare for Luciano Spalletti’s side, with Edin Dzeko scoring both goals to take his league tally to 23 goals in 30 appearances. Losing 3-2 to city rivals Lazio and being eliminated from the Coppa Italia on Tuesday was a bitter blow, but it doesn’t threaten their ultimate objective.

9. Borussia Dortmund (-2)

After Thomas Tuchel’s men were denied a Revierderby win by Schalke’s equaliser in a 1-1 draw, Dortmund eased to a 3-0 win vs. Hamburg. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored in both games and now has 25 Bundesliga goals this season.

10. Monaco (-6)

There were mixed fortunes in cup competitions for the French league leaders last week. First, Monaco fell 4-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in the league cup final, but then rebounded to beat Lille 2-1 and claim a place in the French cup semifinals.

Dropping out: Feyenoord.

Shaka Hislop played for over 10 years in the Premier League and represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2006 World Cup. Watch him on ESPN FC TV!

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