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Blog - ESPN FC United

Power Rankings: Real Madrid end 2014 on top of the world

The ESPN FC crew debate the 2014 team of the year, where Stuart Holden and Craig Burley believe Germany's dominance in Brazil merits the award, but Steve Nicol gives his thoughts on why Real Madrid are the top team of the year.

Shaka signs off for the winter break with his final ranks of the year and, as they have been for pretty much the entire second half of 2014, Real Madrid are top.

1. Real Madrid (no change)

Los Blancos end 2014 on top of the world after they clinched the Club World Cup with a victory vs. San Lorenzo that was so straightforward that they didn't even need Cristiano Ronaldo to score! Madrid have won 22 straight games and deservedly top the rankings at the winter break!

2. Bayern Munich (no change)

So...

 By Alex Shaw

European Report Cards: How has your team fared so far this season?

The ESPN FC crew discuss Borussia Dortmund's domestic struggles after a 2-1 defeat to Werder Bremen, finishing 2014 joint-bottom with Freiburg in the Bundesliga.

With football across Europe winding down for the winter break, it's time to have a look back at the campaign so far. We asked our ESPN FC bloggers to tackle seven questions on their side. Who's your side's unlikely hero, and who has work to do?

Each team's grade for the season so far is below -- and click on the team name for a comprehensive summary.

Click here for the verdict on all 20 Premier League teams.

LA LIGA:

Atletico Madrid: A-

Barcelona: C+

Real Madrid: A

BUNDESLIGA:

Bayern Munich: A

 By Rory Smith

Premier League's festive period is special but compromises competition

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has praised players for giving up their families in the festive season and playing during a congested sporting calendar.

The curious thing about Jose Mourinho is this: The Chelsea manager was born in sun-baked Setubal. In his mannerisms, his openness with his emotions and his dress sense, there is no way he could possibly be English. He exudes an air of the exotic. He glowers, and he seethes -- two things Mediterraneans do rather better than the British. And yet, in some ways, he is the most English manager imaginable.

It is not just that he is the closest thing the 21st century will have to Brian Clough, the man...

Werder Bremen's Davie Selke could become Germany's future No. 9

If Davie Selke remains focused and lives up to his potential, he has the physical tools and technical ability to become Germany's starting striker.

While it is time to sum up 2014, allow me to name the best transfer of 2013 instead. No, not Gareth Bale, but rather a bargain that cost 2,000 times less than the Welshman. How about signing a future Germany centre-forward for just 50,000 euros?

Such a deal might sound like science fiction, but that's exactly what Werder Bremen managed to accomplish when signing Hoffenheim's Davie Selke in the January transfer window nearly two years ago.

Selke was barely 18 back then, but already mightily ambitious....

As defending declines, English strikers take Premier League by storm

Is John Terry the best central defender in the world? The ESPN FC TV team discuss.

There was so much to enjoy in Sunday's clash between Liverpool and Arsenal, from the total lack of defensive composure on either side to the inability of Martin Skrtel to mark a full-back almost 6 inches shorter than himself to Mathieu Flamini running wild and free, like a leopard released in a busy shopping mall.

Yet Gary Neville said he didn't enjoy a moment of it.

Neville, who has proved himself an excellent pundit since his retirement as a player in 2011, attacked both clubs mercilessly before...

Marseille and Lyon show Paris Saint-Germain what they're missing

Lyon manager Hubert Fournier urged his players to keep their feet on the ground following their superb 5-0 victory over Bordeaux.

Rebranding for an international audience, the phrase introduced by Paris Saint-Germain's Qatari owners as a bilingual French/English motto has become omnipresent around the club, and in the French football landscape in the last few years: Revons plus grand -- "Dream bigger." With Monaco shelving their own hopes with the summer sales of Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez, many feared a Parisian procession to the title this season.

What PSG (or, in fact, anybody) can't have imagined was their...