Ahead of a midweek Champions League clash at the Etihad Stadium, Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri branded Manchester City “by far the strongest team in Europe at the moment”.
Pep Guardiola’s side then proceeded to overcome the Serie A leaders 2-1 as if to prove that point, with the Premier League table-toppers emerging victorious in a battle between two free-scoring outfits.
City have been in imperious form this season, with seven goals smashed past hapless Stoke in their last domestic outing to take them onto 29 league efforts for the campaign.
Are they, however, the most clinical side across the top five leagues on the continent?
Well, it turns out that they are not, with there a heady mix of heavyweight title hopefuls and surprise packages among Europe’s top 10.
1. VALENCIA 25.97%
Who would have thought that a side spearheaded by West Ham flop Simone Zaza and forgotten Bolton loanee Rodrigo could be so devastating. Italian frontman Zaza sits behind only Lionel Messi in theLiga top scorer charts, with Barcelona the only club to have outscored Los Che as they sit second in the table. Marcelino’s side have 21 efforts to their name, with just one successful penalty among them, and are currently netting at a rate of one goal every 34.29 minutes.
2. BARCELONA 24.73%
A faultless start to the season may have been broken by Atletico Madrid, but the Catalan giants remain the team to beat in La Liga. Unsurprisingly, mercurial Messi has been leading from the front once again, with 11 league goals added to his remarkable personal haul. The Argentine has managed more efforts by himself than 12 clubs in the division. Barca have 24 goals in total, including one from two penalties taken thus far, and net on average once every 30 minutes.
3. REAL BETIS 24.29%
A surprise inclusion in third place on the list, with Betis currently perched just above mid-table in La Liga. They have netted only 17 times this season, making them the lowest scorers within the top 10, and have also been breached 17 times to give them a goal difference of precisely zero. Given that they have one of the leakiest defences in the Spanish top-flight, making the most of their opportunities (including one penalty) is imperative.
4. MANCHESTER CITY 23.53%
It seems remarkable to think that questions were being asked of City after they backed up a 1-1 draw at home to Everton with a last-gasp 2-1 win away at Bournemouth. Since then, the shackles have well and truly been shaken off during a 10-match winning run in all competitions. In the Premier League, Guardiola’s side have managed two five-goal hauls, a six and a seven. They boast the best goal difference (+33) across all competitions and net at a remarkable rate domestically of one effort every 24.83 minutes – with just one penalty within their tally.
5. MANCHESTER UNITED 22.99%
Jose Mourinho may have parked the proverbial bus at Liverpool last time out, but United have been an impressive attacking force this season – led by £75 million man Romelu Lukaku. The Red Devils already have four 4-0 Premier League victories to their name, the meanest defence in the division and an impressive strike rate of one goal every 34.29 minutes – with one penalty scored and one missed this term.
6. CELTA VIGO 22.78%
One place and two points worse off than Real Betis, Celta are wedged in the midst of Liga mid-table obscurity. They are, however, taking their chances, with 18 goals plundered from just 105 shots – some 50 efforts less than Manchester City have fired in so far this season. They are also yet to be awarded a penalty in 2017-18, but have still found their way to the back of the net every 40 minutes that they are on the field.
7. MONACO 22.11%
No Kylian Mbappe, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Benjamin Mendy or Bernardo Silva, but few problems so far for the reigning Ligue 1 champions. Defending that crown was always going to be difficult, but the principality outfit have set about that task in a positive manner, with the prolific Radamel Falcao proving to be a talismanic figure. His conversion rate at the start of the season was quite remarkable, helping Monaco to 24 goals, including three spot-kicks, and one effort every 33.75 minutes.
8. PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 21.85%
Nine games played in Ligue 1, just two points dropped for the big-spending outfit from the French capital. Neymar and Mbappe were drafted in to bring even greater firepower to the ranks, and PSG have matched Manchester City’s 29-goal haul this season. They have converted three penalties, while infamously missing one through Edinson Cavani, and breach opponents every 27.93 minutes.
9. JUVENTUS 21.74%
The current Serie A title holders have not had things all their own way this season, as they currently sit five points adrift of leaders Napoli in fourth. The Bianconeri remain a fearsome prospect going forward, though, with Paulo Dybala having really come to the fore this term to earn comparisons with fellow Argentine Messi. His efforts have Juve netting once every 34.29 minutes, although they have failed twice from the spot so far.
10. REAL SOCIEDAD 19.78%
The fifth Spanish side within Europe’s most clinical, and another showing some of the more established outfits how things should be done. Currently netting once every 37.89 minutes, Socieded – like Betis – are not higher up their domestic standings as a result of their inability to keep the back door bolted. Get things right at that end of the field, while continuing to take their chances, and another top-four challenge could be on the cards in San Sebastian.