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Barcelona had 176 points, well ahead of Bayern with 129 and Dortmund with 105. Real Madrid, which lost to Real Betis on Sunday, plunged to 24th.

“There’s a team in Europe nobody expected anything from before this Champions League season,” Schaetzle said. “Borussia Dortmund won Group D, the Group of Death (with opponents Real Madrid, Manchester City, Ajax), with its phenomenal 4-1 win at Ajax to reach the Round of 16.”

AC Milan was rewarded for its 1-0 victory over Serie A leader Juventus and the victory over Anderlecht by being voted into fourth by the panel, which gives 10 points to their top choice down to one point for 10th.

Unglamorous English team West Bromwich Albion, which has slipped almost unnoticed into third place in the Premier League, was in the top 10 for the second straight week, coming in eighth, a few points behind Manchester United.

Newly-crowned J-League champion Sanfrecce Hiroshima was voted into 10th after clinching the title with one round still to play.

John Duerden, of website, paid tribute to J-League top scorer Hisato Sato.

“He has had his critics over the years but his goals have given a first title to Hiroshima,” Duerden said.