Feb 25, 2008

The World's Top 25 Soccer Clubs, Feb. 25, 2008

Liverpool's shocking victory over Inter meant there would be room at the top of the Top 25 list. But who to move into it? Read on to find out...

1. (2) Manchester United. Yes, it's the Red Devils. More by default than anything else, but hey somebody needs to fill the top spot. Man. U do it for the second time this season. Hopefully for them it will be a longer stay than the last time around (when they lasted all of one week before giving the pole position back to Inter). Man. U got the result they needed at Lyon, then beat up on Newcastle Saturday. With Arsenal dropping points at Birmingham, it allows Sir Alex' men to move back within striking distance of the top of the Premiership. Play at Craven Cottage next, Saturday.

2. (3) Arsenal. Outplayed AC Milan but were unable to put one past them at midweek, then dropped points at Birmingham City Saturday. Also lost Eduardo that game--possibly for good--on a vicious tackle that suddenly opens up a hole in Gunners' attack. Sorry, but I don't have faith in Nicklas Bendtner. Up next for l'Arse: Aston Villa on Saturday. The rematch with AC Milan is a week from tomorrow.

3. (1) Inter Milan. The loss at Anfield suddenly opened a lot of doubts about the quality of this team, which had previously looked invincible (the loss to Liverpool was their second on the season). Sure enough, the nerazurri then dropped points at Sampdoria, tying the Genoa side 1-1. Inter host Roma Wednesday and play at Napoli Sunday.

4. (5) Barcelona. Won at Parkhead to all but advance to the Champs League quarterfinals. Also beat up on last-place Levante yesterday. Face a challenging week: Valencia at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey Wednesday, then at Atletico Madrid Saturday. The Celtic rematch is on for a week from tomorrow.

5. (7) Roma. Beat Real Madrid in UCL action Wednesday, then topped Fiorentina yesterday to move within nine points of Inter. Can close the gap even further Wednesday when the two sides meet. So the gialorossi may be about to make pretty serious strides. Stay tuned...

6. (4) Real Madrid. Were outplayed by AS Roma but managed to get the crucial away goal. Then went down to Getafe yesterday. At home, in controversial fashion. Still, their lead over Barcelona is now two points. And I was ready to call the race over a few short weeks ago. Up next for Real: at Recreativo Huelva Saturday.

7. (11) AC Milan. Were lucky to escape from Emirates with a scoreless tie but are now well-positioned to knock Gunners out of Europe. Also beat Palermo yesterday. Play at Catania Wednesday and host Lazio on the weekend.

8. (6) FC Porto. Lost their Champions League match at Schalke, though the 1-0 score gives them room to make it through with a solid effort in the return leg. It will have to be very solid though. Had no problems winning their weekend bwinLIGA game, but the continental competition is unfortunately more telling. Play in the Portuguese cup Wednesday and another bwinLIGA game Saturday.

9. (9) Chelsea. The scoreless draw at Olympiakos puts Avram Grant's team in a decent position when the return leg is played at the Bridge in a few weeks' time. Lost League Cup final (and London Derby League game) to Spurs yesterday. Visit West Ham in another LDL game Saturday.

10. (13) Bayern Munich. Beat up on Aberdeen Thursday to advance in the UEFA Cup, then tied third-placed Hamburg SV at home yesterday. Play crosstown rivals 1860 Munich in the DFB Pokal at midweek then at Schalke on the weekend. UEFA Cup Round of 16 first leg with RSC Anderlecht follows a week Thursday.

11. (14) PSV Eindhoven. Beat Helsingborgs to advance in the UEFA Cup Wednesday and had no problems with De Graafschap yesterday. Closing in on the Eredivisie title. Up next: at Utrecht Sunday.

12. (10) Fenerbahce. Beat Sevilla last Wednesday but giving up two home goals hurts. Then lost against Bursaspor Saturday, which hurts more because it kept them from taking back first place in the Turkcell Super Lig. Now face Galatasaray (first-placed in the Turkcell Liga) in a cup game Wednesday. Also play a Turkcell team Sunday (nobody I can pronounce).

13. (12) Olympiakos. Played a scoreless tie with Chelsea in the Champions League knockout round and managed only a draw with PAOK Saloniki. Play a cup game against Iraklis Saloniki Wednsday, then host Asteras Tripolis in the Super League.

14. (16) Olympique Lyonnais. Tied #1 Man. United in Champs League elimination, then beat Metz Saturday. With Girondins Bordeaux playing a scoreless tie yesterday, Lyon open up a three point lead atop Ligue Un. Play at Lille Saturday. The UCL return leg at Old Trafford is a week from tomorrow.

15. (8) Juventus. Lost at Reggina Saturday, which is not the type of thing that should happen to top 10 clubs. So they're not in the top 10 anymore and will have to do quite a bit to get back. This weekend's game to Fiorentina, currently fourth in Serie A, could be the first step. They also face Torino at midweek.

16. (-) Liverpool. They're ba-ack, and deservedly so after a pair of victories last week. The first one against Inter was potentially historic in nature. Fernando Torres' hat trick in Saturday's trouncing of Borough further demonstrated the team's class. Yes, class. I've been ragging on Liverpool all season. It took a little time, but they are now making me eat my words after turning the corner last week. Of course they could still lose to Inter and fail to make Europe at the end of the season, though that now looks far less likely than it did one short week ago. Up next for Reds: Bolton Wanderers Sunday morning (New York time).

17. (18) Lanus. Argentina's Apertura champs beat up on Colon de Santa Fe (5-1 victory) Friday night. They'll play the Copa Lib tomorrow against fellow Argentine club Estudiantes, who are currently top of the Clausura table but whose Copa Lib debut did not go according to plan. Also play at Club Olimpo Saturday.

18. (15) Werder Bremen. Had no problem with Sporting Braga to advance in the UEFA Cup, then lost at Eintracht Frankfurt Saturday. Host Borussia Dortmund this week.

19. (22) Arsenal de Sarandi. The Copa Sudamericana champs won their Copa Lib opener Paraguay's Libertad, then beat Club Olimpo Saturday as well. Play at Banfield in Clausura action Saturday. A week from tomorrow the Copa Lib returns with a trip to Fluminense.

20. (17) Fiorentina. La Viola beat Rosenborg Trondheim to advance in the UEFA Cup but lost a crucial Serie A game at AS Roma. Next up: Livorno at midweek, followed by a trip to #15 (and third in Serie A) Juventus. They'll face Everton in the UEFA Cup Round of 16 the week after that.

21. (21) Chivas de Guadelajara. Beat San Jose Oruro in their first Copa Libertadores match, then managed only a home draw to San Luis on Saturday. Still unbeaten in the Clausura though, where things are about to get interesting, as Chivas host Cruz Azul (the second-placed team in their group) Sunday.

22. (24) Glasgow Rangers. Scored the crucial away goal at Panathinaikos to advance in the UEFA Cup, then beat Gretna in SPL action yesterday. Play at Hearts Wednesday, then against Aberdeen Saturday. Face Werder Bremen in the UEFA Cup Round of 16, which kicks off March 6.

23. (23) Sao Paulo. Won their Paulista match. Now things get serious with their first Copa Libertadores game, which is at Colombia's Atletico Nacional Medellin Wednesday.

24. (-) Bayer Leverkusen. Michael Skibbe's men make their debut on the list after several close calls earlier in the season, but figure their stay to be an extended one. Leverkusen had a brilliant week, smacking around Galatasaray to advance in the UEFA Cup and then knocking off perhaps-soon-to-be Champs League quarterfinalists Schalke 04. They're also unbeaten this calendar year in all competition. If they keep this up it could be a glorious spring for one of the most desolate towns in Germany (I've been there. Well, I drove through it). Bayer face Bochum Saturday.

25. (-) Hamburg SV. Huub Steven's men return to the Top 25 for the first time since Dec. 17. HSV have not lost since Dec. 1 and yesterday matched wits with #10 Bayern Munich. They also advanced in the UEFA Cup last week (against sorry FC Zurich, but still) where they will face #24 Bayer Leverkusen in an all-German grudge match. Up next week: At Wolfsburg in the DFB Pokal (cup) and against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Saturday Bundesliga match.

Dropping out: Panathinaikos (19), Villareal (20), Celtic (25).

Also receiving consideration (in rough order of consideration received): Sevilla, Everton, Schalke 04, Boca Juniors, Ajax Amsterdam, Velez Sarsfield, Toluca, Estudiantes.

Another to keep an eye out for: Tottenham Hotspur, who beat Chelsea in the League Cup final and has not lost a game since Jan. 12 (against Chelsea, incidentally). Juande Ramos' men face Chelsea again at midweek then travel to St. Andrew's Sunday. They're through to the UEFA Cup Round of 16, where they will face PSV Eindhoven.

1 comment:

  1. This is the first time I've seen this list of clubs, and I have to say it's very interesting. Just wondering how do you compile it? What factors do you consider when coming up with who is placed where because there's a lot to take into consideration and comparing different leagues in countries with vastly differing standards is tricky I'd have thought?