Sep 15, 2008

The world's top 25 soccer clubs, Sept. 15, 2008

1. (Last week: 1). Chelsea
Hey, what happened to all the Man Utd fans who were complaining because their team wasn't #1? The Soccer Source ranking committee once again proved its mettle with the choice of Chelsea, which is suddenly not looking very controversial after Blues saw off Man. City Saturday. In fact, the choice of Chelsea as the #1 club in the world is fast becoming conventional wisdom. But it's early. Very, very early.
Next Up: Speaking of Man U., they visit the Bridge Sunday. Chelsea first Girondins Bordeaux in the Champions league Tuesday.

2 (4). Inter Milan
Beat Catania Calcio, 2-1 after going down 1-0.
Next up: At Panathinaikos in the Champions League opener, tomorrow. Then visit Turin on Sunday.
Quality Win: Roma (Supercoppa)

3 (3). Juventus
Beat Udinese yesterday, 1-0. Juve are third here largely because they haven't lost any games yet and everybody who was ahead of them at the start of the season has. In other words: they've done the bare minimum, which is kind of what you expect of a quality Italian team.
Next Up: Zenit St. Petersburg in the Champs League on Wednesday. It's a home match and the Russian club are already in their midseason, so it will be a good test for Claudio Ranieri's side.

4 (5). Olympique Lyon
Came back to beat Nice, which was nice, but gave up their first goals of the season, which is not so nice. Still, have squandered only two of 15 possible points in five Ligue Un games and this weekend opened up a two point lead in said table.
Next Up: Play at Fiorentina in the Champions League opener Wednesday. That will go down as a quality win if they pull it of.

5 (6). Real Madrid
Beat CD Numancia 4-3 after being down twice.
Up Next: BATE Borisov (CL) at the Bernabeu Wednesday, followed by Racing Santander on Sunday.
Quality Win: Valencia (Aug. 24) in Spanish Supercup.

6 (7). Arsenal
Beat up on Blackburn Saturday. Arsene's men are suddenly looking very solid. Don't get too excited though, there are still several teams in the Premiership that are better than them and will likely prove so over the course of the season. But for now, enjoy the view from your perch, Gunners fans.
Next Up: At Dynamo Kiev in CL action Wednesday. Then at Bolton, Saturday.

7 (2). Manchester United
Oh so that's what happened to Man U! They lost to Liverpool, 2-1, after blowing a 1-0 lead. But hey, Berbatov looks great in a Man United uniform doesn't he? Just wait until him and Tevez and Rooney start clicking. They'll be back at the very top of the Top 25 table in no time.
Next Up: Villareal visits Old Trafford tomorrow before a trip to No. 1 Chelsea on Saturday.

8 (12). Liverpool
Reds beat Man. Utd on Saturday. So why aren't they ahead of Man U in the Top 25? Because they're too bloody inconsistent, that's why! Sorry, but we simply can't see Man U struggling in overtime to beat a team from Belgium in a crucial European match.
Next Up: Olympique Marseille in the Champions League. It gets easier after that with Stoke at Anfield on Sept. 20.
Quality Win: Manchester United, Sept. 13

9 (11). Bayern Munich
Won decidedly at Köln (you'll know them as Cologne) and are second in the Bundesliga, a solitary point behind Hamburg.
Next Up: A potentially tricky visit with Steaua Bucharest in the Champions league.

10 (8). FC Barcelona
Barca continue to struggle and tied Racing Santander at home last week.
Next Up: Sporting Lisbon in UCL action at Bernabeu Wednesday. We'll see just how bad this start of Barcelona's is.

11 (15). Villareal.
Beat Real-beaters Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 in a game that wasn't that close. (As a side note, Jozy Altidore came on in the second half and looked awesome). Knocking on the door to their first-ever Top 10 birth.
Next Up: Visit Old Trafford and No. 7 Man U. for their Champions League opener. That should be interesting.

12 (9). Atletico Madrid
Lost at Valladolid. Sloppy.
Next Up: PSV Eindhoven on the road.
Quality win: Schalke in UCL qualifier over two legs.

13 (10). AS Roma
Lost 3-1 at Palermo. Very sloppy.
Next Up: CFR Cluj in CL action.

14 (19). PSV Eindhoven
Beat Sparta Rotterdam 1-0.
Next Up: Host No. 12 Atletico Madrid in their CL opener.

15 (20). Zenit St. Petersburg
Beat Grozny, 4-1 on the road. Isn't Grozny the capital of Chechnya? They can play soccer there now? How quickly things change. Next thing you know the Russian army will actually be able to roll over their neighbors the way they used to. Oh wait...
Next Up: The CL opener with No. 3 Juventus is on Wednesday.

16 (14). Valencia
Tied Almeira 2-2.
Next Up: Martimo Funchal (whoever that is) in the UEFA Cup.

17 (13). Fiorentina
Lost to Napoli. What the hell is wrong with Italian and Spanish clubs? Oh right, it's the very start of the season. Still, we'll dock points while we can.
Next Up: At No. 4 Lyon Wednesday, then Bologna at home Saturday.

18 (16). Olympique Marseille
Tied at Bordeaux. Are still unbeaten in Ligue Un, though now two points behind No. 4 Lyon.
Next Up: Host No. 8 Liverpool in CL tomorrow, followed by Monaco also at home, Sunday.

19 (17.) Sporting Lisbon
Idle last week.
Next Up: At FC Barcelona in the Champions League, Tuesday. Now that should be interesting.

20 (18). Boca Juniors
Tied Independiente 1-1 but are still first in the Apertura, although just on goal difference.
Next Up: Visit Argentinos Juniors Wednesday, then host CA Tigre Sunda. Will face either Libertadores champs LDU Quito or Bolivar in the Copa Sudamericana Round of 16. (Quito won the first leg, 4-2. The second will be played Thursday).

21 (-). Panathinaikos
After a loss at cross-town rivals AEK Athens, Panathinaikos rebounded with a 3-0 win and return to the Top 25 for the first time since Feb. 8. Previously beat Sparta Prague to reach the Champions League, where they host No. 2 Inter Milan Tuesday. So don't expect to see them back next week, right? Not so fast. Greece can be a very tough place to win, as numerous clubs (including Chelsea) found out last season.

22 (-) Steaua Bucharest
The Romanian side have a 5-1-1 record in their country's top division this season but more importantly beat Galatasaray (at the time a Top 25 club) to advance to the Champions League.Next Up: Host No. 9 Bayern Munich Wednesday. Needless to say, how they perform in that game will go a long way to determine whether they make next week's Top 25 (We don't recommend you count on it, but that's just us).
Quality Win: Galatasaray over two legs in CL qualification.

23 (22). Atlante
The defending Apertura champions tied Cruz Azul 1-1 Saturday, which goes down as a mild disappointment seeing as it was a home game. But the Blue Cross are a good side and finalists in the Clausura finals (losing to Santos Laguna).
Next Up: America away Sunday, then UNAM Pumas home (Sept. 28). No Sudamerica action for these guys.

24 (-). Hamburg SV
Three wins, one tie and zero losses is HSV's record in the Bundesliga--good enough for first place. Saturday Martin Jol's side overcame a halftime deficit to beat Bayer Leverkusen at home. No true quality wins yet, though they also tied at No. 9 Bayern Munich 2-2 a few weeks ago. Also, the got Thiago Nieves, a guy we have been raving about for some time.
Next Up: Unirea Urziceni (no we're not making that up) in the UEFA Cup Thursday followed by Wolfsburg on the road Sunday. Then face Bochum in the DFB Pokal (the German cup).

25 (24). Shakhtar Donetsk
The Ukrainian club tied Metalurg something at home, 2-2. Er....we'll pretend that didn't happen and see how they do at FC Basel in their CL opener this week.

Dropping Out:
Fenerbahce (21), Club San Luis (23), Man. City (25)

Also receiving consideration:

Paris Saint Germain, FC Basle, Dynamo Kiev, Cruz Azul, Santos Laguna.

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