Oct 20, 2008

The world's top 25 soccer clubs, Oct. 20, 2008

Well that was a boring two weeks, wasn't it? Or would you really rather watch national teams slog it out against mediocre competition than see the best club teams compete against each other? We didn't think so. There was one round of games for most teams after the international break. Let's take a look at what happened:

1. (Last week: 1). Chelsea
Can anybody doubt Chelsea is the best team in the world right now? Sure they can (and probably do). But the record speaks for itself. Given all empirical evidence at our disposal, Chelsea are the best club in the world right now. Fact. After disemboweling Middlesbrough 5-0 on Saturday, Blues have six wins, no losses and two ties in Premiership action with a +16 goal difference. (That's just the Premiership. They're also unbeaten in Champions League and League Cup play). The last time Chelsea gave up a goal was in the 18th minute of their game with Manchester United on Sept. 21. That was six games ago. 522 minutes in all competition. That's dominance, folks. But they haven't seen much top competition yet. That is about to change however, because...
Next Up: Roma at home Wednesday, followed by a top of the able clash with Liverpool Sunday.
Against (past or present) Top 25 clubs: Tied Man U at home (1-1, Sept. 21)

2 (2). Real Madrid
Real won the Madrid derby against Atletico on a very late stoppage time penalty.
Next Up: At Juventus in the Champions League tomorrow, followed by Bilbao at home Sunday.
Against Top 25: Beat Atletico Madrid (2-1, Oct. 18), won at Zenit St. Petersburg (2-1, Sept. 30), beat Valencia over two legs in Spanish Supercopa.

3 (3). Manchester United
Red Devils have put together an impressive streak of their own, winning their last four games by a combined score of 11-0. Okay, so those teams were (in order) West Bromwich Albion, Blackburn, Aalborg and Bolton. Still these are games you need to win if you're going to have any pretensions at, well, anything.
Next Up: Host Celtic Tuesday, visit Everton Saturday.
Against Top 25: Tied Villareal at home (0-0, Sept. 17), tied at Chelsea (1-1, Sept. 21), lost at Liverpool (2-1, Sept. 13), lost to Zenit St. Petersburg (2-1).

4 (5). FC Barcelona
Barca won at Bilbao Saturday. Winning at Bilbao was once a formidable feat even for the likes of Barca, but Atletico looks like they're in store for a crappy season, sitting 17th in the Primera.
Next Up: Visit FC Basel at midweek then host Almeira in the Copa del Rey.
Against Top 25: Beat Atletico Madrid at home (6-1, Oct. 4), beat Sporting Lisbon at home (3-1, Sept. 16).

5 (6). Inter Milan
At one point (it seems like so long ago but really wasn't) AS Roma were a Top 25 side and seen as legitimate title contenders, not only in Serie A but in Europe as well. But after a string of disappointing results, Inter became the latest team to defeat the Romans, doing it by a 4-0 score yesterday. They take over first place in Serie A with the victory.
Next Up: Famagusta in the Champions League Wednesday, followed by Genoa Sunday. Both games are home, so we're expecting them to win both.
Against Top 25: Lost to AC Milan (1-0, Sept. 28), won at Panathinaikos (2-0, Sept. 16)

6 (4). Villareal.
The Yellow Submarine played a scoreless draw at Espanyol Barcelona yesterday. Not a huge disappointment, but enough to knock them down a spot. Actually two spots.
Next Up: Aalborg in the CL, then Atletico Madrid at home Sunday.
Against Top 25: Tied Man U at Old Trafford (0-0, Sept. 18), beat Celtic at home (1-0, Sept. 29)

7 (7). Liverpool
Reds came back to beat Wigan Saturday, their stecond-straight come-from-behind victory that ended 3-2 (the first was the Oct. 4 classic against Man City). Ten minutes from time Reds were down a goal in this most recent one, but Albert Riera equalized and Dirk Kuyt got his second of the game five minutes from time to bring victory to Rafa Benitez' men. But things are about to get a lot tricker...
Next Up: Visit Atletico Madrid Wednesday. Then it's off to Stamford Bridge.
Against Top 25: Beat Manchester United (2-1, Sept. 13), beat Olympique Marseille on the road (2-1, Sept. 16).

8 (8). Valencia
The first place team in Spain beat Numancia by 4-0 yesterday. Unfortunately they aren't in the Champions League so we will have to wait a little while before we see Valencia tested against top competition (their UEFA Cup group certainly won't do it. It was judged the third easiest group by, uh, us).
Next Up: Visit Recreativo Huelva Sunday.
Against Top 25: Lost to Real Madrid over two legs in Spanish Supercup.

9. (11) AC Milan
The rossoneri continued their resurgence, beating Sampdoria 3-0 on Saturday (a 3-0 victory in Serie A is like a 6-0 victory anywhere else).
Next Up: A trip to Atalanta Bergamo, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Beat Inter Milan (1-0, Sept. 28), beat Lazio (4-1, Sept. 21).

10. (12) Sevilla
Won at Almeira, 1-0 Sunday. Besides being unbeaten in all competition this year, Sevilla have only given up four goals all season, three of which came in one game (a 4-3 victory over Sporting Gijon on Sept. 13--incidentally the last time anybody put one past starting goalkeeper Andres Palop).
Next Up: Host Stuttgart in the UEFA Cup Thursday and Malaga in la Liga Sunday.
Against Top 25: Won at Atletico Madrid (1-0, Sept. 28)

11 (13). Arsenal
An impressive second half brought victory to Arsene Wenger's Gunners Saturday. At halftime Everton led 1-0 but three goals avoided another Premiership disappointment.
Next Up: Visit Fenerbahce in the Champions League tomorrow, followed by a trip to the East End, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Tied Dynamo Kiev (1-1, Sept. 17)

12 (10). Olympique Lyon
Tied Lille 2-2 at home Saturday. Lille are a decent side by French standards (which means they could probably survive relegation in Spain, Italy or England) and sit sixth in Ligue Un this season. Still this doesn't inspire confidence for the defending French champs, especially not after losing 3-0 to Rennes on Oct. 5.
Next Up: Visit Steaua Bucharest tomorrow for Matchday 3 in the CL then visit Auxerre.
Against Top 25: Tied Fiorentina at home (2-2, Sept. 17) and Bayern Munich on the road (1-1, Sept. 30).

13 (9). Juventus
Juve continue to spiral downwards, losing at Napoli 2-1 Saturday and slipping to 12th place in Serie A.
Next Up: Host No. 2 Real Madrid Wednesday. A victory there would go a long way toward righting the ship. Also host the Torino derby (it's pronounced "dar-bee" Saturday).
Against Top 25: Beat Zenit St. Petersburg (1-0, Sept. 17), tied at Fiorentina (1-1, Aug. 31), tied at BATE Borisov (2-2, Sept. 30).

14 (15). Atletico Madrid
Lost to cross town rivals Real, 2-1 on a penalty kick in the seventh minute of stoppage time. This may not be Atletico's year after all. But they played Real pretty tough and least they didn't lose 6-1 (like they did to Barca). So wait, a team loses its biggest game of the season and moves up a spot? Well, yes. Partly for logistical reasons (nobody else to replace the 14th spot vacated by Atlante) and partly because they deserve it. There is such a thing as a "quality loss" after all. Says the Soccer Source ranking committee, that is.
Next Up: No. 7 Liverpool (home, Oct. 22) and No. 6 Villareal (away, Oct. 26) are on the docket. We'll have a solid idea of what Atletico are made of when that's done.
Against Top 25: Lost at Barcelona (6-1, Oct. 4), lost to Real Madrid (2-1, Oct. 18).

15. (16) Dynamo Kiev
Beat up on Lugansk Friday, 5-0. Check this out: since mid August, the only team to score against Dynamo was Arsenal (but they didn't beat them either. The Sept. 17 Champs League game ended in a 1-1 tie).
Next Up: Visit FC Porto, a team that is knocking on the door of the Top 25 but hasn't done enough to be let in (yet). If Dynamo lose this game we'll have to revisit their ranking, of course.
Against Top 25: Tied Arsenal (1-1, Sept. 17)

16. (18) Palmeiras
Came back to tie defending champs (and crosstown rivals) FC Sao Paolo yesterday. Palmeiras were down 2-0 late in the second half but got goals in the 79th and 81st minutes to rescue the point. Sounds like a crazy game; there were three red cards issued in all. Previously, Palmeiras tied Figuerinse 0-0.
Next Up: The first leg of their Sudamericana quarterfinal match-up with Argentinos Juniors (the return leg is Nov. 5). In case you're wondering, the quarterfinals feature four Argentine teams, three Brazilian sides and one Mexican club.

17 (20). Fiorentina
Beat Reggina by 3-0 Saturday. A 3-0 victory in Serie A is like a 6-0 vic....oh wait, ran that line already. Sorry. Uh, La Viola have not been scored on in four games and are in a three-way tie for fifth place in Serie A.
Next Up: Visit Bayern Munich for CL action at midweek. Travel to Palermo Sunday.
Against Top 25: Tied Steaua Bucharest at home (0-0, Sept. 30), lost at Lazio (3-0, Sept. 24), tied at Lyon (2-2, Sept. 17), tied Juventus at home (1-1, Aug. 31).

18. (19) Celtic
Beat Inverness, 2-1. Are first in SPL but only three points clear of Rangers, who have a game in hand.
Next Up: A trip to Old Trafford in what may be a must-win if Celtic are going to see any European action after new year's.
Against Top 25: Lost at Villareal (1-0, Sept. 30)

19 (14). Atlante
Mexico's defending Apertura champs lost at Chivas (Guadelajara, not USA) after tying Indios Juarez 3-3 while everybody else was on international break (Mexico, like MLS and a few other places, don't honor FIFA match days). Atlante is not in the Sudamericana so they won't be tested against other (non Mexican) teams this term. But they're clearly the team to beat in Mexico, which makes them a force to be reckoned with.
Next Up: Tecos, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Beat Club San Luis (Aug. 31)

20 (18). Zenit St. Petersburg
Tied their Russian league game 2-2. Is it just us, or does it look like Zenit's star is fading?
Next Up: A do or die game against BATE Borisov in the Champions League.
Against Top 25: Lost at Juventus (1-0, Sept. 17), lost to Real Madrid (2-1, Sept. 30)

21 (23). Bayern Munich
Beat Karlsruhe (it's pronounced Karls-rooh) on Saturday. Bayern have had a rough season. They aren't back yet, but this is a step in the right direction. You can't help but wonder if Klinsmann is wishing he had stayed in California. Especially with the Bavarian winter about to set in.
Next Up: Host No. 17 Fiorentina and Wolfsburg.
Against Top 25: Tied Olympique Lyon (1-1, Sept. 30), won at Steaua Bucharest (1-0, Sept. 17).

22. CFR Cluj (21)

The Romanian side, one of several big surprises to come from the former East bloc, won their domestic league match against Dynamo Bucharest, who were (and we believe still are) top of the table in Romania. Sorry, but anybody who can tie Chelsea belongs in the Top 25. Oh wait, that would include Tottenham. Never mind then.
Next Up: Visit Bordeaux for the next CL match Wednesday.
Against Top 25: Tied Chelsea (0-0, Sept. 29), beat AS Roma (2-1, Sept. 17).

23. (-) Hamburg SV
The top team in Germany return to the Top 25 thanks to a tough game at Schalke 04 (another former Top 25 club) that they very well could (and should?) have won but ended up drawing, 1-1. Strangely, despite being first HSV has a goal differential of only +3. (The second-placed team in Germany's top division are newly-promoted).
Next Up: Visit MSK Zilna in the UEFA Cup followed by the aforementioned Hoffenheim Sunday.
Against Top 25: Tied Bayern Munich (2-2, Aug. 15).

24. (-) Boca Juniors
The boys from the Bombonera are back again, this time thanks in no small part to their 1-0 victory over archrivals River Plate in what is arguably the biggest derby in the world (though I don't know, Grasshoppers vs. FC Zurich is pretty contentious too). It wasn't a very well played game but Boca were the deserved winners and are now fourth in the Apertura standings (eight points behind San Lorenzo with nine games to go).
Next Up: Internacional in the Copa Sudamericana Thursday followed by Rosario Central at home Sunday.

25 (25) BATE Borisov
The Belarusian (or is it Belarussian?) side hang on to their spot in the Top 25 after a scoreless tie in their league match. The defending Belarusian champs have yet to lose in their domestic league this season--a span of 25 games, as Belarus seems to follow the Russio-Scandinavian-U.S. model of starting the season in the spring. Yeah, it's still the Belarusian league. Still, Borisov gets the nod. For now.
Next Up: Their next CL game is at No. 17 Zenit St. Petersburg. We'll know more from that as Zenit have their backs to the wall if they're to finish third in this group, much less advance to the quarterfinals.
Against Top 25: Tied Juventus at home (2-2, Sept. 30), lost at Real Madrid (2-0).

Dropping Out:
Lazio (22), Steaua Bucharest (24).

Also receiving consideration:
CA San Lorenzo, FC Porto, Besiktas Istanbul, Shakthar Donestk, FC Sao Paulo.


  1. you have made a good list of teams here, congratulations, i must also say that i am a fan of pumas(mex), arsenal(england), barcelon and atletico de madrid (spain)
    you should check my blog http://soccerfootblog.blogspot.com

  2. I find it odd that you would have Atlante up there, which lost to two MLS teams, including Dynamo, who thrashed them. Dynamo host Pumas tomorrow in CONCACAF Champions League. (The Orange tied Pumas in Mexico City earlier this month, becoming the first MLS squad to earn a point in Mexico.) If Houston wins Wednesday, should they not also deserve consideration?

  3. part of the reason Atlante is on the list is because the rules stipulate that at least one member from CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and UEFA should be on the list. Atlante gets the CONCACAF spot because they have consistently been the best team in the region (in our view at least). But when did Atlante lose to Houston? Not in the CONCACAF Champions League. They're in a different group and Pumas is a different story entirely. We've had them in the top 25 before but right now they're not quite worthy so regardless of what Dynamo does in that game it us unlikely to register in the Top 25. Finally the CCL, like many CONCACAF competitions, does not feature clubs' "A" teams. More often than not they rest most of their starters. The UEFA and CONMEBOL competitions (including the Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana) are completely different in that regard.