Oct 27, 2008

The world's top 25 soccer clubs, Oct. 27, 2008

The Soccer Source Ranking Committee faced a crucial dilemma, with last week's top three teams all dropping points in their games. What would we do? Read on to find out.

1 (Last Week: 7). Liverpool
Okay, we admit it. Liverpool is a good team. Very good in fact. How good? The first team to win at Stamford Bridge in 86 games good. The only Champions League team unbeaten in all competition good. The best team in the world good. Yes, boys and girls, this is how the Soccer Source ranking committee sees things. Go ahead and argue with us. Just don't be a Chelsea fan because, uh, they lost to Liverpool on the field, settling that argument. (Okay the game-winning goal was a bit lucky, but Reds also hit the post later and it's hard to argue that Rafa Benitez' men weren't the better side on the day). Seriously though, who else could possibly deserve this spot ahead of Liverpool? If you have any worthy candidates, we're all ears.
(As a side note, hopefully this will end some of the allegations the ranking committee hates Liverpool).
Next Up: Host Pompey Wednesday then play at resurgent (ha!) Tottenham Hotspur Saturday.
Against Top 25: Beat Manchester United (2-1, Sept. 13), beat Olympique Marseille on the road (2-1, Sept. 16), tied at Atletico Madrid (1-1, Oct. 22), won at Chelsea (1-0, Oct. 26).

2 (4). FC Barcelona
What's this? Barca? Second? Believe it. The Catalonian side's last loss, on Aug. 31, was also in their first game and, lest we forget, the only time Josep Guardiola's has been on the losing end this season. Last week they won their two games by a combined 10-0. Granted the opponents (FC Basel and Almeira) are not likely to appear on this list anytime soon, if ever. Nevertheless, Barca are clearly finding their form. Be forewarned...
Next Up: At Benidorm in the Copa del Rey Wednesday, then at Malaga Saturday.
Against Top 25: Beat Atletico Madrid at home (6-1, Oct. 4), beat Sporting Lisbon at home (3-1, Sept. 16).

3. (1). Chelsea
Blues met their maker yesterday, losing at home to Liverpool to fall from the ranks of the unbeaten and drop to second in the Premiership. We still like them, but can't help but be a tiny bit concerned over a not-so-great record against top competition (see below though it should be noted that Roma, whom Chelsea beat at mid-week were at one point a Top 25 club. Then again, so were Spurs whom incidentally they did not beat).
Next Up: Hull City away at midweek, then Sunderland at home Saturday.
Against (past or present) Top 25 clubs: Tied Man U at home (1-1, Sept. 21), lost to Liverpool (1-0, Oct. 25).

4 (2). Real Madrid
Real lost their Champions League match at Juve last week then rebounded to beat Atletic Bilbao 3-2 on the weekend. The concern here is that Juventus is not very good, which would mean Real is not very good. But they have a better record against top competition than the teams behind them (even with the loss to Juve) so they get fourth for now.
Next Up: Visit Real Union de Irun (who? Don't ask us) in the Copa del Rey Wednesday, followed by a trip to Almeira Sunday.
Against Top 25: Won at Zenit St. Petersburg (2-1, Sept. 30), beat Atletico Madrid (2-1, Oct. 18), lost at Juventus (2-1, Oct. 22).

5 (3). Manchester United
Red Devils had a subpar week. The 3-0 Champions League victory against Celtic was much closer than the score indicated (Man U. got two offsides goals, UEFA even admitted as much. Way to get back your refs, guys) and then there were the dropped points at Everton Saturday.
Next Up: Host West Ham and Hull, Wednesday and Saturday, respectively.
Against Top 25: Lost to Zenit St. Petersburg (2-1), lost at Liverpool (2-1, Sept. 13), tied Villareal at home (0-0, Sept. 17), tied at Chelsea (1-1, Sept. 21), beat Celtic (3-0, Oct. 22).

6 (5). Inter Milan
Talk about subpar weeks, Inter managed only a 1-0 victory over Famagusta in their Champions League game, then did even worse by dropping points to Genoa at home yesterday to relinquish first place in Serie A (to Udinese, of all teams).
Next Up: Visit Fiorentina Wednesday and host Reggina Calcio Saturday. Then play Famagusta again (this time in Cyprus) on Tuesday, Nov. 4.
Against Top 25: Lost to AC Milan (1-0, Sept. 28), won at Panathinaikos (2-0, Sept. 16).

7. (9) AC Milan
What a week for the rossoneri! Not only did they win both games (3-1 over Heerenveen in UEFA Cup action and 1-0 at Atalanta Bergamo yesterday) they also inked a deal with a man known as Goldenballs, albeit only on a loan arrangement.
Next Up: A pair of home games, Siena on Wednesday and Napoli Sunday. Then it's Sporting Braga in UEFA Cup action on Thursday Nov. 6, also at home.
Against Top 25: Beat Inter Milan (1-0, Sept. 28), beat Lazio (4-1, Sept. 21).

8 (6). Villareal.
What can you say about a team that last week had a goals/against record of 10/7? Besides the fact that they score a lot of goals and don't play defense? The Yellow Submarine beat Aalborg 6-3 at midweek in the Champions League, then tied Atletico Madrid 4-4 yesterday. The latter result really should have been a victory seeeing as Villareal had a 4-2 lead with a man advantage 10 minutes from time.
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), tied Atletico Madrid at home (4-4, Oct. 26).

9 (8). Valencia
The first placed team in Spain tied Recreativo Huelva 1-1 yesterday. It was a road game but Huelva are 18th in La Liga so that will hurt a bit. The ranking committee remains very skeptical of Valencia, who have not played any top competition since the league cup against Real Madrid (and that was a glorified scrimmage) and are in one of the weakest UEFA Cup groups.
Next Up: Visit Club Portugalete for Copa del Rey action Wednesday, followed by Racing Santander at home Saturday.
Against Top 25: Lost to Real Madrid over two legs in Spanish Supercup.

10 (11). Arsenal
Beat Fenerbache and West Ham United last week.
Next Up: Host Spurs for a London derby league game (Wednesday), visit Stoke City (Sunday).
Against Top 25: Tied Dynamo Kiev (1-1, Sept. 17)

11 (13). Juventus
Juve had a resurgent week, beating then No. 2 Real Madrid in Champions League action and seeing off Torino in the Turin derby (it's pronounced "dar-bee"). Did this rescue the bianconeri's season? It very well may have. We aren't quite ready to return them to the top 10 yet though (they're in 10th place in Serie A, for God's sake).
Next Up: Visit Bologna Wednesday, then host Roma Saturday. Who would have thought Juventus and Roma would be 10th and 15th, respectively, in Serie A at this point? Well it's still early.
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), beat Real Madrid (2-1, Oct. 22).

12. (10) Sevilla
Beat Stuttgart 2-0 in their UEFA Cup group then lost 1-0 at home to Malaga--their first loss of the season and the first time they gave up a goal since Sept. 13.
Next Up: Visit SD Ponferradina in the Copa del Rey (who are all these teams?) then visit Valladolid in Liga action Sunday.
Against Top 25: Won at Atletico Madrid (1-0, Sept. 28)

13 (14). Atletico Madrid
Tied the new No. 1 team in the world 1-1 at midweek, then tied again against No. 8 Villareal, 4-4 yesterday.
Next Up: A reprieve from a brutal stretch of the schedule (four Top 25 teams so far this month, which is more than many teams play all season) with Orihuela (we're not making this up; that's what they're called) in the Copa del Rey at midweek followed by Mallorca at home Saturday. Then things get difficult again with a trip to Anfield Tuesday, Nov. 4. I think that's an important date in the U.S. but I don't know why. Thanksgiving day? No, that's on a Thursday. Hmm.
Against Top 25: Lost at Barcelona (6-1, Oct. 4), lost to Real Madrid (2-1, Oct. 18), tied Liverpool (1-1, Oct. 23), tied Villareal (4-4, Oct. 26).

14. (15) Dynamo Kiev
Dynamo won their Champions League game at Porto last week and followed up with an easy victory in their domestic league game to expand their lead to five points. Incidentally, this team has not lost this season. This includes games against Arsenal and Spartak Moscow and Fenerbahce Instanbul. And now Porto.
Next Up: A Ukranian cup tie at mid-week followed by a league game. Both of these games are against teams we can't prounounce. Then the return leg against Porto. Against Top 25: Tied Arsenal (1-1, Sept. 17)

15 (12). Olympique Lyon
Beat Steaua Bucharest on the road in midweek CL action, which isn't bad especially considering Lyon were losing late in that one. Then played a scoreless game at Auxerre yesterday. This would have been a fine result a decade or so ago when Auxerre had the likes of Djibril Cisse and Philippe Mexes but these days Auxerre is 12th in Ligue Un, which is about where you'd figure an MLS side to be placed if they were French. Still, Lyon hang on to first place and remain on track to advance in the Champions League. But we can't help be concerned by their form; the Bucharest victory was their first in five games.
Next Up: Visit last placed Sochaux then host third-placed Le Mans.
Against Top 25: Tied Fiorentina at home (2-2, Sept. 17) and Bayern Munich on the road (1-1, Sept. 30).

16 (21). Bayern Munich
Jurgen Klinsmann's side won both games last week, the first a convincing 3-0 drubbing of Fiorentina, a team that was actually ahead of them in last week's standings. The second saw them down 2-0 to Wolfsburg (partly due to a bogus penalty) before they came back to win 4-2.
Next Up: Visit Eintracht Frankfurt then host Arminia Bielefeld. I think these German team names might actually mean something?
Against Top 25: Tied Olympique Lyon (1-1, Sept. 30), won at Steaua Bucharest (1-0, Sept. 17), beat Fiorentina at home (3-0, Oct. 22).

17 (-). Udinese
Udine make their debut appearance on the Top 25 thanks to being the first-placed team in Italy and losing only once all season in all competitions (a forgiveable 1-0 road loss to No. 11 Juventus back on Sept. 14). Okay, so they aren't in the Champions League. That's due to what happened last year and they are in UEFA, where they also happen to be unbeaten (before you laugh at them being in a group with Spurs, we remind you that they beat Borussia Dortmund to qualify). Last week they became the last team to beat a Juande Ramos-coached Premiership side, besting Tottenham by 2-0, then followed that up with a 3-1 victory over hapless Roma.
Next Up: Catania Calcio on the road Wednesday, then Genoa at home Saturday. They face Spartak Moscow on Thursday, Nov. 6.
Against Top 25: Lost to Juventus (1-0, Sept. 14)

18 (17). Fiorentina
La Viola managed to rebound from their midweek Champions League loss at No. 16 Bayern Munich by winning 3-1 at Palermo yesterday. They would have dropped further even with the win, but the teams behind them all lost games as well.
Next Up: Things get interesting, with No. 6 Inter Milan paying a visit Wednesday. Then a game at Siena, followed by the return leg with Bayern.
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), lost at Bayern Munich (3-0, Oct. 22).

19 (-). Benfica Lisbon
Benfica return to the Top 25 for the first time in a very long time (we don't know exactly when but Google should be able to tell you). They do this despite only sitting in third place in Liga Segares and despite selling their best player, Fredy Adu. Just kidding about the second one. They are unbeaten in all competition (a 3-2 loss in the first leg of their UEFA Cup qualifier with Napoli notwithstanding. They made it up by winning the return leg 2-0). Last week they tied at Hertha Berlin, 1-1 and won their domestic league game.
Next Up: Vitoria Guimares Sunday. Galatasaray visit Thursday, Nov. 6.

20 (18) Celtic
Rebounded from their 3-0 loss at Old Trafford to beat Hibs 4-2 and extend their lead to three points over idle Rangers in the SPL. Unfortunately, the loss to Man United means Hoops are not likely to see European action after new year's.
Next Up: Visit Kilmarnock for a League Cup match Wednesday, then travel to Hearts Sunday. Get another chance with Man United on Nov. 5.
Against Top 25: Lost at Villareal (1-0, Sept. 30), lost at Man Utd. (3-0, Oct. 22).

21 (-). Chivas Guadelajara
We have to put Chivas in here after the week they had. In three games, the red and white reasserted themselves as a team everybody in the entire Western hemisphere must reckon with. We're not even exaggerating. First came a victory over last week's 19th ranked club Atlante, then a 2-1 win at River Plate and finally a victory by the identical score at archrival Club America in the Azteca.
Next Up: Host UNAM Pumas Nov. 2. The return leg against River is not until Nov. 7.
Against Top 25: Beat Atlante at home (1-0, Oct. 19)

22 (20). Zenit St. Petersburg
Tied BATE Borisov in a Champions League game they needed to win, then tied Tom Tomsk (hey is that named after the GPS device company?) in a Russian league match. Things have not gone as planned for the team from the city formerly known as Leningrad, who are now in very serious danger of being dropped from the Top 25 list altogether.
Next Up: Saturn Ramenskoje Wednesday and Khimki Friday in domestic league games.
Against Top 25: Lost at Juventus (1-0, Sept. 17), lost to Real Madrid (2-1, Sept. 30), tied BATE Borisov (1-1, Oct. 22).

23 (19). Atlante
Mexico's defending Apertura champs lost at No. 21 Chivas back on Oct. 19 and do not appear to have played since.
Next Up: At Monterrey, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Beat Club San Luis (Aug. 31), lost at Chivas (1-0, Oct. 19).

24 (25) BATE Borisov
The Belarusian (or is it Belarussian?) side rebounded from the 1-1 home tie with No. 22 Zenit St. Petersburg to win their domestic competition on the weekend.
Next Up: Torpedo something then second-placed Dynamo Minsk.
Against Top 25: Tied Juventus at home (2-2, Sept. 30), lost at Real Madrid (2-0), tied Zenit St. Petersburg at home (1-1, Oct. 20).

25. (24) Boca Juniors
Lost the first leg of the Copa Sudamerican quarterfinal with Internacional by 2-0. It was a road game so Boca could of course come back and advance but one suspects they weren't expecting this. Rebounded to beat Rosario Central at the Bombonera on the weekend.
Next Up: Visit Banfield Wednesday, then host first-placed San Lorenzo Sunday. Boca sit third, five points behind San Lorenzo, so this is obviously a must-win with eight games remaining in the Apertura.

Dropping Out:
Palmeiras (16), CFR Cluj (22), Hamburg SV (23)

Also receiving consideration:
CA San Lorenzo, Bordeaux, Aston Villa


  1. altough i completely disagree with LFC being considered the best team in world football your list is very good, at least you put some meat behind your reasoning.
    LFC have played too many poor games only to score a 85th+ minute winner to take all points to be considered best in the world. How can we forget their wayyy bellow par performance in the CL qualification double leg. They are extremly lucky to be in the CL and such I dont consider them the best team in the world. Who cares if they beat chealsea at chelsea.

  2. Some valid points and we agree with you in principle. Reds have gotten lucky and their CL qualifier was complete crap (it was also some time ago, however). But it's the results that count, ultimately. While we are not opposed to deviating from pure wins and losses in our analysis (indeed such subjective reasoning is very much a feature of our Top 25 and one of the things that sets it apart from other rankings. Whether that is good or bad is of course another matter of debate) certain performances do speak for themselves. And the Chelsea game is one of them. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, who is a viable alternative to Liverpool at this point? The argument for every single other Top 10 team has fatal flaws. The one that carries the most water is probably for Chelsea. But Liverpool beat them on their turf so that wouldn't make sense.

  3. Liverpool has been playing well in Feb and March. Good Prediction