Nov 10, 2008

The world's top 25 soccer clubs, Nov. 10, 2008

Due to the labor-intensive effort involved with putting together this list, Soccer Source's Top 25 will skip next week's edition. But first, this week's list! Read on:

1 (1). FC Barcelona
Barca inexplicably dropped points to FC Basel at home in the Champions League, though the game was largely irrelevant seeing as the Catalonian club qualified for the quarterfinals anyway and likely would have even if they had lost that game. Took out whatever frustrations they had against Valladolid Saturday, in a 6-0 blowout. Barca is in first place in la liga. Their only blemish came on opening day when they lost at Numancia by 1-0.
Next Up: Host Benidorm in the return leg of their Copa del Rey match, then it's Recreativo Huelva on the road Sunday.
Against Top 25 (when they were Top 25): Beat Atletico Madrid at home (6-1, Oct. 4), beat Sporting Lisbon at home (3-1, Sept. 16).

2 (2). Liverpool
Came back to tie Atletico Madrid in the Champions League at midweek, then had absolutely no trouble with West Bromwich Albion, as might be expected.
Next Up: Visit Spurs in the League Cup Wednesday, then visit Bolton Wanderers in Premiership action Saturday. Face Fulham at home a week after that.
Against Top 25: Beat Manchester United (2-1, Sept. 13), beat Olympique Marseille on the road (2-1, Sept. 16), tied Atletico Madrid (1-1 at Madrid, Oct. 22 and 1-1 at Anfield, Nov. 6), won at Chelsea (1-0, Oct. 26).

3 (6). Inter Milan
Played Famagusta to a 3-3 tie in their midweek CL tie then beat Udinese with a stoppage time goal yesterday. Famagusta has been confounding just about everybody and are actually in a good position to advance to the quarterfinals. Inter are all but through to the quarters. They sit first in the group with a four point lead over third place with two games to go.
Next Up: Visit Palermo Saturday. Juve visit the San Siro a week after that.
Against Top 25: Lost to AC Milan (1-0, Sept. 28), won at Panathinaikos (2-0, Sept. 16), tied at Fiorentina (0-0, Oct. 29).

4. (3). Chelsea
Lost at AS Roma, 3-1 before rebounding at Blackburn Rovers yesterday. Blues still lead their Champions League groups, but they could have wrapped up a quarterfinal berth with a win. They'll probably still make it, facing Cluj and Bordeaux in their last two games. Still, Roma were having a horrible time coming into this game and really had no business winning. But they did, which made Chelsea look bad. Which makes us move them down a few spots.
Next Up: Burnley in League Cup action Wednesday and W.B.A. Saturday. Isn't Burnley the team that upset everybody in the F.A. Cup last year?
Against Top 25 clubs: Tied Man U at home (1-1, Sept. 21), lost to Liverpool (1-0, Oct. 25).

5. (5) AC Milan
The rossoneri beat Sporting Braga in UEFA Cup action at midweek then dropped two points at Lecce in a 1-1 tie. It was still good enough to move into a tie for second in Serie A.
Next Up: Host Chievo Verona Sunday.
Against Top 25: Beat Inter Milan (1-0, Sept. 28), beat Lazio (4-1, Sept. 21).

6 (8). Juventus
The Juve rejuvenation continues, as Claudio Ranieri's men won a pair of 2-0 games last week, the first of which was more impressive (at Real Madrid for their second straight victory over the Royalists). The second was at Chievo Verona and moves Juve into fifth place in Serie A.
Next Up: Host Genoa Thursday and are then idle until a trip to Inter Nov. 22.
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 at home, Oct. 22 and 2-0 at the Bernabeu, Nov. 5).

7 (4). Manchester United
Man United faced two top 25 teams last week, both on the road. How did it go? Not well. Sir Alex' men managed only a 1-1 tie at Celtic Park before suffering what might have been a more significant loss at Emirates to Arsenal, 2-1.
Next Up: Visit Queens Park Rangers in League Cup action, then host Stoke Saturday. Aston Villa visit a week after that.
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 at home (3-0, Oct. 22) and tied at Celtic Park (1-1, Nov. 6), lost at Arsenal (2-1, Nov. 8).

8 (10). Bayern Munich
Tied at Fiorentina which was likely enough to clinch a place in the Champions League quarterfinals, then won a very important game over Schalke, 2-1. Move into third place in the Bundesliga with the victory. Bayern's stock is clearly rising; we told you so last week.
Next Up: Visit Borussia Moenchengladbach, Michael Bradley's club, Saturday.
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), tied at Fiorentina (1-1, Nov. 6).

9 (7). Real Madrid
Real's struggles continue. Not only did Bernd Schuster's side lose at home to Juventus they then struggled to defeat Malaga at home. They're still in decent shape in the Champions League, with a two point lead over third placed Zenit St. Petersburg with two to play. We reckon they'll get through to the quarterfinals. But over the medium term we can't help but be a bit concerned.
Next Up: Host Real Irun tomorrow in the return leg of their Copa del Rey tie (Real, that is Real Madrid, lost the first leg 3-2). Visit Valladolid Saturday.
Against Top 25: Won at Zenit St. Petersburg (2-1, Sept. 30), beat Atletico Madrid (2-1, Oct. 18), lost to Juventus (2-1 on the road, Oct. 22 and 2-0 at home, Nov. 5).

10 (9). Atletico Madrid
The final minute of stoppage time was all that kept Atletico from upsetting Liverpool at Anfield last week. They followed this up with a disappointing scoreless draw at last-placed Osasuna in Liga action.
Next Up: Host Orihuela in the return leg of their Copa del Rey tie (after winning the first leg, 1-0), then host sixth-placed Deportivo La Coruna in what might just be a must-win situation if the rojiblancos are going to have any serious pretensions at a Spanish league title.
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), tied at Liverpool (1-1, Nov. 5).

11 (11). Olympique Lyon
Did not appear to have any problem with one-time Top 25 club Steaua Bucharest, winning the midweek CL tie 2-0. Lyon then won at Monaco 1-0 on Saturday. Things are definitely looking up for l'OL, though it will take a little more for them to move up in our rankings.
Next Up: Host FC Metz (no relation to the New York Mets baseball club) in a league cup game tomorrow. Then third-placed Girondins Bordeaux pay a visit Sunday.
Against Top 25: Tied Fiorentina at home (2-2, Sept. 17) and Bayern Munich on the road (1-1, Sept. 30).

12 (15). Arsenal
Gunners played a scoreless tie at Fenerbahce Istanbul in the Champions League at midweek, then beat Man United at Emirates, 3-1 in their best game of the season by far.
Next Up: Host Wigan in the League Cup tomorrow, followed by Aston Villa Saturday. Man City is up a week after that.
Against Top 25: Tied Dynamo Kiev (1-1, Sept. 17), beat Man United at home (2-1, Nov. 8).

13 (13). Villareal.
The Yellow Submarine tied Aalborg at midweek but it was enough to qualify for the quarterfinals. Beat Almeira yesterday to take back second place in La Liga.
Next Up: Polideportivo Ejido in the return leg of their Copa del Rey tie (Villareal somehow lost the first leg 5-0 so this is effectively a scrimmage one would think) and visit Malaga on the weekend.
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).

14 (14). Valencia
Managed to only tie FC Kopenhagen in their UEFA Cup match before rebounding with a more impressive 3-0 victory over Getafe yesterday. Back in third place in La Liga but losing traction in the Top 25.
Next Up: The return leg of their Copa del Rey series (they won the first round easily) then Gijon at home. A trip to Sevilla looms Nov. 23. From what we can tell that's their first serious competition of the entire season.
Against Top 25: Lost to Real Madrid over two legs in Spanish Supercup.

15. (12) Dynamo Kiev
Lost at home to Porto to slip back into third place in their Champions League group. With a trip to Emirates up next, they are in very real danger of missing the quarterfinals. That would obviously knock them from this perch in the Top 25.
Next Up: A Ukraniian cup tie midweek then Shakthar Donetsk (Ukraine's other Champions League team).
Against Top 25: Tied Arsenal (1-1, Sept. 17)

16 (18) Celtic
Celtic once again came up short against Man United, though this time at least they have a point to show for their efforts. It likely won't help them much though. Actually it may not help at all. Celtic will have to beat Aalborg by four goals, hope that Villareal lose to Man. United, then beat the Spaniards in the final match day, preferably by two goal to make up what would then be a tie-breaker (not sure what the tie-breaker after goal difference is. Total goals scored?). Bhoys also beat Motherwell on the weekend and are looking good in the SPL. It will take more than that to make a dent in the Top 25 though.
Against Top 25: Lost at Villareal (1-0, Sept. 30), lost at Man Utd. (3-0, Oct. 22), tied Man Utd. at Glasgow (1-1, Nov. 6).

17 (16). Udinese
Udine passed their first test last week, winning at Spartak Moscow by a 2-1 score. They played Inter Milan tough in their second, but ultimately lost on the game's only goal in stoppage time.
Next Up: Visit face Spartak Moscow on Thursday, and No. 6 Inter Milan Sunday.
Against Top 25: Lost to Juventus (1-0, Sept. 14), lost at Inter Milan (1-0, Nov. 9).

18 (20). Fiorentina
La Viola tied Bayern Munich at home and will now almost certainly miss the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Things went better in their Serie A game, where they beat Atalanta di Bergamo.
Next Up: Visit Cagliari 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), lost at Bayern Munich (3-0, Oct. 22), tied Bayern at home (1-1, Nov. 6).

19 (19). Sevilla
Lost at Standard Liege in UEFA Cup action at midweek. This is the same Standard Liege that nearly ousted Liverpool from a Champions League qualifier so we're somewhat tolerant of that result. On the other hand, why aren't Standard Liege on our radar for this list? Hmm. Sevilla also beat Huelva yesterday to keep pace with the leaders in La Liga.
Next Up: The return leg of their Copa del Rey tie (they're down 1-0 from the first leg) followed by a trip to Getafe.
Against Top 25: Won at Atletico Madrid (1-0, Sept. 28)

20 (-). Sporting Lisbon.
Sporting return to the Top 25 after beating Shakhtar Donetsk to advance to the quarterfinals in the Champions League. The Lisbon side has admittedly been inconsistent this season, losing to domestic rivals Porto (twice, including a Portuguese cup tie last week) and No. 21 Benfica (whom they actually outrank here. More on that in a bit.). But after a forgiveable loss to No. 1 Barcelona on Sept. 19, they have a perfect record without giving up a goal in European play. Granted that was all against clubs FC Basle and Shakthar Donetsk (the former have absolutely no right to be in the Champions League).
Next Up: A pair of domestic league opponents, neither of which we can ever pretend to have heard of.
Against Top 25: Lost at Barcelona (3-1, Sept. 19).

21 (17). Benfica Lisbon
Lost at home to Galatasaray, 2-0, at midweek. That's not very good. With one point from two games, Benfica are in very real danger of not advancing out of what is admittedly a pretty tough group (Hertha Berlin, Olympiakos and Metalist Kharkov are the other teams). Play Desportivo Alves later today.
Next Up: Desportivo Alves today, Estrela Amadora Sunday. Both games are home.
Against Top 25: Beat Sporting Lisbon (at home, 2-0).

22 (22). Chivas Guadelajara
Ousted River Plate from the Copa Sudamericana tourney, where they are now in the semifinals against Brazil's Internacional. That's the good news. The bad news is Chivas lost an important Mexican league match (against Puebla, which is in last place in a different group) and are now in acute danger of missing the postseason.
Next Up: The first leg against Internacional, which takes place at the Jalisco (that is the name of their home grounds, right?). Then host Indios Suarez, another crap Mexican team Sunday. Then the return leg in Brazil a week from Thursday.
Against Top 25: Beat Atlante at home (1-0, Oct. 19)

23 (23). Zenit St. Petersburg
Did well against BATE Borisov to keep their Champions League hopes alive, then only managed a draw in their Russian league match. They're 16 points behind first-place Rubin Kazan on the penultimate match day. Fourth place is still attainable, maybe even third. Neither gives them a shot at the Champions League though. It's looking like the club from the city formerly known as Leningrad are looking at UEFA competition both this year and next.
Next Up: Host third-placed Dynamo Moscow Sunday, then visit Spartak Moscow Nov. 22. A must win against Juventus looms Tuesday, Nov. 25.
Against Top 25: Lost at Juventus (1-0, Sept. 17), lost to Real Madrid (2-1, Sept. 30), tied at BATE Borisov (1-1, Oct. 22), beat BATE Borisov at home (2-0, Nov. 5).

24 (-). Standard Liege
The Belgian club does make the Top 25 list, by virtue of its 1-0 home victory over No. 19 Sevilla. After narrowly losing to Liverpool in Champions League qualifiers, Liege (who are sometimes known as Luettich, or maybe I'm confusing that with something else) ousted Everton from UEFA Cup competition. They sit second in the Belgian Jupiler league, one point behind Bruges.
Next Up: Two Belgian clubs in Jupiler League action this week.
Against Top 25: Lost to Liverpool in Champions League qualifiers (1-0 in aggregate on an overtime goal in the second leg), beat Sevilla at home (2-0, Nov. 6).

25 (-). AS Roma
They're back. Barely. And thanks to one result and one result only, the 3-1 victory over Chelsea that may have just salvaged Roma's season (they also tied at Bologna 1-1 on the weekend). Things are looking good for CL advancement at least; all they have to do is win their next game at CFR Cluj (before you laugh, the Romanian side held a spot in the Top 25 for several weeks a short time ago) and tie Bordeaux on the last matchday (they're equal on points with the French side but beat them at Bordeaux when the teams met earlier this season).
Next Up: Host Lazio in the Roma derby (it's pronounced dar-bee) on Sunday.
Against Top 25: Lost at home to Inter (4-0, Oct. 19), lost at Chelsea (1-0, Oct. 22), lost at Udinese (3-1, Oct. 26), lost at Juventus (2-0, Nov. 1), beat Chelsea (3-1, Nov. 4). That's five Top 25 opponents in a row. Nobody else has done that (granted Roma lost all but the last one, but still. At least things will get easier from here).

Dropping Out:
Boca Juniors (21), BATE Borisov (24), 1899 Hoffenheim (25).

Also receiving consideration:
FC Sao Paolo, Napoli, Galatasaray, Girondins Bordeaux, Estudiantes.