Nov 3, 2008

The world's top 25 soccer clubs, Nov. 3, 2008

With Liverpool, last week's No. 1 team, losing last week the top spot was up for grabs. But who to move into it? Read on and you'll see.

1 (2). FC Barcelona
They were second going into last week, they won both games they played (at Benidorm in the Copa del Rey and at Malaga), so it only makes sense that Barcelona are, in our humble opinion (some would say it's not so humble but they obviously are just jealous), the best soccer club in the world at present. 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. We told you they were finding their form. Chances are they will retain the top spot at least for another week because the upcoming competition is rather mediocre (to put it kindly)...
Next Up: At home to FC Basel in the Champions League tomorrow, then Valladolid visit Nou Camp Saturday.
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 (1). Liverpool
We were joking when we said Liverpool faced a "resurgent" Tottenham Hotspur club last week. But after taking an early (very early, like third minute) lead, Reds gave up two second half goals for their first loss of the season and first at White Hart Lane since the Thatcher administration (we're actually making that up, but it may be true for all we know. It's definitely been a while). Earlier in the week they beat Pompey 1-0.
Next Up: Host Atletico Madrid in the Champions League tomorrow, followed by West Bromwich Albion, also at Anfield, Saturday. They have Spurs again after that, in the League Cup (again in North London).
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).

3. (3). Chelsea
Okay, so why exactly is Chelsea behind Liverpool in the Top 25, despite leading them in the Premiership standings (even if it's just by goal difference)? Simple, when the two teams played each other, Chelsea lost. In a game at Stamford Bridge. Oh yeah, look at the teams' records against Top 25 clubs, too. Last week Blues won both games, by an impeccable 8-0 combined score (granted this was Hull City and Sunderland. A lot of clubs would have beaten those two by a combined eight goals. Yeah yeah Hull City was high up in the table. Well those days are over).
Next Up: At AS Roma in the Champions League. Then at Blackburn in Premiership action Sunday.
Against Top 25 clubs: Tied Man U at home (1-1, Sept. 21), lost to Liverpool (1-0, Oct. 25).

4 (5). Manchester United
Red Devils gave up two late goals to Hull City to make the 4-3 final score look a lot closer than it actually was (though the Tigers did hold their own for long stretches of the game, we will admit). Earlier in the week Sir Alex' men beat East End United by 2-0.
Next Up: Play at Celtic in the CL then at Arsenal Saturday...
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).

5. (7) AC Milan
Another stellar week for the rossoneri, who took first place in Serie A thanks to a pair of victories and enter the Top 5 for the first time ever. Milan beat Siena 2-1 at midweek before beating Napoli 1-0. The latter opponent, while not quite Top 25, are still very decent and now sit fourth in Serie A.
Next Up: Host Sporting Braga in UEFA Cup action on Thursday then face Lecce on the road Sunday.
Against Top 25: Beat Inter Milan (1-0, Sept. 28), beat Lazio (4-1, Sept. 21).

6 (6). Inter Milan
Played Fiorentina to the ubiquitous (in the Italian league at least) 0-0 score at midweek, then had a rough time of it at Reggina Calcio, giving up a two goal lead before winning 3-2 on a stoppage time goal.
Next Up: Visit Famagusta in the Champions League then host Udinese in what should be a close game Sunday (Editor's note: It's Serie A. All games are close, even if they're blowouts. A 2-0 victory is a blowout in Italy).
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).

7 (4). Real Madrid
Real tied Almeira yesterday, a disappointing result even though it was on the road (Almeira are mid table. There is a lot of quality in the Spanish liga. But not that much). What was potentially worse was the mid-week loss at Real Union de Irun in the Copa del Rey. Real Madrid will likely be able to make up that result in the return leg, which will be played at the Bernabeu. But it doesn't look good. We don't even know who Irun are or where they play or anything (and not just because we're ignorant Yanks who don't know anything about geography) but it's not the Liga BBVA (some rudimentary research reveals it's not the next level down either. So Real just looks really bad, period).
Next Up: Host Juventus in the Champions League Wednesday and Malaga Saturday. The return leg against Irun is Wednesday, Nov. 12.
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).

8 (11). Juventus
Juventus take a massive jump in our standings thanks to two Serie A victories last week, at Bologna (2-1) and over Roma (2-0). By the way Roma are now in the relegation zone thanks to the loss. Juve have now moved up to sixth in Serie A.
Next Up: Visit No. 7 Real Madrid at midweek, then play at Chievo Verona on the weekend.
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).

9 (13). Atletico Madrid
Won both games last week, at CF Orihuela in the Copa del Rey (1-0) and at home against Mallorca yesterday (2-0). That was enough to catapult them back into the Top 10.
Next Up: Visit No. 2 Liverpool tomorrow, then travel to Osasuna Sunday.
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).

10(16). Bayern Munich
Jurgen Klinsmann's side won both games last week, over Eintracht Frankfurt and Arminia Bielefeld, to move into third place in the Bundesliga. We told you there was nothing to worry about Bayern fans (actually we didn't, but whatever).
Next Up: Visit Fiorentina for a crucial Champions League tie, then visit fourth placed Schalke. Win both and they're back in the Top 10, possibly even the Top 5.
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).

11 (15). Olympique Lyon
Now that's more like it. L'OL won both games last week, against Sochaux and Le Mans (who were third coming into that game). With the victories Lyon takes a four point lead in Ligue Un, as things appear to return to normal after a tough stretch.
Next Up: Host Steaua Bucharest Wednesday, then visit Monaco Saturday.
Against Top 25: Tied Fiorentina at home (2-2, Sept. 17) and Bayern Munich on the road (1-1, Sept. 30).

12. (14) Dynamo Kiev
Kiev won both games last week, a cup tie and a league match. Neither should be a big surprise as they were against Ukrainian competition other than Shakthar Donetsk.
Next Up: Host Porto, whom they beat the last time, in the Champions League.
Against Top 25: Tied Arsenal (1-1, Sept. 17)

13 (8). Villareal.
Last week we made light of the fact that the Yellow Submarine had a record of 10 goals scored and 10 received the previous week. That's bad for a club with pretensions of a Top 10 spot, but what is worse is giving up five goals in a losing effort at some lower division minion. OK, so they may have rested most starters. So what? Even with all starters out a team like Villareal should be able to beat (or at least tie) a club named Polideportivo Ejido. But the final score of that midweek Copa del Rey tie was Polideportivo 5, Villareal 0. Ouch. They managed to rebound in their second game of the week, beating Atletic Bilbao 4-1 (including one goal by Jozy Altidore). But Atletic are now second-to-last in La Liga so let's take that with a grain of salt as well.
Next Up: Visit Aalborg in the CL, then host Almeira Sunday. The return leg against Polideportivo Ejido is Wednesday, Nov. 12.
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 (9). Valencia
Unlike many other Spanish "powers," Valencia actually managed to beat their amateur Copa del Rey opponents last week, seeing off Club Portugalete 4-1. Unfortunately they then played arguably their worst game of the season, losing to Racing Santander at home. 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. We may have seen the last of Valencia in the Top 10.
Next Up: Host FC Kopenhagen in UEFA Cup action Thursday, then play at Getafe (Sunday).
Against Top 25: Lost to Real Madrid over two legs in Spanish Supercup.

15 (10). Arsenal
After blowing two two goal leads against resurgent (we aren't joking with that moniker now!) Tottenham Hotspur to draw 4-4 at midweek, Gunners turned in an even worse performance, going down 2-1 to Stoke City Saturday. Ugly, ugly. And we haven't even seen them play top competition yet. But that is about to change, because...
Next Up: Host Fenerbahce Instanbul in the CL Wednesday, followed by No. 3 Man United at the Emirates Saturday.
Against Top 25: Tied Dynamo Kiev (1-1, Sept. 17)

16 (17). Udinese
Udine vindicated our choice to give them their first ever Top 25 with a solid week (four points from two games). They sit second in Serie A, one point behind No. 5 Milan.
Next Up: Visit face Spartak Moscow on Thursday, and No. 6 Inter Milan Sunday.
Against Top 25: Lost to Juventus (1-0, Sept. 14)

17 (19). Benfica Lisbon
Beat Vitoria Guimares to maintain their spot in the Top 25.
Next Up: Host Galatasaray Thursday.

18 (20) Celtic
Won both games, against Kilmarnock in a League Cup match and at Hearts in the SPL, to reclaim 18th place (which they had previously given up after losing at Man United).
Next Up: Face a must-win against Man United in the Champions League Wednesday, then host Motherwell Saturday. If the past few seasons are any guide, Celtic will play Man United tough but lose in unlucky fashion. Or tie, which won't do them any good either. With six points between the top two clubs in the group (Man U and Villareal) and Celtic (and Aalborg, but who cares about them), the Bhoys need a victory if they're going to have any chance at advancing out of the group.
Against Top 25: Lost at Villareal (1-0, Sept. 30), lost at Man Utd. (3-0, Oct. 22).

19. (12) Sevilla
Seriously, what is it with these Spanish clubs losing to teams from the netherworld of their country's soccer leagues? Sevilla lost their Copa del Rey tie against SD Ponferradina. Granted the 1-0 result will probably made up in the return leg, but still. Sheesh. To make matters worse, Sevilla then lost their league match yesterday, at Valladolid, 3-2.
Next Up: Visit Standard Liege in UEFA Cup action Thursday, followed by Recreativo Huelva at home, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Won at Atletico Madrid (1-0, Sept. 28)

20 (18). Fiorentina
Fiorentina had a tough week, getting only one point from their two games. They tied No. 7 Inter Milan at midweek then went down to Siena yesterday. They drop to eighth in Serie A with that loss.
Next Up: Host No. 10 Bayern Munich in what looks like a must win Champions League game. Then host Atalanta di Bergamo in weekend Serie A action.
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).

21. (25) Boca Juniors
A huge week for the boys from the Bombonera, who won both their games by 1-0 scores, the second of which came against first-placed San Lorenzo. Boca move into a tie for first with the victories.
Next Up: Host Internacional in the return leg of their Copa Sudamericana quarterfinal. Boca lost the first leg 2-0 so they'll have their work cut out for them. Also visit Arsenal Sunday.

22 (21). Chivas Guadelajara
Tied UNAM Pumas, 1-1, which was enough to move into second place in their Apertura group. Second place qualifies automatically for the playoffs but Chivas have two games in hand over third place Tecos and fourth placed Pumas. So things could get very interesting.
Next Up: The return leg of their Copa Sudamericana quarterfinal against River is Friday. Chivas won the first leg, in Buenos Aires, by 2-1 so they're in good shape to advance. Also visit Puebla Sunday in what looks like a must-win (if they're going to make the playoffs, though even if they don't finish second they can still get in via the liguilla. More on that some other time. Maybe).
Against Top 25: Beat Atlante at home (1-0, Oct. 19)

23 (22). Zenit St. Petersburg
Won one and tied one in their two league games last week, which is enough to stay in the Top 25. Barely.
Next Up: At BATE Borisov in the Champions League Wednesday and some Russian club Sunday. Dynamo Moscow looms Sunday, Nov. 16.
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).

24 (24) BATE Borisov
The Belarusian (or is it Belarussian?) side won their domestic league game to wrap up their third straight league championship. Congrats, mates. Or however you say that in Belarusian/Belarussian.
Next Up: Host No. 22 Zenit in a must win Champions League match for both sides.
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 (-). 1899 Hoffenheim

Yes we're going there. It is time. The team coached by Ralf Rangnick took over first place in the German Bundesliga yesterday after beating Karlsruhe (it's pronounced Karls-rooh) over the weekend. A highly impressive feat (taking first, not beating Karlsruhe) considering the 99er were playing in Germany's amateur leagues as recently as 2007. (It is however not unprecedented for a promoted team to hold first place and even win the Bundesliga. Kaiserslautern pulled that off in 1998, though they had only just been relegated the season before and had more history not to mention money on their side). Hoffenheim has come from absolutely nowhere to basically shock the German soccer system to its core. Unfortunately we will not see them in Europe this season. But they have quite well against teams who are, for example beating Hamburg by a 3-0 score a few weeks ago and playing VfB Stuttgart to a scoreless draw. If they're going to move up the Top 25 obviously more evidence is needed. We'll get some by Dec. 5, if not before (Hoffenheim visit Bayern Munich on that date).
Next Up: Visit Hertha Berlin (another club playing in Europe) Sunday.
Against Top 25: Beat Hamburg SV at home (3-0, Oct. 26).

Dropping Out:
Atlante (23)

Also receiving consideration:
Aston Villa, FC Sao Paolo, PSV Eindhoven, Galatasaray


  1. what a loser who wrote this. Barca makes me vomit!!! Real madrid will always be the best soccer club in the world, there is no doubt about that. 9 champions league, 31 ligas.. Hala hala madrid

  2. European cuo wins when the competition was in its infancy and only a few countries were invited to partake, and wins during the ban on English clubs don't count as it was not a proper "pan-European" competition