Jan 12, 2009

The world's top 25 soccer clubs, Jan. 12, 2009

It's on like Donkey Kong! With the Italian Serie A returning to action this weekend, all three of the "big three" leagues are now accounted for in 2009. Where does that leave things? Let's take a look:

1 (1). FC Barcelona
It wasn't pretty but Barca got all three points at Osasuna yesterday, coming from behind to win the game through a goal by Lionel Messi (who else?) in the 85th minute. Earlier in the week Pep Guardiola's team beat Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie by 3-1.
Next Up: The return leg with Atletico at the Camp Nou Wednesday, followed by Deportivo La Coruna Saturday (also at home).
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), beat Sporting Lisbon away (5-2, Nov. 26), beat Sevilla away (3-0, Nov. 29), beat Valencia at home (4-0, Dec. 6), beat Real Madrid at home (2-0, Dec. 13), won at Villareal (2-1, Dec. 21).

2 (2). Liverpool
Reds played a disappointing scoreless draw at Stoke Saturday. Luckily for them, Chelsea lost to Man United and Liverpool got to extend its lead in the Premiership to six points. Unluckily for Rafa Benitez' hombres, Man United are now only five points behind Reds with two games in hand. We give Reds the edge over Man U. in this spot because they beat them on the field the one time they met (though it was way back on Sept. 13). But if United win the two games they have in hand over 'pool, they will likely be more deserving of this spot.
Next Up: Host Everton in a week's time. Then host Everton again in the FA Cup, a week from Saturday.
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), tied at Arsenal (1-1, Dec. 21).

3 (3). Manchester United
Our one slight against Sir Alex' club, beyond Cristiano Ronaldo's driving record, was their record against top competition. They went a long way toward rectifying this yesterday, with a resounding 3-0 defeat of Chelsea at Old Trafford. Earlier in the week they lost to Derby (it's pronounced "Dar-bee") in the League Cup, however. This factors in to our decision to keep them third in our rankings, though they supposedly have a chance to advance in the League Cup anyway after the return leg. Since when do worthless competitions have two legs? Oh well...
Next Up: Host Wigan Wednesday before visiting Bolton on 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) and away (0-0, Nov. 25), 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), beat Chelsea at home (3-0, Jan. 11).

4 (4). Inter Milan
Played a disappointing 1-1 draw with Cagliari (it's pronounced "Caliari". The "g" is silent) Saturday. With second-placed Juventus winning yesterday, the nerrazurri give up two points of their lead, with is now four points. Not the way you want to tstart the new year...
Next Up: Genoa in the Coppa Italia Tuesday at Atalanta di Bergamo in Serie A Sunday.
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), beat Udinese (1-0, Nov. 9), beat Juventus (1-0, Nov. 22) .

5 (5). Juventus
Had no problems beating Siena. The score might have just been 1-0 but Juve were clearly the better team.
Next Up: Host Catania in Coppa Italia Wednesday, then visit Lazio in Serie A action Sunday. A date with Fiorentina looms a week from Sunday.
Against Top 25: Beat Zenit St. Petersburg at home (1-0, Sept. 17) and tied on the road (0-0, Nov. 25), 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), lost at Inter Milan (1-0, Nov. 22), beat AC Milan at home (4-2, Dec. 14)

6 (7). Real Madrid
Juande Ramos' team won 3-0 at Mallorca yesterday. Don't look now but they haven't given up any goals or squandered any points since losing to Barcelona back on Dec. 14.
Next Up: Host Osasuna, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Beat Zenit St. Petersburg twice (2-1 on the road, Sept. 30 and 3-0 at home, Dec. 9), beat Atletico Madrid (2-1, Oct. 18), lost to Juventus (2-1 on the road, Oct. 22 and 2-0 at home, Nov. 5), lost at Barca (2-0, Dec. 14), beat Valencia at home (1-0, Dec. 20), beat Villareal at home (1-0, Jan. 4).

7 (6). Bayern Munich
Next Up: Nothing until Jan. 27, when they face Stuttgart for a cup tie. A big game at Hamburg takes place later that same week.
Against Top 25: Tied Olympique Lyon at home (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), beat Hoffenheim (2-1, Dec. 5), beat Olympique Lyon on the road (3-2, Dec. 10).

8. (9) AC Milan
Tied at AS Roma, 2-2 in a game that confirmed once again that Europe (even Italy) remains obsessed with David Beckham.
Next Up: Host fourth-placed Fiorentina Saturday.
Against Top 25: Beat Inter Milan (1-0, Sept. 28), beat Lazio (4-1, Sept. 21), lost at Juventus (4-2, Dec. 14), tied at AS Roma (2-2, Jan. 11).

9. (8). Chelsea
Hard to believe this team is still in second place in the Premiership after a weak run of games that culminated in yesterday's remarkably tame performance at Old Trafford. It won't last past Wednesday, when Man United play their first of two makeup games. And Aston Villa is just a point behind Blues as well (albeit with the same number of games played).
Next Up: Visit Southend United in FA Cup action Wednesday. Host Stoke City Saturday.
Against Top 25 clubs: Tied Man U at home (1-1, Sept. 21), lost to Liverpool (1-0, Oct. 25), lost to Arsenal at home (2-1, Nov. 30), lost at Man United (3-0, Jan. 11).

10 (12). Aston Villa
We mistakenly put Villa behind Arsenal last week, despite the fact that the Birmingham club beat the North Londoners and were ahead of them in the Premiership standings. One of our loyal readers pointed out this injustice on Twitter (if you know what Twitter is and have an account, by all means follow us there. If you don't know what it is you aren't alone so don't worry about it). Anyway, we hope this injustice has now been rectified. Villa beat West Bromwich Albion over the weekend to maintain their hold on fourth place. It's looking more and more like Martin O'Neill's men will break the stranglehold the big four have had on the big four. Though a lot can still happen, of course.
Next Up: Visit Sunderland, Saturday.
Against Top 25: Tied Liverpool at home (0-0, Aug. 31), lost at Chelsea (2-0, Oct. 5), beat Arsenal away (2-0, Nov. 15) tied Man United at home (0-0, Nov. 22)

11 (10). Arsenal
Had trouble beating Bolton at Emirates Saturday, doing so with a late goal by Niklas Bendtner.
Next Up: Visit Hull City, Saturday.
Against Top 25: Tied Dynamo Kiev away (1-1, Sept. 17) won at home (1-0, Nov. 25), beat Man United at home (2-1, Nov. 8), beat Chelsea away (2-1, Nov. 30), tied Liverpool at home (1-1, Dec. 21).

12 (12). AS Roma
Tied AC Milan at home, 2-2. Roma are still a long way from the top of the Serie A table and have to make do without Francesco Totti for another three weeks or so.
Next Up: Host Sampdoria in a makeup game Wednesday, then visit Torino (no relation to the new Clint Eastwood movie) Sunday. A trip to fourth-placed Napoli looms a week after that.
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), beat Fiorentina (1-0, Nov. 29), tied AC Milan at home (2-2, Jan. 11).

13 (11). Atletico Madrid
The rojiblancos had a rough week, losing at home to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey and to Atletic Bilbao in Liga action yesterday. If they keep this up they may not live to see the Top 25 much longer.
Next Up: Get another shot at Barca Wednesday, this time on the road (not that they'll want one). Then visit Almeira, 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), tied at Liverpool (1-1, Nov. 5).

14 (14). Villareal
The yellow submarine tied a six goal thriller with Valencia Saturday, coming from behind twice (once by two goals) to get a point and likely moral victory. They continue to sit Jozy Altidore though. Will they ever learn?
Next Up: Host Mallorca, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Tied Man U twice (0-0 at Old Trafford, Sept. 18 and 0-0 at home Nov. 25), beat Celtic at home (1-0, Sept. 29), tied Atletico Madrid at home (4-4, Oct. 26), lost at Sevilla (1-0, Dec. 14), lost to Barcelona at home (2-1, Dec. 21), lost at Real Madrid (1-0, Jan. 4), tied Valencia on the road (3-3, Jan. 10).

15 (15). Panathinaikos
Won at Panatrakikos to keep pace with first-placed Olympiakos. They trail the defending Greek Super League champs by nine points though.
Next Up: Panatrakikos again, this time in a cup tie Wednesday, followed by seventh-placed Aris Saloniki at home.
Against Top 25: Lost to Inter Milan at home (2-0, Sept. 16), beat Inter Milan (1-0 away on Nov. 25)

16 (17). Sporting Lisbon
Beat Martimo Funchal, 2-0, to remain tied on points with first-placed Benfica (Benfica have the edge on goal difference though).Next Up: Visit fifth-placed Nacional Funchal Sunday. Does Funchal mean football in their language?
Against Top 25: Lost to Barcelona (3-1 away, Sept. 19 and 5-2 home, Nov. 25).

17 (16). Olympique Lyon
Managed just a 1-1 tie at home against Lorient, a mid-table side we can't pretend to know anything about. With second-placed Girondins Bordeaux trouncing fifth-placed Paris St. Germain by 4-0, Lyon's lead has shrunk to a solitary point atop the Ligue Un standings. Stade Rennes is third, only two points behind the leaders. Even Olympique Marseille, written off for dead a few weeks ago, are still in this, with a four point deficit on the perennial French champs. They have a fight on their hands this year, in other words.
Next Up: Visit Grenoble Saturday.
Against Top 25: Tied Fiorentina at home (2-2, Sept. 17) and Bayern Munich on the road (1-1, Sept. 30), won at Fiorentina (2-1, Nov. 25), lost to Bayern at home (3-2, Dec. 10).

18 (18). FC Sao Paulo
The Brazilian champs (third year in a row) were idle last week and will remain so for the forseeable future.
Next Up: When does Libertadores start, anybody know? Whenever it does, Sao Paulo will be in a group with Uruguay's Defensor Sporting and two qualifiers (one or both from Colombia).

19 (19). Boca Juniors
The newly-crowned Apertura champs were idle last week.
Next Up: It looks like they have some games in the Torneo Verrano, the summer tournament that is traditionally held this month (January being a summer month in the southern hemisphere). Whenever the Copa Libertadores starts, it looks like Boca will be in a group with Paraguay's Libertad, Peru's Universidad (a college team that somehow qualified for this competition, it appears) and Mexico's San Luis.
Against Top 25: Beat San Lorenzo (3-1, Dec. 20).

20 (20). Standard Liege
Next Up: Some Belgian team Saturday, when the Jupiler league returns to action. They're drawn with Sporting Braga in the next stage (round of 32) in the UEFA Cup. We expect them too win, of course.
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).

21 (23). Valencia
Tied Villareal in a game they probably should have won after tying at Real Santander in midweek Copa del Rey action.
Next Up: The return leg against Santander followed by a trip to Bilbao, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Lost to Real Madrid over two legs in Spanish Supercup, tied at Sevilla (0-0, Nov. 22), lost at Barcelona (4-0, Dec. 6), beat Atletico Madrid (3-1, Jan. 4), tied Villareal (3-3, Jan. 10).

22 (-). Sevilla
Beat Deportivo La Coruna twice last week, once at home in the Copa del Rey and once on the road in a Liga match that sent Sevilla up to third in said table. Deportivo are a quality side (seventh in Spain) so this counts in Sevilla's favor.
Next Up: Deportivo again, on the road again, Wednesday (the return leg of their Copa del Rey tie). Then Numancia at home.
Against Top 25: Won at Atletico Madrid (1-0, Sept. 28), won at Real Madrid (4-3, Dec. 7), lost to Barcelona at home (3-0, Nov. 29), beat Villareal at home (1-0, Dec. 13).

23 (22). Internacional
The Porto Allegre side beat Estudiantes 2-1 over two legs to take the Copa Sudamericana earlier this month. That will assure them a spot in the Top 25 for a little while (see Arsenal de Sarandi from last year, specifically here and here).
Against Top 25: Beat Boca Juniors and Chivas de Guadelajara over two legs in the Copa Sudamericana quarter- and semi-finals respectively.

24 (-). Chivas de Guadelajara
Chivas return to the Top 25 after a long absence. They accomplish this feat by winning (or becoming one of two teams to win) the Interliga tournament that is held to decide which Mexican clubs represent the country in the Copa Libertadores. By doing so they become the Mexican side that represents CONCACAF in this week's edition of the Top 25.
Next Up: No clue, though the Clausura season should be starting soon.
Against Top 25: Lost to Internacional over two legs in the Libertadores quarterfinals.

25 (25). Hoffenheim
Idle last week.
Next Up: Face Cottbus when the Bundesliga returns, Jan. 31.
Against Top 25: Beat Hamburg SV at home (3-0, Oct. 26), lost at Bayern Munich (2-1, Dec. 5).

Dropping Out:
Fiorentina (21), Toluca (24).


  1. i was glad to see more love for south american teams! the ranking looks pretty reasonable, not to much to complain about.
    as for the libertadores, it starts the last week of January.

  2. that's soon! Who do you see as the favorites? Figure Boca Juniors and Sao Paulo, though I suppose they're always favorites?

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    Thanz ...:)