Feb 2, 2009

The world's top 25 soccer clubs, Feb. 2, 2009

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers, winners of Super Bowl XLIII in "that other football"--the one played in the U.S., which curiously does not involve feet striking balls very often. But that's not why we're here. There was a lot of action in association football (soccer here in the U.S.) that affected the top 25 ranking of best soccer clubs in the world. Let's get to it.

1 (1). FC Barcelona
Barca had their troubles with cross-town rival Espanyol in a midweek cup tie, but managed to hold on for a 3-2 victory. They had to come back at Racing Santander in their second game of the week yesterday, getting a brace from Lionel Messi to win it.
Next Up: Host Mallorca in the next stage of the Copa del Rey Thursday. Host Gijon 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), 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), beat Atletico Madrid over two legs (5-2 aggregate) in the Copa del Rey.

2 (2). Manchester United
At this point Man United's supremacy in England, the U.K. and Northern Ireland should not be in dispute. Nor should the club's status as second-best team in the world behind Barca. So let's just have the two play each other and cancel the rest of the season, right? Not so fast. They play these games for a reason, after all. And mathematically it's still a long way to go before Red Devils clinch the Premiership. This week, Man United beat W.B.A. 5-0 at midweek before defeating Everton 1-0 Saturday in a game that was probably not as close as the result would indicate. Toffees have a certain American goalkeeper to thank for keeping them in the game (the least he could do after that blunder against Liverpool a few weeks back).
Next Up: Visit West Ham United 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).

3 (3). Inter Milan
After beating Catania at midweek, Inter stumbled in yesterday's game with Torino, ultimately settling for a 1-1 tie. Luckily for them the other team from Turin, second-placed Juventus, had a horrible time of it last week. So Inter's Serie A lead is now six points.
Next Up: Visit Lecce. The Milan derby looms Sunday, Feb. 15.
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), beat AS Roma in Coppa Italia (2-1, Jan. 21).

4 (4). Liverpool
Reds tied Wigan 1-1 at midweek but won the more important game against Chelsea yesterday. They still fall two points behind Man United in the Premiership (Man U also have a game in hand, it should be noted). Despite yesterday's "quality" win, and despite the fact that Inter stumbled as well, Liverpool do not move up. Why is that? For one, Inter leads their league (even though the two teams' records are comparable and Reds have one less league loss) but more importantly, Liverpool got lucky yesterday. Steve Lampard was given a straight red card for a foul that was at best a yellow and that event, more than anything else, led Reds to break through with the late goal.
Next Up: Another game with Everton, Wednesday followed by a trip to Pompey on 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), beat Chelsea at home (2-0, Feb. 1).

5 (6). Real Madrid
Real beat Numancia Saturday, 2-0, their sixth straight victory. They have a solid hold on second place in La Liga now, with third-placed Sevilla six points off. Unfortunately, it's 12 points between Real and first-placed Barca--a race that, for all intents and purposes, appears to be over.
Next Up: Host Racing Santander, Saturday.
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).

6. (7) AC Milan
After a midweek draw with fourth-placed Genoa, the rossoneri beat Lazio 3-0 to take second place in Serie A from slumping Juventus. They move up in this table too. For those of you who have questioned our sanity for putting AC Milan in the top 10: suck it.
Next Up: Host Reggina Saturday. The Milan derby is on for the week after that.
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).

7 (5). Juventus
It was a very bad week for Juventus, who lost both games, at Udinese (2-1) and at home to Cagliari (3-2). Juve are not looking like a top 10 team right now, much less the top five one they were a week ago.
Next Up: Host a Coppa Italia tie with Napoli Wednesday, before visiting Catania 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)

8. (8). Chelsea
Beat Middlesbrough at midweek before losing to Liverpool yesterday.
Next Up: Host Hull 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), lost at Liverpool (2-0, Feb. 1).

9 (9). Bayern Munich
Bayern's curious Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde act was apparently not exorcised by the month long winter break. After showing their class in defeating Stuttgart 5-1 in a midweek cup tie, they were defeated by Hamburg SV Friday night. Hamburg temporarily took first place in the German Bundesliga with the win before relinquishing it to Hoffenheim, who won Saturday. But more on them later.
Next Up: Host Dortmund Sunday.
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).

10 (13). Olympique Lyon
Beat Olympique Marseille in a midweek cup tie, then tied St. Etienne, 1-1 yesterday. We're still moving them up, because being first place in France has to count for something.
Next Up: Visit Nice, Sunday.
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).

11 (10). Aston Villa
Martin O'Neill's side beat Pompey 1-0 at midweek but just couldn't put the ball in the net against Wigan Saturday. The teams ended up playing a scoreless draw that Villa could ill afford if they were going to be serious about challenging for their first English championship since 1981.
Next Up: Host Doncaster Rovers in an FA Cup tie Wednesday before visiting Blackburn Saturday. The UEFA Cup returns the week after that, with CSKA Moscow playing the first leg at Villa Park.
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)

12 (11). Arsenal
A pair of disappointing draws for Arsene's men, who at this point cannot reasonably be viewed as a realistic contender for the Premiership.
Next Up: Host Cardiff in the replay of their FA Cup tie tomorrow, then visit White Hart Lane.
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).

13 (12). AS Roma
Beat Palermo, 2-1 at midweek, then managed only a 2-2 tie at Reggina on the weekend. Roma are fifth in Serie A, six points behind the Champions League spots. First place is a little too distant at this stage (13 points).
Next Up: Genoa pay a visit 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), beat Fiorentina (1-0, Nov. 29), tied AC Milan at home (2-2, Jan. 11), lost at Inter (2-1, Jan. 21) in Coppa Italia.

14 (16). Boca Juniors
Argentina's Apertura champs beat Racing 2-0 Tuesday to win the Torneo de Verano tournament. The Verano is just a mini tournament that ends next week. But the teams seem to take it seriously.
Next Up: Visit Gimnasia Y Esgrima Sunday in the curtain raiser on their Clausura championship season. In the Copa Libertadores, 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).

15 (18). Standard Liege
Beat up on Roselare, 3-0. Don't ask us who Roselare is, because we don't know. The boys from Luettich (that's the German name of the town) are at unprecedented heights in the Top 25. Do they deserve to be here? Well check out their record against quality competition. Of course if they trip up in the next stage of the UEFA Cup (they face Sporting Braga) they'll be gone faster than you can say Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Next Up: Some other Belgian club, Friday.
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).

16 (15). FC Sao Paulo
The Brazilian champs (third year in a row) beat Guarani at midweek before losing to Santo Andre at home yesterday in the Paulista preseason tournament for teams in that municipality. Sao Paulo themselves are now sixth.
Next Up: More Paulista action. Host Bragantino Wednesday and play at Botafogo Sunday. In the Copa Libertadores, Sao Paulo will be in a group with Uruguay's Defensor Sporting, America de Cali of Colombia and in all likelihood Independiente Medellin, who beat Uruguay's Penarol 4-0 in the first leg of their qualifier.

17 (19). Panathinaikos
Beat Levadiakos (did we say that right?) 2-1 on Saturday. Panathinaikos are third in Super League.
Next Up: A cup tie Wednesday followed by second-placed PAOK Saoliniki at home Sunday. They'll move up with the victory.
Against Top 25: Lost to Inter Milan at home (2-0, Sept. 16), beat Inter Milan (1-0 away on Nov. 25)

18 (17). Sporting Lisbon
Played a scoreless draw at Trofense yesterday. Ouch. Sporting are only third in Portugal, though within striking distance (three points) of first-placed Porto. Still, this is supposed to be a Top 20 team? For now...
Next Up: Host Sporting Braga, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Lost to Barcelona (3-1 away, Sept. 19 and 5-2 home, Nov. 25).

19 (25). Hoffenheim
The "Wintermeister" (winter champions, because they finished first after the first half of the season) picked right up where they left off, beating Energie Cottbus 2-0 yesterday. With Bayern losing, their lead is now two points--over Hertha Berlin.
Next Up: Visit Borussia Moenchengladbach Saturday.
Against Top 25: Beat Hamburg SV at home (3-0, Oct. 26), lost at Bayern Munich (2-1, Dec. 5).

20 (23). Chivas de Guadelajara
Beat Monterrey 2-1 yesterda to take first place in their Clausura group.
Next Up: Host Necaxa Sunday. In the Libertadores they're drawn with Lanus of Argentina, Caracas of Venezuela and Everton of Liverpool (just kidding they're actually from Chile). A tough group for sure.
Against Top 25: Lost to Internacional over two legs in the Copa Sudamericana quarterfinals.

21 (-). Hamburg SV
HSV returns to the Top 25 for the first time since Oct. 20. They actually had several appearances earlier this season but promptly lost and were knocked off. Maybe this time will be different? Anyway, the reason they're here at all is of course their impressive victory over Bayern Munich last Friday. Martin Jol's side moves into third place in the Bundesliga with the victory. Earlier in the week they also beat 1860 Munich (a second division side these days. A bad one) 3-1 in a cup tie.
Next Up: Visit Karlsruhe, Saturday.
Against Top 25: Tied at Bayern Munich (2-2, Aug. 15), beat Bayern at home (1-0, Jan. 30).

22 (21). Sevilla
Beat Valencia in the return leg of the Copa del Rey to advance by virtue of the away goal rule. Then turned around and lost at Gijon, 1-0. They're a distant third in the liga, six points behind second-placed Real and only one ahead of fourth-placed Valencia, the team they knocked out of the cup.
Next Up: Host Atletico Bilbao in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal. The derby with Real Betis is on for Sunday.
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), beat Valencia over two legs in the Copa del Rey.

23 (20). Valencia
Lost to Sevilla in the Copa del Rey but rebounded by (barely) beating Almeira at home, 3-2.
Next Up:At Osasuna, 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), lost to Sevilla over two legs in Copa del Rey.

24 (14). Villareal
The Yellow Submarine's form continues to disintegrate. One week after a 1-1 draw with last-placed Osasuna, Villareal got smacked around by Deportivo La Coruna, 3-0. Deportivo are now only one point behind the yellows in the battle for fifth place.
Next Up: Host Numancia 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).

25 (24). Girondins Bordeaux
Tied seventh-placed Lille, 1-1.
Next Up: Visit fourth-placed Marseille Sunday.
Against Top 25: Lost at Chelsea (4-0, Sept. 16), tied at home (1-1, Nov. 26), lost to Roma twice (3-1 at home, Oct. 1; 2-0 away, Dec. 9), lost at Lyon (2-1, Nov. 16)

Dropping Out:
Atletico Madrid (22)

Also receiving votes:
Olympiakos, Porto, Paris Saint Germain, AZ Alkmaar.


  1. Having panathinaikos in this list is a joke.Check the stats. Olympiakos have the best defence in Europe with only 8 goals conceded in 20 league games and they also have the second biggest point lead in Europe with +11 points after Barca (+12). Total stats for both teams are:Greek super league: Olympiakos 16 wins 3 draws 1 loss,goals forw 34-against 8. Panathinaikos w11-d6-L3,g.for 36-g.ag 15 Europe:Olympiakos(8 games) w5-d0-L3 g.for 17-g.ag 6 Panathinaikos(10 games) w6-d2-L2 g.for 14-g.ag 8.On their match in Panathinaikos home and with Olympiakos missing 4 players cause of injuries the score was 0-0 and everyone here in greece knows that Olympiakos will win when Panathinaikos comes for the second game.

  2. you make some good points. We were never able to get past Olympiakos' CL qualifying loss to Anorthosis. But that was half a season ago and as you point out Olympiakos has done extremely well since then. Your comments will be taken into advisement for next week's issue.

  3. i m the same one who posted about panathinaikos(hmm..just discovered i can post with my name) :) First of all i would like to thank you for your response and your work. Actually i think that judging from the fact that panathinaikos finished 1st placed in their C.L. group you did correct to add them to the list.I just think that when you see a team loosing sight of the first place with -12 points you should after some time be more skeptical.On the other hand dont put Olympiakos in this list yet cause they may be eliminated by st.Etienne cause they have many key players out from injuries(Darko Kovacevic health problem the most serious of course),they play with the same 11 for most of the season and they are very tired and have an incredible hard period ahead with 10 games in 30 days(including st.Etienne)most of them away with tough opponents.But if they manage they'll surely deserve the ranking!

  4. Excellent post! Barcelona and Manchester United are definitely the two form teams right now and will both win their respective leagues.

    Really like the site by the way, would you be able to email me when you get the chance?



  5. with you on Barca winning the Spanish league, but there's still a lot to play for in England. Man U. are in the driver's seat no doubt, but a lot can still happen.

  6. No way... how can Chivas be on the list?

  7. chelsea should be at the top

  8. The name "football" does not derive from anything having to do with striking the ball with your feet. I'm sick of hearing this from American/Canadian football haters. It's called "football" because up until the point that people started playing it, every other sport was played on horseback by royalty. Peasants had no reason to play sports because they were too busy breaking their backs to feed themselves. So, since they all played on foot...it's called football. And last I checked, NFL players all play on foot. And just for good measure...the term "soccer" was invented in England...it's short for Association. Meant to distinguish from Rugby. So, now everyone can stop hating on different codes of football and just enjoy it no matter what your brand. Peace.