Feb 23, 2009

The world's top 25 soccer clubs, Feb. 23, 2009

Barcelona's place at the top of this list has been a constant for nearly the entire season. The Soccer Source Ranking Committee has been so impressed with Barca's play this season, we previously said it would take more than one loss to knock them from the top of this list. Did we keep our promise? Read on to find out.

1 (1). FC Barcelona
Yes, we're sticking with Barca. In so doing we are taking the entire season's "body of work" into account. Saturday's loss to Espanyol was just the team's second in all Spanish competition this season (including cup games), a run of 29 games. They did lose one other game this season but that was in a completely meaningless Champions League encounter with Shakhtar Donetsk. Man. United and Inter, the only two realistic alternatives for the No. 1 slot at this time, both suffered their second domestic league loss some time ago. Inter lost two Champions League games and didn't even win their group. Man United did win their's, but did not impress (ties with Celtic, Villareal and Aalborg). But now that Barca did take their second league loss, there is no margin for error left. Their next loss will likely cost them this spot (depending on what the teams behind them do, of course).
Next Up: Visit Lyon in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16. Host Atletico Madrid on 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 (3). Manchester United
Man U. take back the second spot from Inter because they played (and won) two games last week, against Fulham and Blackburn, while Inter played (and won) just one. But the two sides will have a chance to decide this battle for themselves soon...
Next Up: It's off to Inter Milan for the Champions League tomorrow. Also host Pompey, Sunday.
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 (2). Inter Milan
Inter drop a spot by no fault of their own, but because they only played (and won) one game, while Man U. did two (the roles were reversed in last week's Top 25 so it's only fair). Inter struggled a bit won at Bologna.
Next Up: The CL grudge match with Man United. Also host Roma, 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), beat AS Roma in Coppa Italia (2-1, Jan. 21), beat AC Milan (2-1, Feb. 15).

4 (4). Real Madrid
Another blowout for Real, who really appear to have found their form since losing to Barca back on Dec. 13. This weekend it was Real Betis' turn to take the beating, by a 6-1 score. Their ninth straight victory.
Next Up: Host Liverpool in the first leg of their CL Round of 16 tie Wednesday. Then visit Barca-beaters Espanyol on 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).

5 (6). Juventus
Juve beat Palermo, 2-0, to move up a spot.
Next Up: It's off to Stamford Bridge for the Champions League tie with Chelsea.
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 (5). Liverpool
Reds were not able to beat Man. City yesterday, settling for a 1-1 tie that does them absolutely no favors in the Premiership title race. If there is even a Premiership title race left at this point...
Next Up: Visit No. 4 Real Madrid Wednesday. Play at Middlesbrough, 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).

7. (7). Chelsea
Blues are back. Probably not in the Premiership title race, but as a factor in the Top 10. Guus Hiddink's men beat Aston Villa at Villa Park Saturday, their most impressive victory in, well, all season pretty much...
Next Up: Host Juve inthe first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 Wednesday. Wigin visit Stamford Bridge 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), won at Aston Villa (1-0, Feb. 21).

8 (8). Olympique Lyon
Won at Nancy, 2-0 (that's the actual name of a town in France, not some attempt at a backhanded slight of their masculinity). Lyon's lead in France is back to six points.
Next Up: Host No. 1 Barca, tomorrow! Be there. Also host Stade Rennes, 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).

9 (11). Porto
Won at Pacos de Ferreira to expand their Liga Sagres lead to four points (second-placed Benfica lost the Lisbon derby to Sporting Saturday).
Next Up: The first leg of their Champs League knockout tie with Atletico Madrid tomorrow. That one will be at Madrid. Then they host Sporting Lisbon, Sunday. A tough week, that should demonstrate if they are deserving of a top 10 spot.
Against Top 25: Lost at Arsenal (4-0, Sept. 30), won at Sporting Lisbon (2-1, Oct. 5), lost at home to Dynamo Kiev (1-0, Oct. 21), won at Kiev (2-1, Nov. 5), beat Arsenal at home (2-0, Dec. 10).

10. (9) AC Milan
The rossoneri tied Werder Bremen 1-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Cup Round of 32 match-up. They lead most of the game before taking a late equalizer but should still be in a good position to advance, seeing as the return leg is at San Siro. Also beat Cagliari Saturday.
Next Up: The return leg with Werder at San Siro, Thursday and a visit to Sampdoria, Sunday.
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), lost to Inter Milan (2-1, Feb. 15).

11 (17). Panathinaikos
Beat Panionios, 2-1, Saturday. With Olympiakos losing, the gap is now "only" 11 points. Panathinaikos are in this space mainly by virtue of winning their Champions League group. Do they deserve it? We'll have to wait and see.
Next Up: Visit Villareal in the Champions League and visit Olympiakos, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Lost to Inter Milan at home (2-0, Sept. 16), beat Inter Milan (1-0 away on Nov. 25)

12 (19). Sporting Lisbon
Beat crosstown rivals Benfica, 3-2, to move into a tie for second place (with Benfica), four points behind the leaders, No. 9 Porto.
Next Up: The first leg of their Champions League knockout rounder with Bayern Munich (at Lisbon) on Wednesday. Then visit the aforementioned Porto, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Lost to Barcelona (3-1 away, Sept. 19 and 5-2 home, Nov. 25).

13 (12). Aston Villa
It was a bad week for Martin O'Neill's men. First they managed just a 1-1 tie with CSKA Moscow at Villa Park in the first leg of their UEFA Cup tie, then lost 1-0 at home to No. 7 Chelsea. They still have a six point lead over fifth-placed Arsenal in the Premiership, but Villa's star may be fading...
Next Up: The return leg of the UEFA Cup Thursday. Host Stoke City Sunday.
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), lost to Chelsea (1-0, Feb. 21).

14 (15). AS Roma
Rebounded from an embarrassing 3-0 loss at Bergamo to beat Siena 1-0 on Saturday.
Next Up: It's off to Emirates (the stadium, not the country) tomorrow for the next stage of the Champions League. Then another huge game at Inter Milan, 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.

15 (13). Arsenal
Had no problems with Cardiff City in their F.A. Cup replay, winning 4-0. But were not able to get past a scoreless draw with Sunderland Saturday.
Next Up: Host No. 14 Roma, tomorrow and Fulham, 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).

16 (14). FC Sao Paulo
Managed only a 1-1 tie with Independiente Medellin in their first Copa Libertadores game last week. Had better luck in their Paulista match, winning 3-1 at Barueri Saturday. They're third in the Paulista.
Next Up: More Paulista action. Host Oeste, Friday and visit Santos Sunday.

17 (-). Hamburg SV
HSV return to the list with their highest ranking yet, thanks to two impressive road wins last week. The first was in the UEFA Cup at NEC Nijmegen, where they won 3-0 all but assuring advancement to the round of 16. The second was a 2-1 victory at Bayer Leverkusen yesterday. Martin Jol's side is now first in the German Bundesliga for the first time since Kevin Keegan played for the club (not really, but it's been awhile). Their last appearance in this space was in the Feb. 2 edition.
Next Up: The return leg with Nijmegen Thursday and Wolfsburg, also at home, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Tied at Bayern Munich (2-2, Aug. 15), beat Bayern at home (1-0, Jan. 30).

18 (10). Bayern Munich
Juergen Klinsmann's side lost again, this time at home to Cologne. Not good. They slip to fourth in the Bundesliga, but are still within four points of HSV. The way the Bundesliga's been going this season, that's nothing.
Next Up: The first leg of their Champions League tie with Sporting Lisbon takes place in Portugal, Wednesday. Also visit Werder Bremen 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).

19 (-). River Plate
Los Millonarios return to the Top 25 for the first time since Jan. 28, 2008. That's more than a year. River had a forgettable Apertura season, finishing 20th (and dead last), but have turned it on in '09. After a 2-2 tie with Colon de Santa Fe in the Clausura opener, they have won three in a row, including a 1-0 decision over Paraguay's Nacional Asuncion in the Copa Libertadores.
Next Up: Visit San Lorenzo, Sunday. Their next Copa Lib game is March 6 at Peru's Deportivo San Martin.

20 (22). Sevilla
Beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 Saturday.
Next Up: A pair of games with Atletic Bilbao, the first in La Liga at Seville Saturday. The second is at Bilbao a week from Wednesday and is actually the first leg in their Copa del Rey tie. So they'll actually play Bilbao three times in three weeks. Got all that?
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.

21 (-). Villareal
Beat Sporting Gijon, 2-1 and return to the Top 25 for the first time since Feb. 9. Okay, so that's only a two week absence.
Next Up: Host. No. 11 Panathinaikos, Wednesday. Visit Real Betis, 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).

22 (-). LDU Quito
The defending Copa Libertadores champs return to the Top 25 after being the first club in 2009 to beat Brazil's Palmeiras (they did so last Tuesday in the Copa Libertadores, winning 3-2). The Ecuadorian side are off to an unbeaten start in their country's Serie A Apertura, winning two and drawing two.
Next Up: Host Sociedad Deportivo Quito, Friday. Their next Libertadores match is March 5 at Brazil's Sport Recife.
Against Top 25: Beat Palmeiras (3-2, Feb. 17)

23 (-). Nacional
Uruguay's Apertura champs become the first ever club from the country to appear in the Top 25. They are unbeaten so far in 2009 and won their first two Copa Libertadores matches, against Peru's Deportivo San Martin and Paraguay's Nacional Asuncion. Okay, so maybe that's not all that impressive, but we were hard-pressed to fill out the Top 25 this week, with so many teams from last week's Top 25 losing.
Next Up: Visit Villa Espanola in Clausura action Friday.

24 (18). Palmeiras
Palmeiras lost their Copa Libertadores opener at LDU Quito, who, it should be noted, are the tournament's defending champions. Also tied Portuguesa in their Paulista game Saturday. They still lead the Paulista league but only by one point over Corinthians and two over Sao Paolo.
Next Up: A pair of Paulista games, at Sao Caetano Thursday and at home to Guarani, Saturday. Their next Libertadores game is March 3, when they host Chile's Colo Colo.

25 (-). Deportivo Toluca
The Diablos Rojos make their debut appearance on this list, replacing Chivas de Guadelajara as the CONCACAF representative (one club from CONCACAF is required according to our bylaws. Don't go looking for the bylaws online. They're top secret and only known by the Soccer Source Ranking Committee's inner circle. Maybe we'll divulge them in the interests of transparency at some point. But Toluca are unbeaten in seven Mexican Clausura games this season (four wins and one draw). Unfortunately they aren't in the Copa Libertadores.
Next Up: Visit Monterrey Sunday.
Against Top 25: Won at Chivas (2-1, Feb. 19)

Dropping Out:
Standard Liege (16), Boca Juniors (20), Hertha Berlin (21), Chivas (23) Olympiakos (24), Newell's Old Boys (25).

A very South America-heavy Top 25 this week. We just couldn't find any European teams worthy of inclusion. Standard Liege, who we (foolishly, it turns out) had as high as 16th, lost 3-0 to Sporting Braga in the first leg of their UEFA Cup tie and will in all likelihood exit said tournament next week. AZ Alkmaar are first in the Netherlands and have by all accounts been impressive there. But it is the Eredivisie, which is having a curious off year. And Alkmaar have not played in any European competition. None at all. Zilch. Zero. Zip. Okay so what about a club like Everton, who are sixth in the Premiership? They were beaten by Standard over two legs in the UEFA Cup. The same Standard we were so high on before last week. For fans of Genoa or Hoffenheim, who think their clubs warrant inclusion based on their domestic performances, we simply point to Alkmaar as another club who is better placed in their domestic league but are still not in the Top 25. Say what you want about the South American clubs, they definitely play each other regularly in intra-continental competition, while a club like Everton will be lucky to do so once a season (and before you ask, the same applies to the first-placed club in Turkey, Sivasspor). Having said that, however, we are a little nervous about putting River Plate as high as we did. But what's the worst that can happen? They end up being terrible? We'll just do what politicians do and deny we put them there!

1 comment:

  1. Just in case, #22 LDU is not undefeated in the ecuadorian championship. It has won 2, drawn 1and lost 1 and currently sit in fifth place