Mar 23, 2009

The world's top 25 soccer clubs, March 23, 2009

With Major League Soccer season upon us, the Yank contingent of Soccer Source's ranking committee were MIA virtually all of last week, which has unfortunately cut into our production capabilities (thus the scarcity complete lack of posts last week). Why do they cover MLS? Because it's their duty as U.S.-based soccer fanatics, say they. Fine by us. Needless to say, MLS clubs did not factor into this week's top 25 in any way, shape or form (nor will they at any time in the foreseeable future). But which ones did? Read on to find out:

1 (1). FC Barcelona
This one really shouldn't be a surprise seeing as Barca won their only game last week by a 6-0 score. Okay, so their opponents were from a coastal town in Southern Spain known primarily as the birthplace of Pablo Picasso (that would be Malaga, not that we expect you to know that. Picasso was some kind of artist, which we didn't expect you to know either). With the victory, Barca maintain their six point lead over Real Madrid atop Spain's Liga BBVA table.
Next Up: Visit Valladolid Sunday. Then the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal with Bayern Munich. Barca host the first leg, Wednesday, April 4.
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, beat Olympique Lyon in the Champions League round of 16.

2 (2). Liverpool
Beat up on Aston Villa, 5-0 yesterday. The result is not quite fair but then again, neither is life. So much for Villa getting a Champions League spot though. As for Reds, they now trail Man United by one solitary point. Man U have a game in hand though.
Next Up: Visit Man U beaters Fulham, then host Chelsea in the UCL quarterfinal, a week from Wednesday.
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), beat Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16, won at Man United (4-1, March 14).

3 (3). Manchester United
What is going on with Man United? Losing to Liverpool was one thing (though at home and by a 4-1 margin something else entirely) but Fulham? Fulham? The team that was one Danny Murphy goal away from relegation on the final day of last season? Well at least it wasn't at Old Trafford. But this is a perilous time of the season for Red Devils to hit a stretch of bad form. It's crunchtime in the Premiership race and the Champions League quarterfinals are upon us. Luckily for Sir Alex' men, their opponents in said competition are probably the worst team not named Villareal. And of course they have that game in hand over the other contenders for the Premiership title.
Next Up: Host Aston Villa Sunday. The first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal with Porto is Tuesday at Old Trafford.
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), beat Inter Milan in Champions League round of 16, lost at home to Liverpool (4-1, March 14)

4 (5). Inter Milan
Inter had no problems with Reggina yesterday, beating the Serie A doormats 3-0. With a seven point lead over Juventus and nine games remaining, the Serie A race is not over yet.
Next Up: Visit Udinese Sunday. A date with Juventus looms April 18.
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), tied AS Roma (3-3, March 1), lost to Manchester United in Champions League round of 16.

5. (4). Chelsea
Blues lost an important game at White Hart Lane on Saturday. They remain in third place in the Prem, but drop off here. They'll need to raise their form soon because their Champions League date is with Liverpool. Again.
Next Up: Visit Newcastle Saturday and Anfield the following Wednesday.
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), beat Juventus in Champions League round of 16.

6 (6). Porto
Beat Estrela Amadora in the Portuguese cup yesterday.
Next Up: The Portuguese league returns to action Sunday. Then it's off to Old Trafford and the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals a week from tomorrow.
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), beat Atletico Madrid over two legs in the Champions League round of 16.

7 (7). Bayern Munich
Bayern saw off Karlsruhe Saturday, winning 1-0. With Hertha Berlin losing, the Bavarian side close within one point of first place in the Bundesliga. Smart money says they'll take first place before long. The Champions League, where they face No. 1 Barca, is another matter entirely.
Next Up: Visit Wolfsburg Saturday. Then it's off to the Camp Nou and the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals.
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), beat Sporting Lisbon in first leg of Champions League round of 16 (5-0).

8 (8). Real Madrid
Had no problems with Almeira, winning 3-0 in Spanish league action. Real continue to trail Barca by six points with 10 games remaining. The two clubs meet May 3 to in all likelihood decide the Spanish title, if it isn't cleared up by then already. Real host that game.
Next Up: Visit the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, 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), tied Atletico Madrid at home (1-1, March 7), lost to Liverpool in Champions League round of 16.

9 (9). Juventus
Juve apparently had no problems with Roma, winning 4-1 on the road Saturday. They're still alive in Serie A. Juventus that is, not Roma. The bianconeri trail Inter by seven points. The two clubs face each other at San Siro April 18.
Next Up: Host Chievo Verona 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), lost to Chelsea in Champions League round of 16

10 (10). Arsenal
Gunners won twice last week, against Hull City in the F.A. Cup and at Newcastle in the Premiership. They close to within six points of third-placed Chelsea with the latter victory. It may be a bit late for a move to third place. Fortunately for Arsenal, with the way Villa are playing they don't have to worry much about relinquishing fourth either. Gooners also caught a break when they drew Villareal in the Champions League quarterfinals.
Next Up: Host Man City Saturday. The first leg with Villareal is the following Tuesday.
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), beat AS Roma in the Champions League round of 16.

11 (11). Dynamo Kiev
Dynamo advanced to the UEFA Cup quarterfinals where they will face Paris Saint Germain. The first leg is Thursday, April 9 at the Parc des Princes.
Next Up: A Ukrainian league match later today. They have a safe hold on first place there.
Against Top 25: Tied Arsenal at home (1-1, Sept. 17), lost at Emirates (1-0, Nov .25).

12 (12). Olympique Lyon
Beat Sochaux 2-0 yesterday, to hold onto their one point lead in France's Ligue Un.
Next Up: Visit Le Mans, 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), lost to Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16.

13 (15). FC Sao Paulo
Won 1-0 at Uruguay's Defensor Sporting in the third matchday of the Copa Libertadores. With two wins and a draw, Sao Paulo lead the group and are all but assured a spot in the Round of 16. Their Paulista match did not go as well, finishing in 1-1. But we can forgive that.
Next Up: Paulista action, Thursday and Saturday. The latter game is against first-placed Palmeiras so it should be interesting.

14 (17). Villareal
Beat Atletic Bilbao, 2-0. With Atletico Madrid losing, the yellow submarine extend their hold on fourth place to five points. They're in a kind of no-man's land, trailing third-placed Sevilla by six.
Next Up: Visit Almeira Sunday. Then it's the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal with Arsenal. Villareal host the first leg a week from tomorrow.
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), beat Panathinaikos over two legs in the Champions League round of 16, lost at Atletico Madrid (3-2, March 15).

15 (14). Hertha BSC Berlin
Lost at Stuttgart, 2-0. Hertha may be the German Aston Villa. Their Bundesliga lead over Bayern Munich is down to one point. The two sides do not meet again this season.
Next Up: Host Dortmund, Saturday.
Against Top 25: Lost at Bayern Munich (4-1, Aug. 31), beat Hoffenheim (1-0, Nov. 1), beat Bayern Munich (2-1, Feb. 14).

16 (13). Atletico Madrid
The rojiblancos lost at Mallorca by 2-0 yesterday. A curious result seeing how well they had been playing before, at least in Spain (victories over Barca and Villareal, a draw with Real Madrid).
Next Up: Host 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), tied at Liverpool (1-1, Nov. 5), lost to Barcelona over two legs in the Copa del Rey (5-2 aggregate), beat Barca at home (4-3, March 1), tied at Real Madrid (1-1, March 7), lost to Porto in Champions League quarterfinal, beat Villareal at home (3-2, March 15).

17 (21) Olympique Marseille
L'OM did what they needed to to stay in the Top 25, advancing to the UEFA Cup quarterfinals (though needing overtime to do it against Ajax Amsterdam) and keeping the heat on Lyon in France's Ligue Un by beating Nantes 2-0 on the weekend.
Next Up: Visit Saint Etienne Sunday. Face Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Cup quarters. The first leg is a week Thursday.
Against Top 25: Lost at Liverpool (2-1, Sept. 16), lost at Atletico Madrid (2-1, Oct. 1), lost to Liverpool at home (1-0, Nov. 26), tied Atletico Madrid at home (1-1, Dec. 1), tied at Olympique Lyon (0-0, Dec. 14), won at Girondins Bordeaux (1-0, Feb. 8), won at Paris Saint Germain (3-1, March 15)

18 (-). Shakhtar Donetsk

The Ukrainian club nobody can spell or pronounce (including us probably) returns to the Top 25 for the first time since Sept. 22. The team had a solid run in the Champions League, though not as solid as the records indicate (they have a victory at Barcelona to their credit, but it came on the final match day when Barca already had the group wrapped up. For this reason it has been omitted from their "against Top 25" tally). Last week they advanced to the UEFA Cup quarterfinals over CSKA Moscow (promptly dropping the Russian club from the Top 25) and won their Ukranian league match (they sit second, though nine points behind first-placed Dynamo Kiev).
Next Up: Another Ukrainian league match (Metalurg something) followed by the first leg of the UEFA Cup quarterfinals against No. 17 Olympique Marseille. Shakhtar host the first leg, April 9.
Against Top 25: Lost to Barcelona at home (2-1, Oct. 1), beat CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Cup Round of 16

19 (-). Hamburg SV
So far this season every time we placed HSV in the top 25 they returned the favor by losing, usually to lesser opponents. But we're doing it again anyway because they simply deserve to be here. Martin Jol's side won two massive games last week, the first at Galatasaray to advance to the UEFA Cup quarterfinals and the second at Schalke 04 to move into a tie for second place in the German Bundesliga, just one point behind first-placed Hertha Berlin. There is everything left to play for, in other words.
Next Up: Host Hoffenheim Saturday (remember them? They're now fifth in the Bundesliga). Face Man City in the UEFA Cup quarterfinals, with the first leg at Hamburg on Thurday, April 9.
Against Top 25: Tied at Bayern Munich (2-2, Aug. 15), beat Bayern at home (1-0, Jan. 30).

20 (20). AZ Alkmaar
Played a scoreless draw with Feyernoord Rotterdam. With second-placed Twente winning, Alkmaar's Eredivisie lead is now nine points with six games remaining.
Next Up: Eredivisie action of course. They aren't eligible for anything else. Sadly we may not know how good this team is until the Champions League campaign starts anew this summer.

21 (16). Werder Bremen
Werder advance to the UEFA Cup Round of 16 over France's Saint Etienne but are going nowhere in the German Bundesliga, where they lost at Dortmund on Saturday.
Next Up: Host Hannover 96 Sunday. Face Udinese in the UEFA Cup quarterfinals' first leg the following Thursday.
Against Top 25: Won at Bayern Munich (5-2, Sept. 20), tied at Inter Milan (1-1, Oct. 1), beat Inter Milan (2-1, Dec. 9), beat AC Milan over two legs in the UEFA Cup round of 32, tied Bayern Munich at home (0-0, March 1).

22 (24). Nacional
Uruguay's Apertura champions won a big Copa Libertadores match against Argentina's River Plate, beating the Buenos Aires side by 3-0. It was the third win in as many Libertadores games for the team from Montevideo (that is where they're from, right?). Unfortunately on Sunday they managed just a 2-2 draw at home to Cerra Largo in domestic action.
Next Up: Visit fellow Copa Lib participant Defensor Sporting in Clausura action Saturday. Their next Libertadores game is at River on April 7.

23 (23). Deportivo Toluca
The Diablos Rojos beat Cruz Azul by 3-1 in Mexican Clausura League action yesterday. They remain undefeated in 11 league games so far this season.
Next Up: More Clausura action.
Against Top 25: Won at Chivas (2-1, Feb. 19)

24 (19). Panathinaikos
Tied Asteras Tripolis 1-1. With first-placed Olympiakos winning, second is perhaps the best Pana can hope for at this point.
Next Up: Host AO Xanthi, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Lost to Inter Milan at home (2-0, Sept. 16), beat Inter Milan (1-0 away on Nov. 25), lost to Villareal in Champions League round of 16.

25 (-). Libertad
If we're not mistaken Libertad become the first-ever Paraguayan side to make the Top 25. They do so by virtue of their stellar record in Copa Libertadores so far; four games, four victories, including two over Argentina's almost-Apertura champion San Lorenzo. Libertad have yet to play any domestic games this season, it appears. Something the Mexican and Argentine leagues may want to take a look at.
Next Up: Visit Peru's Universitario de Deportes in their next Libertadores game, but not until April 8.

Dropping Out:
AS Roma (18), CSKA Moscow (22), Sport Recife (25)


  1. YOu might want to consider NYRB on the top 25. LOL

  2. Fantastice blog!
    I would like to see a post on the chances of each team to win the Champions League. I like the chances of Bayer, Barcelona and Manchester. The last one seems to have the easier way to the final game.

  3. Great blog! I really like your posts.

    I'm from Holland and AZ is pretty much unbeatable for the other teams in the Eredivisie. But I do have to say that AZ doesn't have a lot of competition this season with PSV and Ajax messing up.