Oct 19, 2009

The world's top 25 soccer clubs, Oct. 19, 2009

And we're back. Is it just me or did the internationals break feel a lot longer than two weeks? Anyway, club soccer was back in action this weekend, with several surprising results. How did that affect our rankings? Let's take a look:

1. Barcelona
Last ranking: 1
Record (wins-losses-ties, in all competition; two-leg match-ups count as one): 9-0-2
Results of note: Beat Shakhtar Donetsk (at the time ranked 14th) in overtime in the UEFA SuperCup, Aug. 29, drew at then-No. 6 Inter Milan in Champions League group stage (0-0, Sept. 16), beat then-No. 14 Dynamo Kiev at home in Champions League group stage (2-0, Sept. 29), drew at then-No. 18 Valencia (0-0, Oct. 17).
Commentary/recent results: Barca suffered their first blemish in domestic competition (after previously playing Inter Milan to the same 0-0 score a month ago in the Champions League). Maybe this means Pep Guardiola's side aren't as superhuman as many would have you believe. Or maybe Valencia are pretty good. Either way, there's still nobody else more deserving of this spot. Not after everything else that went on this weekend.
Upcoming schedule: Host Ruben Kazan in Champions League action tomorrow and Zaragossa (how the hell do you spell that?) on the weekend. The return leg with Inter Milan is on for Nov. 24.

2. Real Madrid
Last ranking: 2
Record: 7-1-1
Results of note: Lost at then-No. 9 Sevilla (2-1, Oct. 4)
Commentary/recent results: The merengues rebounded from their loss to Sevilla to easily defeat Valladolid at the Bernabeu Saturday. With the victory they narrow the gap to first place Barcelona to a single point. So the Catalan side are not running away with anything yet.
Upcoming schedule: Host AC Milan in Champions League action Wednesday. In case you're wondering, the first Barcelona match is at Camp Nou, Nov. 29.

3. Manchester United
Last ranking: 4
Record: 9-1-1
Results of note: Beat then No. 4 Arsenal at home (2-1, Aug. 29), beat then-No. 13 Manchester City (4-3, Sept. 20).
Commentary/recent results: Red Devils jumped out to a 2-0 lead and held on to win 2-1 against Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford on Saturday. Not a terribly convincing win but it's the results that count--especially with Chelsea and Liverpool both losing this weekend. Sir Alex' side take back first place in the Premiership with the victory.
Upcoming schedule: Travel to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League and to Anfield this week. A big week, in other words.

4. Inter Milan
Last ranking: 6
Record: 6-1-3
Results of note: Beat then-No. 10 AC Milan (4-0, Aug. 29), drew then-No. 2 Barcelona at home in Champions League group stage (0-0, Sept. 17), lost at Sampdoria (1-0, Sept. 26).
Commentary/recent results: The nerazzurri won at CFC Genoa, who we thought were supposed to be good, by a 5-0 score. They move up two spots with the victory, which also gives them sole possession of first place in Serie A.
Upcoming schedule: Host Dynamo Kiev tomorrow and Catania Calcio Saturday.

5. Chelsea
Last ranking: 3
Record: 10-2-0
Results of note: Beat then-No. 10 Porto in Champions League group stage (1-0, Sept. 15), beat then-No. 7 Liverpool at home in Premiership (2-0, Oct. 4).
Commentary/recent results: Blues went down at Villa Park Saturday, losing to Martin O'Neill's side by 2-1. It was a decent game, with Chelsea taking the early lead, then falling asleep and letting Villa back into the game. Chelsea clearly could have played better but Aston Villa deserved the victory. Blues relinquish first place in the Premiership and third place in our standings as a result.
Upcoming schedule: A schedule packed with easy games they have absolutely no business losing: Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers (all home), then Atletico again. Then things finally get a bit more interesting with a showdown with Man United at the Bridge on Sunday, Nov. 8.

6. Sevilla
Last ranking: 5
Record: 7-2-0
Results of note: Beat then No. 21 Unirea Urziceni in Champions League group stage at home (2-0, Sept. 16), won at then-No. 24 Glasgow Rangers in Champions League group stage (4-1, Sept. 30), defeated then-No. 1 Real Madrid at home (2-1, Oct. 4).
Commentary/recent results: Los palanganas followed up their stirring victory over Real Madrid with a 1-nil defeat at Deportivo La Coruna Saturday. This is a good La Coruna side however. Their record is identical to Sevilla's and they lost a close game at the Bernabeu on the first matchday of the season. We may have to make room for them in the Top 25 at some point. Maybe even soon. Maybe even very soon...(but not this week)
Upcoming schedule: Visit Stuttgart in Champions League action tomorrow. Host Espanyol Barcelona over the weekend. In case you're wondering, they don't face FC Barcelona until January.

7. Porto
Last ranking: 9
Record: 7-2-1
Results of note: Lost at then-No. 3 Chelsea in Champions League group stage (1-0, Sept. 15).
Commentary/recent results: The Dragoes beat Sertanense 4-nil on Saturday, their fourth shutout victory in a row. It was a cup tie and doesn't affect their Liga Sagres standing (which is third but only with one loss).
Upcoming schedule: Host Nikosia in Champions League action Wednesday and Academica de Coimbra Sunday.

8. Olympique Lyonnais
Last ranking: 7
Record: 9-1-2
Results of note: Beat then-No. 18 Fiorentina at home in Champions League group stage (1-0, Sept. 16).
Commentary/recent results: L'OL met their match in Sochaux Saturday, losing 2-0 at home in a game Sochaux coach Francis Gillot dedicated to the team's seriously injured U.S. striker Charlie Davies. It's Lyon's first loss of the season in any competition. They hang on to first place in Ligue Un despite the loss, albeit on goal difference. Newly-promoted Montpellier are second, ahead of defending champion Bordeaux whom we'll get to in a minute.
Upcoming schedule: Play at Anfield tomorrow and at Nice Saturday.

9. Juventus
Last ranking: 8
Record: 4-1-5
Results of note: Drew then-No. 9 Girondins Bordeaux at home in Champions League group stage (1-1, Sept. 16), drew at then-No. 17 Bayern Munich in Champions League group stage (0-0, Sept. 30).
Commentary/recent results: The bianconeri managed just a 1-1 draw at home to Fiorentina Saturday. That's fourth-placed Fiorentina, who are now equal on points with Juventus (Juve have the edge in goal difference).
Upcoming schedule: Host Maccabi Haifa in midweek Champions League action and play at Siena Sunday. An interesting encounter with Sampdoria is on the docket Oct. 28.

10. Arsenal
Last ranking: 11
Record: 8-2-0
Results of note: Lost at then-No. 5 Man United (2-1, Aug. 29), lost at then-No. 16 Man City (4-2, Sept. 12), beat then-No. 15 Olympiakos at home in Champions League group play (2-0, Sept. 29).
Commentary/recent results: Gunners had no problem in the Birmingham derby, defeating Birmingham City by 3-1 on Saturday. They move up to fourth place in the Premiership with the victory.
Upcoming schedule: Visit Dutch champs AZ Alkmaar and Upton Park this week. Then host Liverpool on what looks like just on day's rest and Spurs the weekend after that. Oh my.

11. Manchester City
Last ranking: 10
Record: 7-1-2
Results of note: Beat then-No. 8 Arsenal at home (4-2, Sept. 12), lost to then-No. 4 Manchester United (4-3, Sept. 20).
Commentary/recent results: Citizens played a pair of 1-1 draws since our last ranking came out. The first back on Oct. 5 was at Villa Park. The second, yesterday was at the JJB. If Pablo Zabaleta hadn't been sent off halfway through the second half they might have even managed to win it--or at least put in an effort instead of bunkering, which is what actually happened. City drop to fifth in the Premiership with the draw--behind fourth-placed Arsenal. We know they beat Arsenal on the field but Gunners have been better recently. So they move ahead of City in our rankings.
Upcoming schedule: Host Fulham, whom they previously defeated in overtime in the League Cup, on Sunday. Liverpool are the next "big four" opponent, Nov. 21. That one's at Anfield. No European action for Citizens, so this is as much as we're going to get as a point of reference.

12. Valencia
Last ranking: 18
Record: 5-1-3
Results of note: Defeated then-No. 9 Sevilla at home (2-0, Aug. 30), drew then-No. 1 Barcelona at home (0-0, Oct. 17).
Commentary/recent results: Los xotos vindicate their place in the top 25 (they made their season debut last time) with a scoreless draw against mighty Barcelona, the best team in the universe. So just how good are these guys? They are just sixth in La Liga and are in decent shape in their Europa League group with one win and one draw in their first two games. If it wasn't for a strange 3-1 loss at Getafe back on Sept. 23 they'd be unbeaten.
Upcoming schedule: Host Slavia Prague in Europa League action Thursday and play at Almeira Sunday. Their next name brand opponent is Real Madrid, whom they host Dec. 13.

13. Dynamo Kiev
Last ranking: 15
Record: 11-1-1
Results of note: Won home match against then-No. 22 Rubin Kazan in Champions League group stage (3-1, Sept. 16), lost at then-No. 2 Barcelona in Champions League group stage,
Commentary/recent results: Dynamo spotted Obolon Kiev a 1-0 lead then scored twice in six minutes with a certain Andrey Shevchenko scoring the winner. They maintain their four point lead atop the Ukrainian league standings with the victory.
Upcoming schedule: A key Champ's League game at the San Siro against Inter Milan is tomorrow. Dynamo are in decent shape in the group but only because Inter have just two points from two games. They can expect Mourinho's men to come after them in numbers tomorrow. So we're about to find out just how good (or not) the Ukrainian side are.

14. Olympiakos
Last ranking: 16
Record: 9-1-1
Results of note: Beat then-No. 17 AZ Alkmaar at home in Champions League group stage (1-0, Sept. 16), lost at then-No. 12 Arsenal in Champions League group stage (2-0, Sept. 29).
Commentary/recent results: The Greek side notched an impressive 3-nil victory over Asteras Tripolis, who were hanging around the top of the table prior to their meeting. Olympiakos are tied for first in the Greeek Super League with Panathinaikos. It looks like it's going to be a two team battle as well; the third-placed team, PAOK Saloniki, are five points off the pace.
Upcoming schedule: Host Standard Liege in the Champions League on Wednesday. If they win the game, Olympiakos will be in very good shape for a place in the elimination round, seeing as they already lead Liege and Dutch side Alkmaar by two points. Arsenal are first and have effectively already booked their ticket in a very weak group.

15. Hamburg SV
Last ranking: 14
Record: 8-2-3
Results of note: Won at then-No. 11 VfL Wolfsburg (4-2, Aug. 23), lost at Rapid Vienna in Europa League group stage (3-0, Sept. 17), beat then-No. 9 Bayern Munich (1-0, Sept. 26).
Commentary/recent results: There was no winner in the Spitzenkampf between top of the table sides HSV and Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday. In fact, there weren't even any goals. The two clubs remain tied for first atop the Bundesliga standings, with the edge (by one goal) still to Hamburg on goal difference.
Upcoming schedule: A Europa League game at Celtic Thursday, followed by a trip to third-placed Schalke Sunday. Celtic are fourth in the group with just one point and need the win worse than Hamburg do so it will definitely be interesting.

16. Bayern Munich
Last ranking: 17
Record: 7-2-4
Results of note: Beat then-No. 11 VfL Wolfsburg at home (3-0, Aug. 28), lost at then-No. 22 Hamburg SV (1-0, Sept. 26), drew then-No. 5 Juventus at home in Champions League group stage (0-0, Sept. 30).
Commentary/recent results: Bayern won at Freiburg Saturday, 2-1. They move up to fifth in the Bundesliga with the victory, or about four spots behind where we thought they would be at the start of the season.
Upcoming schedule: A clash at Girondins Bordeaux on Wednesday. That promises to be interesting. Then a pair of games with Eintracht Frankfurt, one in the Bundesliga, the other in the DfB Pokal (German cup).

17. Girondins Bordeaux
Last ranking: 12
Record: 7-1-2
Results of note: A scoreless draw at then-No. 18 Olympique Marseille (Aug. 30), drew at then No. 5 Juventus (1-1, Sept. 15).
Commentary/recent results: After not losing a game for seven months, Bordeaux have now lost two in a row. Two weeks ago was at St. Etienne. Saturday it was at Auxerre. The loss drops les Girondins to third in Ligue Un but only one point behind the leaders (Lyon and surprising Montpellier). But things don't gt any easier because...
Upcoming schedule: Bordeaux host Bayern Munich in a Champions League thriller Wednesday. This is shaping up to be a very tough group; Bayern and Bordeaux are first with four points from two games, followed by Juventus with two points, with Maccabi Haifa bringing up the rear with zero points. If Bordeaux beat Bayern they're in good shape. If not, well, then they aren't. But the Europa League will happen regardless.

18. Fiorentina
Last Ranking: -
Record: 5-2-3
Results of note: Beat Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League qualifier, lost at then-No. 13 Olympique Lyon (1-0, Sept. 16), beat then-No. 13 Liverpool at home (2-0, Sept. 29), tied at then-No. 8 Juventus (1-1, Oct. 17).
Commentary/recent results: Fiorentina return to the Top 25 for the first time since the Sept. 14 iteration (they were 18th then too). The catalyst is more a string of solid performances (see above) than the one this weekend (though a tie at Juventus is not bad by any means). La Viola are fourth in Serie A, four points behind first-placed Inter, whom they face Nov. 29.
Upcoming schedule: At Debreceni in the Champions League tomorrow, followed by Napoli at home Sunday. They'll need the win in Hungary; they're tied with Liverpool on points in that group. A trip to Genoa is up a week from Wednesday.

19. Shakhtar Donetsk
Last ranking: 20
Record: 9-2-2
Results of note: Lost UEFA Supercup to then-No. 2 Barcelona (1-0 in overtime, Aug. 28).
Commentary/recent results: Beat Karpaty Lvov 5-1 in a league match yesterday. Shakhtar continue to trail Dynamo Kiev by four points.
Upcoming schedule: Host Toulouse in Europa League action Thursday. Shakhtar lead the group with victories in their first two games.

20. Liverpool
Last ranking: 13
Record: 7-5-0
Results of note: Lost at then-No. 4 Chelsea (2-0, Oct. 4).
Commentary/recent results: Reds are in serious danger of being dropped from the top 25 after a 1-nil loss at The Stadium of Light Saturday. The game was emblematic of how Liverpool's season has gone, with the only goal coming on a Darren Bent shot that bounced off a beach ball and into the Liverpool net. What a beach ball was doing on the field is anybody's guess (it was branded with the Liverpool logo though). But Rafa Benitez' side is in serious trouble, having lost three in a row and not scored since their 6-1 beatdown of Hull City back on Sept. 26. They are eighth in the Premiership, seven points behind the leaders.
Upcoming schedule: Things don't get any easier for Reds, with Olympique Lyon, Man United and Arsenal up next. The Lyon and Man U matches are at Anfield though. Reds will need the home support.

21. Sporting Braga
Last ranking: 21
Record: 8-0-0
Results of note: Won at Sporting Lisbon (2-1, Aug. 22), beat then-No. 10 Porto at home (1-0, Sept. 19).
Commentary/recent results: Sporting Braga defeated Sporting Covilha in a cup tie Saturday, 1-0, to continue their unblemished streak so far in the 2009-2010 campaign. They don't have to worry about European competition, however. But they've faced (and defeated) some quality sides in Portugal (see above).
Upcoming schedule: A cup tie at Sporting Corvilha when they return from international break, Oct. 18.

22. Twente
Last ranking: 22
Record: 10-3-1
Results of note: Lost a Champions League qualifier against Sporting Lisbon (1-1 on aggregate).
Commentary/recent results: Twente picked right up where they left off, defeating defending Eredivisie champs AZ Alkmaar 3-2 Saturday. They remain in first place in Holland, with a two point lead over PSV Eindhoven. Their only "loss" on the season was the Champions League qualifier against Sporting Lisbon (and they didn't even lose on the field but were eliminated due to the away goal rule).
Upcoming schedule: Visit Sheriff Tiraspol in Europa League action Thursday. Host Groningen this weekend.

23. Rubin Kazan
Last Ranking: -
Record: 15-5-5*
Results of note: In Champions League group stage lost at then-No. 20 Dynamo Kiev (3-1, Sept. 16), drew then-No. 6 Inter Milan at home (1-1, Oct. 6).
Commentary/recent results: The Russian champs are back, thanks to a string of solid results that have them atop the domestic league table. The most notable recent result was the 1-1 draw against Inter Milan a fortnight ago. Over the weekend they defeated FK Khimki, 2-1.
Upcoming schedule: Play at Camp Nou and top-ranked Barcelona, tomorrow. That will show us if they belong here.
*Russian league starts in the spring.

24. San Lorenzo
Last ranking: -
Record: 7-0-4
Results of note: Drew Estudiantes at home (2-2, Sept. 2) and Velez Sarsfield away (0-0, Sept. 12) in Argentine league action.
Commentary/recent results: San Lorenzo are first in Argentina's Apertura League and through to the quarterfinals of the Copa Sudamericana, where they face River Plate over two legs. They're also undefeated.
Upcoming schedule: At River Plate's El Monumental (No. 8 in our ranking of world Soccer Meccas) Wednesday for the first leg of the Sudamericana quarterfinal. At Colon de Santa Fe Friday. Host Arsenal Sarandi Sunday. That's one busy week.

25. Aston Villa
Last ranking: -
Record: 6-2-1
Results of note: Won at then-No. 7 Liverpool (3-1, Aug. 24), beat then-No. 3 Chelsea at home (2-1, Oct. 17), drew then-No. 10 Manchester City at home (1-1, Oct. 5)
Commentary/recent results: Hey where is the Mexican league club? Isn't this supposed to be a world's top 25? And isn't there some kind of ironclad rule about CONCACAF needing to be represented? And why Villa? Why not [insert blank with your club]? One at a time, please. First things first: I made an executive decision to jettison the goofy "you must include CONCACAF" rule. It's bad enough to require a South American team's inclusion. Now that the Mexican clubs aren't even playing the Copa Sudamericana anymore, there is no real way to compare them to anybody of interest (they are still playing the Libertadores, right? Anybody know?) So the CONCACAF clubs are gone for now, though they may of course return when there is reason for them to do so (i.e. when they beat somebody outside their own league in a competition that actually matters). Now as for why I've included Villa, three words: Look at their record. Find somebody else who has beaten clubs as good as Liverpool and Chelsea and we'll gladly include them in their spot. (Sorry Spurs fans, Hull City, West Ham United, Birmingham City or any of the other crap sides your club has defeated this season do not count. In fact I'm not even sure Liverpool do anymore either, but whatever).
Upcoming schedule: At Wolves Saturday. No European competition for these guys.

Dropping Out:
Standard Liege (19), Sampdoria (23), Velez Sarsfield (24), Deportivo Toluca (25).

Also receiving consideration (in rough order of consideration received):
Bayer Leverkusen, Deportivo La Coruna.

Photo supplied by Wikipedia.

1 comment:

  1. its a very good information for a soccer lover as well as for a person wana know about top soccer clubs. thanks for sharing