Oct 26, 2009

The world's top 25 soccer clubs, Oct. 26, 2009

It was a crazy week in European club soccer with the top three clubs all losing key matches. The fourth didn't do much better, drawing a Champions League encounter at home. So who was left to take over the top spot? Or would we forgive one of the top four's transgressions? Read on to find out.

1. Chelsea
Last ranking: 5
Record (wins-losses-ties, in all competition; two-leg match-ups count as one): 12-2-0
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 took advantage of an easy stretch in their schedule to take back first place in the Premiership and with it, the top spot in our Top 25. They won last week's games by a combined score of 9-0. Granted the opponents were Atletico Madrid and Blackburn Rovers and both games were home, but still. So why are they number one? Partly by process of elimination. Blues are the only club who have an unblemished record against "quality" competition. Yes, the quality of this quality competition has not been as high as might be desired. Chelsea have yet to face Man United or Arsenal (to say nothing of Barcelona and Inter Milan) for example. But first place in the Premiership counts for a lot. So do wins in big games even if the competition is "only" Liverpool and Porto--though they also defeated Tottenham Hotspur when some in North London were claiming Spurs to be title contenders. Face it: Chelsea are the team to beat right now. In England, and in the world.
Upcoming schedule: The cupcakes keep coming. Host Bolton Wanderers Wednesday in the League Cup Wednesday, then travel to Trotters in Premiership action over the weekend, then Atletico again. Then things finally get a bit more interesting with a showdown with Man United at the Bridge on Sunday, Nov. 8.

2. Barcelona
Last ranking: 1
Record: 10-1-2
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), lost at home to then-No. 23 Rubin Kazan (2-1, Oct. 20).
Commentary/recent results: Barca suffered their first defeat of the season, at home to Rubin Kazan. They rebounded nicely against Zaragoza by 6-1. That's not a typo.
Upcoming schedule: Cultural Leonesa (that's not a typo either. It's a Copa del Rey match) at midweek, Osasuna on the weekend.

3. Inter Milan
Last ranking: 4
Record: 7-1-4
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), drew then-No. 13 Dynamo Kiev at home (2-2, Oct. 20).
Commentary/recent results: The nerazzurri dodged a bullet in drawing Dynamo Kiev at the San Siro last Tuesday and followed this up with a 2-1 victory over Catania Saturday, maintaining their hold on first place in Serie A in the process.
Upcoming schedule: Host Palermo Thursday and travel to Livorno Sunday.

4. Manchester United
Last ranking: 3
Record: 10-2-1
Results of note: Beat then No. 4 Arsenal at home (2-1, Aug. 29), beat then-No. 13 Manchester City (4-3, Sept. 20), lost at then-No. 20 Liverpool (2-0, Oct. 25).
Commentary/recent results: Red Devils lost their second game of the season at Liverpool yesterday. They previously won at CSKA Moscow in midweek Champions League action.
Upcoming schedule: At Barnsley tomorrow in League Cup action. Host Blackburn Saturday.

5. Real Madrid
Last ranking: 2
Record: 7-2-2
Results of note: Lost at then-No. 9 Sevilla (2-1, Oct. 4).
Commentary/recent results: It was not a good week for the merengues, who lost at home to AC Milan in Champions League and played a scoreless draw at Sporting Gijon.
Upcoming schedule: Play some Spanish minnow in a Copa del Rey match tomorrow. Host Getafe Saturday.

6. Sevilla
Last ranking: 6
Record: 8-2-1
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 had an easy victory at VfB Stuttgart in midweek Champions League action, then played Espanyol Barcelona scoreless at home.
Upcoming schedule: Face some Spanish minnow in Copa del Rey action tomorrow and at Xerez in Liga action on the weekend.

7. Porto
Last ranking: 7
Record: 9-2-1
Results of note: Lost at then-No. 3 Chelsea in Champions League group stage (1-0, Sept. 15).
Commentary/recent results: The Dragoes struggled to defeat Nikosia at home in a midweek Champions League game. After going down 1-nil a brace by Hulk (his real, or at least Brazilian, name. Not making this up) gave Porto the 2-1 victory. Then beat Academica de Coimbra yesterday.
Upcoming schedule: Host Belenenses Sunday.

8. Juventus
Last ranking: 9
Record: 6-1-5
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 defeated Maccabi Haifa by the narrowest of margins (1-0) in the Champions League, then won at Siena by the same result in weekend Serie A action.
Upcoming schedule: Host second-placed Sampdoria Wednesday. That should be interesting. Also host Napoli Saturday.

9. Girondins Bordeaux
Last ranking: 17
Record: 9-2-2
Results of note: A scoreless draw at then-No. 18 Olympique Marseille (Aug. 30), drew at then No. 5 Juventus (1-1, Sept. 15), beat then-No. 16 Bayern Munich at home (2-1, Oct. 21).
Commentary/recent results: Bordeaux got back on track last week, winning both games. First they spotted Bayern Munich a goal before defeating the Germans 2-1 in the Champions League, taking first place in the group in the process. Over the weekend they beat up on Le Mans, 3-0 in a Ligue Un match, to take back first place in France as well. The eight spot jump is still pretty gratuitous, but we give extra credit for first-placed teams in their domestic league.
Upcoming schedule: Host second-placed Monaco Saturday. That should be a doozy.

10. Dynamo Kiev
Last ranking: 13
Record: 12-1-2
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, drew at then-No. 4 Inter Milan (2-2, Oct. 20).
Commentary/recent results: Dynamo did well to draw Inter Milan 2-2 at San Siro at midweek and followed it up with the obligatory victory in domestic league action.
Upcoming schedule: Host Karpaty Lvov Saturday and Inter a week from Wednesday.

11. Rubin Kazan
Last Ranking: 23
Record: 17-5-5*
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), won at then-No. 1 Barcelona (2-1, Oct. 20).
Commentary/recent results: The Russian champs pulled off their country's biggest victory since Stalingrad, defeating Barcelona at Camp Nou by a 2-1 score. They followed this up with a domestic league victory to maintain their hold on first place. They take a massive leap in the top 25 as a result. (But not yet over Dynamo Kiev, whom they lost to back on Sept. 16).
Upcoming schedule: The return leg against Barcelona is a week from Wednesday. Think Barca will want revenge? Did the Russians want revenge after Stalingrad?
*Russian league starts in the spring.

12. Arsenal
Last ranking: 10
Record: 8-2-2
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: A pair of draws for Gunners last week; 1-1 at Dutch champions AZ Alkmaar in the Champions League and 2-2 at West Ham United yesterday. They gave up a 2-0 halftime lead in the latter match.
Upcoming schedule: Now things get interesting, with Liverpool paying a visit in the League Cup Wednesday and Tottenham Hotspur doing likewise Saturday.

13. Olympique Lyonnais
Last ranking: 8
Record: 10-2-2
Results of note: Beat then-No. 18 Fiorentina at home in Champions League group stage (1-0, Sept. 16), won at then-No. 20 Liverpool (2-1, Oct. 20).
Commentary/recent results: L'OL took advantage of Liverpool's weak form by beating Reds at Anfield last Tuesday, then inexplicably lost at Nice (it's pronounced "niece") Saturday. By 4-1 at that. Ouch. Oh yeah that was Lyon's second straight Ligue Un loss. Not good. They slip to third in the process.
Upcoming schedule: Visit St. Etienne Saturday.

14. Olympiakos
Last ranking: 14
Record: 11-1-1
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 met obligations in defeating Standard Liege at home by 2-1 after spotting the visitors a goal. Saturday they defeated AE Ergotelis by the same score in a Greek league match. Olympiakos are in good shape to advance out of their Champions League group. They sit second with six points from the first three games, with a four point lead over AZ Alkmaar.
Upcoming schedule: Visit Panserraikos in a cup tie tomorrow and some other Greek team in a league match over the weekend.

15. Valencia
Last ranking: 12
Record: 6-1-4
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 somehow managed just a 1-1 home draw with Slavia Prague in the Europa League but won decisively at Almeira by a 3-0 score. They sit fourth in Spain.
Upcoming schedule: The first leg of a Copa del Rey matchup at midweek and also play at Malaga on the weekend. Their next name brand opponent is Real Madrid, whom they host Dec. 13.

16. Hamburg SV
Last ranking: 15
Record: 9-2-4
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: After defeating Celtic 1-0 in a Europa League match, HSV led Schalke 04 by 2-0 and somehow settled for a 3-3 draw in weekend Bundesliga action. They're still tied for first place with Bayer Leverkusen.
Upcoming schedule: Host Borussia Moenchengladbach Saturday.

17. Manchester City
Last ranking: 11
Record: 7-1-3
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 managed just a 2-2 draw at home to Fulham. That's their third draw in a row. They will need to step it up if they want to see the Top 25 for much longer.
Upcoming schedule: Host Scunthorpe United in a midweek League Cup match and play at Birmingham City 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.

18. Bayern Munich
Last ranking: 16
Record: 8-3-4
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), lost at then-No. 17 Girondins Bordeaux (2-1, Oct. 21).
Commentary/recent results: Bayern had a 1-0 lead over Girondins Bordeaux but lost their Champions League match 2-1. They drop to third place in their group, one point behind Juventus and three behind Bordeaux. At least they beat Eintracht Frankfurt in weekend Bundesliga action. They sit fifth in Germany, just four points behind the leaders.
Upcoming schedule: At Eintracht again, this time for a cup tie. At Stuttgart Saturday. Host Girondins next week.

19. Fiorentina
Last Ranking: 18
Record: 6-3-3
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: La Viola won their midweek Champions League match at Debreceni, 4-3, to take sole possession of second place in the group, three points behind Lyon but three ahead of Bayern Munich. Then lost at Napoli yesterday, slipping to fifth place in Serie A.
Upcoming schedule: At Genoa Wednesday. Host Catania Sunday.

20. Liverpool
Last ranking: 20
Record: 8-6-0
Results of note: Lost at then-No. 4 Chelsea (2-0, Oct. 4), lost at home to then-No. 8 Olympique Lyon (2-1, Oct. 20), beat then-No. 3 Man United at home (2-0, Oct. 25).
Commentary/recent results: What a week for Reds! After losing at home to Lyon, they rebounded to defeat arch rivals Man United yesterday, probably salvaging Rafa Benitez' job in the process. But they are still in big trouble; both in the Champions League, where they likely need to win all three remaining games to advance to the knockout stage, and in the Premiership where they are fifth, nine points behind leaders Chelsea.
Upcoming schedule: No rest for the weary. A League Cup tie at Arsenal looms Wednesday. Visit Craven Cottage and Fulham over the weekend before a trip to Florence next week.

21. AC Milan
Last ranking: -
Record: 6-3-3
Results of note: Lost at then-No. 8 Inter Milan (4-0, Aug. 27), won at then-No. 16 Olympique Marseille (2-1, Sept. 15), won at then-No. 2 Real Madrid (3-2, Oct. 21).
Commentary/recent results: The rossoneri are back in the Top 25 thanks largely to their 3-2 win at the Bernabeu that puts them in a tie for first in the group (with Real Madrid). Too bad they had to lose at home to FC Zurich otherwise they'd be sitting pretty. Then there's their situation in Serie A, which leaves a lot to be desired as well (Leonardo's club are sixth, seven points from the top).
Upcoming schedule: Visit Napoli Wednesday. Host Parma Saturday

22. Shakhtar Donetsk
Last ranking: 19
Record: 10-2-3
Results of note: Lost UEFA Supercup to then-No. 2 Barcelona (1-0 in overtime, Aug. 28).
Commentary/recent results: The Ukrainian side beat up on Toulouse 3-0 in the Europa League but managed just a 1-1 draw in their weekend Premier-Liga game. They drop six points behind league leaders Dynamo Kiev in the process.
Upcoming schedule: Another Ukrainian league game this weekend followed by the return leg with Toulouse, this time in Southwestern France.

23. Sporting Braga
Last ranking: 21
Record: 8-0-1
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: Braga drew at Rio Ave Vila do Conde on Sunday, the first time they've dropped points this season. They hold a three point lead over Benfica Lisbon in Portugal's Liga Sagres.
Upcoming schedule: Speaking of the devil, they host Benfica this Sunday.

24. Fenerbahce Istanbul
Last ranking: -
Record: 10-2-0
Results of note: Beat Galatasaray (3-1, Oct. 25)
Commentary/recent results: Fener make their season debut in the Top 25. It's been over a year since their last appearance. Two seasons ago they were ranked as high as 10th at one point. They've done well this season. Yesterday they defeated archrivals Galatasaray to expand their lead in the Turkish league to five points. Earlier in the week they put Steaua Bucharest to the sword in a Europa League match. They lead the group with six points from three games.
Upcoming schedule: At Kayserispor Sunday.

25. PSV Eindhoven
Last ranking: -
Record: 10-0-4
Results of note: Drew at Twente (1-1, Aug. 9).
Commentary/recent results: PSV make their season debut in the Top 25. Quietly unbeaten in all competition, they have flown under our radar by not being a first place club in their domestic league (the Dutch Eredivisie, Eindhoven being a town in the Netherlands, Dutch being the adjective used for the Netherlands, which is sometimes called Holland) but also by lacking the all-elusive "quality win". Their Europa League group includes FC Kopenhagen, CFR Cluj and Sparta Prague, neither of which is going to set the world on fire. Oh by the way, PSV last gave up a goal Sept. 26 against Wilhelm II. That's six games and counting.
Upcoming schedule: At Roda Kerkrade Wednesday. Host Vitesse Arnheim Saturday.

Dropping Out:
Twente (22), San Lorenzo (24), Aston Villa (25)

Also receiving consideration (in rough order of consideration received):
Benfica Lisbon, Bayer Leverkusen, Sampdoria.

Please Note:
We've officially dropped the goofy "bylaw" that required placing clubs from South and Central America in this list regardless if they deserved it. We'll still include those teams if the situation calls for it, but not just because.

The Top 25 may not appear next week depending on my schedule.


  1. I really like the Top 25. Thanks for doing this.

    I have to disagree over the Liverpool ranking, however. Any team that beats Man U has to move up. The Reds have had a bad stretch, and they are definitely not out of it yet, but I think they deserve top 15. Thoughts?

  2. The victory over Man U definitely counts for something but we are talking about a team (Liverpool) that has six losses! Hardly anybody in the top 25 has half that amount. More weight is given to recent form, which is why you have Man City so far behind Arsenal, whom they beat on the field several weeks ago for example. But the season's "body of work" is the primary indicator and six losses is hard to look past. However if Liverpool keep winning they will definitely move up.