Jan 18, 2010

The world's top 25 soccer clubs, Jan. 18, 2010

RonaldinhoWelcome to the first top 25 of the new decade. Hard to believe but this is now our fourth year of doing this. You just can't rest if you want to be the best. How would the latest ranking be affected by events of the past month? Would Barcelona lose their top spot after dropping out of Copa del Rey? Would resurgent Italian clubs (Milan and Roma) move up and if so, how much? Would Girondins Bordeaux hold on to their No. 2 ranking? Only one way to find out. Read on:

1. Barcelona
Last ranking: 1
Record (wins-losses-ties, in all competition; two-leg match-ups count as one): 22-2-6
Results of note: (chronological order) Beat Shakhtar Donetsk (at the time ranked 14th) 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), drew at then-No. 11 Rubin Kazan (0-0, Nov. 4), beat then-No. 2 Inter Milan (2-0, Nov. 24), beat then-No. 7 Real Madrid (1-0, Nov. 29), won at then-No. 15 Dynamo Kiev (2-1, Dec. 9), lost to then-No. 10 Sevilla in Copa del Rey, beat then-No. 10 Sevilla at home (4-0, Jan. 16).
Commentary/recent results: We told you it would be very tough, if not downright impossible, for Barcelona to repeat their exploit of six trophies in 2010. We even cautioned that the Copa del Rey could prove their undoing. We were right, as Sevilla completed the upset of the Blaugrana last week. To their credit, they rebounded against the same team on Saturday, trouncing the palanganas 4-0 at the Camp Nou. Even better, Real Madrid went down in flames at Bilbao, allowing the defending champs to extend their Liga lead to five points. So will Barca win five trophies then? That too will be very difficult, but not as difficult as winning six.
Upcoming schedule: Visit Valldolid Saturday.

2. Chelsea
Last ranking: 3
Record: 22-4-5
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), beat then-No. 4 Man United at home in Premiership (1-0, Nov. 8), won at then-No. 12 Porto (1-0, Nov. 25), won at then-No. 9 Arsenal (3-0, Nov. 29).
Commentary/recent results: After a scoreless draw at Birmingham City on Boxing Day, Blues have won three straight by a combined score of 14-3. Granted this was largely thanks to back-to-back target practice against Watford and Sunderland the last two weeks. But Chelsea also beat Fulham 2-1 back on Dec. 28. They remain in first place in the Premiership, just one point ahead of Man United albeit with a game in hand.
Upcoming schedule: Visit Preston North End Saturday in an F.A. Cup tie. A battle with Arsenal looms Feb. 7.

3. Girondins Bordeaux
Last ranking: 2
Record: 21-4-3
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), won at then-No. 19 Bayern Munich (2-0, Nov. 3), beat then-No. 6 Juventus at home (2-0, Nov. 25), won at then-No. 21 Olympique Lyonnais (1-0, Dec. 13).
Commentary/recent results: Since we last met les Girondins saw off Toulouse, defeated their minnow opponent in the Coupe de France and yesterday drew Olympique Marseille at home. That last one keeps Bordeaux from pulling away from the pack in Ligue Un altogether. As things stand, their lead is seven points over second-placed Lille. That may be enough at this point.
Upcoming schedule: Visit Grenoble on Wednesday (not to ski. Grenoble has a first division soccer team. Honest).

4. Inter Milan
Last ranking: 4
Record: 17-3-7
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), beat then-No. 13. Dynamo Kiev on the road (2-1, Nov. 4), lost at then-No. 3 Barcelona (2-0, Nov. 24), lost at then-No. 11 Juventus (2-1, Dec. 5), beat then-No. 9 Rubin Kazan (2-0, Dec. 9).
Commentary/recent results: The nerazzurri drew 2-2 at Bari on Saturday to ruin their perfect start to the 2010 calendar year. They previously booked victories over Chievo and Siena.
Upcoming schedule: The derby match against AC Milan on Sunday. These games are always massive. It just so happens the teams are 1 and 2 in the Serie A at present.

5. Arsenal
Last ranking: 7
Record: 19-5-4
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), beat then-No. 20 Liverpool at home in League Cup (2-1, Oct. 28), lost to then-No. 1 Chelsea at home in Premiership (3-0, Nov. 29), beat then-No. 20 Aston Villa at home (3-0, Dec. 27).
Commentary/recent results: Four wins and a draw are Arsenal's tally since the last edition of the Top 25. They've looked pretty good too, that 2-2 draw against Landon Donovan's Everton FC on Jan. 9 notwithstanding. But now that they have Landycakes, Everton are formidable. The best team in the Premiership, probably. Okay that's a slight exaggeration. But only slight. Back to Gunners though: Arsene Wenger's gang of fleet-footed, multi-ethnic manorexics are hanging in the title race. They're just two points behind second-placed Man United with a game in hand and three behind leaders Chelsea.
Upcoming schedule: Host Bolton Wanderers, Wednesday. Visit Stoke City for an F.A. Cup tie Sunday. A clash with Man United looms Jan. 31 at the Emirates (the stadium, not the country).

6. AC Milan
Last ranking: 9
Record: 15-5-7
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), drew then-No. 5 Real Madrid at home (1-1, Nov. 3), drew against then-No. 22 Olympique Marseille (1-1, Nov. 25).
Commentary/recent results: Rossoneri Rising. That's all you need to know at this point. If you're Inter Milan or Manchester United (Milan's Champions League opponent), be afraid. Leonardo's men have run up four victories in a row. Perhaps most important of all, their foreign midfielder, who was once a dominant player before falling from grace for a myriad of reasons, is back in peak form. We are not referring to David Beckham here, but Ronaldinho, who notched a hat trick in yesterday's 4-0 beatdown of Siena. Just how good are AC Milan right now? Better than Man United, that's how good. If their Champs League playoff were to take place this week, Milan would be the clear favorites. A lot can still happen (including injuries) between now and Feb. 16, but this could be very interesting.
Upcoming schedule: A clash with Inter Milan, whom they trail by six points in the Serie A standings.

7. Real Madrid
Last ranking: 5
Record: 16-5-4
Results of note: Lost at then-No. 9 Sevilla (2-1, Oct. 4). drew at then-No. 17 AC Milan (1-1, Nov. 3), lost at then-No. 3 Barcelona (1-0, Nov. 29), won at then-No. 12 Valencia (3-2, Dec. 12).
Commentary/recent results: It was not a good fortnight for the merengues, and not just because of their 1-1-1 record since we met last. Real Madrid lost two starters, Gonzalo Higuain and Rafael van der Vaart to injury. Saturday's loss, at Bilbao Saturday, is particularly painful because it drops Real five points behind Barcelona. Valencia is just three point in arrears but the question must be asked: Has the Liga race been decided? It has not, simply because Real host the return leg against Barca, which gives them an opportunity to make up three of the five points in one shot. Whether they can accomplish that feat is another question, however. Obviously a lot of it depends on the team's health at this point.
Upcoming schedule: Host Malaga on Sunday.

8. Manchester United
Last ranking: 6
Record: 21-7-3
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), lost at then-No. 1 Chelsea (1-0, Nov. 8)
Commentary/recent results: The F.A. Cup defeat to Leeds United was pretty bad. The ensuing 1-1 draw at Birmingham City not much better. Red Devils rebounded nicely against Burnley on Saturday, recording a 3-0 win to keep pace with Chelsea, whom they trail by a solitary point in the Premiership table. Blues have a game in hand though.
Upcoming schedule: Visit Manchester City for a League Cup tie tomorrow.

9. Bayern Munich
Last ranking: 8
Record: 16-4-7
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), lost at home to then-No. 7 Bordeaux (2-0, Nov. 3), tied then-No. 19 Bayer Leverkusen at home (1-1, Nov. 22), won at then-No. 8 Juventus (4-1, Dec. 8).
Commentary/recent results: Bayern picked right up where they left off before the break, winning their first game of the new year over Hoffenheim by 2-0. That was their seventh win in a row. Louis van Gaal's club have not lost since Nov. 3. Despite that recent run of success, they're just third in the German Bundesliga, but only two points behind leaders Leverkusen (and one behind second-placed Schalke).
Upcoming schedule: Play at Werder Bremen Saturday.

10. PSV Eindhoven
Last ranking: 11
Record: 20-0-5
Results of note: Drew at Twente (1-1, Aug. 9).
Commentary/recent results: PSV beat Heerenveen in a cup tie their first game back, 3-1. Though they remain unbeaten in all competition, PSV are only second in the Dutch top flight, three points behind Twente (though they have a game in hand).
Upcoming schedule: At Roda Kerkrade tomorrow. Host Nijmegen Friday. Drew Hamburg SV in the Europa League round of 32. The winner gets the winner of Anderlecht and Bilbao in the round of 16.

11. Sevilla
Last ranking: 10
Record: 15-4-3
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), beat then-No. 1 Barcelona in Copa del Rey, lost at then-No. 1 Barcelona (4-0, Jan. 16).
Commentary/recent results: Los palanganas became just the second team of the season to defeat Barcelona. It was also the second time this season they beat the top-ranked team (the 2-1 victory over Real Madrid back on Oct. 4 was the first). That's it for good news, however. Sevilla lost all three of their league games this year, most recently a 4-0 embarrassment at Camp Nou. The results have all but eliminated Manuel Jimenez' side from Liga contention. Not that we were really serious about their chances in the first place; this was always going to be a one two team race. Anyway, Sevilla now sit sixth, 16 points from Barcelona but only three from fourth place and the final Champions League spot it really covets.
Upcoming schedule: The Copa del Rey continues with Deportivo La Coruna (who happen to be fifth in La Liga). The first leg is at La Coruna Wednesday, with the return leg at Sevilla a week later. UD Almeira is also on tap in a league match Saturday. A match with third-placed Valencia looms Jan. 31. It will be an important two weeks, in other words.

12. Benfica Lisbon
Last ranking: 12
Record: 17-3-3
Results of note: Lost at then-No. 22 Sporting Braga (2-0, Oct. 31), trounced Everton 5-0 in Europa League (Oct. 22), defeated then-No. 11 Porto at home (1-0, Dec. 20).
Commentary/recent results: Benfica won both games since the break, 1-0 over Rio Ave Vila do Conde on Jan. 9 and 5-0 over Martimo Funchal yesterday. They remain in first place, though equal on points with Sporting Braga.
Upcoming schedule: It appears there is another two-week break in the action. Vitoria Guimares are up on Jan. 31.

13. Valencia
Last ranking: 14
Record: 15-3-7
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), lost at home to then-No. 7 Real Madrid (3-2, Dec. 12).
Commentary/recent results: Los xotos' fortunes the last two weeks were almost the exact reverse of Sevilla's. Where Sevilla booked a massive victory in the Copa del Rey but fell off the pace in the league, Valencia actually rose in the league (to third) while being eliminated in the Copa del Rey. Deportivo la Coruna were the culprits in the latter. Three wins (Espanyol, Xerez, Villareal) boosted Valencia's Liga place to third, just three points behind Real Madrid and nine behind Barca.
Upcoming schedule: Visit Teneriffa this weekend.

14. Porto
Last ranking: 13
Record: 16-5-2
Results of note: Lost at then-No. 3 Chelsea in Champions League group stage (1-0, Sept. 15), lost at home to then-No. 1 Chelsea (1-0, Nov. 25), lost at then-No. 18 Benfica (1-0, Dec. 20).
Commentary/recent results: The Dragoes won two and drew one since we last met. The draw, with Pacos de Ferreira, was the most recent, taking place Saturday. It drops them six points behind the joint leaders Benfica and Braga.
Upcoming schedule: A cup tie with Belenenses on Wednesday.

15. Olympiakos
Last ranking: 15
Record: 15-5-5
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: Olympiakos are 1-1-1 in the new year. They have dropped to second place in the Greek league, now seven points behind Panathinaikos.
Upcoming schedule: Host PAOK Saloniki Sunday.

16. Rubin Kazan
Last Ranking: 16
Record: 20-6-8*
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), drew then-No. 3 Barcelona at home (0-0, Nov. 3), drew then-No. 13 Dynamo Kiev at home (0-0, Nov. 24), lost at then-No. 5 Inter Milan (2-0, Dec 9).
Commentary/recent results: The Russian season is over. Kazan are champions. Face Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Europa League round of 32. The victor faces the winner of Wolfsburg and Villareal.
Upcoming schedule: What starts first, the Russian league or the next stage of the Europa League? Anybody know?
*Russian league starts in the spring.

17. Dynamo Kiev
Last ranking: 17
Record: 15-4-3
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), lost at then-No. 22 Shakhtar Donetsk in domestic cup (2-0, Oct. 28), lost at home to then-No. 2 Inter Milan (2-1, Nov. 4), defeated then-No. 14 Shakhtar Donetsk (3-0, Nov. 21), drew at then-No. 8 Rubin Kazan (0-0, Nov. 24), lost at home to then-No. 1 Barcelona (2-1, Dec. 9).
Commentary/recent results: Idle.
Upcoming schedule: Nothing until February.

18. Bayer Leverkusen
Last ranking: 18
Record: 10-1-8
Results of note: Won at then-No. 15 VfL Wolfsburg (3-2, Sept. 12), drew at then-No. 14 Hamburg SV (0-0, Oct. 17), drew at then-No. 24 Bayern Munich (1-1, Nov. 22).
Commentary/recent results: Leverkusen defeated Mainz 4-2 on Saturday, their first game of the new year. They maintain their slim, one point, lead atop the Bundesliga standings.
Upcoming schedule: Play at Hoffenheim Sunday. No European action for these guys but look to a stretch between March 14 and April 10 that will decide the title race. During that time, Bayer face Hamburg SV (currently fourth), Borussia Dortmund (fifth), Schalke (second) and Bayern Munich (third).

19. Fenerbahce Istanbul
Last ranking: 19
Record: 19-5-1
Results of note: Beat Galatasaray (3-1, Oct. 25), beat then-No. 20 Twente (Dec. 2, 1-0).
Commentary/recent results: Fener won all three games they played since the last edition of the Top 25. It appears all three were cup matches.
Upcoming schedule: Play at Antalyaspor later today. Turkcell action returns Sunday with a visit from Denizlispor. An intriguing Europa League match-up with Lille kicks off Feb. 18.

20. AS Roma
Last ranking: 24
Record: 15-6-6
Results of note: Lost at home to then-No. 5 Juventus (3-1, Aug. 30), beat then-No. 18 Fiorentina (3-1, Sept. 20), drew at then-No. 2 Inter Milan (1-1, Nov. 8)
Commentary/recent results: Winners of three straight and unbeaten in their last 14 (!), Roma are rolling. They're all the way up to third in Serie A. The 11 point deficit to first-placed Inter is probably too much to overcome at this point, but look out for the gialorossi in the Europa League. They face Panathinaikos in the first elimination round.
Upcoming schedule: Visit Juventus (no longer a top 25 club, or even close to one) on Saturday.

21. RSC Anderlecht
Last ranking: 22
Record: 20-5-5
Results of note: Lost Champions League qualifier against Olympique Lyon, drew Ajax Amsterdam at home in Europa League group stage (1-1, Oct. 1).
Commentary/recent results: Won three and drew one since the last edition of the Top 25. Most impressive was a 4-0 defeat of Standard Liege yesterday. Their lead in the Jupiler League is six points.
Upcoming schedule: A cup tie Wednesday. Face Atletic Bilbao in an intriguing Europa League match-up that kicks off Feb. 18.

22.OSC Lille
Last ranking: 23
Record: 15-7-5
Results of note: Beat then-No. 7 Girondins Bordeaux at home (2-0, Nov. 8), lost at then-No. 14 Valencia (3-1, Dec. 2), beat then-No. 18 Olympique Lyon (4-3, Dec. 6).
Commentary/recent results: L'OSC vindicated their spot in the Top 25 by winning all three games since the last edition of the rankings. They stake their claim to second place in Ligue Un and move to within seven points of the leaders, No. 3 Bordeaux.
Upcoming schedule: Visit Sochaux Wednesday followed by a cup tie at Colmar Saturday.

23. Olympique Marseille
Last ranking: -
Record: 14-7-7
Results of note: Drew then-No. 12 Girondins Bordeaux at home (0-0, Aug. 30), lost at home to AC Milan (2-1, Sept. 15), lost at then-No. 1 Real Madrid (3-0, Sept. 30), drew at then-No. 12 Olympique Lyon (5-5, Nov. 8), drew at then-No. 13 AC Milan (1-1, Nov. 25), lost at then-No. 7 Real Madrid (3-1, Dec. 8), drew at then-No. 2 Bordeaux (1-1, Jan. 17).
Commentary/recent results: L'OM came from behind to rescue a point at Girondins Bordeaux yesterday. They are likely out of the Ligue Un race anyway, seeing as they trail Bordeaux by 11 points (albeit with a game in hand). But their record against top competition indicates they're up for the task of a deep run in the Europa League. They shouldn't have any problem with their next opponent, Copenhagen.
Upcoming schedule: Host Le Mans Wednesday.

24. Shakhtar Donetsk
Last ranking: 21
Record: 17-4-4
Results of note: Lost UEFA Supercup to then-No. 2 Barcelona (1-0 in overtime, Aug. 28), beat then-No. 10 Dynamo Kiev at home in domestic cup match (2-0, Oct. 28), lost at then No. 16 Dynamo Kiev (3-0, Nov. 21).
Commentary/recent results: Nothing.
Upcoming schedule: The first round of the Europa League play-off, at Craven Cottage on Feb. 18.

25. Twente
Last ranking: 25
Record: 20-5-3
Results of note: Lost a Champions League qualifier against Sporting Lisbon (1-1 on aggregate), drew PSV Eindhoven (1-1, Aug. 9), won at Fenerbahce (2-1, Sept. 17), defeated Ajax Amsterdam at home (1-0, Nov. 8), lost at home to Fenerbahce (1-0, Dec. 2).
Commentary/recent results: Twente won a cup tie back on Dec. 23 but drew their league match yesterday, 0-0 at FC Utrecht. The latter result means they will relinquish first place to PSV Eindhoven if PSV win their makeup game.
Upcoming schedule: Play at Groningen Sunday.

Dropping Out:
Aston Villa (20) after back-to-back losses against Arsenal and Liverpool.

Also receiving consideration (in rough order of consideration received):
Panathinaikos, Galatasaray, Mallorca.

Photo taken from ESPN Soccernet without permission.


  1. are you aware that there are teams outside of Europe? You know the teams where the big european clubs get their talent? Paranaense, Estudiantes de La Plata, Liga de Quito. You're a bore.

  2. Didn't know there were teams outside Europe. Are you sure about that? I mean I'm sure they're teams but do they really play soccer? Not some version of capture the flag or something?

  3. FIFA Club World Cup Winners:
    2008-Man U
    2007-AC Milan
    2005-Sao Paolo

    Just like I said, BORE

  4. Well, if you had been following the blog for awhile you would know that we have in fact had clubs from outside Europe in the Top 25 previously. In fact, until recently we had a bylaw that required inclusion of at least one CONMEBOL and one CONCACAF club. We dropped it because we felt it did a disservice. But non-European clubs still make the top 25, most recently on Dec. 7:


  5. I apologize for coming off so harsh it's just that although South American clubs are like a farm system to Europe, at times there are some phenomenal classes that are produced in South America rather sporadically. Like 04-05 Sao Paolo or 05-06 Boca Juniors that had some serious ballers bar none.

    In actuality I think only one team right now can really make your list which is Fluminense. All I'm saying is a whole hemisphere doesn't have at least one quality club?

  6. Quality yes. Top 25 quality? Debatable of course, but so are many things. Having said that I"ll take a closer look at Fluminense for next week

  7. Bordeaux? Really?

  8. Bordeaux. Really. Look at their record. It compares with anybody's but Barca.

  9. Really? No Juventus in the top 25... the only undefeated team in Europe? Beat AC Milan and Inter this season... are you serious?