Feb 1, 2010

The world's top 25 soccer clubs, Feb. 1, 2010

Well, well. The very top of the rankings should not be in very much doubt at this point, as neither Barcelona nor Chelsea dropped any points in the last fortnight. But then things get interesting. How interesting? You'll have to read on to find out:

1. Barcelona
Last ranking: 1
Record (wins-losses-ties, in all competition; two-leg match-ups count as one): 24-2-6
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: Barca passed both tests since the last edition of the top 25, defeating Valladolid 3-0 a week ago and Sporting Gijon 1-0 on Saturday. The latter victory was a bit hairy at times but the blaugrana held on. They now lead Real Madrid by five points atop the Liga standings.
Upcoming schedule: Host Getafe on Saturday, then visit Atletico Madrid Feb. 14, followed by Racing Santander at home Feb. 21. The first leg of their UEFA Champions league Round of 16 matchup with VfB Stuttgart is in Germany Feb. 23.

2. Chelsea
Last ranking: 2
Record: 25-4-5
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: Blues won all three games they played since the last edition of the Top 25 but Saturday's victory at Burnley was a bit close for comfort. They saw their 1-0 halftime lead vanish at minute 50 before John Terry won them the match seven minutes from full time. Still, those are the types of games great teams need to win. Are Chelsea a "great" team? We will have to wait and see.
Upcoming schedule: Visit Hull City tomorrow. Then finally some quality competition: Arsenal on Sunday and Everton a week from Wednesday. That will give us a better idea of what Chelsea are made of.

3. Inter Milan
Last ranking: 4
Record: 19-3-7
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), defeated then-No. 6 AC Milan (2-0, Jan. 24).
Commentary/recent results: The nerazzurri booked impressive back-to-back victories against cross town rivals Milan and Juventus. Granted Juventus haven't been a Top 25 side in a little while, but still. Yesterday's game at Parma was canceled. Mourinho's men have an eight point lead over AC Milan and AS Roma.
Upcoming schedule: Host Fiorentina in the first leg of a Coppa Italia match-up Wednesday, followed by Cagliari on Sunday.

4. Manchester United
Last ranking: 8
Record: 24-8-3
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), won at then-No. 5 Arsenal (3-1, Jan. 31).
Commentary/recent results: Just like that, Man U are back. It only took one game, but it's hard not to be impressed by yesterday's victory at the Emirates (not the country). Red Devils scored three beautiful goals and outmuscled and thoroughly dominated Arsene Wenger's gang of fleet-footed, multi-ethnic manorexics (I'm going to keep writing that until somebody gives me credit for it. And then I'll probably keep using it). Perhaps most impressive was the emergence of Nani as the veritable Cristiano Ronaldo replacement Sir Alex' side has been seeking all season. I mean did you see those goals? Yeah he had goalkeeper help on the first, but still. Wowza. But suffice it to say the English Premiership race suddenly takes on a different form after yesterday. Can Arsenal still be viewed as legitimate title contenders? Methinks not. Man U, on the other hand are right there; not only in England but also in Europe. Yes, they may just give Barcelona a run for their money when it's all said and done.
Upcoming schedule: Host Pompey Saturday. Visit Villa Park a week from Wednesday. Then it's off to the San Siro on Tuesday, Feb. 16 for the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 matchup with AC Milan. Is there any doubt who is favored at this point? There shouldn't be.

5. Real Madrid
Last ranking: 7
Record: 18-5-4
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: After losing to Athletic Bilbao on Jan. 16, the merengues have won two straight. Saturday's 3-1 victory at fifth-placed Deportivo La Coruna was pretty impressive considering Cristiano Ronaldo didn't play.
Upcoming schedule: Host Espanol Saturday, followed by a trip to Deportivo Xerez, followed by the first leg of their Champions League matchup with Olympique Lyon, Feb. 16.

6. Girondins Bordeaux
Last ranking: 3
Record: 24-4-4
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 defeated Grenoble, Ajaccio and Le Mans before suffering a scoreless home draw with lowly Boulogne-sur-Mer, placed 19th of 20 teams in Ligue Un. With Montpellier's 2-0 defeat of Olympique Marseille, the defending French champ's lead is down to six points. What newly-promoted Montpellier are doing in second place is a subject of another discussion.
Upcoming schedule: Host Sedan in a league cup match tomorrow, followed by a trip to Rennes Saturday.

7. Bayern Munich
Last ranking: 9
Record: 18-4-7
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: Try as they might die Bayern just can't get past Leverkusen for first place in the Bundesliga. It's nine victories in a row (and counting) for Louis van Gaal's side, yet two points still separate them from the first placed Leverkusener. We're anticipating another photo finish to the Bundesliga campaign. But unlike last year, we think Bayern will be on top this time.
Upcoming schedule: Play at defending Bundesliga champions VfL Wolfsburg Saturday.

8. Arsenal
Last ranking: 5
Record: 20-7-5
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), lost at home to then-No. 8 Manchester United (3-1, Jan. 31).
Commentary/recent results: Even before yesterday's beat down by Man United, Arsenal were struggling. They had to overcome a halftime deficit to defeat Bolton Wanderers back on Jan. 20 and it's been down hill ever since. A 3-1 defeat at Stoke City in the F.A. Cup, a scoreless draw at Villa Park and then yesterday's debacle at the Emirates. Oh, and things don't get any easier for Arsene Wenger's gang of fleet-footed, multi-ethnic manorexics, because...
Upcoming schedule: Visit the Bridge Sunday. Then host suddenly (somewhat) resurgent Liverpool a week from Wednesday. Then travel to Portugal for the Champions League match-up with Porto.

9. Sevilla
Last ranking: 11
Record: 18-4-3
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), beat then-No. 13 Valencia at home (2-1, Jan. 31).
Commentary/recent results: Los palanganas rebounded from a 4-0 beatdown at Camp Nou back on Jan. 16 to reel off three victories in a row; one of which came over two legs in the Copa del Rey over a tough Deportivo La Coruna side. Perhaps more impressive was yesterday's 2-1 defeat of Valencia, which puts the Andalucians right back in the hunt for Champions League spots (they're fourth, three points behind Valencia). But look at their record against "quality" competition. The 4-0 loss at Barcelona notwithstanding it's pretty stellar. We'll know more of course when the Champions League continues (though not right away because CSKA Moscow is up next).
Upcoming schedule: The first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal with Getafe is up Wednesday. Sevilla host that. Visit Saragossa Sunday.

10. AC Milan
Last ranking: 6
Record: 15-7-8
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), lost at then-No. 4 Inter Milan (2-0, Jan. 24).
Commentary/recent results: It's been a terrible two weeks for Leonardo's men, who lost twice and drew at home against Livorno yesterday. Just when Milan were looking resurgent. Oh well.
Upcoming schedule: Visit Bologna Sunday.

11. Benfica Lisbon
Last ranking: 12
Record: 18-3-3
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 their only game since the last edition of the top 25, 3-1 over Vitoria Guimares on Saturday. Good enough to maintain their hold (on goal difference) over Sporting Braga atop Liga Sagres.
Upcoming schedule: Visit Vitoria Setubal Sunday.

12. Porto
Last ranking: 14
Record: 18-5-2
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 a cup tie over Belenenses (on penalties) and added a 4-0 defeat of Nacional Funchal Saturday.
Upcoming schedule: Host Sporting Lisbon in a cup tie tomorrow and Naval 1o de Maio Sunday.

13. AS Roma
Last ranking: 20
Record: 18-6-6
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: The Roma resurgence continues, as the gialorossi won all three games they played over the last fortnight. That makes six straight victories and an unbeaten streak of 17. Quite possibly one of the most dangerous sides in Europe right now. They're third, just eight points behind Inter Milan.
Upcoming schedule: Host Udinese in the first leg of their Coppa Italia match-up on Thursday followed by a trip to Fiorentina Sunday.

14. PSV Eindhoven
Last ranking: 10
Record: 22-1-6
Results of note: Drew at Twente (1-1, Aug. 9).
Commentary/recent results: PSV finally lost a game, their first of the season. It happened Jan. 27 at home to Feyenoord Rotterdam by a 3-0 score. This was followed by a scoreless draw at Vitesse Arnheim yesterday. And yet PSV are first in the Dutch Eredivisie now, equal on points with Twente.
Upcoming schedule: Host Utrecht Wednesday and the Hague Saturday as Eredivisie action continues.

15. Bayer Leverkusen
Last ranking: 18
Record: 12-1-8
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 won both their last games, over Hoffenheim and Freiburg by 3-0 and 3-1, respectively. They maintain their two point lead atop the Bundesliga standings.
Upcoming schedule: Visit Bochum Saturday. 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 fifth), Borussia Dortmund (fourth), Schalke (third) and Bayern Munich (second).

16. Valencia
Last ranking: 13
Record: 16-4-8
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), lost at then-No. 11 Sevilla (2-1, Jan. 31).
Commentary/recent results: Los xotos' won one (over Villareal), tied one (at Tenerife) and lost one (at Sevilla) since we met last. They're still third in La Liga, but for how long?
Upcoming schedule: Host Real Valladolid Saturday. Then Sporting Gijon a week from Sunday. Then the Europa League match-up with FC Bruges.

17. Fenerbahce Istanbul
Last ranking: 19
Record: 21-6-1
Results of note: Beat Galatasaray (3-1, Oct. 25), beat then-No. 20 Twente (Dec. 2, 1-0).
Commentary/recent results: After a loss to Antalyaspor in a cup tie on Jan. 18, Fener defeated Denizlispor and Silvasspor in Turkcell Super Lig action to maintain their slim one point lead over Galatasaray.
Upcoming schedule: Host Bursaspor in a cup tie Thursday (apparently the afoementioned loss to Antalyaspor didn't eliminate them). An intriguing Europa League match-up with Lille kicks off Feb. 18.

18. Olympiakos
Last ranking: 15
Record: 16-6-5
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 won one (over Panionios yesterday) and lost one (at home to PAOK Saloniki) since the last edition of the top 25. They remain second in the Greek Super League, now six points behind Panathinaikos but equal on points with PAOK Saloniki.
Upcoming schedule: Host Levadiakos Sunday.

19. 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?

20. 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 late February.

21. RSC Anderlecht
Last ranking: 21
Record: 22-6-5
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: Anderlecht defeated Cercle Bruges in a cup tie, lost against the same team in league action and defeated somebody else 5-0 yesterday. Their Jupiler League lead remains six points over FC Bruges, whom they host Wednesday.
Upcoming schedule: More league action. Face Atletic Bilbao in an intriguing Europa League match-up that kicks off Feb. 18.

22. Twente
Last ranking: 25
Record: 22-5-4
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: Two wins and one draw, no goals allowed is the tally for Twente since we met last. They give up first place in the Eredivisie (on goal difference only) because PSV Eindhoven had a game in hand that they made up. But it's good enough to stay in the Top 25.
Upcoming schedule: Host Heracles Wednesday, followed by a trip to third-placed Ajax Amsterdam on Sunday.

23. Olympique Marseille
Last ranking: 23
Record: 16-8-7
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 ran off two victories over Le Mans and now third-placed Lille before stumbling to surprising Montpellier on Saturday. We're keeping them right where they are because of their record against quality competition.
Upcoming schedule: Visit Lens tomorrow for a cup tie. Host Valenciennes Sunday before visiting fourth placed Monaco Feb. 13. So they have a chance to make up some ground. First place and Bordeaux are a distant 12 points off but a Champions League spot is a distinct possibility.

24. Shakhtar Donetsk
Last ranking: 24
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. Corinthians
Last ranking: -
Record: 3-0-2
Results of note: Beat defending champions Palmeiras in Paulista League (1-0, Jan. 31)
Commentary/recent results: We're admittedly getting a bit creative here, but there just weren't any European (or Argentine. Or Mexican) clubs we saw as worthy candidates. The Paulista tournament, though "just" a preseason municipal event, is serious business in Brazil. In case you're wondering: This is the same club that now has Roberto Carlos on its roster. In fact, he was sent off in the ninth minute of yesterday's match with Palmeiras (after Corinthians had gone ahead three minutes earlier). Oh yeah, Ronaldo (that one) is on the team as well.
Upcoming schedule: The Paulista tournament continues Wednesday with an away match at Associacao Atletica Ponte Preta followed by Sertaozinho at home. Love these Brazilian names. Oh yeah, Corninthians are in the Copa Libertadores as well, in a group with Independiente Medellin of Colombia, Cerro Porteno of Paraguay and a fourth team TBD.

Dropping Out:
Lille (22) after losing a cup tie to minnow club Colmar followed by a 2-1 defeat at Olympique Marseille.

Also receiving consideration (in rough order of consideration received):
None. Nobody is worthy.

Photo taken from SkySports.com without permission.

No comments:

Post a Comment