Nov 5, 2017

The world's top five soccer clubs in the world as of Nov. 6, 2017

It was an eventful week with two matches each for the top soccer clubs in Europe -- and therefore the world (Yes we're making that statement. Shouldn't really be debatable though we have anointed the best team from outside Europe once more, just like we did last week and the week before). This post has been updated with an honorable mention list of clubs that are knocking on the door of the #top5 (yes that's going viral). But here are this week's best, in ascending order:

5. Tottenham Hotspur

Last week's spot: None.
Record in all competition: 11-3-3 (11 wins, 3 losses, 3 ties)
Notable results: Lost at home to Chelsea (by 2-1 on Aug. 20), beat Borussia Dortmund (3-1, Sept. 13), drew at Real Madrid (1-1, Oct. 17), beat Liverpool (4-1, Oct. 22), lost at Manchester United (1-0, Oct. 28), beat Real at home (3-1, Nov. 1).
Last week: The win over Real Madrid in Champions League play at midweek, edged Crystal Palace 1-0 yesterday.
Discussion: They're back. After a one-week absence, Spurs return to the top 5 thanks to their historic beatdown of Real Madrid. The win over Palace was far less impressive and actually could have gone the other way had it not been for some heroics from Tottenham's third-string goalkeeper. Injuries have reared their head: Harry Kane is starting games but clearly not at full strength. Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Hugo Lloris are out. So too is the reserve goalkeeper Michel Vorm, which is what led to Paulo Gazzaniga starting against Palace. Now Harry Winks is hurt too. Despite this, Spurs managed to get the result they needed yesterday and that is exactly what a top team does. We said Spurs asserted themselves as one of the best teams in Europe with the Real victory. We're sticking to that and not just because pundits have agreed with us (we like it more when pundits disagree, frankly, though we do sometimes make it easy for them, admittedly). Yes, Tottenham are just third in the Premiership but that's thanks to a weak start when the Wembley hoodoo took its toll (or more like the team needed to adjust to its temporary home). While it's also true that Real are not playing their best, the margin of victory and thorough dismantling of reigning European champions still carry a lot of weight. This is what makes Spurs the fifth-best team on the planet right now, in our estimation.
The road ahead: The North London Derby against Arsenal is first up after the international break, on Nov. 18. That game is at the Emirates. No question who the favorite should be for this, though maybe not if Kane has to sit it out.

4. FC Barcelona

Last week: First.
Record in all competition: 14-0-2
Notable results: Beat Juventus (3-0, Sept. 12), drew at Atletico Madrid (1-1, Oct. 14).
Last week: Drew at Olympiakos in the Champions League, beat Sevilla on Saturday in La Liga.
Discussion: Barca remain unbeaten but the scoreless draw at Olympiakos was enough to dock them three spots in the ranking seeing how the teams behind them won both their games convincingly. Several things plagued Barca during this game, chief among them Luis Suarez's loss of form, according to our friends While the victory over Sevilla was impressive enough (the Andalusian side were fifth coming into the match), the ranking committee remains nonplussed by the quality of la Liga this season. Spanish media share our concerns. Valencia, with no European fixtures at all (not even Europa League qualifiers), are second. Spanish teams have few quality victories over European competition. Barca did beat Juventus, but that club too has had a few struggles. Add it all up and Barca are simply not the best team in the world right now. Or even the second-best. Or the third-best. What they are, is fourth best. So says us.
The road ahead: Visit Leganes and visit Juventus immediately after the international break. The clash with Real Madrid is on Wednesday, Dec. 20, in case you were wondering. At the Bernabeu. Midweek.

3. Bayern Munich

Last week's spot: Fourth.
Record in all competition: 15-2-2
Notable results: lost to Paris Saint German (3-0, Sept. 27), won at Borussia Dortmund (3-1, Nov. 4).
Last week: Two wins, over Celtic in the Champions League (2-1) and Borussia in Bundesliga play.
Discussion: Make it seven victories in a row since Jupp Heynckes took control of the Bavarian juggernaut. Bayern had no real trouble with Celtic at midweek and piled the misery on poor Borussia Dortmund on Saturday. Dortmund have won just one of their last seven games and that was a cup tie against Magdeburg, some lower division side. Still, a win at Dortmund is a win at Dortmund and Bayern did that convincingly. They now lead the Bundesliga by four points over RB Leipzig. Dortmund, despite their miserable form, sit third. Bayern are in good shape in their Champions League group with nine points from four games and are effectively through to the next round. They're unlikely to win the group, seeing how PSG have a goal difference of 17 scored, 0 conceded.
The road ahead: Host Augsburg and visit Anderlecht when teams return from the international break.

2. Paris Saint Germain

Last week's spot: Third.
Record in all competition: 13-0-2
Notable results: Beat Bayern Munich (3-0, Sept. 27), drew Olympique Marseille (2-2, Oct. 22).
Last week: A pair of easy victories, over Anderlecht in the Champions League and Angers in French league play.
Discussion: Since they dropped points to Marseille, PSG have reeled off three wins in a row by a combined score of 13 to zero. While the opposition has not been particularly worrisome (or at all worrisome, if we're being honest), this run of form is still good enough to make PSG the second-best team in the world at this juncture. It's also worth noting that Neymar has missed two of these games. The club play an entertaining style with their attacking 4-3-3 formation and lethal front three of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe. While there were doubts about the defense at the start of the season, judging by how many few goals they have conceded (a grand total of eight, from 15 games), it is safe to say those can be laid to rest at this juncture. Of course a lot will depend on the next stage(s) of the Champions League. Domestically, PSG only really have to worry about Monaco and the two Olympiques -- Marseille and Lyon. They lead Monaco by four points and Marseille and Lyon by seven and eight points, respectively.
The road ahead: Host Nantes and Celtic after the international break. Lyon is on the docket for Jan. 20.

1. Manchester City

Last week: Second.
Record in all competition: 16-0-1
Notable results: Won at Chelsea (1-0, Sept. 30), beat Napoli (2-1, Oct. 17) and won at Napoli (4-2, Nov. 1)
Last week Two big wins, at Napoli in the Champions League and over Arsenal in the Premiership.
Discussion: Man City are dominating domestic and European competition alike. Their lead in the English topflight is now eight points after yesterday's victory over Arsenal and Man United's loss at Chelsea. It was the ninth straight win for Pep Guardiola's side, though the man himself apparently doesn't think they're anywhere close to their potential yet. Unfortunately, he's refused to compare them to rivals on the continent, making our job just a little bit harder. Domestically, it's hard to see how anybody will be able to catch them at this point -- barring injuries of course. For now, City are just too good. Alan Shearer says they're unstoppable. Antonio Conte has all but conceded the Premiership title to them. There has been talk of an invincible season, though Guardiola has talked this down. They found themselves a goal behind after 21 minutes at Napoli but were able to turn the match rather easily in the end. With the win Citizens are now on a perfect 12 points after four games and obviously assured passage to the next round -- though not yet as group winners, as Shakthar Donetsk are just three points behind. The two clubs don't meet until the final matchday but at that point it probably won't matter anymore.
The road ahead: The Manchester derby is the second weekend in December. Man U did not look good against Chelsea but remain second for now. Could that be the last, best chance to upend City's march to the title?

Dropping out

Napoli (fifth last week).

Also receiving consideration

Besiktas Istanbul: The Turkish side lead their Champions League group ahead of (in order) Porto, RB Leipzig and AS Monaco, but sit just third in their domestic league. Including Besiktas by definition means Porto, RB (don't call them Red Bull. That's Rasenballsport, which if you must know is an invented word. More on that some other time) and Monaco do not get consideration. Besiktas beat all three of these teams, two of them away from home. AS Roma: Winners of five in a row. Lead their Champions League group ahead of Chelsea, whom they beat up on 3-0 last week. But sit just fifth in Serie A. Lazio: Lead their Europa League group with a perfect record after four games, and beat Juventus Turin in Serie A competition. Hold fourth place in the Italian league. Inter Milan: Unbeaten in all competition, which actually is just one competition as the nerazurri are not playing continentally at all this season. Third in Serie A. Olympique Lyon: Have lost just once this season and that was to PSG. Just beat up on St. Etienne 5-nil in a raucous Rhone derby. Third in Ligue Un.

Best Ex-Europe: Boca Juniors

Boca get the nod for the second week in a row thanks to victory in an explosive Superclasico at archrivals River Plate. It was a fiery encounter with two red cards and a pair of wonder goals. Do yourself a favor and watch the highlights of this match on YouTube (commentary in Spanish, but you won't need to know what they're saying if you don't understand Spanish. Video being a visual medium). For more English language coverage of this game, check out's comprehensive story. Unfortunately there do not appear to be any English-language blogs devoted to Boca, or at least not any that have been updated recently (and if you're not going to update it after the Superclasico, well, then it just can't be very good, can it?). The excellent Hasta el Gol Siempre is a good go-to for anything related to Argentine soccer. If you know of Boca-centered coverage that we're missing, please let us know in the comments sections (coverage outside of the reddit sewing circle, that is, which we are well aware of and which is in all seriousness an excellent resource). Anyway, with the result, Boca have now started the season with eight straight wins and a goal difference of 21 scored, two conceded. That obviously puts them first in the Superliga table, nine points ahead of the nearest contender. Unfortunately there is no continental competition until the start of the Copa Libertadores in January. Boca do have one loss on the season, a 1-0 loss to Rosario Central in the Copa Argentina. That's an acceptable blemish to name them the best non-European team in the world at present.

Subpar Spurs eke out victory they absolutely needed over stubborn Palace: match report and link roundup

A weakened Tottenham Hotspur narrowly defeated Crystal Palace at Wembley today, grabbing the must-win game on a late goal by Heung Min Son. It was an unimpressive victory by Tottenham that easily could have come very different had it not been for the heroics of their goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, given his first ever start due to injuries to Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm. With the win Spurs move equal on points, for now, with second-placed Manchester United.

Besides the surprise start by the Argentine goalkeeper, Spurs were also without Dele Alli. Harry Kane, though in the starting 11, was clearly not at full strength either and made way for Fernando Llorente in the second half. Harry Winks appeared to pick up a knock in the first half and was pulled at halftime for Moussa Dembele. Update: Winks twisted his ankle and could miss England’s friendlies, the Evening Standard reports. That substitution did pay immediate dividends as Spurs were able to take the initiate right after the restart.

It wouldn’t last. Serge Aurier, back in the starting lineup after Kieran Trippier was so impressive against Real Madrid at midweek, gave the ball away and Palace nearly scored on the counter. It was not the first such error by Aurier, who was bailed out by Gazzaniga on both occasions. Indeed there is a strong case for the Argentine as man of the match in this one.

Spurs finally got the goal off a bit of a scramble in the Palace penalty area. When the ball came to Son at the edge of the 18-yard box, he placed a superb shot into the right corner of the net. Crystal Palace never really threatened after that. They do deserve credit for a strong defensive game, particularly in the first half when they frustrated Tottenham. Spurs were clearly not at their best; missing Alli, with Son playing poorly until his goal (several misplaced first touches) and Christian Eriksen still a ways off from peak Eriksen. Danny Rose, given his first start since return from injury, got better as the game wore on and was able to launch several attacks on the left flank. His return will give Spurs’ offense the additional threat on that side of the pitch. Ben Davies is a nice player, perfectly fine for the Wales national team, but he simply cannot produce that element.

In the end Spurs get the required win, but not without a not insignificant struggle. Palace did not look like relegation fodder and can be expected to move up the table if their form continues. Tottenham now have new injuries to worry about. No sooner are Rose and Dembele fit that Alli and (perhaps) Kane and Winks go down. Kane would obviously be the biggest blow so that is one situation Spurs fans will be monitoring very closely. Perhaps the two-week international break comes at a good time for Spurs then. They looked like they needed the rest.

Tottenham brought back down to earth — Independent
Second half Son strike gives Tottenham three points — Cartilage Free Captain
Son strikes as Tottenham squeeze past Crystal Palace — ESPNFC
Spurs win, but clash reveals continuing problem for Mauricio Pochettino — Metro
Gazzaniga emotional after impressive debut —
Gazzaniga heroics backed up by Son strike - FourFourTwo
Five talking points — Mirror
Five things you missed — Daily MailTwitter reacts to Dele Alli’s stunning girlfriend — The Sun
Son spares Spurs’ blushes after Zaha spurns golden chance — Telegraph
Son strike seals laboured Tottenham win over Crystal Palace — Guardian
Paulo Gazzaniga and Wilfried Zaha the pick of the bunch at Wembley — Independent player ratings
Mousa Dembele sums up Tottenham's week in four-word tweet; Harry Kane among teammates to also comment — HITC

Do you like this format of match report with the links at the end? Let us know in the comment section!