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SBI European Club Top 25

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Can anybody stop Barcelona?

Yes, I know, Basel held them to a 1-1 tie in Champions League action last week, but that came after Barca hung up a five-spot on them the previous meeting. What we do know is that Barcelona is laying waste to the Spanish First Division, scoring four or more goals in four of their past five matches.

The most recent thrashing was a 6-0 mauling of Valladolid, with red-hot Samuel Eto-o nabbing four goals. Eto’o is looking like the European Golden Boot favorite and has helped us forget that Barcelona spent the summer trying to unload him.

English powers Chelsea and Liverpool continue to dominate in their domestic games as well, though both delivered disappointing performances in Champions League play. Villarreal is still in the mix for the top spot as the only team in Europe unbeaten in league and European competition, but an unimpressive draw against Danish club AaB in Champions League play cost them a bit this week.

Here is how the rest of the Top 25 shook out this week:

SBI European Club Top 25

1. BARCELONA (8-1-1 league record). Last week– tied Basel, 1-1, on Tuesday (UCL), beat Valladolid, 6-0, on Saturday. This week– at Recreativo Huelva on Saturday.

2. LIVERPOOL (9-1-2). Last week– Tied Atletico Madrid, 1-1, on Tuesday, beat West Brom on Saturday. This week– at Bolton on Saturday.

3. CHELSEA (9-1-2 ). Last week– Lost to Roma, 3-1, on Tuesday (UCL), beat Blackburn, 2-0, on Sunday. This week– at West Brom on Saturday.

4. VILLARREAL (6-0-3). Last week– tied AaB, 2-2, on Wednesday (UCL), beat Almeria, 2-1, on Sunday. This week– at Malaga on Sunday.

5. AC MILAN (7-2-1). Last week– Beat Braga, 1-0, on Thursday (UEFA), tied Lecce, 1-1, on sunday. This week– vs. Chievo Verona on Saturday.

6. INTER MILAN (7-1-3). Last week– Tied Anorthosis Famagusta, 3-3, on Tuesday, beat Udinese, 1-0, on Saturday. This week– at Palermo on Saturday.

7. JUVENTUS (6-2-3). Last week– beat Real Madrid, 2-0, beat Chievo Verona, 2-0, on Sunday. This week– vs. Genoa on Thursday.

8. MANCHESTER UNITED (6-2-3). Last week– tied Celtic, 1-1, on Wednesday, lost to Arsenal, 2-1, on Saturday. This week– vs. Stoke on Saturday.

9. REAL MADRID (6-1-2). Last week– lost to Juventus, 2-0, on Wednesday, beat Malaga, 4-3, on Saturday. This week– at Valladolid on Saturday.

10. NAPOLI (7-2-2). Last week– beat Sampdoria, 2-0, on Sunday. This week– at Atalanta on Sunday.

  • 11. Lyon (9-1-3)
  • 12. Arsenal (7-3-2)
  • 13. Bayern Munich (7-2-3)
  • 14. Udinese (6-2-3)
  • 15. Sevilla (6-2-2)
  • 16. Bordeaux (7-3-3)
  • 17. Valencia (7-1-2)
  • 18. Marseille (7-1-5)
  • 19. TSG Hoffenheim (8-3-1)
  • 20. Rubin Kazan (18-4-6)
  • 21. Dinamo Kiev (12-1-1)
  • 22. Standard Liege (7-2-2)
  • 23. Sporting Lisbon (4-2-1)
  • 24. CSKA Moscow (15-5-8)
  • 25. Celtic (11-1-1)

OTHERS RECEIVING CONSIDERATION: Atletico Madrid (4-4-2), Bayer Leverkusen (8-3), Lazio (7-3-1), Ajax (7-1-2), Fiorentina (6-3-2), Aston Villa (6-4-2), Hamburg (7-3-2), Benfica (4-0-3), Dinamo Bucharest (10-2-2), Olympiakos (6-1-2), FC Porto (3-2-2), Anorthosis Famagusta (6-1-1).

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Some notes on this week’s rankings:

Liverpool stays ahead of Chelsea and AC Milan stays ahead of Inter Milan based on their head-to-head results. It can certainly be argued that Chelsea and Inter are on better form than their red-clad counterparts, but those head-to-head wins still factor in for now.

Juventus rockets into the Top 10 by virtue of its second straight Champions League win against Real Madrid. Alessandro Del Piero is playing out of his mind and Juve’s early-season struggles are a distant memory.

Lyon is knocking on the doorstep and can crack the Top 10 with a win against Bordeaux in this weekend’s best match-up. Similarly, Bordeaux can certainly climb the charts with an upset win.

Bayern Munich is also knocking on the Top 10 door and looks poised to move closer to its pre-season ranking after a rough first month of the Bundesliga season.

Oguchi Onyewu’s Standard Liege is back in the Top 25 by virtue of its impressive UEFA Cup win against Sevilla.

If you are wondering what happened to Rubin Kazan and CSKA Moscow, the Russian season is over so I have removed them both. I stand corrected. The Russian season has two weeks left. Rubin Kazan and CSKA Moscow are back in the poll.

If you are wondering why TSG Hoffenheim isn’t higher, it’s by virtue of their lack of European competition. They’re one of my favorite teams to watch play, but only having to worry about domestic play is a big advantage so they can’t afford slip-ups like the weekend loss to Hertha Berlin.

So why is was Atletico Madrid the only team in the Top 25 without a winning record in domestic play (that is before I put the Russian teams back in)? Have you seen their schedule? Sevilla, Real Madrid and Barcelona account for three of those four defeats and Villarreal was one of the draws. I know tying Osasuna last weekend wasn’t that impressive, but outplaying Liverpool at Anfield in a second draw in two meetings against the Reds is very impressive.

That’s all for now. Feel free to share your thoughts on the Top 25 in the comments section below.

Comments

  1. “And no on Braga, they have a losing record in Portugal and since when does beating Portsmouth mean something?

    And Moose, “If their league form improves dramatically they should be considered” applies to all teams, doesn’t it?”

    I take your point about their domestic record. But, if they tied Milan would they be considered, because a draw at San Siro is the equivalent of a draw against Man U. I put more weight in a win against Portsmouth then a draw against Aalborg. And since when does beating Hearts mean anything?

    Galatasaray(beat Benfica and Olympiakos) and Schalke are in the UC, if they improve domestically they should get consideration. If Galatasaray cuts down Trabzon’s lead down from 6 or if Schalke catches up to the Top 4 in Germany they should get consideration. Thats not dramatic, Tottenham getting into the top 8 in the EPL would be dramatic.

    CSKA will be playing once every three weeks after the domestic season is over, staying in form and winning that group will be tough. If they do it they should get consideration.

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  2. Don – You must be counting Kiev as Russian. It’s Ukrainian. That could be a dangerous misunderstanding, depending on who you’re talking too. Vladimir Putin would appreciate it, though.

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  3. Interesting to look at in league terms. With 25 points for 1st, 24 for 2nd, etc.

    Points League Teams No.

    88 Italy 5

    84 Spain 4

    79 England 5

    33 France 3

    20 Germany 2

    13 Russia 3

    4 Belgium 1

    3 Portugal 1

    1 Scotland 1

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  4. While I am an Arsenal detractor because of their schedule weakness to this point, that win was pretty important and impressive. 12th might be right!

    For the big-hitter CL sides, negative results should not count too much in the group phase since teams are shifting lineups once their progress is pretty much assured (Chelsea and Inter come to mind).

    Another big question is how do you adjust for catastrophic Cup losses such as suffered by Chelsea and Villareal. Those were…bad. Just curious.

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  5. Tim, you forgot the loss to Fulham, and the answer is yes. Arsenal had dropped down to 18th in the rankings. A team doesn’t go from 18th to cracking the Top 10 on the strength of one win, particularly not when they also just came off a scoreless home draw against Fenerbahce in Champions League. Some could argue that I jumped Arsenal too much (six spots) off the strength of a home win.

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  6. Not only are we talking Eastern Europe soccer, but the best game of the weekend is in France? Strange times. I have to say, the Top 25 isn’t nearly as much fun without Hull.

    Of the Top 10, Madrid has the most problems, although I just realized how little I know about Napoli, since they seem to keep winning. Besides Barca, Juve is most impressive, and they crushed a decent Genoa team today to tie Inter for 1st.

    Also, good to see Ajax trying to make a run at respectability, but I’m afraid their success speaks more about how crappy it is in Holland right now.

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  7. Well. Where to start.

    First- There’s no team below Celtic on the list, they’re 25 =P.

    Second- If you mean the “consideration” list, well… Most of those sides are: Sides from smaller leagues who’re doing well in their league and holding their own in CL play.

    Or Big teams from big leagues who are having decent seasons.

    So why should Celtic be on the list?

    #1: 2 losses, one in league play, the other in CL play to #4 Villareal.

    #2: On top of the SPL. Riding the coattails or not, it’s still has a half decent coefficient. With the little respect it gets, I don’t think it’s on anyone’s “coat tails”.

    #3: Draw with Man United. Not too many teams, including the ones you listed, have that sort of game on their record. Man U is very much a measuring stick. A draw with one of the best teams around will get you respect.

    #4: They’re Irish. =D

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  8. Ives- You put AC Milan ahead of Inter because of head to head results, but you put Arsenal below Man Utd. Did the defeats against Stoke and Hull and the draw against Tottenham hurt the gooners that much?

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  9. I’ll be damn. I have lived to see the day when an American is arguing about Eastern Euro footy. CSKA vs Ruben? Then again, I was bitching about a team from Cyprus not being ranked a few weeks ago – rolls my eyes, gotta get more hobbies and more women but I digress. Nice to see the Cypriot team in the rankings this week — lol.

    Celtic has no business in the rankings. SPL continues to get sympathy points by riding on the coattails of the EPL. EVERY club listed below them is better and merits that ranking in place of Celtic.

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  10. T-Ham first win against the Pool was a lucky one. They didn’t outplay liverpool. The second win was against the reserve team.

    So I wouldn’t be quick to move them up yet.

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  11. We’d have a great CSKA v Rubin match to factor into things this weekend, were it not for the fact that it’s a completely meaningless match for Rubin, and critical (Champions League qualification at stake) for CSKA. Put your money on CSKA there.

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  12. yes Justin, two weeks left. I noticed that a while ago and put the Russian teams back in.

    Anon_e_moose, CSKA isn’t going to stay in the rankings long playing the Lech Poznans and AS Nancy Lorraines of Europe.

    And no on Braga, they have a losing record in Portugal and since when does beating Portsmouth mean something?

    And Moose, “If their league form improves dramatically they should be considered” applies to all teams, doesn’t it?

    And yes, Tottenham is on my radar. They’ll be on quickly if they keep it up.

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  13. Actually, there are still 2 weeks remaining in the Russian season. But Rubin are already champs, so you’re basically right.

    In any case, you still get credit for including Rubin before! I think the si.com guy still hasn’t heard of them.

    And anon_e-moose,

    You can’t have CSKA ahead of Rubin at this point. Rubin have done more than enough to prove they are better. Let CSKA go on a sustained UEFA Cup run and get back to me.

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  14. I understand not having Kazan in there but CSKA is still in the UC and have beaten Feyenoord and Deportivo. Until they are eliminated or their performance slips they should be atleast receiving consideration.

    I wonder if Sporting Braga would be in the top 35 if they tied Milan. They already beat Portsmouth 3-0.

    If Galatasaray improves domestically they should get consideration. Same for Schalke.

    Tottenham has beaten Liverpool twice, if they keep this run going they should get into the top 35.

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  15. NJ is just about as close to Europe as you can get in the US… and doesn’t RBNY deserve some love for their history-making 3-0 playoff victory?!? An honorary spot in the also-rans list?

    OK, sorry just having a little fun.

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  16. The bhoys are ONLY in 24th? Ives, it’s progress seeing them there, but why are they ranked so low?!?!?!?!111

    I’m kidding I’m kidding. 24th is probably fair.

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