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SBI European Club Top 25 (Dec. 8)

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We took a few weeks off, but the SBI European Club Top 25 is back.

You would think there would be a major shake-up in the rankings after taking a month off, but the reality is there were few dramatic shifts. Eight of the teams in the last Top 10 remain, with Arsenal seeing the biggest fall over the course of the past four weeks.

That doesn't mean the English Premier League's overall standing in the rankings has suffered. Tottenham and Aston Villa have creeped into the Top 25, while Manchester City stands poised to jump in as well if it can continue its recent hot streak.

Also enjoying a jump in the standings in recent weeks is AC Milan, which has erased the bad memories of its awful start to the season by rattling off a 12-match unbeaten streak in all competitions, including a five-match winning streak in Serie A.

These rankings could actually change quite a bit in the next four days as European tournaments kick off and teams secure their places in the knockout rounds of both the Champions League and Europa League.

Now, here are this week's SBI European Club Top 25:


1. (1) BARCELONA (11-0-3)

2. (2) CHELSEA (12-3)

3. (5) MANCHESTER UNITED (11-3-1)

4. (6) REAL MADRID (10-2-1)

5. (4) INTER MILAN (11-2-2)

6. (8) FK RUBIN KAZAN (19-5-6)

7. (10) BORDEAUX (10-4-1)

8. (13) AC MILAN (9-2-4)

9. (7) JUVENTUS (9-3-3)

10. (11) WERDER BREMEN (7-1-7)

11. (9) Sevilla (8-2-3)

12. (3) Arsenal (9-4-1)

13. (16) Olympiakos (10-0-3)

14. (15) Bayer Leverkusen (8-0-7)

15. (21) Dinamo Kiev (12-0-3)

16. (12) Fiorentina (7-5-3)

17. (23) Valencia (8-1-4)

18. (19) Twente Enschede (14-0-2)

19. (14) Lyon (7-3-5)

20. (NR) Tottenham (8-4-3)

21. (NR) Besiktas (9-2-4)

22. (18) Shakhtar Donetsk (10-1-4)

23. (24) Braga (9-1-2)

24. (NR) Aston Villa (7-3-5)

25. (25) Benfica (9-1-2)


Manchester City (6-1-7), PSV Eindhoven (13-0-3), Galatasaray (9-3-3), Hamburg (6-2-7), Marseille (7-3-4), Fenerbahce (10-4-1), Deportivo La Coruna (8-4-1), Panathanaikos (10-1-2), Bayern Munich (7-2-6), Schalke 04 (8-3-4) 2-1, Roma (7-5-3), Sampdoria (7-5-3), Ajax Amsterdam (11-2-3), Wolfsburg (6-4-5), Feyenoord (9-3-4)


Some thoughts:

Rubin Kazan completed its domestic season and repeated as Russian League champions. Despite the team's impressive Champions League form, the club has yet to secure a berth into the Round of 16. If Rubin falls short, we will remove the club from the rankings after next week since the club will be out of season.

Bordeaux has shaken off a slump to move up the rankings on the strength of its strong showing in a Champions League group that includes Juventus and Bayern Munich.

AC Milan is rolling and part of the reason for the success is a rejuvenated Ronaldinho, who is starting to look like the Ronaldinho from his better days at Barcelona.

If you wonder why Werder Bremen is ahead of Bayer Leverkusen despite trailing them in the Bundesliga standings, Bremen is playing in Europa League, while Leverkusen is not competing in Europe.

How did Dynamo Kiev move up six spots despite being in danger of falling out of all European competitions? Andriy Shevchenko's club is still alive in the Champions League Group of Death (with Barcelona, Inter and Rubin Kazan) and recently smoked Shakhtar Donetsk in league action.

Fenerbahce pulled off a rather impressive road win in Europa League against FC Twente recently, but fell out of the rankings. Why? An inexplicable three-match losing skid in the Turkish league caused the slide.

Sticking with Turkey, Besiktas enters the ranking on the strength of a Champions League upset of Manchester United as well as its first-place tie atop the Turkish League.

You might wonder why Tottenham moved up so much despite coming off a tie vs. Everton. Remember, these are the first rankings we've done in a month, so Tottenham's recent run before the Everton draw led to the move. Tottenham is also geting healthy now and look poised for a run at the Big Three in the EPL.

What team has quietly moved up the pecking order the most? Don't look now, but Roma is creeping toward the Top 25. Having already qualified for the knockout round of the Europa League, Francesco Totti's squad has also put things together in Serie A and should be a serious threat in the second half of the season.


That's all for now. What do you think of this installment of the Top 25? Which team do you think wasn't rated highly enough? Is there a team missing that you believe should be in the Top 25?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Spurs fan, partially agree. Don’t forget Corluka plays a pretty good CB too, so I’m not overworried about the back. And Keane and Crouch are fine, so I’m not worried about the strikers either. That’s a better trio than the vast majority of Premiership teams have. And clearly Spurs are a solid contender for the 4th spot with Liverpool looking lost. That said, I agree that Spurs do not yet look up to the level of Chelsea, Arsenal, and United. But also keep in mind that they’ve been doing all of this without Modric, their playmaker. When he comes back, things might change.

  2. Eindhoven deserves more credit. We haven’t lost a game yet,: neither in the league nor in the Europe league! So please some credit Ives!

    (SBI-Please read through the comments. I have addressed this one (One thing I will say is that I’ve got nothing against PSV. If anything, I over-rated PSV a year ago.)

  3. I don’t understand how you don’t mention FC Porto in this group. They’re not doing that great in the Portuguese Liga, but they’ve already qualified past the group stage in the CL, played very well against Chelsea during both legs (could have easily won both games) and they are much much better than some of these teams.

    (SBI-“They’re not doing that great in the Portuguese Liga.” You said it for me. Braga and Benfica have been better this year and I can’t really put three Liga teams in the Top 25. To be fair, they’re on my radar, and probably move into the Others Receiving Consideration list shortly.)

  4. I agree that Rubin is ranked too high at 6, but I have to give SBI credit for not simply dismissing Eastern European teams (Rubin, Dynamo, Shakhtar) as many experts do. Probably 10 to 17 range would be more accurate for Rubin. In Champions’ league, Dynamo Kyiv (ranked 15) beat them at home and drew on the road. I think that SBI gave Rubin extra points for beating Barca at Camp Nou, but people forget that the victory came against the run of the play. If Rubin beats Inter this week and advances from the group of death, I would move them to top 5, but so far they have not done enough.

  5. Why don’t you do a SBI World Club Top 25?

    (SBI-Doing Europe alone takes forever, I can’t even imagine including other continents, and to be fair, at least European clubs have a point of reference against each other with Europa and Champions League. When you try comparing European clubs to South American clubs you’re really just talking out of your (not mouth). I’m not saying these rankings are perfect, or even close, but I’d like to think they’re based at least somewhat on reality.)

  6. Just having a bit of fun, although I would also contend that reaching their first Cup Semifinal since 1981 (even if it is earned by beating the young gunners) followed by a 2-1 victory over the league leaders would qualify as a hot streak for City regardless of the 7 draws.

  7. He’s beating all his defenders, trickery or whatever, and making Seedorf and Plato look like VanBasten and Cantona. Definitely not last years model.

  8. While I do of course strongly dislike City, I would have commented on the use of “hot streak” regardless of the team, as you’ll notice I also commented on Tottenham earlier. Certainly doesn’t make me bitter at least. In fact, United have won three games in a row, one more than City, so we’re actually classified as “unstoppable” I believe. One more win today and we might as well stop playing. Who dares contain us now?

    (SBI-Everyone’s a comedian.)

  9. Ahhhh, my mistake. You were demonstrating your lack of interest in what City are doing by arguing the reference to their lack of defeats as a “hot streak.”

    I whole heartedly apologize as it is now clear to me that you are apathetic towards the club.

  10. Glad to see Werder getting their props! But I fear it won’t last long – Schalke and Hamburg coming up, and no more Europa League creampuffs to beat up on. They’ve looked a tad sloppy in their last few matches…

  11. ahahaha wait WHAT!?! Claude Anelka offered Raith Rovers 300k to be their manager back in 04? What a joke!

    The europeans are gonna eat this up.

  12. off topic but… the team in st louis is hiring claude anelka to be their head coach? and their player development guy is gonna be francisco filho, some dude who killed it at clairefontaine for 30 years?

  13. actually. most united fans couldn’t give a toss about sChity. why should we? wake us up when you win something with all of that oil sheik/terrorist money and we will give you a cookie.

    until then my issue was with the egregious miss use of “hot streak” in reference to 7 draws, a fluke win and a win against the kiddie thanksgiving table.

    (SBI-When I wrote hot streak, I wasn’t referring to the draws Jacobo, I was really just referring to the win vs. Arsenal in the Cup and the win vs. Chelsea. And I’ll say this, you sure do care a lot about Mn City being considered on a hot streak for someone who doesn’t care about Man City.)

  14. i havent had a chance to watch him since the beginning of the year (when i was waiting for onjeywu sightings, of course to no avail) but it seemed then that he was often more content doing little tricks than making simple effective plays. has this approach changed and he’s finally executing the simple stuff or has he just started pulling of those tricks?

  15. “… a rejuvenated Ronaldinho…” In the two Milan games I watched I couldn’t believe it was the same player from last year. How does he turn it around from horrible to masterful so quickly? Right now he’s playing better than Kaka’.

  16. Well said my friend, well said. I’m glad someone else noticed that statement. A hot streak is not two games, especially when one of them was against Arsenal’s youth team. Certainly if they win the next two or three then perhaps it’s a hot streak, but for now, no way…

  17. something like this would be neat to see. almost impossible to be entirely accurate but nonetheless interesting. i would probably say three leagues stand alone at the top La Liga, EPL, Serie A .. probably in that order right now. Then I would put Ligue 1 and Bundesliga. Beyond that it gets dicey with Super Lig (TUR), Eredivisie, SuperLiga (POR), Russian Prem, Super League (GRE) all in the mix. Next would probably be the Eng Championship and Spanish 2nd then throw the top leagues of Ukraine, Brazil, Argentina, Romania, Scotland, and Belgium in at the end of that list in what order I don’t know. Beyond that your guess is as good as mine as to whether the J-League is better than the Norwegian or Croatian first division.

    If you are interested to view leagues by the total value of their players you can always check out the super cool

    according to that the MLS has a total player value of 96M which puts it somewhere below the 2nd divisions of Netherlands and Russia and above the Finish top league. so obviously they completely undervalue MLS players because as much as I might make fun of how sucky the MLS is I am pretty sure it is better than the top league in Finland. (no offence to any wonderful Fins out there).

  18. All this information does no good for my ADD. I have a hard enough time keeping up with the Premier League, which I watch weekly. Well done Ives.

  19. The one odd thing seems to be the relatively high placing of Twente, while PSV isn’t even in the top 25. The gap between the two teams is fairly narrow, in reality — but it seems to be a bit larger on your list. Otherwise, it’s a good list.

    (SBI-Fischy, I think I’ve said it before in past comments about the rankings, but once you get from 15 to 40, you’re talking about a lot of teams thare are pretty similar and the margin between those teams not being much really. Twente and PSV were pretty close for several rankings, but it just so happened that I bumped Twente up following its win over Ajax in early November. PSV’s probably been a victim of its own schedule, and the fact that it hasn’t face a tough opponent since August, having played Twente and Ajax in the first three weeks of the season. Twente’s win over Ajax created the space between the two clubs that you see now.)

  20. i think i can pretty much discount this from the following statement:

    “while Manchester City stands poised to jump in as well if it can continue its recent hot streak.”

    uh. since when does beating an U-20 team in the Carling Cup and finally winning a game (at home, and i will stress the FINALLY) constitute a “hot streak”. If Frank Lampard hadn’t had a brain aneurysm it would have been 8 straight draws for sChity. Some deluded fans of a mid table team might call that an “unbeaten” streak but those that compete and win titles call that 14 dropped points.

    (SBI-Arsenal’s U-20 team is still better than about 12 or 13 EPL teams. And yes, City has dropped points galore during that run of ties, but can you really deny that when they’re on their game they’re one of the toughest teams around?)

  21. completely agree. If tottenham could sort out their fitness problems at the back, then maybe. As it stands now, though, they don’t have a first choice centerback pairing that will stick together for the long term. No way King and Woodgate stay fit for any consistent amount of time, so that basically leaves Dawson and Bassong. Soon though, Bassong will be leaving for the Cup of Nations and they’ll need to start over again.

    Add that to the fact that they have 4 strikers but only Defoe scores goals, and I can’t see them mounting a serious challenge for the top 4, or possibly 5.

  22. glad to see shakhtar and dynamo kyiv are still up there.. rubin is still a little high up for my taste but what ya gonna do? SBI runs the site he picks the spots haha

  23. I don’t agree about Tottemham making a run at the Big Three. Clearly they are better than most of the teams in the EPL, but quite frankly they haven’t even been competitive against United, Chelsea or Arsenal. United easily beat them at White Hart Lane when United was struggling early in the season, and Arsenal and Chelsea whipped the floor with them. Not to mention they lost to United’s Carling Cup team, which is very different from their first team. I don’t really think anyone can argue that they are ready to compete against the truly elite teams in the EPL. Injuries aren’t an excuse either, I’m a United fan and we’re on our C/D team on defense…

  24. I would imagine that form would be a major issue with that. So do they just play friendlies with other easter Euro teams with similar situations then?

  25. That’s a good point about Fiorentina. I’m not completely sold on their Champions League perfromance due to the awful form Liverpool has displayed this year. But they’re on top of the group so they can’t be written off.

  26. I think in Russia there’s a perception, at least, that it negatively impacts the teams. This is something I’ve heard brought up by those who want Russia to move to a fall-spring schedule.

  27. european soccer is not college football. this list is totally incoherent. Lyon is a team in total crisis. should not be near this list.

  28. As an Ajax fan, I hate to say this, but FC Twente is playing very well. They may have a shot a winning the Europa League, even over the 3rd-place Champions League teams that will drop into the knockout stages.

  29. Fair assessment/explanation on Kazan. Wouldn’t really make sense to keep them in if they crash out.

    It’d be interesting to see some type of research on a club like that that is out of domestic season, but still playing in Europe. I wonder how that affects the team. At least they’re rested, but lots of down time between games.

    How the mighty have fallen in Germany I might add.

  30. I’m curious as to how good FC Twente really is. They’re having a phenominal domestic season, but until the play against some of the heavyweights in Europe, we’ll never know. Regardless, hats off to Steve McClaren for resurrecting his career.

    I’d drop Fiorentia from the top 25 and throw PSV into the mix. Otherwise, I like the list. Well done, Ives.

    (SBI-Thanks BSU. Can’t really drop Fiorentina. They’ve lost twice since the start of November, a 1-0 to Inter they could have easily tied or won, and a 3-2 loss to Parma. They’re also currently in first place in a Champions League group that includes Lyon and Liverpool. As for PSV, they just really haven’t played anybody for a few months now so that has kept them from climbing in my book. We’ll see how they do in the knockout round of Europa.)

  31. Thanks for doing this list. Its really interesting. Since there has been a bit of discussion recently about overall league quality (Denmark vs MLS as well as the debate coming up a little bit in discussion about Donnovan going overseas) I was hoping that you might be able to do a a European league ranking or even global league ranking (or at least including MLS, Latin America, the J League and the A league). Placing the English Champions league, Bund 2, Seria B and Spanish 2nd would also be interesting as they are better then many European first divisions. A straight ranking or tiering would be really interesting and helpful for your readers football education. Thanks for considering the idea.


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