Good afternoon folks. It is the Friday before Christmas and I know most of the regulars are hitting the stores or are stuck in traffic.
For those of you who happen to be in front of a computer, here are this week’s European Club Top 25. Not a lot of change at the top, but that may not be the case next week after some very high-profile matches this week. Inter Milan faces AC Milan and Real Madrid plays Barcelona. You can’t get much better than that.
There was some considerable shuffling near the bottom of the rankings, including the continued rise of AC Milan and Everton.
Here it is, the SBI European Club Top 25:
SBI EUROPEAN CLUB TOP 25
1. (1). INTER MILAN (12-0-4 in league play). Last week: beat Cagliari, 2-0, on Sunday. This week: vs. AC Milan on Sunday.
2. (2). MANCHESTER UNITED (12-2-3). Last week: beat Liverpool, 1-0, on Sunday. This week: vs. Everton on Sunday, at Sunderland on Wednesday.
3. (3) REAL MADRID (12-2-2). Last week: beat Osasuna, 2-0, on Sunday. This week: at Barcelona on Sunday.
4. (4) ARSENAL (12-1-4). Last week: beat Chelsea, 1-0, on Sunday. This week: vs. Tottenham on Saturday.
5. (5). BARCELONA (10-2-4). Last week: beat Valencia, 3-0, on Saturday. This week: vs. Real Madrid on Sunday.
6. (6) ROMA (9-1-6). Last week: tied Torino, 0-0, on Sunday. This week: vs. Sampdoria on Saturday.
7. (8) PORTO (11-0-2). Last week: beat Guimaraes, 2-0, on Saturday. This week: at CD Nacional de Madeira.
8. (7) CHELSEA (10-3-4). Last week: lost to Arsenal, 1-0, on Sunday. This week: at Blackburn on Sunday, vs. Aston Villa on Wednesday.
9. (9) LIVERPOOL (8-2-6). Last week: lost to Manchester United, 1-0, on Sunday. This week: vs. Portsmouth on Saturday, at Derby County on Wednesday.
10. (11) JUVENTUS (9-2-5). Last week: beat Lazio, 3-2, on Sunday. This week: vs. Siena on Sunday.
- 11. (10) Lyon (12-4-2)
- 12. (13) Werder Bremen (11-3-3)
- 13. (16) Villarreal (9-5-1)
- 14. (12) Bayern Munich (10-1-6)
- 15. (17) Fenerbahce (10-2-4)
- 16. (18) Espanyol (8-2-6)
- 17. (19) Fiorentina (6-3-7)
- 18. (14) Udinese (8-4-4)
- 19. (23) AC Milan (4-3-6)
- 20. (24) Atletico Madrid (9-3-4)
- 21. (21) Olympiakos (8-1-3)
- 22. (25) Everton (9-5-3)
- 23. (15) Celtic (11-3-3)
- 24. (20) Hamburg (9-3-5)
- 25. (NR) Manchester City (10-4-3)
Dropped out: AEK Athens, Portsmouth
On the fence: Rangers (11-3-1), Galatasaray (10-1-5)
(UCL- UEFA Champions League, UEFA- UEFA Cup)
COUNTRIES REPRESENTED- Italy (6), England (6), Spain (5), Germany (3), Greece (1), Scotland (1), Portugal (1), France (1), Turkey (1).
Where to begin? Before I get into the actual rankings I wanted to let you know about my factoring in of Domestic Cups. Basically, I’m not factoring them in at all. It is too hit or miss in terms of teams fielding full strength sides or not and different leagues have different formats. So basically, a team is not going to punished for losing a cup match or rewarded for winning them. That may change as we get into next year and the more important stages of the FA Cup and Coppa Italia take place. For now, spare me any, "But we won the Carling Cup semis" complaints.
Now, back to the rankings. Well, Inter is still the best team in Europe and its match-up against Liverpool should help cement that. No, I’m not saying Liverpool has no chance but the Reds have to be HEAVY dogs. Inter is a machine right now.
Yes, Man U is still No. 2 and still ahead of the beloved Arsenal. Why? Well, I keep explaining about better current form. If we talk about the entire season, Arsenal is one point better in the EPL but Man U had better results in the Champions League despite playing in a considerably tougher group. The one stat that I hope can put the questions away is this: Man U is 7-1-2 in its past 10 league and Champions league matches. Arsenal is 5-2-3.
Juventus is the only newcomer in the Top 10 and I am pretty positive there will be complaining about it. Why? Well every time I give an Italian team a boost it seems to draw complaints, probably because the majority of SBI readers follow the EPL and La Liga more than Serie A. Juve is a very good team playing very well at the moment. They’re unbeaten in seven matches and I’d like their chances against anybody in Europe.
I almost left Lyon in the Top 10 but you can’t tie Nice and stay in the Top 10.
Werder Bremen stopped its recent skid with an emphatic thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen. Yes folks, Bremen has caught Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga standings. That silence you hear is all the Bayern Munich lovers from the early season keeping quiet.
Villarreal is back on the rise and news of Giuseppe Rossi’s return should only help the yellow submarine make a return to the Top 10.
One team that is quietly sliding up the rankings is Fenerbahce. Why the Turkish club? Well, advancing to the knockout round of the Champions League helps, as does being the ONLY team to beat Inter Milan all season.
Udinese tumbled a bit after a disappointing loss to Catania. I still think they’re a very good team that will rebound and make things difficult for Serie A’s top teams all season.
AC Milan, Atletico Madrid and Everton all enjoyed healthy climbs. Milan will jump a fair amount if it can knock off Inter this weekend. Same goes for Everton, which faces Man U.
Manchester City is back in, though I almost went with Galatasaray. City has been perfect at home, but that goalkeeping situation is a bit dicey.
That’s all for now. Please share your thoughts on the rankings below.