So, here it is—Bleacher Report’s Official European Club Rankings.
Over the past week, many of the top writers here on B/R—including experts on all aspects of European football—have drawn up their list of the top 20 club sides on the continent.
The criteria was simple—base your opinion on anything you like, but pay particular attention to recent form and one particular question; Head to head, which team would win?
After the lists had been made and submitted, all the information was added, subtracted, divided, and multiplied to come up with the final, overall, conclusive rankings.
The results may surprise you.
So without further ado let’s get into the list—which is made up of six Italian teams, five Spanish, four English, two German, and lone representatives from France, Portugal, and Russia.
Commiserations to Valencia, Marseille, and Rangers—who all narrowly missed out on the final cut. A few good performances, and you just might make it in next time.
(NB: bold numbers in brackets (out of 10) offer a mathematical representation of the rankings—a perfect 10 meaning every contributor voted the side as the best, a 5.0 meaning on average everyone voted the team 11th, etc—giving you a clearer idea of how close the teams were in the rankings)
20. Sevilla La Liga (1.36)
“Having won the UEFA CUP two years running the Spanish outfit failed last season—but they're back again and look a really good side.” (Salomon Gonzales)
“They may have lost some of their high profile stars, but manager Manolo Jimenez has the club playing the right way and—especially at home—they are a match for anyone.” (Alex Dimond)
19. Lazio Serie A (1.41)
“Leading in Serie A after just two games—a flash in the pan?” (Gonzalo)
“Lazio have made a perfect start for their season. They have kept faith in their manager Delio Rossi, and they currently have a very good squad with excellent players. Together they can ensure that the club is the surprise package of Serie A come May.” (Zahi Sahli)
18. Fiorentina Serie A (1.73)
“Unlucky in the UEFA Cup semifinals last year, the league form of La Viola gained them a deserved Champions League place this time out. A draw away to Lyon—and the depth of quality in their squad—shows they are definitely not out of place at Europe’s top table.” (Alex Dimond)
“Not the greatest of starts in Serie A this year, but they got a valuable point away to Lyon.” (Gonzalo)
17. Hamburg Bundesliga (1.91)
“Ex-Spurs boss Martin Jol must look at the Premier League table and smile. His former club are bottom of the league, whilst he has taken Hamburg to the top of the Bundesliga after four games—two points clear of Bayern Munich.” (Alan McGuinness)
“For a club that lost Van Der Vaart and Kompany in the summer, they still have a very strong side. The acquisition of Thiago Neves should ensure they are strong league contenders.” (Alex Dimond)
16. AS Roma Serie A (2.32)
“The Giallarossi should be a lot higher on this list with the likes of Totti, De Rossi, and Aquilani on the squad, but it's been a slow start to things domestically and in the Champions League.” (Daniel Penza)
“Regular Champions League knock-out contenders, but is the Cluj defeat the sign of a team on the wane?” (Simon Williams)
15. Zenit St. Petersburg Rosgosstrakh (2.73)
“The UEFA Cup champions and holders of the European Super Cup, they have plenty of Russian money and a desire to succeed.” (Andrew McNair)
“A strong, compact side that made Juventus work hard for their win in midweek.” (Gonzalo)
14. Atletico Madrid La Liga (2.77)
“Have come out of nowhere to look like a threat in Europe this season. A huge club in their own right, they now seem determined to make a name for themselves.” (Andrew McNair)
“Finally sneaking out from behind the spectre of arch-rivals Real. Many envious eyes are looking at Sergio Aguero—among others.” (Simon Williams)
13. Villarreal La Liga (2.91)
“El Submarino Amarillo have punched above their weight for a number of years now, solid in Europe and finishing second in La Liga last season. They have transferred that good form into the new campaign, and held Manchester United to a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford—no mean feat.” (Alan McGuinness)
“It is clear that Villarreal are a force to be reckoned with this season. They have good players who can help them repeat the performances of last season, if not do even better.” (Yoosof Farah)
12. FC Porto Portuguesa Liga (3.05)
“Champions League winners just four years ago—dominant at home, and dangerous abroad.” (Simon Williams)
“Have so far proven there is life after Jose Bosingwa and Ricardo Quaresma.” (Alan McGuinness)
11. AC Milan Serie A (3.50)
“Milan have dropped into the UEFA Cup, but the Italian giants remain one of the best sides on the continent, especially with the likes of Ronaldinho and Kaka at their disposal.” (Salaar Shamsi)
“After having a stinker season last season, they could yet make this a magical
one. The addition of Ronaldinho to a midfield already boasting Kaka and Pirlo is scary.” (Salomon Gonzales)
10. Olympique Lyonnais Ligue 1 (5.64)
“Once again leading the league, they have quality players like Benzema, Kallstrom, Toulalan, Grosso, Keita, and Juninho—who will be key to any success Lyon could have in the Champions League this season. The semifinals are not beyond them.” (Yoosof Farah)
“The reigning French champions are lying in first place in the league and seem eager to win their seventh consecutive Ligue 1 title. With a quality side full of French stars, they are likely to have another good season.” (Zahi Sahli)
9. FC Barcelona La Liga (5.82)
“A poor start to the La Liga season, and an unconvincing win in the Champions League in midweek mean that Barca only deserve a mid-table ranking.” (Alan McGuinness)
“Despite getting rid of superstars Ronaldinho and Deco—as well as coach Frank Rijkaard—Barcelona are the most talented team and play the most entertaining football witnessed in modern day football.” (Salomon Gonzales)
8. Juventus Serie A (6.09)
“After a disappointing 1-1 draw at Fiorentina, Italy's "Old Lady" came back after the international break to dominate Udinese, and followed that up with a tough 1-0 victory against Zenit. It will be interesting to see how manager Claudio Ranieri manages his stable of strikers this season.” (Daniel Penza)
“Juventus have made a fantastic start for the season, and with an excellent attacking force in a quality squad, they are sure to perform.” (Zahi Sahli)
7. Bayern Munich Bundesliga (6.55)
“Unbeaten in the Bundesliga and good result away to Steaua this week—standard stuff for Germany’s champions.” (Gonzalo)
“Regardless of what he did with Italy in the Euros, striker Luca Toni knows how to score in the Bundesliga.” (Daniel Penza)
6. Arsenal Premier League (7.23)
“An improved performance in last year’s Champions League, a great stadium and a club that is only going to grow stronger in the years to come.” (Andrew McNair)
“Probably one of the youngest sides in Europe and again, also one of the most entertaining. If they could just add a little bit of experience they could easily climb to the top.” (Salomon Gonzales)
5. Inter Milan Serie A (7.59)
“Looked good in the Champions League, and with Jose Mourinho in charge the only way is up!” (Barney Corkhill)
“The Nerazzurri would be higher if they had gotten off to a better start in Serie A, but their quality showed in their 2-0 win against Panathinaikos.” (Daniel Penza)
4. Real Madrid La Liga (7.73)
“If they had succeeded in the pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo it could have been No. 1. The only club who can rightly challenge Manchester United’s claim to “biggest” in the world—with two straight La Liga titles to boot.” (Simon Williams)
“Not looking as strong as when they won the league last season, but still grinding out the results—a sign of a good side.” (Gonzalo)
3. Manchester United Premier League (8.05)
“The kings of Europe, haven't had the best start to their season but they have a side that exudes quality and are fully capable of turning the tables on all fronts.” (Salaar Shamsi)
“English league champions and European champions says it all really. This current United side is probably the best Sir Alex Ferguson has had since he started out some 20 years ago.” (Salomon Gonzales)
2. Liverpool Premier League (8.23)
“A great start to the season, with great performances and victories against the likes of Manchester United. But will this good form last long enough for them to seriously challenge for the title?” (Yoosof Farah)
“The Merseyside club aren't nearly as good in the Premier League as they are in Europe. This is because Rafael Benitez understands the European game better. Five Champions League titles show their true potential” (Salaar Shamsi)
1. Chelsea Premier League (9.27)
“Chelsea have made an excellent start to the season under the guidance of Luiz Felipe Scolari. With him rallying his world-class troops, the Blues might be set to challenge on all fronts this year.” (Zahi Sahli)
“Unlucky to lose out in Moscow last season. Performing better than anyone in England at the moment, and were the best team in the first round of the Champions League. Quite simply, Europe’s form side.” (Barney Corkhill)
So, there you go. Chelsea are the clear selection as Europe’s best side, with England’s “Big Four” also inside Europe’s top six.
However, the lack of depth in the Premier League is demonstrated by the fact no other side makes the top 20, while the rival Spanish and Italian leagues have more representatives spread out throughout the list.
Does this strength in depth make La Liga and Serie A better than the supposedly dominant Premier League?
Equally, it appears that Europe currently has its very own “Big Ten”, as 11th place AC Milan were mathematically closer to the Sevilla in 20th than they were to Lyon—despite the French side being just one place above them in the rankings.
Finally, thank you to all the contributors who helped bring these rankings together. Comments and criticisms are more than welcome, and if you want to get involved with the process for the next rankings—the more people the better for the accuracy of the rankings—you can get in touch with me here.