If you are interested in the methodology I used to calculate these rankings, please let me know and I will provide it.
In short, I looked at the top 15 leagues in Europe and weighted them by their UEFA coefficients to determine league strength. I then multiplied this modifier by the number of points each team in those leagues has scored thus far. This gave me a ranking of the Top 25 Clubs in Europe (based on domestic league play only). I eliminated those clubs who were not currently playing in either the Champions League or the Europa League.
Some judgment is required with these rankings, and like any rankings, they are entirely subjective. For example, Barcelona and Manchester United had nearly identical domestic league scores (Barcelona was slightly ahead). They have identical Champions League records. Barcelona tied 1-1 this weekend to lowly Sporting Gijon, while Manchester United beat Manchester City in a hotly contested derby at home 2-1.
In the end, I decided to leave Barcelona at number one. They didn't lose, they're far and away the best team in the world, and they deserve to be on top.
Real Madrid, Valencia, Arsenal, and Tottenham all took care of business this weekend. Bayern Munich continues to claw their way back, now sitting on third in the Bundesliga. Dortmund tied this weekend, yet like Barcelona, they've been so overwhelming this season that I felt they still deserved to be in the top 10. AC Milan smoked Parma 4-0.
Who is the best team in the world?
The honorable mentions are for clubs that are having very good domestic league seasons and still enjoying Europa League play.
Some clubs, like Liverpool, look set to turn their form around. Still, they haven't done it completely yet, so in my mind, they don't make the list. Chelsea has struggled all season in the EPL, and, despite their sterling Champions League record of 5-0-1, I don't think they're better than any of the other teams on the list below right now.
- Manchester United
- Real Madrid
- Tottenham Hotspur
- Borussia Dortmund
- AC Milan
- Bayern Munich
Just Missed The Cut:
- Manchester City
- CSKA Moscow
- Zenit St. Petersburg
Because of the weakness of their domestic leagues, relative to the top leagues (EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, etc.), there are several clubs having wonderful seasons who just didn't make the list. They are:
- PSV Eindhoven
- FC Twente
- Shakhtar Donetsk
Perhaps the most difficult of all of these for me personally is Shakhtar Donetsk.
They are still alive in the Champions League, having drawn AS Roma in the round of 16. They're totally dominating the Ukrainian league, which over the last five years is the eighth strongest league in Europe (and threatening to take over Russia as the seventh strongest).
In closing, I hope to expand these rankings to include South American clubs at some point. There is no doubt in my mind that a club like Estudiantes or Santos could be successful in Europe (provided they had financial backing like a European club).