World Soccer's Top 10 Club Rankings: March 14, 2011

Jason DouglasContributor IIMarch 14, 2011

World Soccer's Top 10 Club Rankings: March 14, 2011

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    SEVILLE, SPAIN - MARCH 13:  Lionel Messi (L), David Villa (C) and Xavi Hernandez of Barcelona line up a free kick during the la Liga match between Sevilla and Barcelona at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on March 13, 2011 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by Jaspe
    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    Due to the popularity of the slideshow format, I've decided to add it to the Top 10 Club Rankings going forward.

    For those of you who routinely follow me, you can look back at previous rankings for a description of the methodology used for calculating them.

    We had the first half of the second-leg Champions League last week with four teams advancing to the final eight: Barcelona, Shakhtar, Spurs and Schalke. The remaining sides will battle tomorrow and Wednesday.

    Based on the UEFA club coefficients (which include last week's performance but obviously not tomorrow and Wednesday's ties), here are the top clubs in Europe (based on Champions League and Europe League performances only):

    Top 10 UEFA Club Coefficients

    1. Shakhtar Donetsk
    2. Schalke 04
    3. FC Barcelona
    4. Chelsea
    5. Tottenham Hotspur
    6. Bayern Munich
    7. Real Madrid
    8. Manchester United
    9. Arsenal
    10. Valencia

    On the domestic front, the top 10 domestic league clubs (after adjusting for strength of league) are:

    Top 10 Domestic Clubs

    1. Barcelona
    2. Real Madrid
    3. Manchester United
    4. Borussia Dortmund
    5. Arsenal
    6. Manchester City
    7. FC Porto
    8. Chelsea
    9. Bayer 04 Leverkusen
    10. Tottenham Hotspur

    Taking into account both these lists, here are my top club teams in European football heading into the week of March 14, 2011...

Honorable Mentions

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    Lists like this are always difficult, and we inevitably introduce our own bias into any ranking system. The order of these teams is based both on their domestic league performance and their performances in Europe (both Champions and Europa League).

    Still, we can always debate over the order or the inclusion or exclusion of certain teams. That said, I like to do a weekly honorable mention for clubs that are enjoying very good seasons who for one reason or another didn't make the cut.

    This is usually because their domestic league is weak relative to the others or because they are no longer playing in Europe.

    These are additional clubs I think you could make a case for adding to the top ten, though for reasons I've illustrated, I feel they fall short of the mark.

    • Shakhtar Donetsk (currently No. 1 in European play but they play in a weak domestic league)
    • Bayer 04 Leverkusen (now No. 9 domestically in Europe)
    • Valencia (bounced out of Champions League by Schalke but still having a great season)
    • Olympique Marseilles/Lyon - both performing very well in Champions League but as with Shakhtar, play in a very weak domestic league relative to the others.
    • AC Milan - bounced out of Champions League by Spurs but still leading Serie A
    • Benfica - along with Porto, enjoying another great season, but hurt by weakness of league a bit.
    • Manchester City  - very strong domestically (sixth in Europe) and still playing well in Europa League

    As a reminder, this list doesn't take into account domestic cup performances. That's something I hope to incorporate in the future.

10: Arsenal

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    Despite losing 3-1 to Barcelona, in somewhat controversial fashion. Arsenal earns the last spot on the list this week.

    They're enjoying one of the strongest domestic league seasons in Europe (currently fifth), and have been one of the top 10 clubs in European play all season.

9: Inter

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    Despite losing 1-0 to Bayern Munich in the first leg of the round of 16, Inter are still enjoying a very successful year.

    First, they won the FIFA Club World Cup back in December (but that's ancient history now). They're five points behind Milan and second place in Serie A, while nominally still alive in Europe.

    Bayern's win in the first leg pushed them ahead of them in the ranking, but if Inter can somehow win the second leg and get through to the round of eight, they'll likely move higher.

8: FC Porto

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    I've been a bit harsh on teams this year which did not qualify for the Champions League, Borussia Dortmund and FC Porto especially.

    Porto is currently enjoying another very strong domestic league season (currently seventh in Europe). They're also still alive in the Europa League after defeating CSKA Moskow 1-0 last Thursday. There have been some calls from the readers for more representation from clubs like Porto and Dortmund. Wish granted.

7: Bayern Munich

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    Bayern is clinging to a spot in the top ten by sheer willpower. They're domestic league season is decent (16th in Europe), but they're No. 6 in Europe.

    They beat Hamburg 6-0 over the weekend and are currently ahead 1-0 on aggregate against Inter. In some ways, Bayern and Inter are pretty interchangeable in this list. If Inter beats them this week in the Champions League, I suspect they'll switch places.

6: Borussia Dortmund

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    After a bit of waffling on my part, I've finally decided to include Borussia Dortmund in the top 10. Despite the fact that they were knocked out of Europa League play awhile ago, they are currently enjoying the fourth strongest domestic league season in Europe (after adjusting for strength of league).

    They've clearly been one of the best teams in Europe this year, and they're enjoying such a strong domestic league season that I don't want to penalize them any more for their European performance.

    Still, I can't put them ahead of the likes of Chelsea who are still alive and will likely advance in the Champions League.

    Besides, they've got the best fans in Europe.

5: Tottenham Hotspur

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    Although they looked less than impressive at White Hart Lane, Spurs held on for a 0-0 draw against Milan which put them through 1-0 on aggregate to the round of eight. Tottenham is also enjoying a strong domestic league season (10th in Europe).

4: Chelsea

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    As much as it pains me to say it, Chelsea still deserves to be on this list. They've played very uninspiring football this year. However, after wins at home against Manchester United, and away last Monday at Blackpool, they're currently three points clear of Spurs for fourth place (and the final Champions League qualifying spot) in the EPL.

    Furthermore, they've been the strongest team in Europe this year (based on the UEFA club coefficients) and should advance against Copenhagen leading 2-0 on aggregate heading into this week.

    It hasn't been pretty, but they're getting it done. The interesting part is that Fernando Torres hasn't done anything since joining the club. Once he gets it together, they're going to be a tough out.

3: Manchester Untied

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    Despite what happens this week, I think Manchester United holds on to this slot. They've been remarkably consistent all year, despite being a touch pedestrian at times.

    They have the third strongest domestic league season thus far and will likely advance to the round of eight this week.

2: Real Madrid

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    Madrid will play this week, but this is essentially a no brainer. They have the second-strongest domestic league season in Europe (behind Barcelona) and are also top 10 in the Champions League.

1: Barcelona

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    Although Barcelona beat Arsenal in somewhat controversial fashion 3-1 at the Camp Nou, the result enabled them to advance 4-3 on aggregate. The controversial sending off of Robin Van Persie for a "delay of game" penalty was harsh, but the severity of a foul on an earlier yellow card may have been the proximate cause.

    Down to 10 men, Barcelona quickly scored before a Leo Messi drove home a penalty kick to make it 3-1. Arsenal were understandably upset, but that's how football goes sometimes.

    The victory moves Barcelona into the final eight. That, coupled with the fact that they are currently enjoying the strongest domestic league season of any team in Europe, is enough to keep that at No. 1.