World Football Power Ranking: The Top 30 Leagues in Europe

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentAugust 2, 2011

World Football Power Ranking: The Top 30 Leagues in Europe

0 of 30

    We all know the top four leagues in Europe, but do we know the ninth best league, let alone the 30th best league?

    Perhaps it’s trivial to know, but that’s the point of this article.

    It’s to profile the leagues you don’t know, inform you on up-and-coming clubs and update you on prospective players who could be moving to a league you watch.

30. Veikkausliiga (Finland)

1 of 30

    Finland have only had a professional football league since 1990, so it’s commendable that Veikkausliiga clubs have produced the likes of Sami Hyypiä, Mikael Forssell and Joonas Kolkka.

    The problem with the league is its champions only have one shot or one opportunity to make it through to the UEFA Champions League.

    More often than not, they fail, which shows in the fact that a Veikkausliiga club hasn’t qualified for the Champions League since the 1998-1999 season when HJK Helsinki did.

    Player to watch: FC Inter Turku’s 23-year-old right winger Mika Ojala.

    Ojala is having in career best form with 12 goals and 12 assists in 16 games. He trialled with Dutch club Heerenveen in 2008, but it’s more than likely that he’ll leave for bigger and better things come season end.

    Did you know Finnish legend Jari Litmanen, the Ajax goal scoring machine of the 1990s, is still playing professional football in the Veikkausliiga at 40 years old? 

29. Nemzeti Bajnokság I (Hungary)

2 of 30

    Oh how the mighty have fallen.

    If you know your football history, then you know the Mighty Magyars.

    Not only did they influence Total Football, but they played football with such style, such flair and such ruthless efficiency.

    The 1956 Hungarian revolution ended the reign of the Mighty Magyars and Hungarian football hasn’t been the same since.

    Though two seasons ago, Debrecen quailed for the UEFA Champions League but were comprehensively outclassed, conceding 19 goals in six games.

    Player to watch: MTK Budapest's 19-year-old forward Patrik Tischler.

    Tischler was signed on loan by Oldham Athletic in 2009 but has since returned to MTK Budapest where he scored 12 goals last season. 

    Will need to put in the hard yards if he wants to make it outside of his country like his fellow compatriot Balázs Dzsudzsák.

28. Serbian SuperLiga (Serbia)

3 of 30

    It's somewhat symbolic of the Serbian SuperLiga to be ranked after the Nemzeti Bajnokság I because Serbia is experencing the same issues that Hungary did post-revolution. 

    The Yugoslavian revolution broke up what could have been a legitimate FIFA World Cup contending team, of course Croatia would make a stunning semifinal appearance in the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

    The main problem with the Serbian SuperLiga is for all the talent their clubs produce or sign, they lose them after a breakout season. 

    Cleo who was playing for Partizan last season surprised me with how good he was in the UEFA Champions League last season. Do you know where he is?

    He's at Guangzhou Evergrande in China with Darío Conca, both are earning money that would rank them among the best paid players in the world.

    Player to watch: Red Star Belgrade's 24-year-old Brazilian creative midfielder Evandro.

    Assuming Red Star Belgrade make into the Europa League, as soon as Evandro starts playing some samba football, clubs will immediately look to sign him.

    Red Star Belgrade will look to sell him, since it's no coincidence that he happens to hold an Italian passport, therefore making him an EU player and more accessible to La Liga and Serie A clubs who have non-EU restrictions. 

27. Slovak Superliga (Slovakia)

4 of 30

    Slovakia as a football nation has developed in leaps and bounds since becoming an independent nation in 1993. 

    Slovak Superliga was founded in 1993, and their clubs have produced some fine footballers in recent years, like Marek Hamšík and Miroslav Stoch.

    It's still a developing league, but it needs to be able to hold onto its players, whether it's paying them more money or some kind of enticement which would prevent them from leaving the club for next to nothing.

    MŠK Žilina played in the UEFA Champions League last season and were out of their depth, though they did give a Chelsea second team a good game. 

    Player to watch: MŠK Žilina's 21-year-old centre midfielder Benin Bello Babatounde. 

    Babatounde is a high energy player who was Žilina's man of the match in their definitive Champions League qualifying game against Sparta Prague.

    Worked hard throughout Žilina's forgetablle campaign and scored at Stamford Bridge.  

26. Bulgarian A Professional Football Group (Bulgaria)

5 of 30

    Yahoo reported Bulgarian and Manchester United forward Dimitar Berbatov saying, "There is a saying in Bulgaria that great quality doesn't require much effort."

    Well Bulgaria neither have great quality or have made any streneous attempts in fixing all that is wrong with Bulgarian football.

    When you have organised crime embedded in football, not only does it compromise the spirit of the game, but lives are being lost over a game of football.

    Player to watch: CSKA Sofia's 21-year-old Bulgarian left sided forward Spas Delev. 

    Dynamic, tricky and with an eye for goal, don't be surprised if Delev become's Bulgaria's next big thing. If you wanted to know, he's plays with more urgency than the languid Berbatov.   

25. Tippeligaen (Norway)

6 of 30

    Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Rune Bratseth are perhaps the best ever players produced by a Tippeligaen club.

    For many years, Rosenborg has been the flag bearer of the Tippeligaen , qualifying 11 times for the UEFA Champions League, though they haven't qualified since the 2007-08 season.

    Considering Norway only has 4.8 million people, London has 7.8 million people, you can't expect too much from the Tippeligaen.

    Player to watch: Rosenborg's 19-year-old centre midfielder Markus Henriksen. 

    I like him a lot, in the games I've watched Rosenborg play, he outshone the highly rated Anthony Annan. For a teenager, Henriksen plays like a seasoned professional.     

24. Allsvenskan (Sweden)

7 of 30

    Sweden have always produced great footballers, from Gunnar Nordahl to Henrik Larsson to Zlatan Ibrahimović.

    Then you factor in a gold medal at the 1948 Olympics, finalists at the 1958 FIFA World Cup, third place in the 1950 and 1994 FIFA World Cup, and semifinalists at Euro 1992.   

    But the league hasn't flourished as expected.

    The last time an Allsvenskan club did anything signifcant in Europe was when Malmö were beaten 1-0 by the late Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest in the 1979 European Cup final.

    Player to watch: AIK's 21-year-old Sierra Leonean forward Teteh Bangura. 

    A product of Former Inter Milan player Mohamed Kallon's Kallon FC, Bangura has looked a class above the Allsvenskan.

    His fellow compatriot and good friend, 22-year-old forward Mohamed Bangura (no relation) also looks like a promising prospect for AIK. 

    It's likely if Teteh is signed, Mohamed may come in the package.   

23. Ekstraklasa (Poland)

8 of 30

    Around about a decade ago, there was a naturalised Nigerian born Polish forward called Emmanuel Olisadebe, whose Polish citizenship was marred in contrervesy. 

    Though there was no doubt he could play, and it was his eight goals in 10 games which allowed Poland to qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, ending 16 years in the wilderness.  

    However Poland didn't show up, and Olisadebe's career fizzled out. 

    Fizzled out would be a good description of the Ekstraklasa, and long gone are the days of Grzegorz Lato, Jan Tomaszewski, Kazimierz Deyna, Zbigniew Boniek and so on.

    In the past decade, Poland have resorted to fast tracking naturilised Polish citizens like Olisadebe and Brazilian born Roger Guerreiro.

    It shows in their youth progression, they haven't qualified for an UEFA under-19 tournament since 2004, in which they finished bottom of their group.   

    Player to watch: Lech Poznań's 23-year-old Latvian forward Artjoms Rudņevs.

    Lech Poznań surprisingly qualified ahead of Juventus in last season's Europa League. 

    Rudņevs had an excellent games against Juventus and a second string Manchester City side.   

22. Liga I (Romania)

9 of 30

    First thing when I think of Romanian football is Gheorghe Hagi, what a sublime footballer he was.

    In recent years, Cluj have been flying the Romanian flag in the UEFA Champions League, but it's not their below par performances which have been talking a point.

    It's the fact their squad is so South American influenced. Currently it has six Brazilians and an Argentine.

    Player to watch: Unirea Alba Iulia's 18-year-old right winger Nicolae Stanciu.

    The only Romanian player who showed some urgency and some promise during their disappointing UEFA under-19 tournament. 

21. Vysshaya Liga (Belarus)

10 of 30

    BATE Borisov, the club which produced Alexander Hleb, has dominated the Vysshaya Liga—having been crowned league champions for five years running.

    The last time they were in the UEFA Champions League, BATE Borisov finished bottom of their group, but they didn't look out of the depth.

    Player to watch: BATE Borisov's 22-year-old Brazilian creative midfielder Renan Bressan.

    Renan brings some Brazilian flair, and was top scorer last season in the Vysshaya Liga. Last December, he became a Belarusian citizen, so he could be Hleb's future national teammate.    

20. Gambrinus Liga (Czech Republic)

11 of 30

    Earlier in the article, you saw Slovakia who split from Czechoslovakia. Well the other half is Czech Republic whose Gambrinus Liga have been in operation since 1993.   

    Prague, the capital city of Czech Republic, has dominated the Gambrinus Liga with around 78 percent of league champions being a Prague team. 

    So it's generally always Sparta Prague or sometimes Slavia Prague, though Viktoria Plzeň surprisingly won the league last season pipping Sparta Prague to the league title by a solitary point. 

    The Euro 1996 final loss to a 95th minute golden goal from Germany's Oliver Bierhoff will always haunt the Czechs.

    They had a very good team, with the likes of Pavel Nedvěd, Karel Poborský, Patrik Berger, Pavel Kuka and Radoslav Látal. 

    Player to watch: Sparta Prague's 19-year-old Czech striker Václav Kadlec.

    According to IMScouting, Czech scouts believe Kadlec is the biggest Czech talent since Tomáš Rosický.   

19. Prva HNL (Croatia)

12 of 30

    In recent years there have been an abundance of Croatian talent coming through like Luka Modrić, Niko Kranjčar, Ivo Iličević, Ivan Perišić and Nikola Kalinić.

    Croatia have also indulged in stealing Australian born and Australian produced players with Croatian heritage like Josip Šimunić, Joey Didulica and Anthony Šerić. 

    Steven Lustica is probably the next Australian born and Australian produced player that Croatia will steal, after he declined to play for the Australian national under-20 team. 

    Though one can make the argument well they also have Croatian heritage, so they can choose to be Australian or Croatian.

    Well, Eduardo is 100 percent Brazilian, yet he's played for Croatia.

    Dinamo Zagreb's Sammir is 100 percent Brazilian, yet he wants to play for Croatia. 

    I don't know why Croatia, a nation who fought a bloody and destructive war to create their own identity are blurring their football identity by stealing Australian players and trying to naturalise Brazilian players.

    They have enough talent, they don't need to be stealing from other nations.

    Player to watch: Dinamo Zagreb's 24-year-old Brazilian creative midfielder Sammir.

    He makes the game look so easy, and if Croatia do naturalise him, he'll make them a better side.        

18. Ligat Ha-Al (Israel)

13 of 30

    Palestine being recognised as a football nation in 1998 by FIFA, spells a major problem if Palestine and Israel both qualify for a FIFA World Cup and are put in the same group stage. 

    Though that's a problem we don't need to contemplate for years or even decades.  

    Right now, the main focus for Israel is to qualify for a FIFA World Cup, which they haven't done since 1970. 

    Their past four World Cup qualifying campaigns have gradually improved, as they've had positive goal differences.

    One problem I see is the likes of Ben Sahar, Gai Assulin, Nir Mantsur and future Israeli teenagers venturing out to bigger leagues and trying to make it.

    Instead of playing first team football, they're warming the benches.

    Sahar's career rebounded when he came back to Israel, and right now Assulin is wasting his time at Manchester City. Why not come back to Israel?

    Amos Sassi and Shlomi Dahan, both were whisked away as teenagers to Borussia Dortmund, where their growth were stunted. Both never developed into the footballers they were projected to be.

    Israeli teenagers should stay with the Israeli club who produced them, establish themselves as the cream of the crop in the Ligat Ha-Al, before moving on to bigger and better things.   

    Player to watch: Maccabi Haifa's 19-year-old Israeli attacking midfielder Eyal Golasa.

    Golasa would be a dream for Spanish based commentators, but he's also stayed in Israel, developed into one of their most prospective youngsters and is set to move this summer or next summer. 

17. Marfin Laiki (Cyprus)

14 of 30

    Teams from the Marfin Laiki have earned my respect and certainly countless fans around Europe with their performances in the UEFA Champions League in past seasons.

    Who will ever forget Anorthosis Famagusta's memorable Champions League campaign in 2008-2009 season?

    Down 2-0 against Inter Milan, Anorthosis Famagusta come back to lead 3-2, before drawing 3-3. 

    That was a great game, and Anorthosis Famagusta just played nice football throughout the group stages. 

    Then there was APOEL the next season who were totally different, they were staunch, they were commited team members, and they did Cyrpus proud by causing problems for the bigger teams. 

    So often you see minnow teams get thrashed because they come into the game expecting to lose. APOEL came into the game expecting to draw or to concede the least amount of goals possible.

    Player to watch: APOEL's 24-year-old Macedonian forward Ivan Tričkovski.

    Dumped by Red Star Belgrade, Tričkovski has proved to be a tricky task for opposing defenders. It will be interesting to see how many more seasons he'll stay in the Marfin Laiki.

    My guess is not many.     

16. Scottish Premier League (Scotland)

15 of 30

    People should bear in mind that the Scottish Premier League (SPL) has only been around since 1998, having taken inspiration from the formation of the English Premier League (EPL).

    The events surrounding Celtic manager Neil Lennon and his life being under threat over a game of football was disappointing to say the least. 

    The SPL is represented essentially of the Old Firm duo of Celtic and Rangers, both of whom have under-performed in the UEFA Champions League.

    The SPL is only one coefficient position away from gaining two Champions League places, right now they have one.

    Financial stability is also another objective the SPL needs to attain.

    Player to watch: Celtic's 25-year-old Honduran left-back Emilio Izaguirre

    Whichever Celtic scout who was done at Tegucigalpa to watch Izaguirre play should get a massive commission.

    Not only did Celtic snare Izaguirre for just £580 000, he's proven that potentially he could become one of the world's best left-backs.      

15. Austrian Football Bundesliga

16 of 30

    A couple of years ago, the Austrian Football Bundesliga were in the news because the energy drink company Red Bull bought out Austria Salzburg, and renamed it Red Bull Salzburg. 

    Aside from that Austria as a football nation hasn't made any noise since qualifying for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. 

    Currently, Austria has some talented young individuals in David Alaba, Marko Arnautović, Veli Kavlak to go with the likes of Christian Fuchs, Christoph Leitgeb and Marc Janko. Austria looks like a half-decent side. 

    Player to watch: Austria Vienna's 23-year-old Austrian attacking midfielder Zlatko Junuzović.

    I've seen him play a few times and to sum him up, quality. I commend the fact that someone so talented like him decided against the idea of venturing into stronger leagues and stayed in Austria to get game time as opposed to warming the benches at a big club.

    His contract ends next season, and from what I understand, he is unwilling to sign a new deal.

    Meaning that he'll be sold this summer. 

    It will be interesting to see if any of the big clubs have had their scouts in Vienna. 

14. Swiss Super League (Switzerland)

17 of 30

    Over the past decades, the Swiss Super League has been a stepping stone for foreign forwards who would become prolific scoring forwards in stronger leagues like Iván Zamorano, Sonny Anderson, Élber and Seydou Doumbia. 

    The Swiss national football team have merged their identity into not losing, and whilst it has been successful for them, it's been dull to watch.

    You look at this Swiss side: Stephan Lichtsteiner, Tranquillo Barnetta, Hakan Yakin, Eren Derdiyok and you think why can't they play some attacking football? 

    Haris Seferović and Nassim Ben Khalifa, the two stars from the Swiss 2007 FIFA under-17 World Cup victory, are both going through a lull in their young careers because they're at good clubs but not getting anygame time.

    Why not come back to the Swiss Super League?

    Player to watch: Basel's 19-year-old Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri. 

    I'm convinced that Shaqiri will live up to the hype because I think he has the qualities to become a top notch footballer in La Liga or the Serie A.  

13. Belgian Pro League (Belgium)

18 of 30

    The 10.8 million people in Belgium are all asking the same question.

    We produced Paul Van Himst, Fernand Goyvaerts, Enzo Scifo, Eric Gerets, Jean-Marie Pfaff, Jan Ceulemans and many more. 

    We were denied a FIFA World Cup finals apperance because of Diego Maradona's greatness.

    We qualified for six succesive World Cups.

    What happened?

    I have no answers as to why a nation of Belgium's football pedigree, has been in the international wilderness for nine years, and has been in the continental wilderness for 11 years.

    Fear not, the Belgian golden generation is here.  

    Simon Mignolet, Anthony Vanden Borre, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen, Marouane Fellaini, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard.

    They'll all be 30 years or younger come the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and yes, that is a bold prediction for the starting lineup in three years time. 

    How have Belgium produced so many prodigiously talented footballers all in same era?

    Writing in The Times, Gabriele Marcotti simply answered, "Perhaps the only real explanation for why a disproportionate number of babies blessed with the raw genetic material to become top footballers were born in Belgium between 1987 and 1993 rests in the vagaries of random distribution."

    The problem with the Belgian Pro League is that it won't be able to hold onto its stars.

    Player to watch: Anderlecht's 18-year-old Belgian centre forward Lukaku

    Future FIFA Ballon d'Or winner.

    Chelsea will be making a massive mistake if they pass up Lukaku because they're scared it will impact Fernando Torres' confidence.   

12. Danish Superliga (Denmark)

19 of 30

    Whether it's the 1980s Danish Dynamite national team or that surprise Euro 1992 triumph, Denmark have left an indelible mark on world football. 

    Last season, Ståle Solbakken's Copenhagen gained a lot of respect for qualifying ahead of the more fancied Rubin Kazan and Panathinaikos.

    Copenhagen's two games against Barcelona were excellent. 

    They fought out a tough draw against Barcelona, and would have given Barcelona a better contest if not for José Manuel Pinto being horrifically unsportsmanlike.

    With just 5.5 million people, the Danish Superliga will struggle finding talent compared to bigger nations.

    Though with the talent they do have, they will nurture them into world class footballers just like Uruguay, a nation with just 3.3 million people have done. 

    Player to watch: Midtjylland's 22-year-old Danish goalkeeper Jonas Lössl.

    Unlike Manchester United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard, Lössl has cemented himself in the Midtjylland lineup and was impressive.   

    Denmark will be hoping to replicate their shock Euro 1992 triumph sooner rather than later.  

11. Süper Lig (Turkey)

20 of 30

    In recent years, the Süper Lig has raised some eyebrows not only with their fanatical fans but some of their transfers.

    Just look up the teams of Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş and Galatasaray, and you think wow those are good teams on paper.

    I'm expecting a good performance from Fenerbahçe in the UEFA Champions League this season, specifically from their talismanic captain Alex, who doesn't gain enough recognition as one of the world's best players.

    Player to watch: Galatasaray's 24-year-old Turkish left winger Arda Turan.

    A very efficient midfielder, who should be playing in a better league.   

10. Superleague Greece (Greece)

21 of 30

    I just wonder how Greece's dire economic situations will affect the Superleague. 

    Over the years, Greece has developed a somewhat unfair reputation for being boring, for being bad for the game of football, when not all Greek teams or footballers adhere to former manager Otto Rehhagel's philosophy. 

    Though credit to him, he led Greece to one of the most improbable triumphs in recent memory.

    What I mean by unfair is that I watched AEK Athens for a while, because of Rivaldo and Nikos Liberopoulos just orchestrated some beautiful attacking passages of play for the Athenian team.

    I thought to myself, oh my, and I stereotyped Greek football for being unattractive and dull because of one manager.

    I was wrong, and you are wrong if you think Greek football only play boring football.

    Player to watch: Panathinaikos' 21-year-old Greek attacking midfielder Sotiris Ninis. 

    His contract ends next year, and I would be surprised if he signed an extension. Ninis has done his time in the Superleague, and someone of his talent should be playing at a higher level. 

    So by that logic, he should be sold this transfer window, but I haven't heard of any transfer rumours relating to him. 

9. Eredivisie (Netherlands)

22 of 30

    1974, Total football, Johan Cruyff, Ajax, Dennis Bergkamp, Marco van Basten and Rinus Michels.

    Those should be the first things that come to your mind when you think of Dutch football.

    The Eredivisie has been so integral in facilitating era after era after era of technical Dutch footballers, who then become world class footballers at other clubs. 

    So therein lies the problem, the Eredivisie cannot hold onto its stars. I mean the Netherlands is a nice place to live, good football league, but youngsters are growing up dreaming of playing for Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, A.C. Milan and so on. 

    Player to watch: Ajax's 23-year-old Dutch right back Gregory van der Wiel.

    I've been very impressed with the athleticism of van der Wiel, but sometimes his mental though process goes a bit haywire.  

    At 23, now would be the right time to move for van der Wiel, who has won everything he can in the Netherlands, and should be aiming for higher honours like a UEFA Champions League. 

8. Ukrainian Premier League (Ukraine)

23 of 30

    One word to sum up the Uraknian Premier League in the past few seasons: Brazilian. 

    Here are the top five teams last season.

    1. Shakhtar Donetsk: Eight Brazilians, two out on loan 
    2. Dynamo Kyiv: Five Brazilians, one out on loan
    3. Metalist Kharkiv: Three Brazilians
    4. Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk: Two Brazilians
    5. Karpaty Lviv: Three Brazilians

    It's a developing league, but it lacks world class footballers to turn a Ukranian team into a perennial UEFA Champions League contender.

    Player to watch: Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk's 22-year-old Ghanaian right back Samuel Inkoom.

    He was forced to take a pay cut in order to fly out to play for Ghana, that how's dedicated Inkoom is to representing his nation.

    Inkoom is a robust right back who I think at times rely too much on his athleticism, but I believe he has what it takes to play at a higher level.    

7. Russian Premier League (Russia)

24 of 30

    So much money has been pumped into the Russian Premier League to give the nation some face on the continental stage. 

    Immediately it shows, now you have Anzhi Makhachkala trying to buy everyone, but they have built up a very good squad on paper. 

    Then consider the squads of CSKA Moscow and Zenit Saint Petersburg.

    Russian teams will contend in the UEFA Champions League for seasons to come.

    Player to watch: CSKA Moscow's 20-year-old Russian left back Georgi Schennikov.

    Like compatriot and fellow teammate Alan Dzagoev, Schennikov has made the transition from youth to senior football with no issues.

    Schennikov has impressed me more with his relentless energy and the desire to compete all the time.       

6. Primeira Liga (Portugal)

25 of 30

    Centuries later the Portuguese colonisation of Brazil has benefited the Primeira Liga, because they offer the same language and a similiar culture to poor but talented young Brazilian footballers. 

    Oh just for a fun fact, Porto have 11 Brazilians in their squad and one out on loan. May as change their name to Porto Brazil.

    As long as Primeira Liga sides buy young talented South American footballers in truck loads, they can and will be threats in the UEFA Champions League. 

    Players to watch: Porto's 18-year-old Argentinian winger Juan Manuel Iturbe.

    The called him the Parguayan Lionel Messi, well that was until he decided to switch from Paraguay to Argentina.

    You can hear the cursing all the way from Asunción.

    Tim Vickery at Sports Illustrated stated, "The Messi comparison is unfair, but Iturbe has some spark in his left-footed dribbling." 

    Porto have once again invested wisely.  

5. Ligue 1 (France)

26 of 30

    This summer all the  Ligue 1 headlines were dominated by Paris Saint-Germain (P.S.G) being taken all over by Qatar Investment Authority, who are estimated to be worth over $60 billion. 

    Ligue 1 has always been a fiscally sound league because it has rules where if a club records to much of a deficit, it is liable to being relegated. 

    Hence, Ligue 1 has become a selling league.

    Well, P.S.G will destroy that reputation by buying all the best talent available, whilst also keeping the players they have.

    Unlike Manchester City, P.S.G reside in one of the cities in the world, and the weather is better. 

    They've already bought Javier Pastore for €40 million, who else are they going to buy?

    Mark my words, P.S.G will become perennial UEFA Champion League contenders.

    As for Ligue 1, well they'll have to accept being second place is a worthy achievement.

    Player to watch: Paris Saint-Germain's 21-year-old French centre back Mamadou Sakho.

    An extremely strong and rugged centre back, Sakho is the future of the French national team. I hope manager Laurent Blanc can start Sakho because he is a good footballer not because of his skin colour.        

4. Serie A (Italy)

27 of 30

    Corruption, racism, hooligans, financial distress and dull football have eroded the Serie A in recent years. 

    Yet Napoli and Udinese continue to defy the stereotype of dull Italian football by playing some adventerous and daring football. 

    Shouldn't surprise you that both teams were involved in two great matches. Napoli's 4-3 victory against Lazio and Udiniese's pulsating 4-4 draw against A.C. Milan. 

    Juventus are still picking up the pieces from the Calciopoli scandal.

    Their remedy: buy, buy and buy. 

    A.C. Milan are building a dynasty, and Inter Milan are rebuilding following the departure of José Mourinho and Leonardo. 

    Somehow the Serie A dropped all those coefficient points and now only have three UEFA Champions League positions.

    Serie A changed it's logo and has restrucuted their league to copy that of the English Premier League (EPL), so lets see if it will be as financially successful as the EPL.

    Player to watch: Fiorentina's 19-year-old Italian centre-back Michele Camporese.

    Will be another top notch Italian centre-back.  

3. Fußball-Bundesliga (Germany)

28 of 30

    The Bundesliga has worked extremely hard in getting its league back to the standard it was a couple of decades ago. 

    For me, the Bundesliga is one of the most exciting leagues in the world, and when you combine that excitement on the pitch with the fanfare, the beautiful stadiums, the nice weather, you get a great league. 

    No Bundesliga club has won the Champions League since 2001.  

    With the likes of Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Anzhi Makhachkala forcing their way into becoming real contenders of the UEFA Champions League—how will it affect Bundesliga clubs?

    Can Bundesliga clubs hold onto their best assets?

    Player to watch: Borussia Dortmund's 22-year-old German centre back Mats Hummels.

    Was magnificent last season and will continue to be magnificent. Bayern Munich lost out big time when they sold Hummels.  

2. La Liga (Spain)

29 of 30

    Right now, investors will not be going to Spain to invest money because the country's debt issues is getting out of control. 

    You look at La Liga last season, Sid Lowe reported how Levante couldn't even spend €3,000 on ProZone analysis. 

    Then you have Valencia trying to inflate their players because they're so desperate to sell. If I was Valencia, I'd be on the phone to Paris Saint-Germain and Anzhi Makhachkala.

    The large majority of La Liga clubs, if not all except Málaga, are heavily in debt. 

    Real Madrid and Barcelona can continue living in their own bubble, because banks will continue to bail them out regardless of how irresponsible they spend money.

    Talking about Málaga, they're financially backed by Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani and have a squad that should be able to get them into the UEFA Champions League.

    Upon sealing Champions League qualification, that is when Sheikh Abdullah will start spending big presumably on young talented South Americans.

    Player to watch: Athletic Bilbao's 22-year-old Spanish centre midfielder Javi Martínez.

    Martínez is classy on and off the pitch, and I'm surprised he's still at Athletic Bilbao.   

1. English Premier League (EPL)

30 of 30

    With over £1 billion revenue, the English Premier League (EPL) is the most lucrative football league in the world. 

    What's remarkable is that England has a culture barrier to South America, who generally always have the best footballers in the world, but the EPL still have overcome this issue even with Barcleona and Real Madrid stockpiling their teams with South American talent in years gone by. 

    There is only one problem, and that's the debt issue that the likes Manchester United and Liverpool have. 

    That being said, as long as the EPL remains successful, as long as England doesn't go into some sort of financial melt down like Spain or Greece, then the EPL will continue to be the leading league in the world. 

    Oh and Manchester City, I predict they'll win the EPL this season, but I'm not too sure about UEFA Champions League dominance. 

    As Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain will be also legitimate contenders.

    Player to watch: Chelsea's 18-year-old centre midfielder Josh McEachran.

    I hope Chelsea don't spend big on a creative midfielder because I believe McEachran should be given the role. 

    Just like when Académica de Coimbra and Porto gave a young inexperienced André Villas-Boas a chance, he should give McEachran a chance. 


    * The rankings are based on the UEFA coefficients, a system which ranks clubs and countries by statistical evaluation. 

    Other Must Read Articles

    Grading the 25 Most Expensive European Football Transfers so Far

    22 Fastest Players in World Football Right Now

    The 20 Most Stupid English Premier League Signings Ever


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.