Jonah Freedman
Thursday October 1st, 2009

If you happen to find any typos in here, I sincerely apologize. I've been squinting for the past 48 hours trying to follow the action on DirecTV's Champions League Mix channel on a way-too-small, non-high def TV. Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that I now have the luxury of being able to watch literally every Champions League game -- but man, are my eyes killing me. Worst part is, you can't record all eight concurrent games on a DVR, so it's either the Mix or pick a game and stick with it. And for all you fellow Gen-Xers out there raised on Sesame Street (the old ones where Snuffleupagus was imaginary and Elmo was nothing more than a supporting Muppet), you know we don't have that kind of attention span. If you've picked up that all this is a thinly veiled kvetch session about the fact that I don't have an HDTV, gold star for you. Whaddya say, on with the show? As usual, do your own kvetching here. Enjoy.

Note: All rankings, records and statistics are through Sept. 30.

World Soccer Power Rankings
1Real Madrid
Previously: 3
Real Madrid
Los Galácticos II have yet to be really tested, but you can't argue with the results: seven games played in La Liga and the Champions League, seven resounding victories by a 24-2 combined score line. And with AC Milan playing so badly, Real can turn its group into a laugher. Every single player on that field is capable of individual brilliance, and we're all hooked. How long will this last? Sunday's big match at Sevilla will be telling.
 
2FC Barcelona
Previously: 2
FC Barcelona
True story: One day while my mom was at UCLA in the mid-1960s, she opened her apartment door to greet a friend of her roommate's only to find herself eye level with the belt buckle of a 7-foot-2 basketball player named Lew Alcindor. My mom's height: 5-2. That's what I thought of when I saw 6-5 Zlatan Ibrahimovic embrace 5-6 Lionel Messi after the Argentine's goal on Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday. These two are just starting what could be a ridiculously deadly partnership. Why do I keep picturing Master Blaster from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome?
 
3Manchester United
Previously: 4
Manchester United
It's been a nifty fortnight of work from United, which is undefeated in five straight to overhaul Chelsea atop the English Premier League and bagged an impressive come-from-behind win over Wolfsburg in the Champions League on Wednesday. And though a handful of big names have left Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson is finding heroes from his old guard (the ever reliable Ryan Giggs), his prolific youth system (Carling Cup starlet Danny Welbeck) and his new signings (Man. City vanquisher Michael Owen, though his immediate future is in question).
 
4Chelsea
Previously: 1
Chelsea
"Ah! Congratulations!" That was Carlo Ancelotti's response to a reporter asking him if he realized Wigan's shocking 3-1 victory over Chelsea last weekend was its first against a "Big Four" EPL club since the lowly Latics first reached the top flight four years ago. At least the Italian has a sense of humor and is not, as I once believed, a tactical, disciplinarian robot. Still, quite a dent in Chelsea's beautiful start to the season.
 
5Sevilla
Previously: --
Sevilla
Holy table full of tapas, are los Rojiblancos tearing it up or what? While Sevilla is making an early case to be Barça and Real's only La Liga challenger this season, it's also assaulting its hapless Champions League opponents, too. In both competitions, the Sevillistas have 18 goals through their past six games thanks to usual suspects Frédéric Kanouté and Luís Fabiano, plus a little help from Madrid castoff Álvaro Negredo.
 
6Juventus
Previously: 5
Juventus
It's a long season, but when Juve has a chance to make a statement and seize first place in Serie A, it should probably take it. The Bianconeri blew their shot last weekend after Inter Milan lost and could only manage a draw at home against Bologna. But there are winnable games ahead in league and more so in the Champions League: Two straight vs. Israel's Maccabi Haifa could get them back on track. And they looked good in that 0-0 draw Wednesday at Bayern Munich, football-wise and fashion-wise. How sweet are those gray away jerseys with the striped sash?
 
7Liverpool
Previously: --
Liverpool
Tricky one here, because Liverpool looked dead awful in its loss to Fiorentina on Tuesday. But we all know how slow the Reds often start in Champions League play, and that they tend to (cliché alert!) play their way into form. Meanwhile, they've surged into second in the EPL with four straight wins by a combined 16-5. That's a little misleading, of course, since two of those games were against promoted Hull City and Burnley.
 
8Olympique Lyonnais
Previously: --
Olympique Lyonnais
Tough call on this: First-place Bordeaux is two points up on Lyon in Ligue 1 and both are performing well in the Champions League. But les Gones have the pedigree in European play, and have taken control of Group E with maximum points and have yet to allow a goal. The true test comes on Oct. 20 at Anfield. Can young strike sensation Bafétimbi Gomis & Co. reclaim their rightful place as France's most lethal bunch?
 
9Toluca
Previously: --
Toluca
Once again the South American powers fail to impress in this space, but Toluca is making a case to represent in the Western Hemisphere. Los Diablos Rojos have been on an angry tear since being embarrassed 7-2 by Club América back in August -- Zinha & Co. have stormed their way to the superlíder position atop the Mexican league standings and also are obliterating everyone in their path in the CONCACAF Champions League, outscoring opponents 14-1. Regional domination indeed.
 
10Manchester City
Previously: 6
Manchester City
City's time here could be growing short since we've said over and over again that lack of European play will hurt it in this space. Still, Sheikh Mansour's plaything has been delivering the goods, and was unlucky to fall at the end against crosstown rival United. It's nice to see Carlos Tévez actually playing, and doing what he does best, too: putting his head down and charging on goal, arms a-pumpin'.
 
Honorable mentions: Girondins de Bordeaux, Arsenal, Hamburger SV, Vélez Sarsfield, Palmeiras
Dropped off: Inter Milan, Valencia, Bayern Munich, SC Internacional

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