Jonah Freedman
Thursday November 12th, 2009

Anyone a fan of shaking things up? It's that time of year when a couple of party-crashers get their free passes. Pohang Steelers and TP Mazembe, please print your names on your "Hello, my name is..." stickers and affix them to your shirts. The newly crowned Asian and African champions get their moments here in Rankingsville, proclaiming their continental superiority and booking places in December's FIFA Club World Cup. We'll remind you, as we do every year, that we'll allow the fact that any of the other eight clubs on this rundown probably could beat these debutantes nine times out of 10. But our job here is to assess where the power is shifting in the footie world. And for the time being, we welcome the South Koreans and Congolese, who will be joining Barcelona, Estudiantes de La Plate and Atlante in Abu Dhabi next month. Got some words to send my way? Click on the "Email Jonah" link to the right of my ugly mug above.

Note: All rankings, records and statistics are through Nov. 11.

World Soccer Power Rankings
1Chelsea
Previously: 1
Chelsea
Thankfully for our purposes, the Blues have done their part to justify us making them No. 1 last time around (much to the chagrin of you e-mail-happy Barça faithful -- we feel your pain). Not only has Chelsea advanced to the Champions League knockout rounds for a sixth straight year, but it also has opened up a five-point lead atop the English Premier League. And what a luxury for Carlo Ancelotti that he has the depth to plug in Juliano Belletti, Branislav Ivanovic or Paulo Ferreira for injured fullbacks Ashley Cole and José Bosingwa.
 
2FC Barcelona
Previously: 2
FC Barcelona
The Blaugrana simply can't catch a break here, sitting on No. 2 for the fourth consecutive time. Their undefeated start to the Spanish season is impressive, but they've been underwhelming in the Champions League, even on points with their new nemesis, defending Russian champs Rubin Kazan, against whom they're winless in two straight. Still, you get the feeling it's just a matter of time before Barça starts flexing its muscle. Set your TiVo for Inter Milan's visit to the Camp Nou on Nov. 24.
 
3Arsenal
Previously: 7
Arsenal
The Gunners suddenly sit tied for second in the EPL with a game in hand over Man. United and haven't lost in any competition in two months. But November is traditionally a cruel month for Arsène Wenger's gang, when reality usually sets in as fast as injuries to key players do. This time, it's on-fire Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner who will be out for an extended period for (ick) groin surgery. Is this a chance for Mexican starlet Carlos Vela to get more minutes?
 
4Sevilla
Previously: 4
Sevilla
Los Rojiblancos lucked out with the scheduling gods over the past couple weeks, getting few tough games during a period where it seems like half the roster is nursing various injuries. But that kind of luck is what you need to keep winning. Sevilla is just three points back of second-place Real Madrid in La Liga, on to the knockout rounds in the Champions League and enjoyed a laugher 9-3 aggregate win over third-division Atlético Ciudad in the Copa del Rey. For now, things are good at the Sánchez Pizjuán.
 
5Manchester United
Previously: 3
Manchester United
It's been a dicey couple of weeks for United, which has lost two of its last three in the EPL -- including that deflator to Chelsea last weekend despite being, for the most part, the better team in that game. And yes, some of the refereeing decisions were dicey, but as we've said before, if you blow opportunities to win a game, you can't fall back on that excuse. And, as we've also said before, probably not much to worry about yet. United is the epitome of consistency as the season plays out, and awaits the next round in the Champions League, too.
 
6Inter Milan
Previously: 9
Inter Milan
A 1-1 draw with Roma last Sunday ended the Nerazzurri's five-game Serie A win streak, which has allowed them to open up a five-point lead over second-place Juventus. Meanwhile, Inter suddenly sits on top of underachieving Group F in the Champions League. And if reports are to be believed, attacking mid Guti soon could join fellow Real Madrid castoff Wesley Sneijder at the San Siro. With Samuel Eto'o, Mario Balotelli, Diego Milito and Sneijder starting to gel, that sure could make things crowded. Or scary. Or both. (Worth mentioning: Cup-tied Guti wouldn't be eligible for European play.)
 
7Juventus
Previously: 5
Juventus
Juve's five-goal explosion at Atalanta last weekend (with another three that were disallowed) was inspiring, but the Old Lady gets docked a little here for blowing a two-goal lead and losing to Napoli at home on Halloween. Trick. No treat. Still, that's four goals in as many games for 33-year-old winger Mauro Camoranesi, who seems to have stolen the team's fountain of youth from injured captain Alessandro Del Piero.
 
8Girondins de Bordeaux
Previously: 6
Girondins de Bordeaux
We had to keep one of France's Power Deux in this space, and Bordeaux barely gets the nod over Lyon for maintaining first place in Ligue 1 despite a 2-0 loss to Lille. Laurent Blanc's men also marched into Allianz Arena and hung more Champions League hurt on Bayern, clinching a spot in the knockout round and almost single-handedly making sure the Bavarians won't advance.
 
9Pohang Steelers
Previously: --
Pohang Steelers
Leading off the one-and-done spots are the new Asian champions, who won the AFC Champions League with a win in last weekend's final over Saudi power Al-Ittihad. It's Pohang's third continental title and the seventh by a South Korean club over the past 14 years. The Steelers did it mostly as the underdog that could -- they don't have much representation on the South Korean national team and leaned heavily on (yet another) Brazilian Denílson, who led the tournament with seven goals. Trivia note for MLS aficionados: Pohang was the club that also launched the career of former South Korean national-team legend and onetime Los Angeles Galaxy defender Hong Myung-Bo.
 
10TP Mazembe
Previously: --
TP Mazembe
The "TP" stands for Tout Puissant, or "All Powerful." Seems like this year's African Champions League winners were just asking to make their Rankings debut. The Congolese club also won its third continental title, and first since a back-to-back haul in 1967 and '69. The Crows lucked out a bit on their road to glory by not having to face any of the traditional African powerhouses (though they did have '07 champ Étoile du Sahel in their group), but the title is no less sweet: The $1.5 million prize is 30 percent of Mazembe's entire budget. Look for captain and striker Tresor Mputu to make the jump to a European club in January -- he reportedly was on the radar of Tottenham, Blackburn and Arsenal.
 
Honorable mentions: FK Rubin Kazan, Olympique Lyonnais, AC Milan, Olympiakos, SL Benfica, Werder Bremen, Fenerbahçe, Valencia, FC Twente, São Paulo
Dropped off: Olympique Lyonnais, San Lorenzo

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