Jonah Freedman
Thursday February 4th, 2010

Well, kids, this is it: We're closing up shop here in Rankingsville. Your trusted (and often hated) master of all things World Power Rankings is moving on to greener pastures, so this is the final installment of the column you love, or love to hate, or love to hate to love. It has been a fun 4½ years of this thankless bi-weekly task of comparing organic apples to Monsanto-engineered oranges and everything in between. (Ah, memories.) I'm not crazy enough to go back and do the math, but I'll bet that Barcelona has probably topped these Rankings more than any other club in the world, which is funny -- I get more hate mail from Barça fans demanding their beloved team get more respect here. My only regret has been that I didn't hold out long enough to see an MLS team legitimately deserve to make these Rankings. Other than that, it has been a pleasure to info-tain you all. So long, and thanks.

Note: All rankings, records and statistics are through Feb. 3.

World Soccer Power Rankings
1FC Barcelona
Previously: 2
FC Barcelona
There's no way to encore a six-trophy year, but Barça is clearly on its way to a special follow-up to '09. It's still undefeated through 20 league games and is averaging 2.5 goals per match, while allowing .5. That's ridiculous. It's an easy call to return the Blaugrana to the top of the heap, even though they're watching the Copa del Rey semis from home.
 
2Chelsea
Previously: 1
Chelsea
Chelsea didn't do much wrong to get the bump; it's just that Barça picked up steam again. The Blues, meanwhile, haven't lost a game in 12 matches through all competitions. One does wonder, though, how much this John Terry scandal will trickle down to the team's performance. Veteran coach Carlo Ancelotti has dealt with worse problems with less composed players. Something tells me Chelsea will weather this one.
 
3Inter Milan
Previously: 4
Inter Milan
That 2-0 takedown of AC Milan in the San Siro derby was just the start: José Mourinho's men are on a nine-game unbeaten streak in all competitions. They've got an eight-point cushion in Serie A and are halfway back to the Coppa Italia final. Then, of course, there's the Champions League, where they'll face Mourinho's old Chelsea team later this month. Better get the warm fuzzies in now.
 
4Manchester United
Previously: 8
Manchester United
Looks like we were too soon to drop the hammer on United's chances to stay in the race. Wayne Rooney & Co. dropped a hammer of their own at Emirates Stadium last Sunday with a highly impressive 3-1 takedown of Arsenal. That came on the heels of Rooney's dramatic injury-time winner four days earlier that saw the Red Devils rally past Manchester City in the second leg of the Carling Cup semis. Alex Ferguson's men showed real heart over these past two weeks. I absolutely cannot wait for the Champions League showdown with David Beckham and AC Milan.
 
5Real Madrid
Previously: 6
Real Madrid
Los Galácticos II have rebounded from their slight blip a few weeks back, with a win over Málaga and finally breaking their hex against Deportivo La Coruña. And two goals in each game from prize acquisitions Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema is heartening. But there's still tons of work to be done. Real is five points off the pace in La Liga, but can pick up ground with three of its next four against relegation-threatened sides.
 
6Girondins de Bordeaux
Previously: 7
Girondins de Bordeaux
We know Bordeaux is for real in France -- les Girondins are on track for an unprecedented domestic treble of Ligue 1, Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue titles. But that could clutter up their schedule and test their depth to no end. "We're at risk of really complicating an already very busy month of February," manager Laurent Blanc said. And the better, it seems, Bordeaux performs, the louder the calls for the former French national-teamer are to replace Raymond Domenech as France coach.
 
7Arsenal
Previously: 3
Arsenal
The most predictable cool-off yet. While the football the Gunners have turned in often has been dazzling, their record against contenders is anything but. Most specifically, they're 0-2 at home against Chelsea and Man. United, losing by a combined 6-1 in those games. That's not how you make a stand. A further loss at Stamford Bridge on Sunday would put a harrowing dent in their EPL title hopes.
 
8AC Milan
Previously: 5
AC Milan
Speaking of thing cooling off, the Rossoneri are winless in three, falling further behind Inter and bounced from the Coppa Italia. They've also managed just two goals in their last four, which may be why owner Silvio Berlusconi is livid with chief Adriano Galliani's signing of winger Mancini as the transfer window closed. "I really don't understand it," Il Padrino said while on vacation in Israel. "He is another creative player when we need someone who can finish off moves."
 
9Bayern Munich
Previously: --
Bayern Munich
Nov. 3: That's how far back you have to go to find the last time Bayern dropped a match in any competition. Back then, Bavaria had its finger on the panic button and a noose firmly around Louis van Gaal's neck. But ever since, the German powerhouse has gone on a tear, picking up 30 of 36 possible points to close to within two of first-place Bayer Leverkusen. But while the headache-relievers have only the Bundesliga to play for, Bayern is still alive in the German Cup and also has a date with Fiorentina in the Champions League round of 16. Arjen Robben has been a big difference-maker as his new club looks more dangerous whenever he steps on the pitch.
 
10Flamengo
Previously: 10
Flamengo
We've said before, we're not huge fans of Brazil's state championships, but we almost have to hand the final charity spot to the defending Brazilian champs by default. Flamengo has kicked off its Rio State tourney with a bang, undefeated through seven. All but one of those contests were against smaller clubs, but last weekend's authoritative 5-3 display against Rio rival Fluminense was impressive. Adriano scored a hat trick, while Vágner Love added his fourth of the campaign in four games. If the fellow European castoffs seriously think they can claw their way back into the Brazilian national-team setup, expect a lot of fireworks at the Maracanã this spring.
 
Honorable mentions: Bayer Leverkusen, PSV Eindhoven, AS Roma, FC Twente, SL Benfica, Panathinaikos, Fenerbahçe
Dropped off: PSV Eindhoven

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