Jonah Freedman
Thursday October 29th, 2009

We've got a first here in Rankingsville: a club previously ranked No. 1 tumbling all the way off the rundown. Part of that is due to the fact that we played hooky last time out during the international break, and we've now missed almost an entire month's worth of action to dissect. More of it is due to the job Real Madrid is doing to itself, losing three of its last five in all competitions, culminating in Tuesday's disastrous 4-0 shocker at third-division Alcorcón in the Copa del Rey. It's no secret Madrid doesn't put much stock in Spain's cup competition -- los Blancos have made it past the last 16 only twice over the past six years and often have been bounced by second- and third-division clubs. But losing to a team with 1/400th your payroll is about as embarrassing as it gets. For now, Real is out.

Still, domestic-cup time in Europe is one of my favorite parts of the season. Tiny clubs with fantastic names (Scunthorpe United and Go Ahead Eagles, to name a couple) and even more fantastically named players (calling Coke Andújar and Shqipran Skeraj!) going toe to toe with the big boys, often in giant-killing fashion. On the line is some usually ridiculous-looking trophy you wouldn't want in your living room (check out Germany's Monty Python-esque DFB-Pokal). But hey, in the hardware-obsessed world of international soccer, you take what you can get. As always, feel free to lambaste me (tastefully) here.

Note: All rankings, records and statistics are through Oct. 28.

World Soccer Power Rankings
1Chelsea
Previously: 4
Chelsea
First place in the English Premier League and undefeated in the Champions League -- almost by default, the Blues reclaim the top spot here thanks to some stumbles from Europe's elite. That said, it's been an impressive seven days for Carlo Ancelotti's crew, which pummeled three teams in three separate competitions by a combined score line of 13-0. By the way, does anyone else agree that we can put Michael Essien's name among the top five most game-changing players in the world?
 
2FC Barcelona
Previously: 2
FC Barcelona
Barça was destined to return to the top spot, but that loss at home last week in the Champions League to FC Rubin Kazan holds the defending champs back here. Such is the punishment for falling to a club that sounds like it could the name of a deli (I'll have the kosher Serrano on rye!). In all, probably not a huge setback, since the Blaugrana still should advance easily, and their 6-1 explosion on Zaragoza in league play last weekend was proof they aren't wasting time worrying about it.
 
3Manchester United
Previously: 3
Manchester United
Eating up foes on the road and chewing them to pieces? What a week! If only we were talking about the players. The English FA is investigating Man. Utd fans for ransacking and looting concession areas at Barnsley's Oakwell Stadium during Tuesday's Carling Cup action, while police seek another fan for biting off a man's ear during last May's Champions League final in Rome. Quite the black eye on an otherwise solid fortnight.
 
4Sevilla
Previously: 5
Sevilla
If you're looking for the culprit who sent Real Madrid into its current tailspin, it's the guys in red and white at the Sánchez Pizjuán, who stopped the Galácticos cold earlier this month. The Sevillistas are still rolling in the Champions League, too, with three wins in three games after last week's victory at Stuttgart. If my math is right, Sevilla can book a spot in the knockout rounds with a win next week at home against that same German side. Think ex-manager Juande Ramos is packing up his things in Moscow wondering how to get his old job back?
 
5Juventus
Previously: 6
Juventus
Timing is everything. Juve is still in second in both Serie A and in its Champions League group. But the Bianconeri have lost one game so far in all competitions this season, and its 5-1 beatdown of Sampdoria on Wednesday has a wave of momentum rolling into Turin. Said red-hot Italo-Brazilian striker Amauri to Juve's Web site, "We were criticized by people who said that we were winning, but not convincingly. Tonight, however, I think we made our point." Could this game be a turning point?
 
6Girondins de Bordeaux
Previously: --
Girondins de Bordeaux
Bordeaux's French rival Lyon got all the ink for upsetting Liverpool at Anfield. And that's fine with the defending Ligue 1 champs, who quietly have climbed on top of the standings and are undefeated in the Champions League, including a 2-1 win over an undermanned Bayern Munich that easily could have been a 5-1 laugher had Laurent Blanc's men not shanked two penalty kicks. "That's something we'll have to work on in training," the French national-team legend admitted, thereby earning this week's award for oversimplifying the obvious.
 
7Arsenal
Previously: --
Arsenal
If it's Cup time in England, that means it's time for the latest batch of Wenger-ettes to hit the catwalk. And the Young Gunners did their manager proud on Wednesday, dispatching Liverpool 2-1 in the Carling Cup thanks to hard work from teenagers like Fran Mérida, Aaron Ramsey and Craig Eastmond. Meanwhile, the senior team has won four of five to pull into third in the EPL with a game in hand and sits on top of its Champions League group.
 
8Olympique Lyonnais
Previously: 8
Olympique Lyonnais
Two French clubs in this space at once? It's a first in Rankingsville. While we're a long way from a Ligue 1 revival, both Bordeaux and Lyon have shown some moments of brilliance. Les Gones have cooled off a bit in league, but they've been stunning in the Champions League, particularly that aforementioned last-gasp victory at Anfield. That for sure explains the clunker of a comedown last weekend in a 4-1 loss at Nice. Still, you're starting to get the feeling that, even without Karim Benzema, this Lyon squad is going to make some big noises as the season progresses.
 
9Inter Milan
Previously: --
Inter Milan
Very strange days at the San Siro. Inter is in last place in Group G of the Champions League and still has yet to win a game in the competition for which José Mourinho is being paid an exorbitant sum of money to win. And still, the Nerazzurri will finish October undefeated if they knock off Palermo on Thursday. And regardless of the result, they'll end the month in first place in Serie A. Will the real Inter please stand up?
 
10San Lorenzo
Previously: --
San Lorenzo
Ah, the revolving door that is the charity spot. Again, we wish a Latin club would be a regular player on the Rankings, but inconsistency (or is it parity?) has been the word over the past six months. At least El Ciclón is showing some recurring quality, a point off the lead in the Argentine Apertura (and winner of five of its last six), while slowly but surely aiming for the semifinals in the Copa Sudamericana. Maybe the latest stop on Diego Simeone's coaching tour will produce another Argentine title.
 
Honorable mentions: Hamburger SV, Olympiakos, SL Benfica, Werder Bremen, Dynamo Kiev, Fenerbahçe
Dropped off: Real Madrid, Liverpool, Toluca, Manchester City

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