Jonah Freedman
Monday June 1st, 2009

Get your rotten tomatoes and cabbage ready -- it's the time of year where we rearrange the Rankings and reward the trophy-winners (and those teams still in contention) throughout the power spots of world football. No silverware equals no spoils, and that means that even though teams like Liverpool, Sevilla and AC Milan finished the season strong, they get left out for going home empty-handed. Qualifying for next season's revamped Champions League is a nice consolation prize, but it's hard to keep taking satisfaction in that if your team can't deliver a trophy. Know what I mean, Arsenal fans?

Our rundown below is sure to be controversial, but let's be clear about this: You play the game to win. There's no trophy for second place. This will be it for us in Rankingsville for a while as we take a summer break to enjoy some international play and Confederations Cup for the next month. Stay tuned for my reports from Chicago as the U.S. takes on Honduras on Saturday, and then the triumphant return of our own Grant Wahl, reporting from South Africa in a couple of weeks.

Note: All rankings, records and statistics are through May 31.

World Soccer Power Rankings
1FC Barcelona
Previously: 1
FC Barcelona
Near perfection for a club that has been No. 1 on these Rankings for almost the entire season: a third European Cup, a 19th Liga title and a record 25th Copa del Rey for an unprecedented Spanish treble. And much like last summer's European Championship, beautiful, attacking soccer was rewarded with the ultimate prize. All credit to Barça lifer Pep Guardiola, who had a clear vision of how he wanted to build his masterpiece of a team from a grassroots level.
 
2Manchester United
Previously: 2
Manchester United
All in all, not a bad season at Old Trafford: a third straight English Premier League title and a Carling Cup to boot, along with that FIFA Club World Cup title last December. Best of all, the entire organization, from Sir Alex Ferguson on down, handled the loss to Barça with class and dignity. Which is why, sad to say, it might be time to figure out a way to let Cristiano Ronaldo fulfill his wish of leaving. The act is old, Ronnie.
 
3Chelsea
Previously: 3
Chelsea
A fifth FA Cup title is a nice close to a season that nearly ended trophy-less again, and it's a nice farewell present to Guus Hiddink, whose interim tenure at Stamford Bridge was more or less a favor to Chelsea overlord Roman Abramovich. The Dutch wizard's permanent replacement is indeed Carlo Ancelotti, and that's a decent step toward some coaching stability -- even though the Italian becomes Chelsea's fifth manager in less than two seasons.
 
4Inter Milan
Previously: 5
Inter Milan
Inter's season ended as it was supposed to, with a fourth straight Scudetto (and 17th in club history). But it will be remembered more by yet another failure in the Champions League. The José Mourinho makeover continues starting now, and the dominoes are falling. Hernán Crespo is already out, Luís Figo is hanging them up and the Special One will start hunting for reinforcements. He may have to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, too, as the scintillating Swede keeps hinting he may leave the San Siro.
 
5FC Porto
Previously: 6
FC Porto
The Dragons wrapped up their 24th league title weeks ago, but added the capper on Sunday by winning their 18th Portuguese Cup as well, their third double in the past seven years. Jesualdo Ferreira's men were a treat to watch this season and overachieved to a great degree. It'll be interesting to see who Porto can hang onto this offseason and if it can take the next step in next year's Champions League.
 
6Shakhtar Donetsk
Previously: --
Shakhtar Donetsk
Their UEFA Cup win is the first major European trophy for the Ukrainians in tangerine, which isn't a bad consolation prize for bottoming out of this year's Champions League group stage. This is the reward for the grandiose plan started by billionaire owner Rinat Akmetov when he started dumping millions into player contracts a couple of years ago. That's why Brazilians are running all over the pitch at Donbass Arena and why Shakhtar is no longer a European backwater.
 
7VfL Wolfsburg
Previously: --
VfL Wolfsburg
It's finally time to salute Volkswagen's finest product since the Jetta, who were pushing to crack our Rankings for months. Early exits in the UEFA Cup and German Cup hurt them in our eyes, but the small-budget club still emerged victorious in a brutal dogfight to close out the Bundesliga season, its first league title. In the process, Grafite and Edin Dzeko became the first pair to score more than 20 goals apiece in the same season in the German top flight. But with Felix Magath off to manage Schalke, and a direct ticket to the Champions League group stage next season, Wolfsburg may be in for a long fall back to earth.
 
8Girondins de Bordeaux
Previously: --
Girondins de Bordeaux
We've given short shrift to the French league in this space, mostly because its best players have been pilfered by the bigger Euro leagues and the fact that, aside from Lyon, no club has made much noise at the international level. But what Bordeaux did this season, finally breaking Lyon's stranglehold on Ligue 1, was very impressive. Marouane Chamakh, Fernando Cavenaghi and Yoann Gourcuff combined for 38 goals this season as les Girondins won 11 straight to close out the campaign and clinch their first title in 10 years. Best yet, Bordeaux permanently signed Gourcuff off his loan from AC Milan, keeping one of France's brightest young stars from fleeing -- for now.
 
9Cruzeiro
Previously: 9
Cruzeiro
Cruzeiro stays on here with a very tentative spot. The Brazilians from Minas Gerais bagged a solid 2-1 win at home over São Paulo in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals, but now face a steep challenge in hanging onto that lead at the Morumbí on June 17. They'd better improve on their league performance at that same venue on Sunday, where the three-time defending Brazilian champs routed them 3-0. And because it got a pass into the quarters (after Chivas de Guadalajara withdrew), São Paulo is tanned, rested and ready.
 
10Rangers
Previously: --
Rangers
Let's be clear: I believe seven or eight of the clubs on this rundown could beat the stuffing out of Rangers -- well, nine times out of 10, at least. But 'Gers' amazing rally to snatch the Scottish Premier League title away from archrival Celtic in the final weeks of the season is a nice capper to a rough year, as is winning the Scottish Cup to close it out for a double. It's also nice to see American Maurice Edu win back some playing time and plaudits from the Scottish press. Let's hope he gets healthy soon.
 
Honorable mentions: São Paulo, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Sevilla, AC Milan, AZ Alkmaar, Lanús
Dropped off: Liverpool, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Atlante

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