Like a recurring ulcer, we're back after a summer of excess and decadence. When we last checked in, Cristiano Ronaldo was still a Red Devil, AC Milan looked competitive and the U.S. national team looked like it could beat Spain, no problem. Honest. In any case, we're getting the Rankings machine going again after a blistering summer of some serious cash moving around, despite the supposedly slow economy.
Will the balance of power shift this year? Perhaps. It's going to be a thrill watching Real Madrid try to unseat Barcelona with its remade roster, and it's very possible Manchester United will give up its English Premier League crown for the first time in four years. Serie A may be a bit longer in the tooth, but it looks like the Bundesliga is up for grabs again. In South America, it's anyone's game, and in CONCACAF, well, we just want you to watch. (Let's go, San Juan Jabloteh!)
Seeing as we're ringing in our fourth year of doing these Rankings, it's probably a good time for a refresher course. The modus operandi here is that we are not doing a rundown of the 10 best clubs in the world. What this is is a reflection of the shifts in power between the biggest and most successful clubs in the major spheres of power around the world.
Regional competitions such as UEFA Champions League and the Copa Libertadores are given a certain amount of heft, as these tournaments are the bellwethers of who holds the power, but winning trophies in tough leagues and other tourneys are also crucial. Most weeks, you'll find European clubs dominate because that's where the money goes in the Beautiful Game. But as a rule, we make a point to include at least one non-Euro team each week, and that's at the risk of angering, annoying and just plain inducing laughter. We're big boys over here in Rankingsville; we can take it.
Speaking of which, feel free to e-mail me here with any missives you see fit. Criticism is welcome, as long as it's intelligent banter (calling me names is an invitation for the "Trash" button). Winning lottery numbers are always encouraged, too. Enjoy!
Note: All rankings, records and statistics are through Aug. 19.
World Soccer Power Rankings