The best soccer team in Europe
December 31, 2007
As we close the year 2007, and with most of the European football leagues (soccer to those North Americans fans) at the mid-point of their schedules, and the rest in Winter hibernation it is now time to take stock and evaluate each team's performance through the first five months of the season, and ask that all-important question. Which team is the best team in Europe at the present time?
We have seen the completion of the qualifying and group stages of the UEFA Champions League and Cup, and as expected the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter & AC Milan emerged as tops within their group. However, there were also discernable upsets to speak of as both Arsenal and Liverpool were relegated to second-place within their own groups behind the likes of other powerhouses FC Sevilla and FC Porto. In addition, within the UEFA Cup the likes of Everton, Atletico Madrid, Villarreal, Hamburg SV, Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, Getafe and Bordeaux have proven that they are also worthy of top team considerations by soundly vanquishing their European competition.
This compares and contrasts interestingly with the various domestic leagues as defending champions Inter Milan (as expected) is leading the Italian Serie A by 7 points, but quite surprisingly AC Milan is 12th in the standings (though with 3 games in hand). Meanwhile Roma has had a solid season to date, currently sitting second in the league, after also finishing second in Champions League group play. Finally, Juventus, back in the top flight after a 1 year hiatus, is third in the league and poised for another spectacular performance in the Italian Serie A.
True to form Real Madrid and Barcelona continue to lead the Spanish La Liga, but surprisingly a 7 point gap separates number one from number two. However, two-time UEFA Cup champions FC Sevilla have had a horrendous domestic league campaign (currently resting 8th in the standings, and 18 points off the lead), despite winning their Champions League group and handsomely defeating Arsenal in the process.
In England the top four continue to be Man U, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, and they have also dominated Champions League play. However, the gap between the top two (Man U and Arsenal) and the rest (Chelsea and Liverpool) continue to widen in domestic league play.
Finally Bayern Munich continues to lead the German Bundesliga (on mere goal difference) despite rocketing out the gate to a convincing start at the beginning of the season. They have also won their UEFA Cup group with 8 out of a possible 12 points. Werder Bremen, though tied with Bayern Munich atop the Bundesliga, could only manage third place within their Champions League group matches.
So with that introduction all set, just who is the top European football team in the world. To properly evaluate the top teams within Europe we begin by considering the percent of points that they have accumulated relative to the maximum points available from those games they have played. Next we consider all matches played, both within domestic top league competition and against UEFA competition foes.
Because the quality of opposition is stronger in UEFA Champions League play than it is in both UEFA Cup and domestic competition we weight matches played in the Champions League at twice as valuable as those in domestic competition, and weight UEFA Cup matches as 1.5 times as important. The following table shows the list of the top 20 teams in Europe ranked by their percentage of points earned in domestic and UEFA competitions.The following table shows the list of the top 20 teams in Europe ranked by their percentage of points earned in domestic and UEFA competitions through the end of December 2007.