Welcome to the fifty-second annual WCR Top 25 rankings. For years, we have been describing how this list is compiled. In brief, the rankings are based on (a) the domestic results for each club’s most recent completed season (either 2011 or 2010-11) and (b) performances in the continental championship tournaments through the use of bonus points. An understanding of the underlying bases will explain who is here and why, but feel free to argue. It is important to note, however, that this 2011 summary ranking should not be confused with our current weekly rankings which will return next week.
I don’t expect there to be too much argument over the number one team, which for the fourth season in a row, is the winner of the UEFA Champions League. Of course, in 2011, that club was Barcelona, who beat Manchester United 3-1 in the final and went on to beat Santos (Brazil) 4-0 to win the 2011 Club World Cup. In the other major European cup competition, Porto defeated fellow Portuguese club Sporting Braga 1-0 in the final to win the Europa League.
In the Americas, Santos won its first Copa Libertadores since Pele played for the club back in 1963 bye beating Uruguay’s Peñarol 2-1 in the two-leg final. Later in the year, Universidad de Chile became the first Chilean club to win the Copa Sudamericana, defeating Ecuador’s LDU Quito 4-0 in the final. Up north, Monterrey made it six in a row for Mexican clubs in the CONCACAF Champions League by defeating Real Salt Lake (USA) 3-2 in the final.
Al-Sadd of Qatar won its first AFC Champions League title in 22 years by defeating Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in a finals penalty shootout. Meanwhile, Nasaf Qarshi defeated Al-Kuwait 2-1 to become the first club from Uzbekistan to win the AFC Cup. Sticking in the region, the OFC Champions League title returned to New Zealand when Auckland City defeated Vanuatu’s Amicale 6-1.
Finally, ES Tunis won its second African championship (1994) by beating Wydad Casablanca 1-0 in the final of the CAF Champions League. Morocco got a little revenge over Tunisia, however, when Maghreb de Fes defeated Club Africain in the final of the CAF Confederations Cup.
There’s your season in review. Below are the Top 25 Clubs for 2011 with a list of each club’s accomplishment and a little ranking history for each club. Enjoy!!
World Club Rankings – Top 25 Clubs in the World – 2011
1. Barcelona (Esp): Club World Cup - Champions; UEFA Champions League – Champions; Primera División – Champions; Copa del Rey – Runner-Up; Fourth Number One Ranking (1992, 2006, 2009, 2011); Eight consecutive Top 25 ranking.
2. Manchester United (Eng): UEFA Champions League – Runner-Up; English Premier League – Champions; FA Cup – Semifinalist; Carling Cup – Quarterfinalist; Fifth consecutive Top 10 Ranking; Fifteenth consecutive Top 25 ranking.
3. Real Madrid (Esp): UEFA Champions League – Semifinalist; Primera Divsión – Runner-Up; Copa del Rey – Champions; Twelfth consecutive Top 25 ranking.
4. AC Milan (Ita): UEFA Champions League – Second Round; Italian Serie A – Champions; Coppa Italia – Semifinalist.
5. Vélez Sarsfield (Arg): Copa Libertadores – Semifinalist; Copa Sudamericana – Second Qualifying Round; Argentine Apertura – Runner-Up; Argentine Clausura – Champions; Highest ever ranking.
6. Borussia Dortmund (Ger): Europa League – Group Stage; Bundesliga – Champions.
7. Chelsea (Eng): UEFA Champions League – Quarterfinalist; English Premier League – Runner-Up; Eighth consecutive Top 10 ranking.
8. Porto (Por): Europa League – Champions; Liga Sagres – Champions; Taça de Portugal – Champions; Sixth consecutive Top 25 ranking.
9. Lille (Fra): Europa League – Second Round; Ligue Un – Champions; Coupe de France – Champions; First ever ranking.
10. Inter Milan (Ita): UEFA Champions League – Quarterfinalist; Italian Serie A – Runner-Up; Coppa Italia – Champions; Fifth consecutive Top 10 ranking; Tenth consecutive Top 25 ranking.
11. Manchester City (Eng): Europa League – Third Round; English Premier League – Third Place; FA Cup – Champions; Highest ranking since 1968.
12. Olympiakos (Gre): Europa League – Third Qualifying Round; Greek Super League – Champions; Greek Cup – Quarterfinalist; Highest ranking since 1973.
13. Valencia (Esp): UEFA Champions League – Second Round; Primera División – Third Place.
14. Bayern Munich (Ger): UEFA Champions League – Second Round; Bundesliga – Third Place; DFB Pokal – Semifinalist.
15. Benfica (Por): UEFA Champions League – Group Stage; Europa League – Semiinalist; Liga Sagres – Runner-Up; Taça de Portugal – Semifinalist.
16. Arsenal (Eng): UEFA Champions League – Second Round; English Premier League – Fourth Place; FA Cup- Quarterfinalist; Carling Cup – Runner-Up; Fourteenth consecutive Top 25 ranking.
17. Bayer Leverkusen (Ger): Euorpa League – Third Round; Bundesliga – Runner-Up.
18. Napoli (Ita): Europa League – Second Round; Italian Serie A – Third Place; Coppa Italia – Quarterfinalist; First ranking since 1992.
19. Marseille (Fra): UEFA Champions League – Second Round; Ligue Un – Runner-Up.
20. Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukr): UEFA Champions League – Second Round; Ukrainian Premier League – Champions; Ukrainian Cup – Champions.
21. Udinese (Ita): Italian Serie A – Fourth Place.
22. Fenerbahce (Tur): UEFA Champions League – Third Qualifying Round; Turkish Super League – Champions; First ever ranking.
23. Rangers (Sco): UEFA Champions League – Group Stage; Europa League – Third Round; Scottish Premier League – Champions.
24. Villarreal (Esp): Europa League – Semifinalist; Primera División – Fourth Place; Copa del Rey – Runner-Up.
25. Dynamo Kyiv (Ukr): UEFA Champions League – Playoff Round; Europa League – Quarterfinalist; Ukrainian Premier League – Runner-Up; Ukrainian Cup – Runner-Up.