World's Top Clubs

The World's Top Clubs

Barcelona marked the decade with beauty and triumph

Ozren Podnar

Barcelona are not only currently playing the most beautiful soccer, but are the most successful team of the 2001-2010 decade according to the hard evidence collected by Soccerphile.

Even the International Federation for Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) has placed the Catalans on top, although this German-based organization sometimes produces quite bizarre, counter-intuitive rankings.

It is evident that no European club have dominated the international scene like Real Madrid in the fifties, Inter and Milan in the sixties or Ajax, Bayern and Liverpool in the seventies.

Since Milan won back-to-back European Cups in 1989 and 1990, no team has mounted a successful defense of the continental crown. In South America, only Boca Juniors recently hinted at the hegemony of Independiente in the seventies.

Still, Barcelona are the club the decade will be most remembered for both due to the results in Frank Rijkaard's era (2003-2008) and subsequently under the guidance of Josep Guardiola.

In this period, Barcelona enriched their trophy room with four domestic championships, one King's Cup, four domestic Supercups, two Champions Leagues, one European Supercup and one World Club Cup. In comparison, Real Madrid also won four Primeras, but just one Champions League, for a total of ten trophies.

Milan were the only other European team to have won two Champions Leagues in the past 10 seasons, but Barca also collected four domestic league titles, compared to only one for Milan.

Boca conquered the Americas

Boca Juniors are our choice for the second place, as the dominant South American force, the winner of nine international cups and four Argentinean championships. Their collection looks dazzling, including three Libertadores Cups, two Sudamericana Cups, three continental Supercups and one Intercontinental Cup. Still, the Latin American competitions are just a tad less demanding than the European ones, which relegates Boca to a place behind Barcelona.

Manchester United are a close third with five Premier Leagues, one Champions League and plenty of other domestic silverware in yet another trophy-laden decade for Alex Ferguson.

Our choice for the fourth place, Milan, barely missed out on the top three in that weird Istanbul night in May of 2005. If the rossoneri had held on to their 3-0 half-time lead against Liverpool, they would have rounded up the period with three Champions Leagues and the decade's bronze medal would have been theirs.

Even though they play in a less competitive championship than the Premier League, Primera Division or Serie A, Porto deserve to be just behind Milan on the strength of their marvellous UEFA Cup-Champions League double in 2003 and 2004, plus an Intercontinental Cup and countless other titles, including five Portuguese championships.


Old Trafford, Manchester United

Liverpool's false dawn

Internazionale made it to the sixth place thanks to their last year's quadruple crown of Serie A, Coppa Italia, Champions League and World Club Cup, the icing on the cake after five consecutive Italian championships. Still, one of those league titles, the 2005/06 championship, was a purely administrative one as the Italian FA stripped Juventus of the trophy because of alleged referee tampering. Also, in the first four seasons of the decade, Inter were mostly invisible, hence their not-so-glamorous position in our ranking.

Bayern's seventh place results from their six Bundesliga titles plus a Champions League and an Intercontinental Cup, both in 2001. Further down the table we find Sao Paulo, the owner of three consecutive Brazilian championships, one Libertadores Cup and one World Club Cup, both in 2005. Two English teams, Chelsea and Liverpool, close the top ten. Chelsea on the basis of their ten trophies, all within the domestic league; Liverpool, for their splendid five cups in one season at the start to the decade, and that miraculous come-back against Milan in the 2005 Champions League final.

Just outside the top ten are Olympique Lyon with 15 French trophies, including seven consecutive Ligue 1 wins, and Internacional of Porto Alegre, on account of their five international cups since 2006 - but no wins on Brazilian soil.

Soccerphile Top 10

1. Barcelona

2. Boca Juniors

3. Manchester United

4. Milan

5. Porto

6. Internazionale

7. Bayern

8. Sao Paulo

9. Chelsea

10. Liverpool

IHFFS Top Ten

How did Arsenal climb to fourth?

According to The International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IHFFS), all the top ten places for the first decade of the century are occupied by European clubs, which is unrealistic and demeaning for the top Brazilian and Argentinean clubs, notably for Boca Juniors, Sao Paulo and Internacional. Still, the German "geniuses" keep on surprising soccer fans with their rankings, placing Liverpool and Arsenal above Inter and AC Milan, although the two Italian giants have won more trophies and performed with more consistency than their English counterparts. Roma's inclusion is another shocker, seeing that the Wolves have won just one Italian League title, and no silverware in Europe.

1. Barcelona

2. Manchester United

3. Liverpool

4. Arsenal

5. Internazionale

6. Milan

7. Bayern

8. Real Madrid

9. Chelsea

10. Roma