1. AC Milan (prev. 1)
Fiorentina slowed Milan down last weekend, but the Rossoneri are still red-hot, undefeated in Serie A so far and adding the European Super Cup to their haul in a magical 2007. Most impressive was how Milan became a different team against No. 2 Sevilla in the second half -- efficient and clinical. And how about that plum Champions League draw? (Though Celtic probably has a revenge scheme on its mind.)
2. Sevilla (prev. 3)
Some of this spot may be slightly ceremonial, but I can't see how anyone with a heart can knock Sevilla at this point. The fact that the two-time UEFA Cup champs (and first-time Champions League participants) can find any kind of focus, even after the shocking death of 22-year-old midfielder Antonio Puerta, is nothing short of remarkable. The Sevillistas have dedicated their entire season to Puerta, and there's nothing like a team riding an emotional wave.
3. Real Madrid (prev. 6)
You have to figure Villarreal defenders' necks were getting sore from constantly turning around to watch the ball go in the net last weekend. Bernd Schuster wants his Real to be more attack-minded, and that's certainly what the new Galácticos did in their 5-0 beatdown of the Yellow Submarine -- a decent side. Meanwhile, check out the quartet of flying Dutchman: Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Royston Drenthe, Real's own Clockwork Oranje.
4. Bayern Munich (prev. 5)
Hamburg's Mohamed Zidan cooled off Bayern's perfect start with a late equalizer last weekend, but I still can hardly believe we're attaching the label "UEFA Cup favorites" to arguably the most successful club of all-time. With the power the Bavarians have at their disposal, I can't see anyone -- other than themselves -- getting in their way for Europe's No. 2 trophy.
5. FC Barcelona (prev. 2)
Barça drops for its deepening injury crisis (Samuel Eto'o joins Carles Puyol, Edmílson and Eidur Gudjohnsen on the sidelines) and its lame scoreless draw with Racing Santander in its opener. But let's call out the youth movement at the Camp Nou. We all know Lionel Messi (age 20) is prolific. Now gifted Mexican Giovani dos Santos (18) looks like he's finally on his way, and stud Bojan Krkic
6. Liverpool (prev. not ranked)
OK, let's not get all crazy about the 'Pool's 6-0 laugher over Derby County. We're talking Derby County here. But the best sign is that Fernando Torres is displaying awesome speed, ball control, strength and giant cojones -- all things that will keep opposing defenses terrified all season long. could be next -- the 17-year-old is shining for finalist Spain in the Under-17 World Cup.
7. AS Roma (prev. not ranked)
Inter is banged up and leaning too heavily on Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Meanwhile, Roma has shot to the top of Serie A with back-to-back shutouts, and gets drawn into a Champions League group where it can get some immediate revenge on No. 10 Manchester United. Anyone vote Ludovic Giuly for biggest steal of the transfer window?
8. Manchester United (prev. not ranked)
They're not necessarily pretty wins, but until everyone's healthy and integrated into the squad, Sir Alex Ferguson will take them. And for those counting at home, that's two clutch winners in two weeks: Nani bagging a screamer in the 68th minute against Tottenham and Louis Saha nailing it in the 72nd to ruin Roy Keane's return to Old Trafford last weekend.
Honorable mention: Werder Bremen, FC Porto, PSV Eindhoven, Valencia, Rangers, Celtic
Friday, September 7, 2007
Updated Euro power rankings...
From CNNSI.com -- South American and Mexican clubs were omitted: