Monday, January 5, 2009

No. 8: Real Madrid

Eighth best side in Europe? Awesome, terrific, outstanding. Not so fast say the voices from the Bernabeu. Bernd Schuster lost his job as manager for Real's "slow" start which saw Madrid finish second in its group behind Juventus in the Champions League. Madrid is also third in La Liga, 12 points behind leaders and rivals Barcelona.

New manager Juande Ramos and the additions of Lassanna Diarra from Portsmouth and Klaas Jan Huntelaar from Ajax early in the January transfer window have given the club a boost, but the team still remains just a few points away from falling out of the top four and a Champions League spot. Real is +9 on goal differential, but fellow top sides Barcelona (+40), Valencia (+12), Sevilla (+9), Atletico Madrid (+13), Deportivo (+3) and Villareal (+5) have all proven their worth and could prove to be a challenge to Real.

There's still time for Real to move up the list, however. The club faces a big test against Liverpool in the Champions League Round of 16, but Ramos is familiar with the EPL club due to his time at Tottenham. The team will also have a sense of urgency, knowing it is already out of the Spanish Cup (Copa del Ray).

Real hasn't won a record nine European Cups, a record 31 La Liga titles and 17 Copa del Rays due to luck. This team will make a move in some format at some point before May.

Rankings so far

1. Manchester United
2. Barcelona
3. Liverpool
4. Chelsea
5. Bayern Munich
6. Inter
7. Juventus
8. Real Madrid

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