[EUROPE TOP 10] Real Madrid and Chelsea are ranked 1-2 in Soccer America's first ranking of European teams of the 2010-11 season. Before each UEFA Champions
League matchday, Soccer America will update its Top 10 rankings based on domestic and European form.
1. REAL MADRID. It might not be playing the spectacular soccer its fans demand out of its high-priced lineup, but Real Madrid is unbeaten in nine games this season since Jose Mourinho took over as coach. The Merengues played one of their best games of the season Saturday when they crushed Malaga, 4-1, thanks to two goals each from Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain, and got good games from summer signings Mesut Ozil and Angel di Maria. UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's match against AC Milan is Real Madrid's most difficult test of the season so far.
2. CHELSEA. The Blues remained in first place in the English Premier League despite their 0-0 tie at Aston Villa, where they've won just once in their last 12 games. Chelsea was without injured Frank Lampard (groin injury) and Didier Drogba is now sidelined with a virus. UEFA Champions League: Concerns about the artificial surface at Luzhniki Stadium make Carlo Ancelotti reluctant to use Ashley Cole (ankle) and Michael Essien (knee) Tuesday when Chelsea faces Spartak Moscow.
3. BARCELONA. Barcelona has been hardly dominating, but it's only one point behind Real Madrid after its 2-1 win over Valencia. UEFA Champions League: Xavi (nursing an injured Achilles' tendon) returned to action and set up both goals against Valencia, but Coach Pep Guardiola must decide whether to risk him for the visit of FC Copenhagen on Wednesday
4. MANCHESTER CITY. Argentine Carlos Tevez scored twice in the 3-2 win at Blackpool that moved the Citizens to within two points of Chelsea. Europa League: Manager Roberto Mancini is taking Tevez's talk of retiring early seriously and plans to rest him as much as possible. Tevez will probably not play Thursday when City hosts Poland's Lech Poznan.
5. ARSENAL. The Gunners beat Birmingham City, 2-1, over the weekend to end a three-game winless streak. They got a boost on Monday when star Cesc Fabregas returned to training after missing the losses to West Brom and Chelsea with a hamstring injury. UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's game against Shakhtar Donetsk marks the return of Eduardo.
6. VALENCIA. Valencia lost for the first time in seven games in La Liga when it fell to Barcelona, 2-1, on Saturday, but few would have expected it would be tied for second, only one point off the pace, after seven games. UEFA Champions League: Valencia faces faces a critical test in Europe on Wednesday when it travels to Scottish champion Rangers.
7. MAN. UNITED. United's 2-2 tie with West Brom was its fifth to go along with three wins in eight EPL games. Everyone is pointing to Wayne Rooney's falling out with Alex Ferguson as the root of the problem, but United has problems from the frontline to the back, where goalie Edwin van der Sar gifted West Brom the equalizer. UEFA Champions League: Will Ferguson start Rooney against Bursaspor on Wednesday? Ferguson has said Rooney has ankle problems, but if he doesn't something is seriously wrong between the English striker and his Scottish manager.
8. BORUSSIA DORTMUND. Dortmund beat FC Cologne, 2-1, on Friday to take over the Bundesliga for the first time since it won the German title in 2002. It leads the league in scoring with 20 goals in eight games. Its star is Turkish playmaker Nuri Sahin with four goals and five assists in all competitions. Europa League: Thursday at Paris SG.
9. VILLARREAL. The Yellow Submarine could have overtaken Real Madrid for La Liga lead with a win at Heracles on Monday night, but a 2-2 tie wasn't bad. Once again, Jozy Altidore was on the bench but didn't play. Europa League: Thursday against Greek club PAOK at home.
10. LAZIO. The Rome club is unbeaten since an opening day loss at Sampdoria and now leads Serie A. Its 2-0 win at Bari on Sunday was its third straight at home. The Lazio key: Brazilian signing Hernanes.