Ranking Europe's top teams

A mock Euro 'Super League' puts Barcelona, Real Madrid at the top

Originally Published: November 8, 2012
By Albert Larcada | ESPN Insider
Ranking Europe's Top TeamsESPN.com IllustrationWhich teams would rise to the top -- and which would struggle -- in a 20-team European Super League?

Last week, the Associated Press came out with its inaugural AP soccer poll. They enlisted the help of a panel of global soccer writers to rank the top 10 players and top 10 clubs in the world. The list of players is who you might expect, with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic ranked as the top five, but the team rankings were a little less than status quo. The writers chose Spanish squad Atletico Madrid as the second-best team in the world, despite its historical No. 2 status (behind rival Real Madrid) in its own city.

It's understandable, as Atletico has gone toe-to-toe with Barcelona this season, trailing the league leaders by only three points after 10 matches. Meanwhile, its rival stumbled out of the blocks, losing two of its first four matches (yes, that's stumbling for Real Madrid).

It's easy to argue that Atletico has been more successful than Real so far this season, but this got us at Insider thinking -- is there a better way to measure the top teams in Europe?

Albert Larcada is an Analytics Specialist in ESPN's Stats & Information group. Among other analytics projects, he maintains, advances and writes about ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) algorithm.