Barca top of Europe? No, it’s Manchester United

It’s widely accepted that Barcelona are the best team in Europe today. Their record, three Champions League wins in seven seasons’ underlines their claim for the most celebrated of modern-day football clubs. On top of that, they’ve won La Liga on four occasions during that same period. In terms of prizes and consistency, they have no equals.

But how do they fare against the top clubs in Europe? The Champions League has become something of a closed shop in recent years. Just look at the current line-up in the semi-finals – this year, three of 2011-12’s last four are back. Year-after-year, the same names crop up, which affirms the status of the competition.

Taking the last five seasons’ results in the Champions League, plus the number of domestic titles won by the crème de la crème, the top 10 clubs in Europe are: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Inter, AC Milan, Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk (yes!).

So, if these are the most successful teams in Europe, how have they performed when playing each other over the past five seasons?

It’s really quite incredible how many times some of these clubs meet up in the Champions League.  The two Milans and Barcelona have met 12 times during this period. Obviously, given Barca’s success, they have played more games than anyone against this select band – 28. But the team with the best winning rate is not the Catalan giants, it’s Manchester United. They’ve won nine of their 16 games against the top 10, a winning rate of 56.25%, compared to Barcelona’s 53.57%.

Ok, it’s all tenuous stuff, and it proves you can juggle stats to get what you want, but it’s also interesting to see that United perform when they come up against tough opposition.

The top 10:
1- Manchester United 56.25; 2- Barcelona 53.57; 3- Inter 45.45; 4- Porto 40; 5- Arsenal 37.51; 6- Bayern Munich 33.33; 7- Chelsea 30.77; 8- Real Madrid 30; 9- Shakhtar 30; 10- Milan 21.43

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