Best football teams in the world - ranked

  • Premier League giants like Man City and Arsenal are among the best in the world
  • Bayer Leverkusen and Inter waltzing to league titles in Germany and Italy
  • Real Madrid and Liverpool have enjoyed great historic success in Europe
The Premier League's top dogs are among the very best teams in the world
The Premier League's top dogs are among the very best teams in the world / Visionhaus/GettyImages

While every club in world football want to be known as among the best on the planet, a select elite instead dominate the global landscape.

While sides like Real Madrid and Liverpool have long enjoyed success domestically and in Europe, the progression of teams like Manchester City means a new order is being developed around the globe.

Here are 90min's top football teams in the world.

16. AC Milan

AC Milan v Inter Milan - Serie A
Milan won Serie A in 2021/22 / Anadolu/GettyImages

Milan have hardly set Serie A alight since they last won the title in 2021/22 but there has at least been a steeliness that has helped them emerge as Inter's closest challengers this season.

The Rossoneri have been a little reliant on veteran striker Olivier Giroud but a strong core including Rafael Leao, Theo Hernandez, Mike Maignan, Christian Pulisic and Fikayo Tomori means they could enjoy more success in 2024/25.

15. Stuttgart

Angelo Stiller
Stuttgart are aiming to return to the Bundesliga / Christian Kaspar-Bartke/GettyImages

Stuttgart may well be the story of the 2023/24 season that no one is talking about.

Having preserved their status in the Bundesliga by the barest of margins last time out, the historically significant German outfit are poised to secure a Champions League berth for 2024/25.

A stellar summer proved crucial in their swift rise, with leading goalscorer Serhou Guirassy joining the club from Rennes. Angelo Stiller, Deniz Undav and Max Mittelstadt have also played leading roles in their debut campaigns.

Sebastian Hoeness' impressive work saw him tenuously linked with the Bayern Munich job, but the 41-year-old committed his future to Stuttgart by signing a contract extension in March.

14. Aston Villa

Ezri Konsa
Unai Emery has unlocked Aston Villa's potential / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Aston Villa have got the history and financial might to upset the Premier League's aristocracy, but their attempts to breach the division's 'Big Six' weren't realised until they appointed Unai Emery as manager in October 2022.

Villa Park is roaring once more with Emery at the helm and a return to the Champions League is all but assured should the Villans conclude the season strongly.

13. Girona

Artem Dovbyk
Girona have fallen out of title contention in Spain / Pedro Salado/GettyImages

Michel's Girona may be fading down the stretch, but they gave La Liga's aristocracy an almighty scare.

Links to the City Football Group mean their story isn't an archetypal fairytale, but Girona's astute recruitment and Michel's enthralling ideals can only be celebrated.

Savio, Aleix Gomez and Miguel Gutierrez have all blossomed into coveted stars, while Artem Dovbyk could end the campaign with the Pichichi Trophy in his back pocket.

12. Borussia Dortmund

FC Bayern München v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund recently beat Bayern away for the first time in a decade / Alexander Hassenstein/GettyImages

Dortmund's Champions League campaign has carried the load this term.

Edin Terzic's side have been woefully inconsistent domestically. A 1-0 home defeat to Stuttgart just a week after they secured their first victory away at Bayern Munich in almost a decade surmised their frustrating season.

However, BVB have shone in Europe, escaping the 'Group of Death' with flying colours and they may well enjoy a deep run having found themselves on the 'right' side of the quarter-final draw.

11. Tottenham

Ange Postecoglou
Rebuild? What rebuild? / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Many feared the worst for Ange Postecoglou in year one of his Tottenham tenure after the Lilywhites lost all-time record goalscorer Harry Kane in the summer.

Succumbing to mid-table obscurity was projected for Spurs, but Postecoglou has instead lifted a club off its knees having endured years of pragmatism in the wake of Mauricio Pochettino's exit.

The Greek-Australian's gung-ho style certainly isn't without its flaws, but the Aussie has helped galvanise the club with his side on course for a return to Europe's elite club competition next season.

10. Milan

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Rafael Leao
Milan are starting to find top gear / Gabriele Maltinti/GettyImages

Just when it looked like Milan were again drifting under Stefano Pioli, the Rossoneri have burst into life heading into spring.

Superstar Rafael Leao is dazzling once more, with Milan's left-hand side continuing to punish the teams that naively surrender space in transition.

This is a powerful yet balanced team that won't be winning Serie A, but could embark on a deep Europa League run.

9. Barcelona

Raphinha, Joao Cancelo, Joao Felix
Barcelona are just about in title contention having won La Liga last season / Pedro Salado/GettyImages

Barcelona have returned to a level of competence since Xavi revealed he'll be stepping down as manager at the end of the season.

Barca's form has improved so considerably since then that the club are now hoping Xavi will change his mind and stay on beyond the end of the 2023/24 campaign.

Barca's title defence has undoubtedly been disappointing but their recent uptick means they're not out of title contention just yet. The Catalans have been struck by a litany of injuries this term but have also produced their best Champions League campaign in years.

8. Bayern Munich

Thomas Tuchel, Harry Kane
Harry Kane's goals have so far come in vain at Bayern / Alexander Hassenstein/GettyImages

The collective cohesion upon which Bayern has thrived for decades has escaped the latest iteration. Stability has ceased to exist in Bavaria since Hansi Flick left the club after winning the treble in 2020.

Thomas Tuchel is blessed with an array of attacking stars, including sharpshooter Harry Kane, yet his side so often look short of final third ideas. Tuchel has also struggled for midfield balance and defensive continuity, with the result being the relinquishing of their Bundesliga crown for the first time in over a decade.

7. Paris Saint-Germain

Vitinha, Lucas Hernandez, Fabian Ruiz Pena, Kylian Mbappe, Achraf Hakimi, Ousmane Dembele
PSG are romping towards another Ligue 1 title / Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

The Kylian Mbappe era is drawing to a close, with Luis Enrique recognising the need to transition to a world without PSG's superstar.

Mbappe remains PSG's game-breaker in the final third, but there's no denying the French side are as cohesive collectively as they have been in years.

Domestic success was never in doubt this term, with Enrique's arrival and PSG's accumulation of supreme French talent bolstering their chances of continental success. Mbappe remains the protagonist, but Les Parisiens are now blessed with an excellent core willing to contribute to Enrique's control-centred system.

6. Inter

Federico Dimarco, Lautaro Martinez, Benjamin Pavard
Inter's stock took a hit after their Champions League exit / Marco Luzzani/GettyImages

Oh, Inter.

Unfortunate to have been beaten in Istanbul by Man City, they were the dark horses to go all the way in Europe this term. However, the Nerazzurri succumbed to Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid in the round of 16.

Their premature Champions League exit means it's hard to justify placing them any higher, but Inter's brilliance can't be ignored. They're dominating a mightily competitive Serie A, with Simone Inzaghi maximising the potential of what might appear a fairly underwhelming squad in terms of talent.

Inter operate in perfect harmony.

5. Arsenal

Mikel Arteta
Arsenal are hunting a first Premier League title in 20 years / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Arsenal may well be the most impressive team of 2024, backing up their novelly superb 2022/23 campaign with another title charge in 2023/24.

It hasn't always been plain sailing for Mikel Arteta this term, but the Spaniard has found a formula which has allowed the Gunners to compete on a level footing with not only the Premier League's best, but Europe's elite, too.

Arsenal boast the best defensive record on the continent and are capable of suffocating opponents into submission at a canter. They've evolved into a formidable unit under Arteta, but their performances in the Champions League suggests they're still a year or two away from the apex of this cycle.

4. Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp, Wataru Endo
Will Liverpool give Jurgen Klopp the perfect send off? / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Liverpool are doubtlessly more flawed than Arsenal. They fail to reduce variance as the Gunners can and often struggle to assert all-out control.

However, obsessions with such tactical utopias should be parked to one side when assessing Jurgen Klopp's side. They're special for so many other reasons.

The German has masterfully navigated through crucial injuries heading into the run-in and it's hard to envisage either of Liverpool's title rivals keeping pace at the top had they lost similarly crucial players. The Reds' reserves have stepped up in a big way, contributing considerably to Liverpool's cause on multiple fronts.

There will be no quadruple, but the treble is very much on with the Carabao Cup already in the bag.

3. Real Madrid

Rodrygo, Brahim Diaz, Daniel Carvajal
Real Madrid are leading La Liga by a comfortable margin / Denis Doyle/GettyImages

Real Madrid's humiliation at the Etihad and Karim Benzema's subsequent departure forced Carlo Ancelotti into a rethink, but the club have responded in a big way this season.

Jude Bellingham was the star of the season's opening half, with Vinicius Junior blossoming after Christmas. Rodrygo has shone in his compatriot's absence, while Ancelotti's well-balanced engine room has just about brought enough stability.

Madrid are far from perfect without the ball, but Ancelotti's masterful empowering of his individual stars is set to lead Los Blancos to another La Liga title.

2. Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v TSG Hoffenheim - Bundesliga
Bayern Munich's dethroners / Ralf Ibing - firo sportphoto/GettyImages

It was always going to take something special to dethrone Bayern Munich.

A pragmatic start to his tenure saw Xabi Alonso get Bayer Leverkusen out of the mire last season and the Spaniard has since taken the club to new heights.

Leverkusen have not merely taken advantage of Bayern's demise, they may well end the Bundesliga season unbeaten.

Alonso's flying wing-backs, balanced pivot and masterful creators have coalesced to create an outstanding unit. The Spaniard will get the chance to further evolve his title-winners next season and beyond having rejected advances from Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

1. Manchester City

Pep Guardiola, Jack Grealish
Man City remain the team to beat in Europe / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

Questions were raised in regards to Man City's motivation for 2023/24 having reached the pinnacle in Istanbul.

Pep Guardiola has already secured the club's primary goal of winning away at Tottenham and they now have the chance to not only secure an unprecedented fourth-straight English league title, but treble up for the second successive year.

The absences of Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez have added a hint of chaos to the Cityzens to their detriment. They've appeared more vulnerable as a result this season, but they remain the team to beat on the continent.