Soccer Power Rankings: Messi, Barcelona move into first; Manchester United, Bayern Munich crack top 10

The Premier League has seen a wild season so far, and boy have we had some surprises. From Liverpool's amazing start to Fulham struggling to do much of anything, the end of the 2018-19 season is sure to be a fun ride. But which teams are trending upward at the right time? Here are three teams to keep an eye on for the second half of the season before we get to our power rankings: 

Three to watch

1) Manchester United: 6-0-0 since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over, the Red Devils are back in the top-four race and looking good. Add a striker to replace the struggling Romelu Lukaku, and watch out. In sixth place now, but momentum could carry this team further than anybody thought was possible under Jose Mourinho. United will try to continue its winning streak in the Premier League against Brighton on Saturday (10 a.m. ET, streaming on fuboTV).

2) West Ham: Inconsistent as can be, the win over Arsenal was huge. The talent is there, now it is just about putting it together. Currently in ninth place but just two points out of seventh, this is a team that can really improve during the second half ... especially if it holds on to Marko Arnautovic. 

3) Wolverhampton: What Nuno Espirito Santo has done has been nothing short of fantastic. The Portuguese boss needs probably three more wins to have his team safe, and with 17 games to go, he's going to get it. Magical first season back in the top flight.

Now, the rankings...


How the rankings work

We list the top 25 teams in the world based on recent form. The teams playing the best soccer -- in their respective leagues and in international competitions -- will be considered. Quality of the opponents will also be taken into an account, but above all, the most important factors are recent results and overall standings in competitions.

World Club Soccer Power Rankings

Previous rankings: Jan. 7Jan. 1 | Dec. 24 | Dec. 18 | Dec 10 | Dec 3 | Nov. 26 | Nov. 12 | Nov. 5 Oct. 30 Oct. 23 | Oct. 10 | Oct. 3 | Sept. 26 | Sept. 17 | Sept. 4 | Aug. 28 Aug. 23 | Aug. 15 | Preseason rankings     

RKTEAMCHGANALYSIS

1.

Barcelona (ESP)

+1

Lionel Messi scored his 400th La Liga goal and Barca has won six straight in the league. Yet it feels like this team is still under the radar a bit. Treble contenders. 
2.

Juventus (ITA)

-1 In 19 Serie A games, Juve has allowed just 11 goals. This Serie A race could be over before we know it. 
3. 

Liverpool (ENG)

+1 A bounce back by the Reds at Brighton, but were they fortunate to get that penalty kick? They'll take it, putting the pressure back on Manchester City.  

4.

Manchester City (ENG)

-1 Riding a wave of momentum and prolific goal scoring, it's way too early to count this team out of the Premier League race. In many aspects, City still has as good a chance as Liverpool to win it. 

5.

Atletico Madrid (ESP)

+1 If Barca is under the radar, Atleti isn't even on it. Churning out result after result, nobody is going to want to face this team's pressure in the Champions League. 

6.

PSG (FRA)

-1

How in the world did this team lose to Guingamp in the Coupe de la Ligue? Just two of its 18 shots were on target, as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe had an off night.

7.

Borussia Dortmund (GER)

--

With Bayern six points behind, Dortmund has to be careful. Saturday's test at Red Bull Leipzig will tell us plenty. 

8.

Bayern Munich (GER)

+3

Bayern hasn't lost in its last eight games and is right back in the title fight in Germany, and Franck Ribery continues to prove he's still got it. 

9.

Manchester United (ENG) 

+3

The Red Devils are back -- and it's time to accept it. Now, this team probably isn't a contender in anything outside of the FA Cup, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is doing enough to get the job.  

10.

Tottenham (ENG)  

-2

They probably won't play a more frustrating game than that one against United. Unluckily, they caught David De Gea in top form but are still in good shape.   

11.

Chelsea (ENG)  

-2

Thank goodness for their defense, because the attack hasn't done enough. Time to pull the trigger on the Higuain deal.   

12.

Arsenal (ENG)

-1

A poor 1-0 lost at West Ham has brought the Gunners back down to earth. Arsenal has won just two of its last six in league.

13.

Inter Milan (ITA)

--

Lautaro Martinez is coming on lately, and that will only help Mauro Icardi in attack. That group has potential to be one of the world's best. 

14.

Porto (POR)

--

Went to Sporting and played conservatively, and the club got a point out of it. That's a point that could be huge come season's end. 

15.

Ajax (NED)

--

Played well in the Florida Cup and gets back into its season play on Jan. 20. 

16.

Lille (FRA)

+2

Firmly in second place in Ligue 1, battling Lyon for that spot. The club is allowing a goal per game. 

17.

Napoli (ITA)

-1

The club has won four out of its last five, but we'll learn plenty about this team by the time January is over. The schedule: Lazio, Milan, Milan again in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals. 

18.

Roma (ITA)

+1

The capital club has bounced back and is now just two points behind the top four.

19.

Lyon (FRA)

-2

One win in their last four and a tough schedule coming up -- with Champions League next month, it's time to build momentum. 

20.

PSV (NED)

--

Fourteen goals in their last four and now out of Europe, PSV has to be the favorite to win the league over Ajax. They are playing with the confidence needed. 
21.

Watford (ENG)

+3

Watford hasn't lost in its last four games and has been the best team in England outside of the top six. Despite struggling in defense, the goal scoring has done enough.

22.

Real Madrid (ESP)

--

Back into the top four after a big 2-1 win at Real Betis. But this team has to invest in January or else the season may be trophy-less. 

23.

Lazio (ITA)

+2

Ciro Immobile is having a fantastic run at Lazio with 80 goals in 112 games. One of the top forwards since 2016. 
24.    

Borussia Monchengladbach (GER)

-3

A trip to Leverkusen this weekend comes with a lot of pressure. A loss puts them in a tricky spot in the top-four race, while a win would create a huge amount of momentum. 

25.

Benfica (POR)

NR

Consecutive wins with six total goals, the Portuguese giants have rebounded from a rough patch. Still five points behind Porto, it's time to find more consistency to get back into the race.


Biggest movers:
Watford and Borussia Monchengladbach
Out of top 25: Sevilla (ESP)
Honorable mentions: Alaves (ESP) and West Ham (ENG)

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CBS Sports Writer

Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Goal.com... Full Bio

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