We all love to rank things, right? Here, we list the top 10 football teams in Asia according to the Opta Power Rankings.
Want to know who the best teams in the world are? Opta Analyst has you covered.
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to nearly 13,500 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world. These Opta Power Rankings are updated daily and currently rank teams from 183 different countries and 413 unique domestic leagues, providing a truly global rating system in men’s football.
We wanted to look at the rankings continent-by-continent, though. So, here is the list of the top-10 ranked football clubs in Asia.
Click below for a full explanation on how the Opta Power Rankings are calculated.
Opta Power Rankings Explained
10. Al-Taawoun | Rating: 77.3 | Global Ranking: 238
Our first entry comes from the Saudi Pro League, though Al-Taawoun are perhaps a surprise name, having never won the title. They did win the King Cup for their first and so far, only time in 2019.
Al-Taawoun – not one of the PIF funded clubs – have started this season well, though, currently sitting fifth behind said PIF funded clubs.
If you’re wondering where the fourth PIF funded club are in this list, Al-Ahli were only promoted back to the Saudi Pro League last season, so despite their riches, they currently sit in 27th place out of Asian clubs in the Power Rankings, and 447th globally.
9. Sepahan | Rating: 77.9 | Global Ranking: 217
Iranian side Sepahan have won five Persian Gulf Pro League titles, but have not lifted it since 2014-15. In fact, they’ve finished second three times since then, including in the last two seasons. They are the only Iranian side to have competed in the FIFA Club World Cup, doing so in 2007.
Based in Ifsahan, Sepahan play in the impressive 75,000 Naghsh-e Jahan Stadium. Their squad features several Iran internationals, including experienced defender Ramin Rezaeian.
8. Esteghlal | Rating: 77.9 | Global Ranking: 216
The Tehran-based club have won nine Iranian league titles and a record seven Hazfi Cups. They last won the league in 2021-22.
Esteghlal are the only Iranian club still in existence to win the AFC Champions League, doing so twice in 1970 and 1990-91 (PAS Tehran also won it in 1992-93 but the club was dissolved in 2007).
7. Ulsan | Rating: 78.0 | Global Ranking: 212
Also known as Ulsan Hyundai due to being owned by Hyundai Heavy Industries, they are four-time K-League 1 champions after recently securing a second consecutive title.
Last season saw Ulsan win their first title since 2005, having finished as runners-up in the three previous years in South Korea’s top flight. They also have two AFC Champions Leagues, lifting it in 2012 and 2020.
6. Pohang Steelers | Rating: 78.0 | Global Ranking: 210
Formed in 1973, the South Korean club has had several names including POSCO FC (Pohang Iron & Steel Company FC), POSCO Dolphins, POSCO Atoms and Pohang Atoms, before eventually settling on Pohang Steelers in 1997.
They have won five K League titles, and three AFC Champions Leagues. They missed out on the K League title this season though to Ulsan.
5. Vissel Kobe | Rating: 78.6 | Global Ranking: 192
More than just ‘that team who Andrés Iniesta played for’, Vissel Kobe have worked their way into the top 10 for the first time in a while after recently winning their first ever J1 League title.
Takayuki Yoshida’s side finished seven points ahead of Yokohama F. Marinos, made all the more impressive considering their lowly 13th-place finish the season prior.
Juan Mata arrived towards the end of the campaign, albeit did not play much of a part in the run-in.
4. Kawasaki Frontale | Rating: 78.6 | Global Ranking: 191
Having won all four of their J1 League titles between 2017 and 2021, Kawasaki Frontale are still led by the man who masterminded all four of them, Toru Oniki. The Japanese club, formerly known as Fujitsu SC, had an underwhelming league campaign this year, finishing eighth, despite having a strike pairing of former Lyon and Swansea City striker Bafétimbi Gomis and former Brazil forward Leandro Damião in their ranks.
Their boost in the rankings is down to their performance in the AFC Champions League, where they won all of their first five group games, securing passage ahead of Ulsan. They also face Kashiwa Reysol in the Emperor’s Cup final on 9 December.
3. Al-Ittihad | Rating: 80.3 | Global Ranking: 136
The Jeddah outfit have been long-term rivals of Al-Hilal, and are level with Al-Nassr on nine league titles. Their recent Public Investment Fund (PIF)-funded shopping list included Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kanté, Fabinho and Luiz Felipe.
The current Saudi champions will compete in the FIFA Club World Cup in December and have been drawn to face Auckland City in the first round, with the added benefit of the tournament taking place in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Ittihad have two AFC Champions League titles to their name, winning them in consecutive years in 2004 and 2005.
2. Al-Nassr | Rating: 82.1 | Global Ranking: 95
Al-Nassr also have nine Saudi league titles to their name. With Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo on board, you would imagine they will have a good chance of adding to that in the next year or two.
Al-Nassr finished second last season behind champions Al-Ittihad, but with the influx of exciting players to the Saudi Pro League earlier this year, they are looking to win their first title since 2018-19.
Former Real Madrid man Ronaldo has been joined by Sadio Mané, Seko Fofana, Alex Telles, Otávio, Aymeric Laporte and Marcelo Brozović, while Brazilian Talisca continues to be an influential part of things having been at the club since 2021.
Al-Nassr won their first ever Arab Club Champions Cup in August, beating Al-Hilal 2-1 after extra time thanks to two goals from Ronaldo.
1. Al-Hilal | Rating: 84.3 | Global Ranking: 63
It may not be much of a surprise to see the top three teams in this list all come from Saudi Arabia. With the significant financial outlay of the country’s PIF, the future looks bright, for the four teams funded by the PIF at least.
Under the guidance of former Benfica and Sporting CP manager Jorge Jesus – back for a second spell – Al-Hilal currently lead the way in the Saudi Pro League.
The Riyadh side lost former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar for an extended period after the Brazil international suffered an ACL injury while on international duty. They still have significant talent in their ranks, though, with Kalidou Koulibaly, Rúben Neves, Aleksandar Mitrović, Sergej Milinković-Savić, Malcom and goalkeeper Yassine Bounou to call on.
Al-Hilal were the very first winners of the Saudi Premier League when it came into existence in the 1976–77 season, and have won 18 overall, at least twice as many as any other team in the competition’s history. They have also racked up four Asian Club Championship/AFC Champions League titles, more than any other team, last winning it in 2021.
Here’s the highest-ranked clubs from selected other Asian Football Confederation nations (Country: Team – Global Ranking).
- United Arab Emirates: Al-Ain – 308
- Malaysia: Johor Darul Ta’zim – 385
- Iraq: Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya – 449
- Qatar: Al-Sadd- 539
- China: Shandong Taishan – 559
- Uzbekistan: Nasaf – 596
- Jordan: Al-Wehdat – 601
- Australia: Melbourne City – 608
- Oman: Al-Seeb – 623
- Thailand: Bangkok United – 661
- Kuwait: Kuwait SC – 718
- Bahrain: Al-Riffa – 735
- Lebanon: Al-Ahed – 753
- Syria: Tishreen – 1,043
- Hong Kong: Kitchee – 1,518
- Singapore: Albirex Niigata – 1,769
- India: Mumbai City – 1,950
- Indonesia: Borneo – 2,039
- Vietnam: Hanoi FC – 2,067
- Philippines: Kaya – 2,308
- Bangladesh: Bashundhara Kings – 3,695