90min’s Definitive European Player Power Rankings: Week 13

?It’s week 13 of this season’s Definitive European Player Power Rankings, and we at HQ would just like to congratulate Liverpool on winning the Premier League. We’re paying our respects by not including a single one of their players this week, because they’ve got enough on their minds. 

Besides, it’s Peep Show time. Peep Show is crass silliness. Who’d associate a domestic league champions with crass silliness?


15. Raúl Ruidíaz (New Entry)

Raúl Mario Ruidíaz

“The Beastie Boys fought and possibly died for my right to party, so…”

You know who’s probably still partying right now? Raúl Ruidíaz rounded off one of the all-time great ?MLS Cup playoff runs on Sunday with a goal and an assist in the final against Toronto FC, helping his Seattle Sounders side to a 3-1 win and their second MLS Cup. 

Ruidíaz contributed seven combined goals and assists in the Sounders’ four playoff games, including crucial strikes in the Western Conference final against LAFC and their dramatic first round win over Dallas in extra time. Go all out, Raúl. Rent a snake. You’ve earned it. 


14. Marcus Thuram (New Entry)

Marcus Thuram

“But you’ve got to give it a go. Norwich are never going to win the league, but they still turn up every week don’t they? The pricks.”

Borussia Monchengladbach play in the ?Bundesliga, which means that Borussia Monchengladbach aren’t going to win the league. But they’re still turning up every week, and Marcus Thuram’s helped them to…it says here ‘lead the league by four points’???

He’s scored or assisted in his last five games in all comps, been man of the match in three of them, and he’s Lilian Thuram’s son. Plane. 


13. Karim Benzema (Re-Entry)

Karim Benzema

“I answer to a higher law. The law of ‘if it feels good, do it’.”

Scoring two goals in an ‘Eff You’ win over Galatasaray in midweek? That feels good. Scoring another two away at Eibar a few days later? That feels good. 

Scoring 41 goals in all competitions since Cristiano Ronaldo left ?Real Madrid, while his former hunting partner’s racked up ‘just’ 34? Oh, you know that feels good. 


12. Erling Håland (Re-Entry)

RZ Pellets WAC v FC Red Bull Salzburg - tipico Bundesliga

“Oh my God, there’s a baby in there, about the size of a croissant. A terrifying, life-altering croissant-baby!”

Oh my GOD, there’s a baby in Salzburg, about the size of…well, about the size of a mountain. A terrifying, paradigm-altering mountain-baby who just scored his 13th, 14th and 15th league goals of the season this weekend. And his seventh Champions League this week. And he’s scored those 22 goals in 16 games. 


11. Memphis (Up 2)

Olympique Lyon v SL Benfica: Group G - UEFA Champions League

“I have entered the abyss. I’ve bought a house in the abyss. I’m getting my post forwarded to the abyss.”

Memphis (re-)entered the power rankings last week, and scored against Benfica in the Champions League to celebrate. 

Then he got injured. Now he is entering the abyss. He’s bought a house in the abyss. We might make it through this entire section without me mentioning that I hate the city of Lyon and basically see it as the abyss. Oh, no we won’t. 


10. Fede Valverde (New Entry)

Federico Valverde,Luka Modric

“Life is all pain. Pain, rejection and gloom. Why do we even pretend that there’s anything other than a yawning blankness at the heart of…hey! 33% extra free! I’m doing excellent shopping. My depressed state of mind is making me even more frugal than normal.”

Real Madrid aren’t having fun. They keep getting gubbed in the Champions League by teams they’d have cruised past a couple of years ago, they’ve only won one of the last seven league titles, and they haven’t won the Copa del Rey in half a decade.

But hey! Fede Valverde looks great, and he came in for barely anything at all! Scored against Eibar and all! 


9. Lucas Perez (New Entry)

Lucas Perez

“These are the good times, love; after the initial nausea passes, but before the grinding comedown. Lovely.”

31 years old. Just off a failed season at West Ham, shortly after a failed spell at Arsenal. Lucas Perez has scored in seven La Liga games in a row, and nobody’s entirely sure how or why. And he’s done it for Alaves, for crying out loud. 

These are the good times, Lucas. After the initial nausea (being a West Ham player) passes, but before the grinding comedown (the reality of being over 30 years old). Lovely. 


8. Jamie Vardy (Up 1)

Jamie Vardy

“You’re disgusting. But I like it. Like going to a strip club with the Pope.”

Nothing more need be said about *sigh* the Premier League’s most reliable goalscorer against good teams. 


7. Hakim Ziyech (Up 4)

Hakim Ziyech,Simon Gustafson

“Oh yeah. Justice is done. Not actual justice, but, what I wanted to happen. Which is basically the same thing.”

Not my words, certainly not the mind-words (thoughts?) of Jeremy Usborne, but the words of referee Gianluca Rocchi when he sent off most of Ajax’s first-team squad against Chelsea in midweek. 

Hakim Ziyech? Not bothered. Pulled the strings of that game from start to his substitution in the 72nd minute, then bossed a 4-0 win against Utrecht on Sunday. That’s five assists in three games, mark you.


6. Radja Nainggolan (Re-Entry)

Radja Nainggolan

“Hey! Wow, I’m actually good at this. Maybe I’m a natural – yeah, I’m a jogger! Of course, there had to be a sport for me, I just never realised. Legs like two great steam locomotives, pumping away, I’m unstoppable – JESUS, is that a stitch? F**k, I’m gonna be sick, I need to walk. Oh, I think I’m gonna puke, I’m literally going to die, ugh, what an idiotic boob I was back ten or eleven seconds ago.”

DISCLAIMER: Radja Nainggolan is an otherworldly footballer and might actually be the best midfielder in Serie A right now. He scored a goal and popped out three assists against Fiorentina. 

He also gives the impression of being the least fit 31-year-old currently playing professional football. He’s not. But he seems it. 


5. Timo Werner (Up 2)

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“Well, I mean, people say it like it’s a bad thing, you know, running away from your problems. But if your problems never catch up with you, what’s the hitch?”

We talked in last week’s award-winning edition about Timo Werner, and how he’s really really really really really really really fast. Then his Leipzig team went to Hertha Berlin this weekend and he scored two more goals, and got an assist. 

Timo Werner’s problems (aka defenders) will never catch up with him, and now he’s got seven goals and four assists in his last three domestic games and hahahahahahhaha how is that true that’s ridiculous. 


4. Lionel Messi (Re-Entry)

Lionel Messi

“I’m just a normal functioning member of the human race and there’s no way anyone can prove otherwise.”

Lionel Messi is not normal, nor is he a member of the human race. And we can prove otherwise, we’ve got all the footage – it’s called…watching Lionel Messi play football. 


3. Christian Pulisic (-)

Christian Pulisic,Emerson

“The secret ingredient [waves hand] is crime.”

Chelsea are third in the Premier League, have won six league games in a row and brought in Christian Pulisic this summer (technically, kinda). 

He’s scored five goals in their last three league wins. 

They have a transfer ban. 

The secret ingredient is crime. 


2. Ciro Immobile (Up 2)

Ciro Immobile

“No teas for the beastmaster, thanks. He feasts on the blood of his prey.”

Seven league games in a row, Ciro Immobile’s scored in. Ten goals in them, plus three assists and a couple of Europa League goals to keep him ticking over. Two more goals and an assist this week. No limoncello for the beastmaster, thanks. He feasts on the blood of Italian defences. 


1. Robert Lewandowski (-)

Robert Lewandowski

“So, a candle stuck in a wine bottle apparently doesn’t cut it anymore. Now for a special night you have to have Class-A drugs and…fisting.”

Last week, this section read: ‘Robert Lewandowski has started 14 games for Bayern this season across the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB-Pokal, and has scored in all 14 of them.’

Robert Lewandowski has now started 16 games for Bayern this season across the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB-Pokal, and has scored in all 16 of them. 

A goal just doesn’t cut it anymore. Now for a special night, Lewandowski has to score off his back and…an overhead kick.


For more from Chris Deeley, follow him on Twitter at @ThatChris1209!


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Barcelona Avoid Real Madrid in Semi-Finals for Revamped Super Cup in Saudi Arabia This January

The 2020 Spanish Super Cup is to be held in Saudi Arabia, with Valencia taking on Real Madrid and Barcelona facing Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals of the revamped competition this January.

Previously a one-off game between the winners of La Liga and Copa del Rey held at the start of the season, the competition has this year been extended to two semi-finals and a final, as revealed by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Monday.

It has also been confirmed that the competition is to be held in Saudi Arabia for the next three seasons – a move RFEF say should help the ‘image’ of Spanish football ahead of a bid to host the 2030 World Cup. 

“?The Spanish Supercup will be held in Saudi Arabia during the next three years and will do so in winter in order to lighten the calendar of competitions, as claimed by clubs and players,” a ?statement confirming the location said. 

“The new format was already announced last February by the president of the RFEF, Luis Rubiales, and in addition to the change of date, it entails a Final Four. Through this transformation, clubs will be able to plan their preseason better.

“In addition, the fact that this competition is internationalized will allow the Super Cup to be valued and, at the same time, will contribute to make visible and improve the image for the 2030 World Cup nomination.”

Some had been concerned by the possibility of holding the tournament in Saudi Arabia, due to the treatment of women and minorities in the country, but RFEF have said that the decision comes with assurances that women will be given ‘unrestricted access’ to the matches – while also announcing the launch of an undetermined women’s football tournament

“The agreement reached between the RFEF and the Saudi Arabian Football Federation contemplates the unrestricted access of women to the matches, and the launch of a women’s soccer competition in Arabia,” the statement goes on. 

“Football is essential to open borders, improve societies. It can be used as a blockade or as an element of change and the Federation has chosen the latter.”


Draw and Schedule for Super Cup 2020:

Semi Finals:

Valencia vs Real Madrid (8/1/2020)

Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid (9/1/2020)

Final:

Valencia or Real Madrid vs Barcelona or Atletico Madrid (King Abdullah Stadium – 

12/1/2020)


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Barcelona Eyeing Move for Rennes Starlet Eduardo Camavinga

Rennes’ teenaged midfielder Eduardo Camavinga is being lined up by Barcelona, with director of football Eric Abidal travelling to France to watch him in action.

The 17-year-old has missed just one match for Les Rouges et Noir this term, featuring in every Ligue 1 fixture. Though his side are tenth in the table, they are just three points off of the final Champions League qualification place, with Camavinga an integral player at the base of Julien Stéphan’s midfield.

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According to L’Equipe (via ?Mundo Deportivo), Abidal has informed his seniors in Catalonia of the youngster’s superb talents. However, it will cost an eye-watering sum to lure him away from Rennes, who demanded €40m when Lyon made an approach in the summer.

That was when Camavinga had made only seven senior appearances. He has played 16 matches thus far in 2019/20, with the Angolan-born starlet set to pledge his international future to the France after talks with the country’s governing body.

?La Blaugrana are not alone in their pursuit, ?Manchester United also having been linked with a move for the man in question, while ?Milan are also believed to be weighing up an offer.

Barça’s interest is not a new occurrence after they ?began monitoring Camavinga in pre-season, joining ?Real Madrid in keeping a watchful eye on his development at Roazhon Park.

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The academy graduate is yet to score his first goal for the first team, though his primary role is to act as a block in front of the backline, before springing attacks through his fine array of passing.

Rennes were drawn into a testing Europa League group ahead of the current campaign, and now sit bottom of the pool following the first four rounds.

They went down 1-0 away to Romanian club Cluj on Thursday, while their next fixture is against Celtic, who are top and have already qualified for the knockout stages.


For more from Ed Alexander, follow him on Twitter!

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Lionel Messi Equals Cristiano Ronaldo’s Hat-Trick Record With Stunning Treble Against Celta Vigo

?Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick – including a brace of glorious free-kicks – in Barcelona’s 4-1 win against Celta Vigo on Saturday evening. In doing so, he joined Cristiano Ronaldo as the highest scorer of La Liga hat-tricks in the competition’s history. 

Messi opened the scoring with a calm penalty before curling two almost-identical free-kicks over the wall and beyond the despairing dive of the Celta goalkeeper Ruben Blanco, on either side of half-time to wrap the game up in la Blaugrana’s favour. 


It was the Argentine superstar’s 34th La Liga treble, and ?Opta released the statistic which confirmed that the 32-year-old has now pulled level with former Real Madrid striker Ronaldo in the battle for the record. 

?Ronaldo now plies his trade in Serie A with Italian giants Juventus, leaving the path clear for?Messi to make the record his own in the near future, as he continues to dominate Spanish football with his frightening ability. 

The Argentina international’s return from injury has coincided with Barça‘s sudden resurgence, and Ernesto Valverde’s side sit top of La Liga after 12 games, level on points with fierce rivals ?Real Madrid

Messi has scored eight goals in his seven league appearances this year and aims to win the Champions League for the first time since 2015. 

Lionel Messi

Ronaldo managed to bag 34 hat-tricks in his nine seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, as he helped Madrid to dominate European football during his time in Spain – winning the Champions League an incredible four times and earning two La Liga titles. 

The Portuguese forward won the Serie A title with ?Juventus last season and has huge ambitions of winning Europe’s biggest prize with a third different team this campaign. Ronaldo bagged 21 league goals for Juve in 2018/19 and has managed five this season for Maurizio Sarri’s side.

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Barcelona 4-1 Celta Vigo: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Messi Hat-Trick Sends Barca Top of La Liga

Barcelona put a rough week behind them with an emphatic victory over Celta Vigo on Saturday, Lionel Messi scoring a sumptuous hat trick to send his side back to the top of La Liga. 

After a tentative start, Celta defender Aidoo unintentionally handled the ball in the area in the 22nd minute, allowing Messi to score the first of the night and the 610th of his senior club career. The little Argentine was ‘as cool as a polar bear’s backside’, according to match commentator Ray Hudson, as he slotted the ball to Rubén’s right hand side.

Messi might have thought he had scored his 611th senior club goal after poking home from an Arthur Melo cross, but a VAR review showed the ball had gone out of play prior to Messi’s strike.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-CELTA

The 32-year-old Barca captain could not stay away from the action, although this time it was in a negative sense as he fouled Celta’s Pape Cheikh whilst tracking back. The resulting free-kick was beautifully curled up and over the Barca wall by Lucas Olaza into the bottom right-hand corner, narrowly beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Messi doubled his goal tally for the night before you could say ‘Catalonia’, this time his stunning free kick arrowed past a hapless Rubén into the top left bins for number 611. And breathe. 

The second half started as the first finished as Messi again produced the unimaginable, scoring his second free-kick for his third goal with his fourth shot on target of the night. Goal number 612. Sergio Busquets rounded off a strong performance with a fine pile driver into the bottom left-hand corner of the net, making it seven goals in 355 appearances for the Spanish veteran.


BARCELONA

Key Talking Point

With ?Barcelona not exactly setting La Liga alight, Valverde had to be cautious with how he approached Saturday’s fixture. Celta Vigo are a side with the third-best defensive record away from home, conceding only seven goals prior to this game, and certainly have their strengths in attack.

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From the off it was apparent that the formation needed tinkering and, to his credit, the Barca manager did just that – sacrificing Nelson Semedo in place of Sergio Busquets to add stability in the midfield.

It was a necessary change that relinquished some attacking threat in place of defensive solidity, and Valverde will hope that his tactics will halt the guillotine for at least another week. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Ter Stegen (6), Semedo (5), Pique (6), Umtiti (6), Junior Firpo (7); S. Roberto (7), Arthur (8), De Jong (8); Fati (6), Griezmann (6), Messi (10*).

Substitutes: Busquets (7), Dembélé (7), Suarez (N/A).


STAR PLAYER – Saturday night was another edition of the Lionel Messi show.

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The diminutive winger-come-striker-come-midfielder was the focal creative outlet for the hosts and illustrated just why he is considered one of football’s best ever. 

Slick passing, exceptional movement, breathtaking dribbling and clinical finishing. Messi displayed all of the characteristics that are now synonymous with Barca’s living legend – he was unplayable on the day, scoring two free-kicks and a penalty to boot. 


CELTA VIGO

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Rubén (4); Malo (5), Aidoo (5), Araujo (5); Olaza (6), Lobotka (6), Beltrán (5), Cheikh (7), Juncá (5); Sisto (6), Aspas (6).

Substitutes: Méndez (5), D. Suárez (N/A), Fernández (N/A).


Looking Ahead

Following Saturday’s win, Barcelona head to Estadio Cartagonova to face FC Cartagena in a charity club friendly to raise money for the victims of severe flooding in the Muricia region of eastern Spain. 

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After the international break, the Catalan giants take a trip to Estadio Municipal de Butarque to face bottom of the league Leganés, before a crucial Champions League group stage tie against ?Borussia Dortmund

Celta Vigo will have to pick themselves up as they travel to El Madrigal to face Villarreal before hosting Real Valladolid at Abanca Balaídos at the end of November. 

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