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

After an international break full of the kind of nothingness international football has practically patented (this is just a joke to impress you guys, I actually like international football), club football came back with a bang this week.

Which is why we at Power Rankings HQ had to respond with similar firepower (‘Daddy‘!*). Luckily we found it, with one of the greatest tv shows of this decade, hell, this century: ‘Atlanta‘. And seeing as it ain’t Robbin Season just yet, we’re hitting you with Season One of this Donald Glover-helmed modern classic. 

*This joke will become clear by number four.


15. Henrikh Mkhitaryan (New Entry)


“What? This is a great environment for you!”

This could be taken in the sarcastic vein that it is delivered in the show, as a means to show just how badly Henrikh Mkhitaryan was suited to his surroundings at Manchester United and Arsenal. 

But it could also be taken at face value where Roma is concerned, with the Armenian netting a fine goal on his Italian bow to cap off a finer-still display in the 4-2 win over Sassuolo. As you will see, Arsenal rejects scoring on their debut, just as the Gunners’ were themselves faltering in Watford, was a theme this week. As was Arsenal affiliates letting themselves down with their own hubris. See the above tweet and Mateo Guendouzi.


14. Robert Lewandowski (Re-Entry)

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-LEIPZIG-BAYERN MUNICH

“Well, why would I shoot at a human target?”

While it ultimately wasn’t to be for Bayern against a valiant/luck-riding RB Leipzig side, Robert Lewandowksi’s goalscoring heroics continued, thanks to a consummate finish inside just three minutes. 

Asked how he’s so darn accurate in front of goal, the Pole’s response is quoted above. 


13. Stefano Sensi (New Entry)

Stefano Sensi

“Can I measure your tree?”

With several feet, let alone inches, between Stefano Sensi and Udinese’s covering defender, you can image Antonio Conte and co’s surprise when the diminutive playmaker snuck ahead of him to sneak in a gloriously taken header into the net via the underside of the bar. 

Inter’s 2019 breakout star can head a ball, and he’s barely breaking 5ft.


12. Nacho Monreal (New Entry)

Nacho Monreal

“You look like a fake Ellen Degeneres. A Felon Degeneres.”

Yes, you guessed it (did you?), Nacho Monreal was the second Arsenal reject to score on his debut this weekend, and it came in one of the results of the weekend, with Real Sociedad blotting Atletico Madrid’s unblemished record with a hard-earned 2-0 victory. 

He may look like a BTEC Ellen Degeneres (at least enough for this bit to work…?), but the man can finish his dinner and, in keeping a clean sheet against Diego Simeone’s men, he proved he’s not all forward-thinking, either. 


11. Dries Mertens (Re-Entry)

Dries Mertens

“If you could use a rat as a phone, man, that’d be genius.”

Just as the above observation from Darius was met with derision, many pundits baulked at the use of Dries Mertens as a number nine all those moons ago. Look at him now. Bagging braces against Sampdoria like it’s nothing, and making Fabio Quagliarella (of all people) look blunt. 


10. Duvan Zapata (New Entry)

Genoa CFC v Atalanta BC - Serie A

“Hello, cousin. How are you today?”

Not only did Duvan Zapata nab Atalanta (eerily close to ‘Atlanta’, I hear you say!!) all three points with a 95th-minute thunderbolt against Genoa, he also won a penalty for his side by doing his cousin, Cristian, all ends up. 


9. Karim Benzema (New Entry)

TOPSHOT-FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL MADRID-LEVANTE

“I don’t know, man, I like Flo Rida. I mean, moms need to enjoy rap, too.”

Karim Benzema is the Flo Rida of football. Think about it.


8. Neymar (Up 3)

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“The price is on the can, though.”

With Kylian Mbappe sidelined, it was all about the return of the banner-provoking Brazilian forward Neymar this weekend. 

And, after some initial stuttering against Strasbourg, he delivered in a big, big way, with a 91st-minute bicycle kick to win it. Special stuff. I’d also like to add that PSG are the Arizona Iced Tea (the ‘can’ in question) of football and, as the slogan goes, the price is there for all to see. It’s right on the can. It is. 


7. Marco Reus (New Entry)

Jadon Sancho,Marco Reus

“You want to manage a rapper but you can’t do business high?”

You are Bayer Leverkusen. You want to beat Borussia Dortmund away from home, you have 67% of the possession, three more shots than they do, but you don’t mark Marco Reus? 

Weird.


6. Sadio Mane (Re-Entry)

Sadio Mane

“Money is an idea.”

This is unequivocally true.

Here’s another idea, just off the top of my head. Sadio Mane is world-class. Real Madrid wanted him, but wouldn’t cough up. So here’s the idea: cough up. Whether Mane wants to join the Santiago Bernabeu circus remains to be seen, but at least test some Liverpudlian resolve. The man’s worth all you got, Zizou.


5. Son Heung-min (New Entry)

Heung-Min Son

“This here’s a lightsaber – Luke Skywalker’s.”

Son Heung-min is Tottenham’s Luke Skywalker, here to return the club to the light after some dark times. 

The fact that this is uttered by a bumbling (and potentially homeless?) man who’s set up his own impromptu, and very much unofficial, parking lot should not take away from the initial point. 


4. Luis Suarez (New Entry)

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[while polishing his gun] “Man, I ain’t scared of nothing. I got Daddy right here.”

Not that Barcelona needed to be scared on Saturday against Valencia, considering their current chaos, but if any Copa del Rey Final flashbacks did occur, they knew they had the sharpshooting Luis ‘Daddy’ Suarez right there just in case.

And, though he wasn’t necessarily needed from the bench, he was used, springing straight into the action to nab a 20-minute brace. And, if you object to the use of ‘Daddy’ here, well, then, have another quote from this very exchange:

“Yo, you not gonna see this, but your assumed perversion of the word ‘Daddy’, I think that’s stemming from the fear of mortality, man. What you call your gun?”

Yeah. What do you call your ageing strikers?


3. Tammy Abraham (Re-Entry)

Tammy Abraham

Is Paperboi Atlanta’s 2Pac? They said no. But apparently John Boyega is the new Magic Johnson.”

Is Tammy Abraham Chelsea’s second coming of Didier Drogba? No. As previously established in these here rankings, Tammy Abraham is the new Magic Johnson. Move over, Boyega. 


2. Teemu Pukki (Up 3)

Teemu Pukki

“I just think we need a chance as humans to fail in order to discover what actually works, you know? People don’t think there’s a process to being happy.”

Teemu Pukki is the living embodiment of this quote, and he’s now reaping the rewards from this time-honoured policy, pulling the strings in the result of the weekend from across Europe. 

He is also now the only man to maintain his spot across the first five weeks of these rankings, which makes him a winner in his own right. So why, you ask, is he not the outright winner this week? Well, he’s not 16.


1. Ansu Fati (New Entry)

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“AIDS was invented to keep Wilt Chamberlain from beating Steve McQueen’s sex record. And by ’69 he was already number three on the all-time list. By ’71 he would’ve been that boy for sure.”

Has Ansu Fati been invented to keep Lionel Messi from beating Cristiano Ronaldo’s Champions League goalscoring record? I can’t say it with the same certainty as ya boy Darius above, but the precocity of Barca’s youngest ever goalscorer sure does beg the question. 

And that’s not the only record he’s broken, as he became the youngest ever play to record a goal and an assist in the same game in La Liga history against Valencia.

And what a goal and an assist they were, the former being an oh-so-composed first-time finish after a bursting run into the box inside just two minutes of action, the latter comprising a mazy run down the left flank, the retiring of Ezequiel Garay and an expertly placed cut-back for Frenkie de Jong just five minutes later. 

By the 15th-minute mark he was centimetres away from a brace, and moments after that he should have had a penalty. Need I remind you that this kid is 16 years old, and just two weeks ago was a mere unknown.

Now he’s spreading his arms to the Camp Nou crowd, soliciting the kind of response that – yes, I’LL SAY IT – only Messi himself can garner in modern times. Hence the €100m release clause, and hence the placing atop these prestigious rankings.

Remember the date, remember the name.


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UEFA Champions League: The 5 Must Watch Group Stage Fixtures of Matchday 1

The 2019/20 UEFA Champions League group stage begins with matchday one this week, with all 32 teams in action all over the continent across Tuesday and Wednesday.

Here’s a look at five of the biggest ‘must watch’ games taking place…


Napoli vs. Liverpool

?Tuesday 17 September, 21.00 (CEST) @ Stadio San Paolo

Sadio Mane

Liverpool begin the defence of their Champions League title by facing a team they had to beat at home no matchday six just to get out of the group stage last season.

The Reds may have gone on to lift the trophy in May, but they were beaten when they travelled to Stadio San Paolo in early October. Liverpool, who would lose all three group stage away games, failed to score and conceded a late Napoli winner from Lorenzo Insigne.

With Genk and Red Bull Salzburg completing Group E, this trip to Napoli is likely to be Liverpool’s most challenging game and toughest test in this phase of the competition.


Borussia Dortmund vs. Barcelona

Tuesday 17 September, 21.00 (CEST) @ Westfalenstadion 

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-REAL BETIS

Already a huge game as one of Europe’s most exciting young teams takes on an established giant, the potential return of Lionel Messi makes Barcelona’s visit to Borussia Dortmund even more enticing as the superstar is in the squad after missing the first four games of the season.

Dortmund have plenty to prove in Europe this season as they were eliminated from the group stage last year, while their overall reputation does not marry up with a team that has won just two Champions League knockout ties since playing in the 2013 final.

Barcelona will be desperate to make a strong start in difficult times as Group F also features a resurgent Inter and will claim a high profile scalp.


Chelsea vs. Valencia

Tuesday 17 September, 21.00 (CEST) @ Stamford Bridge

Mason Mount,Tammy Abraham

Group H could hardly be more open and that is why it is vital for Chelsea to get an early win under their belt when Valencia visit Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea were fired to Premier League victory over the weekend by home-grown youngsters Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, all of whom will be taking a step into the known for what will be their respective Champions League debuts.

Chelsea have the second leakiest defence in the Premier League this season after conceding 11 goals in five games, and they will therefore be vulnerable against a technical La Liga side, even one that has started the 2019/20 domestic season poorly.


Paris Saint-Germain vs. Real Madrid

?Wednesday 18 September, 21.00 (CEST) @ Parc des Princes

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The team that has been craving Champions League glory for years without success against the team that has won it more times than other club history, Paris Saint-Germain will host Real Madrid in a heavyweight clash at the Parc des Princes in Group A on Wednesday.

After brushing off an early season blip, PSG are on in Ligue 1, which is more than can be said for Real, who have only won two of their opening four domestic games and conceded six times.

A lot of focus will be on Neymar in Paris this week. The Brazilian superstar didn’t get his dream return to Barcelona during the summer and was heckled and booed by his own club’s fans when he made his first appearance of the season over the weekend – despite scoring a fairly incredible bicycle kick. 


Atletico Madrid vs. Juventus

Wednesday 18 September, 21.00 (CEST) @ Wanda Metropolitano

FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-ATLETICO

Atletico Madrid and Juventus meet in matchday one of Group D after playing out an epic two-legged knockout tie in the Champions League last season. On that occasion it took a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick to overturn the tie for Juventus after a 2-0 first leg deficit.

Atletico have undergone a mini transformation since then, shedding Antoine Griezmann and Diego Godin and bringing in younger talents like Joao Felix and Marcos Llorente.

These great clubs are two of European football’s biggest underachievers at a continental level. They have played in 12 European Cup/Champions League finals between them over the years, but have lost as many as 10 of those – including four in a row between 2014 and 2017.


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Carles Puyol: Club Legend Set to Reject Chance to Return to Barcelona as Sporting Director

?Barcelona legend Carles Puyol is thought to have decided against becoming the club’s sporting manager, despite La Blaugrana’s desire to bring him back.

President Josep Maria Bartomeu recently confirmed that they were ?negotiating with Puyol to try and bring him in as part of their team of directors, with Bartomeu eager to work with someone with Puyol’s experience and knowledge.

Carles Puyol

Unfortunately for ?Barcelona, SER Catalunya’s Jofre Mateu Gonzalez revealed (via ?Mundo Deportivo) that Puyol will almost certainly reject the offer as he has other plans for himself.

Jofre said: “Although he has been thinking about it, right now I can tell you that he will not be a sports director. It is 99% certain that Puyol will not assume the position. He has other plans.”

However, according to ?Mundo Deportivo, he may not have definitively decided just yet. MD believe that Puyol is still deliberating, as he wants to think about whether this would be the right move for him at this point in time.

He is believed to be evaluating the situation and intends to have responded to the club by the last week of September at the very latest.

Bartomeu wants Puyol to work alongside both Eric Abidal and Ramon Planes, although he did confess that filling the vacant position of sporting director was not one of his top priorities at the moment.

Carles Puyol

As a result, Barcelona will likely give Puyol as much time as necessary to make a final decision, as his years of commitment to La Blaugrana has earned him a huge amount of respect at Camp Nou.

Having started his career as part of the academy at Barcelona, Puyol spent 15 years with the senior side, making 593 appearances in all competitions. He led the club to six ?La Liga titles and three ?Champions Leagues.

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Paco Alcacer Reveals Barcelona Teammates ‘Treated Him Badly’ Ahead of Champions League Reunion

Borussia Dortmund striker Paco Alcacer has claimed he was treated badly by some of his Barcelona teammates ahead of his reunion with his former employers in the Champions League.

The Spanish international joined ?Barcelona from Valencia on a five-year deal in 2016, scoring a reasonable 15 goals in 50 games.

However, it was last season’s initial loan spell at ?Dortmund where he rediscovered his shooting boots, earning a permanent move to Germany after netting 19 goals from 32 appearances.

He will come up against his former side in BVB’s opening Champions League group game, and in the lead up to the game, Alcacer has revealed that he felt disrespected and treated unfairly by some of his then Barcelona teammates.

In an interview with ‘Que T’hi Jugues’ on Cadena SER, as quoted by ?Marca, Alcacer said: “I have respect for many people and many colleagues, as many people at ?Barcelona treated me very well and others very badly.

The players acted very well with me and the fans also, although others treated me badly. For me it was very important to see that they trusted me and many people did not prove it.”

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-SEVILLA

Alcacer continued by admitting the difficulties he faced in trying to oust Luis Suarez from the team, though he did state that he was pleased with the performances he put in, when given the opportunity.

He continued: “I must be happy with the games I played there. I did what I could to continue playing, but in the end it is up to the coach who plays.

“It is very difficult to play with players like Luis Suarez next up”.

Marco Reus,Jadon Sancho,Paco Alcacer

It is likely that he will face the Uruguayan in Tuesday’s tie, with Suarez very much in-form after netting a hat-trick at the weekend. Alcacer, meanwhile, is in good touch himself, and has hit the ground running in 2019/20 with five goals in Dortmund’s opening four ?Bundesliga fixtures.

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Manuel Neuer Responds to Marc-André ter Stegen Outburst Over Lack of Germany Playing Time

?Manuel Neuer has insisted goalkeepers must ‘stick together’ following recent comments from Marc-Andre ter Stegen complaining about a lack of playing time with the German national team.

Despite featuring every week for Barcelona, Ter Stegen finds himself as second choice with Die Mannschaft, as stalwart Neuer is chosen ahead of his teammate by manager Joachim Löw. Despite making his Germany debut in 2012, since the 27-year-old has only made 22 appearances due to the immense form of his compatriot.

The most recent outing for the duo came during the recent international break, with the ?Bayern Munich stopper getting the nod over ?Ter Stegen in both the defeat to Netherlands and subsequent win over Northern Ireland. That prompted some questionable comments from the ?Blaugrana goalkeeper, who hinted at a potential exit from the national side if things didn’t improve.

“It drives me a bit mad. You give the best of yourself and you aren’t where you want to be,” he ?said. “I have established my priorities. I want to be successful and the big objective I have is to be the first choice keeper for my country.”

Those comments prompted a response from the more senior figure of Neuer, who insisted that his fellow countryman must think of the team in such instances, with unity the key to success no matter who plays in between the sticks.

“I think he’s a good keeper and he is performing well, but I’m not sure if that helps us,” Neuer told Sky, via ?Marca.

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen,Manuel Neuer

“We are a team and should present ourselves as such. We have great goalkeepers. We have Kevin Trapp, Bernd Leno… these are all great goalkeepers who also want to play and then sit on the bench. We are a team. We have to stick together. The goalkeepers also have to stick together.”

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