90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings: Week 15 – UEFA Champions League Group Stage Special

Welcome to another edition of 90min’s DEFINITIVE European Power Rankings. With the culmination of the Champions League group stage, we thought it would be apt to make this week’s list a UCL special. That means that teams absent from the competition are exempt, even those recently knocked out.  

We also thought it apt that the accompanying film quotes this week be provided by the works of the McDonagh brothers, Martin and John Michael, because, as the saying goes, and as Atletico Madrid found out, When In Bruges…

It will take into account not only the most recent round of action, but the group stage as a whole, and assess how these teams are shaping up for the knockout round. With 15 places available, there’s also room for one high profile exclusion. Stay tuned. 

15. Manchester United

“You know, if you hadn’t stopped coming to church you’d have a little bit more understanding of people’s feelings.” (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Let’s not beat about the bush, the team who’s missed out is Schalke 04, ok? Sorry, they’re just boring, alright? Ok. 

Right, now that’s dealt with, here’s Manchester United – a team only slightly more interesting than Schalke. Ever so slightly.

And that’s only because of the inevitable thrill that will come following United’s ignominious last 16 exit to Porto, and Jose Mourinho’s post-match combustion. Also, that Phil Jones own goal was genuinely world class. 

14. Porto

“You think I care about dentists?…I don’t care about dentists…Nobody cares about dentists.” (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MIssouri)

The top point scorers in the group, with five wins and one draw, how could we put them 14th?!?!?

Well, if you think we care about that, you’ve got another thing coming. Porto are the dentists of this Champions League campaign – there, we said it. 

Their group exploits have been sincerely impressive, but if you think they’re genuine contenders, at least after they’ve beat United in the last 16, then think again.

13. Ajax

“You will not get the crowd to cry hossana, until you ride into town on an ass – Nietzsche.” (The Guard)

That bewildering quote, which in the film is summoned to bewilder cops at a murder scene from realising that a killing was actually due to a drugs trade, ties in nicely with that bewildering night at the Amsterdam Arena. 

Nothing made sense, everything that could happen did happen, and in the end nothing came about or changed because of it. Absolutely bewildering. Ajax are definitely back though, I think. 

12. Roma

“All this anger, man, it just begets greater anger.” (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Yes, Roma will be angry with their final performance of the group stage, but last year’s semi finalists will have to dust that frustration off if they are to compete at a similar level this year. 

While a tough draw may await, the Romans have been faintly good this campaign, without being great, and could certainly spring a surprise or two, as long as they keep their emotions in check.

11. Lyon

Paulo: “Put your hands up.” Hans: “No.” P: “What?” H: “I said no.” P: “Why not?” H: “I don’t want to.” P: “But I’ve got a gun.” H: “I don’t care.” P: “That doesn’t make any sense.” H: “Too bad.” (Seven Psychopaths)

That charming exchange sounds a lot like Lyon’s two clashes with Manchester City in Europe this season.

They failed to bow to convention, upending Pep Guardiola’s gameplans time and again. In that spirit, they’ve proved that, in a one-off game, they could beat anyone. 

10. Tottenham

“I’ll take it as it comes, if it’s all the same to you.” (The Guard)

Some rival fans were lessening Tottenham’s last-gasp heroics at the Nou Camp, belittling them with pointers about the legitimacy of Barcelona’s starting XI. But Spurs will take it as it comes, as the quote says. 

As this is a man’s dying words, it may also double as a timely phrase for when Spurs inevitably draw Juventus in the last 16 and are subsequently battered, if it’s all the same to you. 

9. Real Madrid

“I was trying to rob him. And he took my gun from me. And the gun was full of blanks. And he shot a blank into my eye. And now I cannot see from this eye ever again, the doctors say.” (In Bruges)

That piece of inept attempted robbery sounds a lot like Real Madrid’s ventures against CSKA Moscow this season. 

I mean, that 3-0 loss at the Santiago Bernabeu was harrowing stuff, it really was. A fourth consecutive title is looking less and less likely, even if Europe has been their salvation this season – save for their Russian encounters.

8. Bayern Munich

“I used to hate history. It’s all a lot of stuff that’s already f*ckin’ happened.” (In Bruges)

Yes, Bayern’s clash with Ajax was great fun and everything, but it also must’ve been highly concerning for FC Hollywood. 

Because their script is turning more and more into a tragedy with every passing page. Akin to Real, Europe has been their saving grace this campaign amidst sincere domestic woes, but perhaps this most recent round of action showed the structural malaise that persists at the heart of both. 

7. Atletico Madrid

“A great day this has turned out to be. I’m suicidal, me mate tries to kill me, me gun gets nicked and we’re still in f*cking Bruges.” (In Bruges)

It’s weird. Diego Simeone actually kind of looks like Colin Farrell in ‘In Bruges’ here. It’s quite disconcerting. 

In any case, he certainly wouldn’t have disagreed with most of Farrell’s statements about the city of Bruges. True, not all of the above will apply – it’s only football, after all – but still, when you need a win in Bruges to top the group, and you don’t get in, it sticks like it would in no other European city. Because, well, it’s Bruges. 

6. Liverpool

“Ray, you’re about the worst tourist in the world.” (In Bruges)

Yes, Liverpool made it through. Yes, it was kind of an admirable performance. But Napoli still bottled it, and the Reds are still the same team who have lost every single away game they’ve played in Europe this season. 

They will surely be force in the rounds to come, but their poor record as tourists should be cause for concern.

5. Manchester City

Francis: “Name your favourite philosopher, and lo and behold he’s English.” Clive: “Bertrand Russell was Welsh.” F: Bertrand Russell was Welsh? You know I never knew that, didn’t think anybody interesting was Welsh.” (The Guard)

Lo and behold, Phil Foden and Leroy Sane aren’t welsh.

But they were both in sparkling form for Manchester City against Hoffenheim on Wednesday. Even if they’ve been momentarily toppled from the summit of the Premier League, City’s squad depth remains wholly enviable. 

A few performances like that from the youngsters, and David Silva may have a tougher time of it coming back than he would’ve thought. Again, David Silva, not Welsh, unfortunately. 

4. Paris Saint-Germain

“Is that real leather?” (The Guard)

Ahhh, Paris Saint-Germain – one big happy family. Well, that’s what I’ve heard. 

At the end of the day, whether the sentiments are real or not doesn’t really matter. As long as they keep putting together performances. Although, the thing about fake leather is, it never holds together as long as you think it will.

We’ll see how stern PSG’s is in good time. 

3. Borussia Dortmund

“It’s a kidnapped dog. You don’t just give back a kidnapped dog. Defeats the entire object of the kidnapping.” (Seven Psychopaths)

Jadon Sancho was given a well earned rest against AS Monaco on Tuesday night, when Borussia Dortmund clinched top spot in Group A. 

But, despite Sancho’s recent contract extension, rumours continue to circulate surrounding the possibility of him returning to Manchester City. Now, what would the point in that be? Doesn’t it defeat the entire point of signing a player?

Doesn’t it? Anyway, Dortmund are a definite threat this year. Definitely. 

2. Juventus

“That’s what I’ve always liked about you, Father. You’re just a little too smart for this parish.” (Calvary)

That right there certainly sums up Juventus’ predicament, if they do have one. Unfortunately, Serie A just isn’t strong enough for them right now, even with all the moves made by the Milanese clubs and Napoli in the summer. 

Wednesday night’s surprise loss at Young Boys showed the issues this can hold, and I Bianconeri will need to be wary of any subconscious complacency settling in. Their primary hopes this season depend on it. 

1. Barcelona

“It’s not often you come across that kind of integrity in this business.” (The Guard)

Not only did Barcelona honour Inter by scoring the first goal in an encounter many thought they would deliberately sabotage, they also offered an olive branch of a goal to Spurs at the last minute for their enduring efforts throughout the competition.

What good samaritans. And they’re certainly good this year, Barca. Frighteningly good. Frightening enough to top these prestigious (and DEFINITIVE) rankings from the group stage. They were unbeaten (in a real group, Porto, ok?) and have the (fifth) best player in the world. 

Ominously, frighteningly, GOOD. 


Barcelona Suffer Setback in Pursuit of Kai Havertz as Midfielder Eyes Bayern Munich Move

?Barcelona have reportedly given up in their pursuit of Bayer Leverkusen attacking midfielder Kai Havertz due to the player having his heart set on a move to Bayern Munich.

Havertz has attracted much attention so far this season after scoring seven goals in 20 appearances for Leverkusen, earning himself a pair of Germany caps earlier in the process.

1. FC Nuernberg v Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Bundesliga

?Barca and ?Bayern were thought to be the frontrunners for the 19-year-old’s signature, with the club holding ‘maximum’ interest in his signature, but German outlet Bild have reported (via ?Mundo Deportivo) that the Catalan giants have learned that the player has no desire to play for them.

Instead, it’s thought that the player wants to stay in the ?Bundesliga, and sees Bayern as his future destination.

His seven goals in all competitions have already eclipsed the four he managed in the entire of last season, as he’s been an increasingly crucial part of the Leverkusen starting XI.

Having topped their Europa League group after a 5-1 win over AEK Larnaca on the final day, they sit 11th in the Bundesliga, some way short of where they would expect to be at this point.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v VfB Stuttgart - Bundesliga

With that being the case, they will hope that Bayern will wait until the summer to make an offer for the prodigal young talent. 


Transfer Rumours: Denis Suarez to Arsenal, Callum Hudson-Odoi to Bayern & More

January is soon, now. Very soon.

It’s just over a couple of weeks away, and that means the transfer window is coming with it. Get prepared for a truckload of stories on Jose Mourinho moaning (more of them, somehow), dozens of transfers being confirmed, and seemingly thousands of potential moves being discussed.

It can be a stressful and annoying time, but hopefully you’ll enjoy this little summary of the top transfer gossip from around the Premier League this Friday.

6. West Brom & Watford Interested as Cardiff Striker Is Set for Release

First of all, a big massive “don’t care” for anyone but Cardiff City, West Brom and Watford fans. Yes, all of you!

Bluebirds striker Ibrahim Meite is on his way out next month on a free transfer, according to the Mail, after making just two first team appearances since he joined in January 2017 – and both the Baggies and the Hornets have been credited with interest.

The likes of Saint-Etienne, Spartak Moscow and Hannover have also been talked up as potential destinations for the former Crawley loanee.

5. Wolves Deal for Leicester & Southampton Target Stalls

Wolves’ talks over a deal for Japanese midfielder Shoya Nakajima have stalled, leaving the deal in doubt, and in turn allowing Southampton or Leicester a shot at signing the player instead.

Record carry quotes from Rodiney Sampaio, president of Nakajima’s current club Portimonense, and he’s confirmed that there’s been a lack of progress on Wolves’ front in terms of completing a deal.

He said: “I said last week that there was a 20 percent gap to close the transfer of Nakajima to Wolverhampton and since then no steps have been taken so that other interested parties can come up with better conditions.”

He also explained that Wolves “do not have any priority and are open other possibilities”, while adding “one of them is the continuity of Nakajima until the end of the season. We believe he will play for Japan in the Asian Cup [next January], and he can value himself even more.”

4. Hudson-Odoi a ‘Serious Candidate’ for Bayern Munich

Among English football’s newest trends are Liverpool actually managing to convince people outside of their own fans that they’re actually good, and young English wingers going to the Bundesliga to absolutely smash it. 

See the Premier League table, Jadon Sancho and Reiss Nelson.

The latest young English winger linked with a move to Germany is Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi, who is notoriously very talented but struggling for game time under Maurizio Sarri. And SportBild journalist Christian Falk claims Bayern Munich are interested in signing him.

Arjen Robben will leave in the summer, Franck Ribery too, most likely, so regeneration is needed – and Falk has tweeted that Hudson-Odoi is a “serious candidate” to step in. If they can get him, of course.

3. Barcelona Set Bargain £14m Price for Arsenal & Chelsea Target Denis Suarez

Barcelona have offered Denis Suarez to Arsenal, as the Gunners seek out a long-term replacement for departing midfielder Aaron Ramsey.

Suarez has been barely used by Ernesto Valverde over the course of the season and could be tempted by north London if Arsenal want him, as he’s already spent some time playing under Unai Emery at Sevilla.

The Independent report that Suarez has been offered to a range of clubs – Chelsea have been linked too recently – and could cost as little as £14m.

2. Newcastle & Man City Tracking Japanese Winger Ritsu Doan

Newcastle have taken a look at 20-year-old Japanese winger Ritsu Doan ahead of next month’s January transfer window.

Doan, who plays in the Dutch Eredivisie with Groningen, has a price tag of £1.7m – a figure of money that most of us likely have forgotten even existed in today’s market – and Newcastle are reported to have a chance of signing him as they’re able to offer regular football. Man City, another linked club, most likely can’t, given they’re a better football team and that.

Chronicle Live carry the story, citing sources in Holland themselves.

Doan is an international teammate of Yoshinori Muto, and has three caps for the Japanese senior team so far. He was also on this year’s Kopa Trophy shortlist along with Kylian Mbappe and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold.

1. Galatasaray President Flies to England to Try to Sell 18-Year-Old to United, Obviously

Galatasaray president Mustafa Cengiz has met with Manchester United over a potential deal for 18-year-old centre back Ozan Kabak.

(Yes, Manchester United have been linked with another centre back. I’m counting at least 42 so far this year. Honest. Proof to come soon).

Turkish source Aksam, via M.E.N., claim Cengiz flew to England for discussions, and he’s chasing a €20m fee from United. Man City and Arsenal have been linked too in recent weeks.

The question remains though – is that top centre back that’ll solve all of United’s issues in Jose Mourinho’s eyes an 18-year-old kid from Turkey? 

No, obviously.

Not familiar with the name, though? Check out a few things to know about Ozan Kabak just here.


Tottenham Scout Everton Loanee Andre Gomes Ahead of Potential Summer Move

Tottenham could be set to offer Everton some competition for the permanent signing of Andre Gomes, as newspapers claim that Spurs sent scouts to watch the midfielder in the Merseyside derby. 

Everton lost 1-0 in dramatic circumstances but Gomes received plaudits for an impressive midfield performance in trying circumstances at Anfield, against a Liverpool team who would top the league less than a week later.

Liverpool FC v Everton FC - Premier League

It was the latest in an impressive line of recent performances from Gomes, who joined on loan from ?Barcelona in the summer, leading to speculation that ?Everton will attempt to make his signing permanent as early as January.

Spurs, however, will reportedly offer the 25-year-old something to think about, as the ?Daily Telegraph report that they are interested in his signing in the summer should he remain contracted to Barcelona into the close season.

They claim that ?Tottenham‘s chief scout Steve Hitchen attended Everton’s 1-0 Liverpool defeat with the intention of watching the midfielder ahead of a potential summer switch to London.

He’s one of several targets Spurs are thought to be looking at for the summer, as they hope to bounce back from their failings in the previous window when they became the first team since the inception of the Premier League summer window not to sign a single player. 

FC Barcelona v Tottenham Hotspur - UEFA Champions League Group B

For now, however, Gomes’ focus remains on Everton, who have started well under Marco Silva, sitting seventh in the table after 16 games – a long way from the relegation battle they were facing this time last season. 


Copa del Rey Last 16 Draw: Barcelona & Atletico Face Away Days as Real Madrid Host Leganes

La Liga giants Barcelona and Atlético Madrid will be forced to travel for their upcoming matches in the next round of the Copa del Rey, while Real Madrid have been given a favourable home match against CD Leganés.

Barça are the reigning champions of the domestic trophy following their victory over Sevilla in the final last season, and La Blaugrana are also the most successful team in Copa del Rey history with 30 titles.

Barcelona's Thierry Henry of France carr

Thursday’s draw has pitted Ernesto Valverde’s side with Levante UD in the Last 16 of the competition, a game which Barça will get to practice for this weekend when they go to the Estadi Ciutat de València in La Liga.

Real Madrid’s match against Leganés will see Santiago Solari’s side try to improve on their 4-1 win over Los Pepineros earlier this season, while city rivals Atlético will make the 700km journey to face Girona.

The Last 16 of the Copa del Rey is a two-legged fixture. The first leg in each of the eight games will be played between January 8-10, while the second match will be played the following week.

Other notable matchups in the competitions include Real Betis vs Real Sociedad, Villarreal vs Espanyol and Sporting Gijón vs Valencia. Los Rojiblancos play their domestic football in Spain’s Segunda División and are the lowest ranked side left in the competition.

Barcelona v Sevilla - Spanish Copa del Rey Final

Barcelona have won the last four Copa del Rey titles, having last lost a final back in 2014 where a late goal from Gareth Bale gave Real Madrid a dramatic win at the Mestalla.