And breathe. Recuperated? Ready to relive it? You better be. It’s been a week that needs no introduction, but I’m contractually (not quite) obliged to give you one anyway:
– Ajax RETIRED Real Madrid as European Champions in EMPHATIC fashion.
– Manchester United RETIRED Paris Saint-Germain as a CONCEPT.
– VAR took up a cumulative four hours of our time.
– Borussia Dortmund went out with a WHIMPER.
– Arsenal (they’re not in these rankings, obviously, but it’s worth noting) continued to TANK their Europa League campaign.
– Other clubs did other stuff domestically that was far less captivating.
With all that and more to cover, we’ll need the help of the filmography (or jointography) of Brooklyn’s finest, Spike Lee.
15. Real Madrid (Down 3)
“Unfortunately, the further you run from your sins, the more exhausted you are when they catch up with you… and they do.” (Inside Man)
Many, many words have been used to describe Real Madrid’s European demise this week. Many people have been blamed, many excuses offered and many repercussions mooted.
But, the thing is, this has been coming. If you take a look at this team’s domestic record in recent seasons, the indiscipline and disjointedness has been there. There was just the small matter of a Cristiano Ronaldo-sized Jenga block that was lifted from the club’s crummy foundations last summer, and that seems to have rocked it right to its tarnished core.
14. Paris Saint-Germain (Down 10)
“I’m no martyr. I did it for the money. But it’s not worth much if you can’t face yourself in the mirror. Respect is the ultimate currency.” (Inside Man)
I’ve asked this a couple of times already in this season’s Power Rankings but, seriously now, what is the point of Paris Saint-Germain? Why do they exist? What is their function if not to put a smile on everyone else’s faces every March when they bottle their latest ‘attempt’ at nabbing themselves a European crown.
But that will get boring soon. They’ve already won the ligue. There’s nothing left for them this season. Better to just dismantle them as a concept and start afresh. Paris Saint-Jordain?
13. AC Milan (-)
“Hey! The only ass-kicking that’s gonna be done around here is gonna be done by me!” (Do the Right Thing)
I have this as a verbatim post-match quote from Polish strike marvel Krzysztof Piatek. The forward was understandably upset when Pol Lirola of Sassuolo grabbed the goalscoring headlines with his own goal in Saturday’s Serie A clash.
It was the first game Piatek hasn’t scored in for Milan since his 18-minute debut against Napoli. He doesn’t want that stat to extend.
12. FC Porto (Re-Entry)
“If you weren’t fine, I wouldn’t even bother with you.” (She’s Gotta Have It)
It’s been a long time since we saw FC Porto grace these rankings, but this is not just some token offer because they’re through to the quarter finals (honest).
I mean, their performance got their opponent’s manager sacked, FFS. What more can you do than that?
11. Chelsea (Down 1)
“He got game.” (He Got Game)
Only down because there was a certain team who were excluded from last week’s Rankings who have subsequently done some fairly impressive stuff (no spoilers).
But it’s been business as usual for Chelsea (if we take usual as the last three weeks or so). They may have chanced their arm a little in both the 2-1 win over Fulham and 3-0 win over Dynamo Kiev, but they got the job done. And, as for Callum Hudson-Odoi, in the words of Michael Jordan himself, He. Got. Game.
10. Borussia Dortmund (Down 2)
“I swear before God…and four more white people! This is the last time!” (Jungle Fever)
This is the oath we made every single Borussia Dortmund player and staff member give after Friday night’s embarrassing loss to Augsburg. I mean, Augsburg, really?!?!?
Here at 90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings HQ, we staked a lot (A LOT) of faith in Dortmund and right now they’re throwing it right back in our faces. Forget midweek, that was over anyway, it’s the league from here on in and *cliche incoming* EVERY GAME’S A FINAL, LADS.
Don’t let us down.
9. Juventus (-)
”Sal! We gonna boycott your fat pasta ass!” (Do the Right Thing)
If Sal was the nickname of Massimo Allegri, and we’ve had no concrete proof that it isn’t, then this is exactly what Giorgio Chiellini and the Juventus hierarchy will be telling the tactician if they can’t reverse their Champions League last 16 deficit against Atletico Madrid next week.
For the record, you can definitely see Chiellini as a sous-chef at a pizza spot in Spike Lee’s next joint, can’t you? To paraphrase another Lee joint (and Michael Jordan): He Got Gravitas.
8. Tottenham Hotspur (Up 3)
“Baby, you’re so fine, I’d drink a tub of your bath water.” (She’s Gotta Have It)
After a testing few games, Tottenham bounced back with another impressive win against the Bundesliga leaders. And, even if it was hard-fought, a clean sheet in two games against BVB is an incredible achievement.
There were a few doubters when Harry Kane’s return to the team coincided with their three-game winless streak, but the Englishman put that nonsense to bed with a clinical finish at the
Westfalenstadion, and Spurs fans are now back to making proclamations about his bath water and how they’d drink it, etc.
7. Liverpool (Down 2)
“You are not an American, you are the victim of America!” (Malcolm X)
It’s not your fault, Liverpool players & staff! It’s those dastardly American owners and their dastardly hedge fund. That’s why you drew with Everton. Well, that and the wind, obviously.
Look, you may have dropped two places in these here rankings, but it was only one in the (albeit less significant) Premier League table. So, it’s not so bad, is it?
6. Bayern Munich (-)
“It’s arthritis, you know. I got that arthritis thing happenin’.” (He Got Game)
This is relevant for two reasons:
A) A bit like Denzel Washington in the filming of He Got Game, when he was supposed to lie down and take a beating from NBA player Ray Allen in the pivotal one-on-one scene but actually tried really hard and got a five-score lead, Bayern have duped the world. They are not the old hokeys they’ve made you think they are in the first part of this season.
B) Joachim Low thinks three of Bayern’s best players (you know who they are by now) are so old they have arthritis, and thus can’t represent the national team no more. He should read the above, especially considering that 5-1 thumping of Monchengladbach on their own patch.
5. Manchester United (Up 2)
”If God created anything better than crack cocaine he kept that sh*t for hisself.” (Clockers)
Well, it seems that, after 24 years of withholding, God has finally offered Rodney Little from Clockers, and the world, what they were missing – Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer and VAR!
Both were to thank for United’s dramatic retiring of PSG as a concept (yeh, not letting this one go). And, just as with crack cocaine, the Red Devils are now hooked on Ole, and it’s one helluva high.
4. Barcelona (Down 1)
“Champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends.” (25th Hour)
Once again, Barca ruled the roost at the Santiago Bernabeu. You’ve heard all the stats – some debunked, some miraculously true.
But the real stat is that La Blaugrana have now won their seventh Liga title this season. You heard it here, well, probably not first, but definitely definitively. Get the champagne at the ready. And, if you don’t believe me, well, you’re not a real friend, are you?
3. Ajax (Re-Entry)
“It’s really about control, my body, my mind. Who was going to own it? Them? Or me?” (She’s Gotta Have It)
This isn’t the first time Ajax have blessed these rankings, and it surely won’t be the last – it might not even be their highest spot (watch this space). Because, on that historic Tuesday night when they dethroned the three-time reigning champions, the Dutch team were utterly phenomenal.
Not only that, they were in control. Pure control. And, in Dusan Tadic, they have, unequivocally, the best player in the world. Geloof me (that means trust me in Dutch, I hope).
2. Atletico Madrid (-)
“Sorry to interrupt you, Mr Mayor, but there’s an old American saying: When there’s blood on the streets, somebody’s gotta go to jail.” (Inside Man)
Real Madrid are the mayor. Atletico Madrid are the vigilantes finally bringing them to justice. Now, they may not have handed out this justice themselves, but, at least in my mind, they’re now set to reap the rewards of these Madrid-less European streets and finally taste such glory for themselves.
As an aside, let’s all join Diego Godin in hugging Alvaro Morata. After some fairly loveless years, he deserves some right now.
1. Manchester City (-)
“Is there anyone else here who is smarter than me?” (Inside Man)
This is the line that Dalton Russel offers after viciously beating Peter Hammond. And it is what Pep Guardiola and co will be thinking after viciously beating every single one of their opponents in their last eight games since that shock 2-1 defeat to Newcastle United.
And, unfortunately for those battling them, all answers to that question are coming up negative at the minute.