The 2023/24 season continues to fly by in the blink of an eye, with yet another international break now on the horizon.
With that devastating news now out of the way, let’s focus on the positives of what’s been another tip-top week of European footy.
Some of the continent’s biggest boys have shone brightly – Real Madrid and Manchester City we’re looking at you – but others continue to trudge along despairingly wondering when a ray of sunshine will peep into sight – Barcelona and Manchester United, you’re sadly in this particular spotlight.
The culmination of another week means it’s time to settle who the ten best teams on the continent really are, 90min power rankings style. And begin…
Newcastle United, Liverpool, Sporting CP, AC Milan, Real Sociedad
There’s a number of considerations when deciding which teams should be entered into any given week’s power rankings.
Has enough consistency been shown? Does the strength of a team’s league reflect their standing in the continent as a whole? Is it funny to intentionally leave a team out?
Newcastle, Liverpool and Sporting were on the watchlist last week and, well, nothing’s really changed. The two Premier League sides picked up wins in the league before faltering in Europe, while Sporting notched another couple of positive results but still are not table-toppers in Portugal.
As for AC Milan, they did a mighty fine job of beating Paris Saint-Germain at home in the Champions League, and Real Sociedad did the double over Benfica in the same competition – results that have kept them away from the lists of ones to watch.
Arsenal, OGC Nice
Arsenal have been near the top of the power rankings for as long as most people can remember, but a damaging defeat at Newcastle United and a Mikel Arteta meltdown sees them slip out of this week’s top ten.
The Gunners were pretty turgid at St James’ Park, days after coming up short against West Ham in the Carabao Cup, and although they got their act together to beat Sevilla in the Champions League, there’s no getting away from the fact their first league loss dropped them to fourth in the table.
They will bounce back inevitably and so will OGC Nice, providing they keep up their good form in Ligue 1. Truth be told they didn’t do anything wrong this week, just other top teams have ended up being more impressive. That’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.
There’s absolutely no way anybody would have had Girona top of their La Liga table after 12 games, Manchester City sister club or not.
Ten wins, one draw and one defeat, coupled with 29 goals scored and a 4-2 win over Osasuna last weekend, really is woof territory.
Annoyed with being overlooked for a place on 90min’s power rankings after their 5-2 win over Ajax, PSV Eindhoven put an exclamation mark on their rampant run of form by smashing 10-player Heracles 6-0 six days later.
With 11 wins from 11 games, PSV have opened up a seven point lead over nearest challengers AZ Alkmaar, and they’ve incredibly scored 41 goals and have a goal difference of +36.
Chuck a 1-0 win over Lens in the Champions League into the mix and you understand why they have finally got on the ladder.
Atletico Madrid looked to have bought a one-way ticket off the power rankings when they succumbed to a surprise 2-1 defeat to Las Palmas in La Liga last Friday.
But having stewed on the (we imagine) stern words of Diego Simeone, who has penned a contract extension running until 2027, Atleti returned to action days later to oblierate Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic 6-0 in the Champions League.
One week after tumbling off the power rankings, Bayern Munich bounced back in style to prove Thomas Tuchel probably isn’t doing such a bad job after all.
Harry Kane bagged another hat-trick as Dortmund were dismantled 4-0 in Der Klassiker – on their own patch it’s worth adding – and he then bagged his 19th goal of the season (pardon?) in the 2-1 win over Galatasaray in the Champions League.
Some record, that.
Aston Villa antagonised Fantasy Premier League players all around the world last week when they tamely went down 2-0 to Nottingham Forest last weekend.
So with venom spitting at them from every angle, they decided to remind us all how good they are home by coming from behind to beat AZ in the Europa Conference League. Another home win for Unai Emery.
With a tricky-looking trip to Atalanta safely navigated in Serie A, table-topping Inter then continued their fine run of form by sealing their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Salzburg, home of all your favourite Football Manager 2024 wonderkids, were the team to roll over, 1-0 on their own turf thanks to Lautaro Martinez’s goal.
Unbeaten Premier League record? Gone.
Injuries to key players James Maddison and Micky van de Ven? Check.
Red cards to Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie? Unfathomably, yes.
Could the 4-1 defeat to local rivals Chelsea have gone any worse? No.
Not even a record-breaking third successive Manager of the Month award for Ange Postecoglou can soften those blows.
Bayern Munich unquestionably have the best players, squad and pretty much everything else in Germany.
But do they have the best team? No, not right now they don’t. Enter Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen, who are continuing to go about their business in the Bundesliga and the Europa League ever so well.
Manchester City would be expected to beat Bournemouth and Young Boys 99 times out of 100, but the fact they tore the former apart at the Etihad Stadium suggests it won’t be long until they are back on top of the power rankings.
Jeremy Doku was scary good for Pep Guardiola, having a hand in five goals, while Bernardo Silva was compared to Lionel Messi by his manager post-match. Mmm, pretty good then.
Logic would suggest that Manchester City’s expensively assembled squad of robots are favourites to the Champions League, but can you really bet against Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid?
They haven’t replaced Karim Benzema following his summer departure but have barely missed a beat this season. Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Rayo Vallecano was a blip, but that was quickly shoved into the rear-view mirror with a crunching 3-0 win over Braga at the Bernabeu.
Furthermore, they did the business on Wednesday without the injured Jude Bellingham, proving they’re not overly reliant on their brand new shiny superstar.