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)

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-PSG-STRASBOURG

“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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8 Champions League Players Whose Names You Have Definitely Been Pronouncing Wrong

Prepare to have your world rocked to its very foundations.

It turns out we’ve all been mispronouncing the names of some of football’s biggest stars. A number of the players on this list are tongue-twisters, but there are a few who have a deceptively difficult name to get right.

Xherdan Shaqiri

?UEFA have published a list of all the tricky ones taking part in this season’s ?Champions League, with a number of surprising inclusions. 

Here, 90min takes a pun-tastic look at nine of the best.


?ukasz Piszczek

Lukasz Piszczek

Pronounced: Woo-cah Peesh-check

The Polish right-back is preparing for his eighth attempt at claiming Old Big Ears, yet his is a name many will be mucking up, despite the fact he’s been playing for a top club since 2010.

Nine years ago, Piszczek joined ?Borussia Dortmund on a free from fellow ?Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin and has collected four major honours over the course of 324 appearances for BVB. 

Nevertheless, the only part of his name most people will have nailed is the ‘check’ sound at the end. It’s doubtful many called him ‘Woo-cah’ instead of ‘Lucas’.


Christian Pulisic

Christian Pulisic

Pronounced: Police-sick

Is it a name or a political statement? ?Chelsea new boy Pulisic sounds like an anti-establishment chant, according to UEFA at least.

The only explanation is the name has been Americanised from its Croatian origin, removing the ‘ich’ and replacing it with an ‘ick’. He probably should have stayed true to his roots in that regard, there’s something amiss something about the new pronunciation.


Kevin De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne,Raheem Sterling

Pronounced: De Brurner

The greatest footballer currently playing in the ?Premier League – as confirmed by his ?FIFA 20 rating – is rarely labelled correctly.

Apparently, Kevin is not a ‘De Br-oi-ner’, he’s a ‘De Brurner’. Then again, it doesn’t really matter how you say his name; the Belgian is always pitch-perfect for ?Manchester City.


Xherdan Shaqiri

Xherdan Shaqiri

Pronounced: Jer-dan Shat-cheery

Yeah…I’m not buying this one. This is a load of Shat-cheery from those at UEFA.

The vertically-challenged Shaqiri has been dubbed Big Shaq by ?Liverpool supporters and he has indeed been hot for the Reds since arriving last year. 

Hopefully, the Anfield crowd don’t adapt that nickname to fall in line with what is – apparently – the right way to say Shaqiri.


João Félix

Joao Felix

Pronounced: Joo-waw Fay-lish

Felix’s parents must have been extremely excited when they took the youngster to the registry office, oohing and aahing as they told the clerk his name.

however, ?Atletico Madrid fans are still waiting to be wowed by the Portuguese as he begins his career at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

As for his surname, it’s just a little too unexpected for my liking. Bye, Fay-lish(a).


Donny van de Beek

FBL-EUR-C1-TOTTENHAM-AJAX

Pronounced: Vonder-Bake

Admit it, when you saw van de Beek score in the first leg of the Champions League semi finals, you thought it was pronounced ‘beak’. Nevertheless, the Ajax midfielder is actually more of a bread maker than a bird. 

The 22-year-old is a clever cookie and that isn’t sugar-coating it. Van de Beek makes difficult passes look like a piece of cake, playmaking is his bread and butter, plus he forced ?Real Madrid and Sergio Ramos to eat humble pie last term. Had enough of the baking puns?


Toni Kroos

FBL-ESP-LIGA-RAYO-REAL MADRID

Pronounced: Crowss

This one makes far more sense than some of the others. German is notorious for its unique sounds, so it’s probably to be expected that Kroos isn’t meant to sound the same as ‘cruise’.

It’s more like the end of ‘sauerkraut’ – just swap the ‘t’ for an ‘s’. He will certainly be a very sour Kroos if the national team and his club side Real don’t make amends for their dire performances in recent seasons.


Koke

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL SOCIEDAD-ATLETICO MADRID

Pronounced: Cokka

Koke’s looks a fairly simple name to get right, but there’s a twist, with no heavy emphasis placed on either vowel.

It’s not entirely clear why an ‘a’ sound is created from the ‘e’. Ordinarily in Spanish, an ‘e’ is pronounced like ‘eh’. I guess Koke just likes to break the mould, as he has done when helping Atleti reestablish themselves as European heavyweights.


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Marcelo Ruled Out of PSG Clash as Real Madrid’s Injury Crisis Worsens

Real Madrid full back Marcelo has been ruled out of the club’s Champions League group stage opener against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.

The Brazilian left back sustained the issue in the first half of Saturday’s narrow 3-2 victory of Levante in La Liga, and though he was able to recover during the game to complete the 90 minutes for his side, he has since been ruled out of the midweek encounter.


The club revealed this with a statement on their official website, explaining: “After the tests carried out today on our player Marcelo by the Real Madrid Medical Services, he has been diagnosed with a post-traumatic cervicodorsal injury. His recovery will continue to be assessed.”

The 31-year-old joins Luka Modric, Isco, Brahim Diaz, Federico Valverde and Marco Asensio on the injury list, in a season which has thus far been defined by Real’s absentees. 

While Isco and Asensio have long-term issues, Modric and Valverde were both injured during the international break, just after it felt like the club’s physio tables were finally clearing with the return of summer signings Eden Hazard and Ferland Mendy. 

However, that midfield cratering, combined with Marcelo’s neck injury, ensures that the sideline curse continues to plague the Frenchman.

To add to the injuries, Spanish pair Sergio Ramos and Nacho will also be missing from this crucial clash against PSG at the Parc des Princes through suspension. 

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL MADRID-LEVANTE

While Saturday’s victory took Madrid back to the top three of La Liga after a turbulent opening few weeks, as ever, their success will be measured on the continent, especially after a dismal campaign last year.

The 13-time winners bowed out at the last-16 stage last season following that loss to Ajax, and have been tasked with a testing group in the shape of PSG, Club Brugge and Galatasaray this season.

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PSG vs Real Madrid Preview: Where to Watch, Buy Tickets, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

The Champions League is back with Paris Saint-Germain hosting Real Madrid in a mouth-watering Group A clash on Wednesday night.

13-time winners Madrid will travel to the French capital hoping to get their European campaign off to a winning start against a PSG side who are yet to taste success in the competition in their 49-year history.

Hosts for the clash PSG have started their league campaign off to a fine start, with four wins from their opening five Ligue 1 matches ensuring they sit top of the table; but will be hoping that form transfers over into this monumental encounter. For ?Madrid, they ended a run of two matches without victory in ?La Liga against Levante, hoping that form will boost their confidence when they travel to the Parc des Princes.


Here’s 90min’s preview of the game.


Where to Watch

When is Kick Off? Wednesday 18 September
What Time is Kick Off? 20:00 (BST)
Where is it Played? Parc des Princes
TV Channel/Live Stream? BT Sport
Referee? N/A

Where to Buy Tickets

?

Tickets for the game are, as ever, available on both teams’ official club websites, though membership is required in order to purchase. In terms of resale, both teams provide the option to make season tickets available for others to use, if a supporter is unable to attend the game themselves.


Team News

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PSG have been dealt a major blow ahead of their ?Champions League opener, with star forward ?Kylian Mbappe ruled out of the game with a hamstring injury sustained in the 4-0 league win over Toulouse.

His injury is added to by foot problems ruling Thilo Kehrer and Julian Draxler out, while striker Edinson Cavani is also missing due to a hip injury of his own. With four players out, the goal-scoring return of ?Neymar in the league has come at the right time, although his fractured relationship with the fans continues to be an issue.

For Madrid, Marco Asensio will miss the whole season after a cruciate ligament rupture, while midfield trio Luka Modric, Isco and Federico Valverde are all set for spell on the sidelines and won’t return for Wednesday’s encounter.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL MADRID-GIRONA

Injuries aside, Zinedine Zidane will also have to contend with two defenders missing out, as ?Sergio Ramos and Nacho are both serving bans for red cards.


Predicted Lineups

Paris Saint-Germain Navas; Meunier, Silva, Diallo, Kurzawa; Verratti, Gueye, Di Maria, Neymar, Sarabia; Icardi
Real Madrid Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Eder Militao, Marcelo; Casemiro, Rodriguez, Kroos; Vazquez, Benzema, Hazard.

?


Head to Head Record

Keylor Navas,Zlatan Ibrahimovic

These two sides have faced off on nine occasions previously?, with the first dating back to 1993 in the UEFA Cup. The two-legged quarter final was full of goals, with Madrid winning their home tie 3-1 before succumbing to a heavy 4-1 defeat in the return leg, knocking them out of the competition.

Another two-legged quarter final followed the year after in the Cup Winners’ Cup, with PSG running out 2-1 winners on aggregate. Having been drawn in the same group together in the 2015/16 edition of the Champions League, a 0-0 draw at the Parc des Princes was followed by a narrow 1-0 home win for Madrid. An international Champions Cup match was won 3-1 by Les Parisiens the following year, before the clubs were matched up once more in the round of 16 stage of the Champions League in 2018.

With the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, goals from ?Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo handed the home side a 3-1 advantage, which was followed up by a 2-1 win away in Paris that saw Los Blancos progress to the quarter finals.


Recent Form


After a routine 3-0 win over Nimes on the opening day of the Ligue 1 campaign, PSG fell to a shock 2-1 defeat away at Rennes to hand them their first defeat of the season. 

They’ve since rediscovered their winning touch, with victories over Toulouse, Metz and Strasbourg all following without conceding a single goal. Their most recent outing, despite having to contend with multiple injuries, was less than inspiring, however. Controversial figure Neymar scored the only goal in second half stoppage time to finally break down the winless outfit, but it was a fairly underwhelming showing ahead of Wednesday’s clash.

For the visitors, consistency has been hard to come by, stretching back to the beginning of last season. An opening day win over Celta Vigo looked like reigniting the club under Zidane, but successive draws against Valladolid and Villarreal halted those hopes, bringing the mood at the club back down once more.


Their most recent outing saw a return to winning ways, with two second half Levante goals not enough to stop Madrid running out 3-2 winners at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Here’s how both sides have performed in their last five matches.

Paris Saint-Germain Real Madrid
PSG 1-0 Strasbourg (14/9) Real Madrid 3-2 Levante (14/9)
Metz 0-2 PSG (30/8) Villarreal 2-2 Real Madrid (1/9)
PSG 4-0 Toulouse (25/8) Real Madrid 1-1 Real Valladolid (24/8)
Rennes 2-1 PSG (18/8) Celta Vigo 1-3 Real Madrid (17/8)
PSG 3-0 Nimes (11/8) Roma 2-2 Real Madrid (5-4 on Pens) (11/8)

Prediction

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-PSG-STRASBOURG

The outcome of this match could be vastly different were it not for a significant number of players missing for both sides through a combination of injury and suspension.

No Sergio Ramos will prove to be a major blow for the visitors, who will likely need to field Eder Militao in defence in his first Champions League outing. He won’t need to face Mbappe, however, who misses out, but the returning Neymar – no matter how controversial he is? – remains one of the world’s finest players and will cause problems to any backline in the world.

With Los Blancos shipping goals for fun recently, coupled with the home advantage, this is a game that appears to be set up nicely for PSG. With that in mind, a narrow home win could be on the cards here, but you can never rule Madrid out on the European stage.

Prediction: Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 Real Madrid

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Sergio Ramos Climbs Real Madrid Winning Record Ladder After Levante Victory

Sergio Ramos has moved to fourth in the list of players who have achieved the most La Liga wins with Real Madrid, collecting his 284th victory against Levante – overtaking Madrid legend Gento in the process.

Captain Ramos has been an inspirational figure at the heart of Los Blancos’ defence since his arrival from Sevilla in 2005, and is one of football’s most decorated players. 

Sergio Ramos

Real squeezed past Levante 3-2 on Saturday, despite their best efforts to throw away a three-goal lead handed to them before half-time by Karim Benzema’s brace and Casemiro. A second half fightback saw the visitors reduce the arrears, but Zinedine Zidane’s men held on – earning Ramos the honour of overtaking former great Gento in terms of La Liga wins.

La Liga’s Twitter page revealed the 33-year-old’s achievement after the final whistle, reinforcing just how impressive his career has been at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Ramos has a long way to go if he is to ever hold the record outright, though, as goalkeeper Iker Casillas sits top of the list with a whopping 334 wins for Los Meringues.Legendary forward Raul is second in the list of winners, racking up 327 victories during his time in the Spanish capital, ahead of Manuel Sanchis, who racked up 312 wins of his own.

Most recently, Ramos has captained Real to a hat-trick of Champions League triumphs between 2016 and 2018, though he has struggled to help dislodge Barcelona from their domestic dominance.

This season, Real have taken eight points from their opening four games – and will take heart from Barça’s sloppy start to the season, which has seen a defeat to Athletic Club and further dropped points against Osasuna.

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