Following a week where:
- Ajax huffed and they puffed and they blew Tottenham away.
- Lionel Messi GOATed and GOATed and he GOATed Liverpool out of the Champions League (probably).
- Other things happened that weren't UCL-related and therefore don't cut it for the intro.
We have another edition of 90min's now-famous and always-definitive European Power Rankings, this time aided by the filmography of playwright, screenwriter and director-extraordinaire, Kenneth Lonergan.
Allez, Allez, Allez!
15. RB Leipzig (Re-Entry)
"Well, what I think you should do...is stop whining about this pathetic loser.”
RB Leipzig are back in the big time, baybee.
With Getafe, and just about every other Spanish top four-chasing side losing (a bit like their English counterparts), a space was open in the power rankings, and the lads from Leipzig snapped it up.
Now, you could take that above quote as a directive to a German fan/player/team who continuously moan about Leipzig's existence, or, you could add a comma between 'this' and 'pathetic', and say it's a direct quote from Die Roten themselves. Your choice!
14. Atletico Madrid (-)
"I can feel the juices rushing back to my balls as we speak." (Analyze This)
Last week, we accused Atletico Madrid of forgoing their destructive roots to become a team of freewheeling entertainers. Obviously, the players heard us loud and clear, as they slogged to a vintage 1-0 win over 18th-placed Valladolid at home - thanks to an own goal.
..And yeh, Diego Simeone definitely enjoyed it, and he has a storied history with Cojones so, you know...
13. Arsenal (Down 1)
"Because...this isn't an opera! And we are not all supporting characters to the drama of your amazing life!” (Margaret)
That is essentially the answer to why Arsenal fans would be entitled to feeling fed up with Unai Emery. Yes, their Europa League form has been imperious, but that's what he does. Domestically they've been turgid, and the Premier League shouldn't have been sacrificedjust for Emery's 'amazing [Europa League] life'.
If success in Europe's second-tier competition, regardless of domestic placing, was itself considered 'success', couldn't a certain Frenchman have delivered that year in, year out?
"I KNEW we shouldn't have left him! We haven't been apart in thirty-five years!”
(The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle)
12. Benfica (Up 1)
"The past is a torch that lights our way. Where our fathers have shown us the path, we shall follow. Our faith is the weapon most feared by our enemies. For thereby shall we lift our people up against those who would destroy us.” (Gangs of New York)
Yeh, basically, Benfica, the 36-time Liga NOS champions look odds on for a 37th triumph. The 4-1 win away against Braga, coupled with Porto's 2-2 draw with 10-man Rio Ave, may have just sealed it.
They can get a bit dramatic sometimes, but that's what they were trying to say.
11. Eintracht Frankfurt (Down 1)
"I have to say, not being able to perform three or four times..'
'...Eight times, is not catastrophic.'” (Analyze This)
Not a terrible semi final first leg result for Eintracht Frankfurt, but not exactly a great one?
And it follows a run of 'not exactly great results' stretching back six games, with just one win amongst that barrage of losses and draws.
Still, they're still in the tie.
10. Chelsea (Up 1)
"That just seems like an awful lot of extra paperwork.” (You Can Count on Me)
Not a vintage week for Chelsea, but then if you'd offered them two draws from two in these games, they probably would've taken it (which might say a lot?) In any case, they did their cause for Champions League football no harm.
Meanwhile, the will-it-won't-it nature of the proposed transfer ban continues. Why don't they just pack it in? In one door, there's a hoard of hungry youngsters eager to prove themselves. In the other, there's a load of paperwork just to get the opportunity to sign players who have a 50/50 chance of becoming the next Danny Drinkwater.
9. Rennes (New Entry)
"'Bullwinkle, allow me to be frank.
'Okay, Frank. Allow me to be Bullwinkle.'
'I'm Cappy Von Trapment, FBI.'
'I thought you said your name was Frank.'
'SHUT UP, BULLWINKLE.'
(The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle)
Rennes won the French Cup! Which means, as well as lifting their first domestic trophy since 1983, they take Paris Saint-Germain's place in the European Power Rankings! Bon Jouer, lads!
And, it seems, like Bullwinkle, legendary forward Hatem Ben Arfa has bits, telling his former side that they are used to comebacks, cause, you know, BARCA. Nice going, HBA, you'll have a $76m star-studded flop of a movie made about you and a buddy in no time.
8. Borussia Dortmund (-)
"How many times in the past have they stood between me and my dreams of glory? How many times have they foiled my plans with their bungling interference?”
(The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle)
Borussia Dortmund have been foiled many a time by Bayern Munich's 'bungling interference', but they were actually given a lifeline by the Bavarians this week.
After a tumultuous Rhone Derby, which culminated in a 4-2 defeat for Lucien Favre's men in what felt like a relinquishing of their title challenge, FC Hollywood only went and flopped their way to a 1-1 draw with Nurnberg.
Not even Kenny Lonergan could write this!!! I mean, he obviously could, it's very easy to make sports dramatic if you make it up - no idea why that is a thing people say - but still, drama!!
7. Juventus (-)
"Everything you see belongs to me, to one degree or another.” (Gangs of New York)
Juve may have drawn against Inter, but did they? Did they really? Or did they just choose not to win?
Besides, what are Inter? Especially without their talismanic (but actually not anymore cause he's an out-of-favour contract rebel) forward? We'll likely find out this summer, because the Old Lady are likely to buy Mauro Icardi, by hook or by crook. They basically already own him, like they do everything else in Serie A.
Italy is their oyster. The problem is, all the other oysters they want are taken.
6. Bayern Munich (-)
"'You know me?
'No you don't.'
'You see my picture in the paper?'
'No you didn't.'
'I don't even get the paper.'”
We have no idea what to think about Bayern anymore.
Ask us next week.
5. Tottenham Hotspur (-)
"And let me tell you something, I do not appreciate it when someone sneaks into my hotel room and kidnaps me in the middle of the night.” (Analyze This)
It wasn't quite the middle of the night, and Tottenham weren't exactly kidnapped - they were just bamboozled and neutralised to the nth degree.
The first 30 minutes were brutal. It's not over but, well, isn't it? Because there's no way Ajax aren't scoring at home and there's no way Fernando Llorente is scoring twice. Not for the first time this season, Spurs will be left praying for a Son Heung-min miracle.
...But, as divine interventions go, his are pretty regular, so... *shrug emoji*?
4. Liverpool (-)
"I can't beat it. I can't beat it. I'm sorry.” (Manchester by the Sea)
We know. You tried. You did pretty well. But it wasn't enough. And now you're staring down the barrel of another trophy-less season, without doing much wrong?
It's hard. We don't know what to say... except:
"I said a lot of terrible things to you. My heart was broken and now yours is broken too.” (Manchester by the Sea)
3. Manchester City (-)
"Remember the first rule of politics. The ballots don't make the results, the counters make the results. The counters. Keep counting.” (Gangs of New York)
At this point, it's all about the numbers for Manchester City. Fortunately for them, they won't have to be doing any fabricating if they *Bill Belichick voice* Do. Their. Jobs.
For Pep Guardiola, it's simple.
2. Ajax (Down 1)
"Uncle Lee, are you fundamentally unsound?” (Manchester by the Sea)
I guess we're Uncle Lee, in this scenario.
Look, Ajax, we don't know how you've gone down a place either, but you have. It was the perfect Champions League away performance. You bamboozled and then you battened down the hatches. Sure, you should've got a second, but that's ok, that's not why you've been demoted.
It's just, you know, him? It's how it works. We're sorry, Matthijs. So, so, sorry.
1. Barcelona (Up 1)
"Call the Vatican. See if something is missing.” (Analyze This)
HOLY. F*CKING. SH*T.
Apologies, Father, but cooooomeee oooooonnn.
Lionel. LIONEL. LIIOOOOONEEEELLLLLL.
Not being funny, but if Barcelona had won that game 3-0 thanks to an unspectacular header from Gerard Pique, La Blaugrana would not be here right now. This is the power of Messi. We're a couple of days removed, but we can still barely describe that free kick. That moment.
Lionel Messi, bloody hell.
500,000 fans recently voted his fleet-footed goal against Getafe as the greatest Barcelona score of all time. In the spirit of that quote attributed to Man City from 'Gangs of New York,' can we get a recount?