Following a week where, I mean Jesus, what didn’t happen? Seriously, Jesus, on this Easter weekend, please tell me what didn’t happen in the world of football this week, because I’m at a loss. Essentially:
– Ajax did it again.
– Juventus cratered as an institution. No seriously – they did.
– United Jose’d again.
– Tottenham DIDN’T Tottenham.
– Liverpool Liverpool’d.
– Chelsea didn’t Chelsea, then drastically did.
– Europa League Unai Emery Europa League Unai Emery’d.
But that was just a tiny portion of what went down, so to help us explain the rest, we’ve employed dramatic comedy and soul-searcher extraordinaire, Noah Baumbach, and all his filmography, to help us slog through it. Never been to Prague? Let’s go.
15. Paris Saint-Germain (Down 5)
“Dear Starbucks, in your attempt to manufacture culture out of fast food coffee you’ve been surprisingly successful for the most part. The part that isn’t covered by ‘the most part’ sucks.” (Greenberg)
How are Paris Saint-Germain still kicking around in these here rankings? Well, they’re still Ligue 1 champions in waiting, and their French Cup final is coming up.
The part that isn’t that? The part where they endured consecutive losses to Lille (5-1) and Nantes (3-2)? The part where they’ve attempted to manufacture culture out of football?
Yeah, that sucks.
14. Atletico Madrid (Re-Entry)
“I found myself writing ‘wake up’ and ‘go to bed’ in my day planner as if they are two different events.” (Kicking & Screaming)
It’s true. Atletico Madrid don’t have much to play for these days after their Champions League exit to Juventus and subsequent loss to Barcelona, which all but ended their La Liga hopes too.
But still, a 2-0 win against Celta Vigo…that’s good going, guys! Whack that one in the diary.
13. Valencia (New Entry)
“‘So what do you do?
‘Eh…It’s kinda hard to explain.’
‘Because what you do is complicated?’
‘Eh…Because I don’t really do it.” (Frances Ha)
A new entry! And at this late stage! How exciting!
And Valencia have earned it, truly, by reaching the semi finals of the Europa League. What an achievement!
How did they do it, you ask? Have I watched a second of this vaunted Europa League campaign, you ask? No, but I’m certain they did do it. Good enough for me. That quote’s become meta now, hasn’t it?
12. Chelsea (Up 2)
“Oh, I’ve been to Prague. Well, I haven’t ‘been to Prague’ been to Prague, but I know that thing; that, ‘Stop shaving your armpits, read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, date a sculptor, now I know how bad American coffee is’ thing.
‘They have good beer there.’
‘Now I know how bad American beer is thing.’” (Kicking & Screaming)
Chelsea have now definitively been to Prague. And they discovered just how good Petr Sevick’s right foot is, and how bad they can be with a 4-1 lead at half-time.
Still, European semi final number 14 is on the way.
11. Lille (New Entry)
“It’s like their apartment is full of everything we once threw out, but it looks so good the way they have it.” (While We’re Young)
Another new entry! What exciting times. And, again, this is fully deserved.
Lille absolutely spanked the soulless Ligue 1 leaders 5-1 to delay their (still inevitable) coronation.
And they cherry-on-topped it with a goal from Jose Fonte. Sure, they have probably-generational youth talent like Nicolas Pepe, but still, Jose Fonte!!! And he looked so good, didn’t he?
10. Eintracht Frankfurt (Up 5)
“If Plato is a fine red wine, then Aristotle is a dry martini.” (Kicking & Screaming)
I could say something equally faux-profound about Eintracht Frankfurt’s remarkable 2018/19 season, but I won’t.
I’ll just say that Luka Jovic is very good. As is Ante Rebic. As is Filip Kostic. Blues beware.
9. Juventus (Down 5)
“What I used to be able to pass off as a bad summer could now potentially turn into a bad life.” (Kicking & Screaming)
Another year, another European dream shattered right in front of the Old Lady’s eyes. Juve are now broken. Seriously, seriously broken.
Sure, they have an eighth consecutive Scudetto to look forward to in the next fortnight (at most), but look around, there are no other Serie A teams in these rankings as it stands. And that tells you all you need to know.
8. Borussia Dortmund (-)
“Sometimes it’s good to do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it.” (Frances Ha)
Finally, FINALLY, Borussia Dortmund did what they’ve supposed to have been doing during this Bundesliga title race run-in – win. And comfortably, too.
A Jadon Sancho brace was just what the doctor ordered. More of the same, please. You know how much faith we placed in you. Some confirmation that this wasn’t misplaced would be nice.
7. Arsenal (Up 1)
“For the first time in my life I’ve stopped thinking of myself as a child imitating an adult.” (While We’re Young)
All of a sudden, Arsenal look like a team of grown ups, especially in Europe. Of course, the stewardship of Europa League savant Unai Emery must help, but still, the improvement in their midweek continental maturity has been stark.
Brandon Stark? Yes, ‘Game of Thrones‘ is still a thing, and if I had the time to insert Bran into this picture – cause, you know, he’s everywhere man! – I would.
6. Bayern Munich (Up 1)
“You know, me and Jamie, always wondered, ‘how are we gonna get old?’ And the answer is…just like everyone else.” (While We’re Young)
At times this season, Bayern have looked just like a team of their age should look: bedraggled, off the pace, out of touch etc.
But at others, they’ve appeared as ageless as a bunch of boys from Neverland.
The only way we’ll find out which assessment is true is by waiting for the sands of time to do their work. How profound.
5. Manchester City (-)
”Josh, you know the world isn’t a giant conspiracy against you.” (While We’re Young)
Replace Josh with Manchester City and, yep, you’ve got it. A bitter, bitter, way to lose? Sure. A Var-spiracy hell-bent on keeping your plucky side of misfits from touching European glory? Give over.
That may have been harsh. Because I genuinely did feel for City fans on Wednesday night – there can’t be many worse ways to lose than that, after a game like that. So here, have another Baumbach quote, on the house:
“How do you make God laugh? Make a plan.” (Kicking & Screaming)
Feeling better yet?
4. Barcelona (Down 2)
“It was like walking barefoot through broken glass to get a milkshake. I loved the milkshake, but, you know, my feet were bleeding.” (‘The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)’)
Yes, it’s only a matter of time before Barcelona win La Liga, and yes, they won their Champions League quarter-final second leg with ease.
So why the bleeding feet?
Well, it can’t be pleasant playing 180 minutes against Manchester United, can it?
In other film-milkshake related news, Lionel Messi is coming for your milkshake, Europe, and he wants to drink it all up.
3. Tottenham Hotspur (Up 3)
“It’s huge to finally embrace the life you never planned on.” (Greenberg)
In their wildest dreams, Tottenham fans would never have ‘planned on’ reaching the Champions League semi finals. They may have hoped and dreamed and prayed. But never ‘planned’. They’re not like that.
Fortunately, that’s not how their club were thinking. That’s not what their players were thinking. That’s not what their manager was thinking. For years, they’ve been plotting this moment. Sure, there’s been some praying on the way too, but Wednesday night wasn’t the result of prayers.
It was planning at its best.
2. Liverpool (Up 1)
“I haven’t had that thing yet, where you realise that you’re not the most important person in the world.” (Margot at the Wedding)
Sure, Liverpool vanquished some demons when they dispatched of Chelsea on Sunday at Anfield, and then vanquished Porto altogether in their Champions League tie, but are they the most important club in the world?
They may feel like it, but clearly, given their runner-up medal in these here rankings, they’re not.
1. Ajax (-)
”Don’t mind me, I’m just trying to get your attention.” (Frances Ha)
Well, by God, De Godenzonen, you’ve got it. Ten times over. Christ, we love you. We love your style of football. We love your infectious youthful naivety, your generational talent, your once in a lifetime collective, your never-say-die-attitude. We love it all.
The fact that these words are uttered by the God Adam Driver should not be ignored, either. Driver was an up-and-comer for a millisecond, and then, deservedly, he was an A-grade actor. There was no in between. No stint in Hollywood purgatory. He’s just great, in everything does.
A lot like Ajax.