90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings 2020/21 – Week 12

Following a week in which:

– Bayern Munich lost TWO games of football.

– Man Utd went THREE points clear at the top of the Premier League.

– Chelsea scored FOUR goals against…Morecambe (ooohh you’re hard).

We at 90min‘s DEPR headquarters decided that we should nab some quotes from the best films of 1990 to describe of the 15 best team’s in Europes current situations…and then we remembered that Goodfellas came out in 1990 and opted to do a Goodfellas special instead (sorry Miller’s Crossing, we love you too).

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As far back as I can remember I always wanted to rank the best football teams in Europe for a living.

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Lyon drew with Rennes at the weekend | LOIC VENANCE/Getty Images

“Now go home and get your f**kin’ shinebox.”

Unbelievably Olympique Lyonnais are still top of Ligue 1.

However, they are just one point clear of a PSG who just hired Mauricio Pochettino (aka one of the best managers in the world), so we fully expect Lyon to be put in their place pretty soon.

Frenkie de JongFrenkie de Jong
Barcelona have found a bit of form | Fran Santiago/Getty Images

“What the f*ck are you doing? You’re hanging around my f**kin’ neck like a vulture, like impending danger.”

On the pitch, things are going *whisper it* fairly well right now for Barcelona. They’re unbeaten in nine, and set to play in the Supercopa de Espana final on Sunday.

Off the pitch, however, things aren’t going so well. They have a €900m debt hanging around their neck like a vulture, like impending danger, that’ll mean they may have to sell Lionel Messi regardless of who takes over as the club’s new president. That ain’t good.

Rolan Sallai, Timo HornRolan Sallai, Timo Horn
Freiburg have won five on the bounce | Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

“You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little f**ked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to f**kin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

Freiburg are in this week’s Definitive European Power Rankings.

Wait…why are you laughing at that?

You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little f**ked up maybe, but that’s funny how? Freiburg being in the Power Rankings amuses you? It makes you laugh?

Well it shouldn’t, because Freiburg have won their last six games in all competitions. Put some respeck on their names.

Eden HazardEden Hazard
Eden Hazard hasn’t been…great…at all… | Fran Santiago/Getty Images

“You wasted eight aprons on that guy.”

Real Madrid wasted €100m on that guy above.

That guy above who has played, in total, 32 games across all competitions at Real Madrid.

That guy above who has scored just three goals in two years at Real Madrid.

That guy above who is, clearly, woefully out of shape.

Eden Hazard is one of the biggest flop transfers in recent history.

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Sporting CP are top of Liga NOS | Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

“To me, it meant being somebody in a neighbourhood full of nobodies.”

Look, we know that you don’t watch Liga NOS – very few people do outside of Portugal. So, as such, we know you don’t really care about the fact that Sporting CP are still unbeaten in the league (11 wins and two draws to date) and are comfortably top of the table.

But, you know what? Sporting CP do.

To that club, it means something to be somebody in a league full of nobodies.

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Gladbach beat Bayern | WOLFGANG RATTAY/Getty Images

“One day some of the kids from the neighbourhood carried my mother’s groceries all the way home. You know why? It was outta respect.”

Outta respect for their uncanny ability to beat Bayern Munich (they’ve now beaten Bayern four times across the past four years…which is actually miraculous), we had to fire Borussia Monchengladbach straight into the DEPR top ten this week.

Jurgen KloppJurgen Klopp
Klopp’s side have dropped to second | Pool/Getty Images

“See, your murderers come with smiles. They come as your friends, the people who have cared for you all of your life, and they always seem to come at a time when you’re at your weakest and most in need of their help.”

While Liverpool are at their weakest; while they’re without Virgil van Dijk and without the sense to not play to central midfielders in defence (that was insanely dumb), the two Manchester clubs are coming after them.

Now, with their backs against the wall and at their most vulnerable, Liverpool need to beat an in-form Manchester United on Sunday.

Good luck!

Leonardo SpinazzolaLeonardo Spinazzola
Dreamy Roma kit | Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

“Murder was the only way that everybody stayed in line.”

We’re sooooo close to taking AS Roma seriously as Serie A title contenders, but in order to properly take them seriously I Giallorossi have to beat SS Lazio.

It’s that simple.

Murdering Lazio’s title hopes is the only way that Roma can announce themselves as genuine title contenders.

Steven GerrardSteven Gerrard
Rangers just keep on winning | Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

“It’s gonna be a good summer!”

Rangers fans, I think we all know that your team are comfortably going to win the SPFL.

Really, really, really comfortably win the SPFL.

So it’s time to sit back and look forward to summer of slagging off Celtic fans about their club’s bottling of the ten in a row. It’s gonna be a good summer!

Phil FodenPhil Foden
Phil Foden is really good | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

“Like you said to, uh, somebody, ‘You’re gonna like this guy. He’s all right. He’s a good fella. He’s one of us.’ You understand?”

Phil Foden is the perfect Pep Guardiola player, isn’t he?

He’s tiny (Pep likes tiny people), he’s ridiculously gifted, and he can play through the middle or out wide. The kid’s seriously special, and is dragging Man City back to relevancy this season with some outstanding performances.

Alvaro MorataAlvaro Morata
Been an up and down season for Juve | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

“Jimmy was the kind of guy who rooted for the bad guy in movies.”

In this season’s Scudetto race, AC Milan are the good guys and reigning champions Juventus are the bad guys.

Juve are the big bad team who has won nine league titles on the bounce, and made Serie A ‘boring’ in some people’s eyes.

AC Milan, on the other hand, with their youthful squad (bar Zlatan Ibrahimovic) are the team that the are making Serie A exciting again to the neutrals.

Holstein Kiel v Bayern Muenchen - DFB Cup: Second RoundHolstein Kiel v Bayern Muenchen - DFB Cup: Second Round
Bayern have lost two games in a row | Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

“In this day and age, what the f**k is this world coming to? I can’t believe this.”

Bayern have lost two games on the bounce…?

The team that lost just one game throughout the whole of 2020 have already lost two games in 2021…?

In this day and age, what the f**k is the football world coming to? Bayern losing two in a row? I can’t believe this.

Stefano Pioli, Franck Kessie, Pierre Kalulu, Hakan Calhanoglu, Anton Ciprian Tatarusanu, Alessio RomagnoliStefano Pioli, Franck Kessie, Pierre Kalulu, Hakan Calhanoglu, Anton Ciprian Tatarusanu, Alessio Romagnoli
AC Milan are still flying high | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

“I’m not mad, I’m proud of you. You took your first pinch like a man, and learned the two greatest things in life.”

After their disappointing defeat to Juventus – their first defeat of the league season – AC Milan could’ve lost a bit of confidence.

But they didn’t.

Instead, they went out the following week and beat Torino in both Serie A and the Coppa Italia. They took their first defeat like men – you have to rate that.

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Man Utd are top of the PL | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

“Today, everything is different.”

After 18 months of total domination by Liverpool, this week a team finally stepped up and knocked the Reds off their perch (maybe temporarily).

That team was Manchester United. The Red Devils, for the first time since 2017, are now at the top of the Premier League table and look, for the first time since Fergie left, like serious title contenders.

Jan OblakJan Oblak
Oblak doesn’t concede goals ever | Denis Doyle/Getty Images

“Now the guy’s got Paulie as a partner. Any problems, he goes to Paulie. Trouble with a bill, he can go to Paulie. Trouble with the cops, deliveries, Tommy, he can call Paulie.”

Any problems Atletico Madrid have defensively, goalkeeper Jan Oblak sorts it out. A forwards gets a shot off on goal, Oblak will save it. A corner, free kick or cross from the flank is whipped into the box, Oblak will pick it off.

When you have a world class goalkeeper like Oblak, your team has nothing to worry about.

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Steve Bruce responds to ‘personal’ criticism from Newcastle United fans

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce believes criticism from some fans is ‘personal’, but says he will not walk away from the club because of it.

Bruce has been in charge of the Magpies since July 2019, taking over from fan favourite Rafa Benitez at St. James’ Park.

Fans of the club have started a ‘Bruce Out’ movement following defeat to Sheffield United, who picked up their first win of the Premier League season after 18 games against Newcastle, with Bruce admitting afterwards that he picked the wrong team for the game.

Steve BruceSteve Bruce
Bruce is under big pressure at St James’ Park | Pool/Getty Images

Bruce believes though that the criticism is personal from some, because they never thought he should have got the job to begin with.

Speaking in his pre-game press conference ahead of Monday’s trip to Arsenal (via BBC), Bruce said: “I’ve made a career of never giving in so I won’t [now], I will keep trying to do my utmost to make this better.

“[The criticism] has been personal from day one – certain people out there think I shouldn’t have been in the job to start with. All I can do is accept it and try not to be too down with it.”

Newcastle are winless in six games in the Premier League and have slipped into 15th position in the league, and they’ve been knocked out of the Carabao Cup in the semi-finals and the FA Cup in the third round, with the club’s official supporters trust claiming they are ‘sleepwalking to relegation’.

Steve BruceSteve Bruce
Bruce believes the criticism is personal from fans that never wanted him to get the job | Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Bruce acknowledged that his side are in a relegation battle this season but defended his defensive approach to games.

“I understand the supporters’ frustration and anger – I would be the same way,” added Bruce, who was a Newcastle United fan growing up.

“But I keep stressing if you’re in the bottom half of the Premier League, you have to be a bit pragmatic. Now, getting that balance right, I fully, fully understand.

“Have Newcastle been a good watch for years? We’ve been in the bottom half of the Premier League. Now we’re not saying it’s acceptable, but it’s the way it is. So we have to have a certain way of defending well, but I agree we have to offer more going forward.”

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Mauricio Pochettino tests positive for COVID-19

Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino has tested positive for COVID-19 and has now been forced into a period of self-isolation.

It’s been a rollercoaster of a start to life in Paris for Pochettino, who joined on January 2 and needed just 11 days to lift his first trophy, steering PSG to a 2-1 win over Marseille to lift the Trophee des Champions.

For PSG, the hope was that they could carry that momentum over to Ligue 1 to reclaim their usual spot at the top of the table, but they will have to do so without Pochettino as the Argentine must now isolate.

“Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino has tested positive for COVID-19,” a statement on the club’s official website read. “He will therefore respect isolation and is subject to the appropriate health protocol.

“His assistants Jesus Perez and Miguel D’Agostino will take over from tomorrow in Angers.”

Rafael Alcantara, RafinhaRafael Alcantara, Rafinha
Rafinha is one of three players to test positive | Xavier Laine/Getty Images

Pochettino is the latest person at the Parc des Princes to test positive for the virus, following defenders Colin Dagba and Thilo Kehrer, and midfielder Rafinha.

PSG currently sit second in Ligue 1, just one point behind leaders Lyon, so Saturday’s meeting with Angers is a great chance for the defending champions to keep up the pressure.

The two sides met back in October, when PSG roared to an emphatic 6-1 victory, but Angers have bounced back since then and currently find themselves in seventh, picking up recent wins over high-flyers Lille and Marseille.

Neymar Jr, Mauro IcardiNeymar Jr, Mauro Icardi
PSG thumped Angers earlier this season | Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

“We’ll have to be ready on Saturday, because it’s a very difficult game against Angers that’s ahead of us,” Pochettino said of the game before his test results came in. “We want to win again, and to do that, we have to be ready.

“We want to be top of the Ligue 1 table and to get there, we’ll have to win. The most important thing is to be consistent in our performances. We’re very happy with the way the players are picking up our concepts. I want to thank them, the staff that we already had here, and the fans who encouraged us before the match.”

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!

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Wayne Rooney – the greatest English player of his generation

As Wayne Rooney moves into full-time management with Derby County, so comes to an end the playing career of the greatest English talent of his generation.

Rooney’s transition into coaching and management is not unexpected. He joined Derby specifically as a player-coach when he returned to England in January 2020 and has been speaking about his ambition to become a manager for several years. He was working towards his coaching badges as early as 2016 when he was still playing for Manchester United and only 30.

This was someone born to be in football.

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Rooney won the lot during his glorious club career | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Rooney made his breakthrough at Everton aged just 16 and quickly went on to score one of the all-time iconic Premier League goals against reigning champions Arsenal in 2002.

He was a first-team regular for the Toffees at 17 and commanded a record fee for a teenager worth nearly £30m when he moved to Manchester United at 18 in 2004.

It had been Rooney’s performances for England at Euro 2004 that summer that sealed Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision that he had to have him. The prodigy scored four times and his injury early into the quarter-final against Portugal when England were leading has always been regarded as a huge ‘what if’ moment.

Rooney score a hat-trick on his United debut in the Champions League against Fenerbahce and got 17 goals in his debut season. He was part of a new and exciting young team, built around the partnership between himself and Cristiano Ronaldo that brought the club’s most concentrated period of success at a time when domestic and European competition was fiercer than ever.

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Rooney was a key part of an exceptional Man Utd team | PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Rooney won the first of five career Premier League titles in 2006/07, netting more than 20 goals in a single season for the first time. The following year he took the number ten shirt that he would soon become synonymous with and added another domestic title and a Champions League trophy.

With Carlos Tevez also having joined the fold for 2007/08, Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez has become revered as one of English football’s all-time great attacking trios.

Another Premier League title and Champions League final followed, with United losing out to Barcelona in Rome. Ronaldo then departed and Rooney assumed the mantle as chief goal threat, showcasing a different side to his game as an out-and-out striker. He got 34 in all competitions in 2009/10 in the first season after Ronaldo’s exit to Real Madrid.

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Rooney proved himself as a goalscorer after Cristiano Ronaldo left | ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

Rooney’s time at Old Trafford wasn’t without controversy. He asked to leave United at least once, most famously in 2010 when he questioned the club’s ambition. But he signed a new contract and that season brought his most famous goal – a match winning overhead kick against Manchester City – and a record breaking 19th league title for club as a whole.

Again tasked with scoring goals, Rooney got another 34 in 2011/12. The following season, he was back to his usual deeper role, playing provider for new front man Robin van Persie as United won a milestone 20th league title, the fifth of Rooney’s career. It was his raking pass that Van Persie volleyed home in the decisive game against Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

An FA Cup, League Cups, a Club World Cup and the Europa League completed a full set of trophies.

With the club struggling in a changing environment after Ferguson’s retirement, Rooney inherited the captaincy in 2014. By then, he was starting to play a little less often and would regularly drop deeper into midfield to plug holes and add creativity to an poorly recruited squad.

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Rooney finished his career as Man Utd’s leading goalscorer | OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Rooney’s consistency was remarkable. For 12 consecutive years as a United player, he scored at least 14 goals in all competitions every season – only in his 13th and last did he drop below 10. As a result, by 2017 he had broken Sir Bobby Charlton’s longstanding goal record, scoring his 250th in a game at Stoke and extending it to 253 by the time he left a few months later.

Rooney had already broken Charlton’s England record in 2015, becoming the first player to score 50 senior international goals for the Three Lions.

The player was still capable of making an impact when he returned to boyhood club Everton in 2017 and was a revelation during 18 months in MLS with D.C. United. He single-handedly resurrected the club’s 2018 season, taking them from the bottom of the standings into the playoffs.

What makes him the best English player of his generation when compared to the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard? It’s easy, he won more.

Wayne RooneyWayne Rooney
Rooney scored 53 goals in 120 England appearances | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Rooney was often heavily criticised for underperforming in an England shirt. But he was short of fitness at the World Cup in 2006 after rushing back from a broken foot and carried the weight of an expectant nation on his shoulders after his heroics in 2004.

Lampard, Gerrard and others also underwhelmed for England time after time during that period, so Rooney is far from alone in failing to deliver on the promise of the Golden Generation.

When measuring Rooney’s career, consider that he played 676 games at the highest level for Everton and Manchester United and over 760 at club level in total. He scored 366 career goals for club and country and is the all-time record goalscorer for both England’s most famous and revered club and the national team, as well as England’s most capped outfield player.

He is one of only two players in Premier League history to have scored more than 200 goals in the competition and won best goal at the Premier League 20-year anniversary ceremony. He was also a PFA and FWA award winner and at his peak was genuinely world class.

Enjoy your retirement, Wazza.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

Let’

Manchester United to rival Chelsea for West Ham’s Declan Rice

Manchester United are preparing to rival Chelsea for the signing of Declan Rice in the summer transfer window, as the race for his signature hots up.

The West Ham midfielder has been a standout performer for David Moyes’ side this season and attracted the attention of Frank Lampard who is interested in bringing him back to Stamford Bridge, where he came through the academy.

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Rice is a target for Manchester United | Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

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However Manchester United are now interested in signing Rice for their defensive midfield position, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues to overhaul his squad. According to ESPN, United are keen to sign a centre-back and a defensive midfielder in the summer, although they are wary of spending large amounts while the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing.

It’s believed that a move for Rice is also dependent on the immediate future of Paul Pogba. The Frenchman has been in fine form over the last six weeks since his agent Mino Raiola revealed his intention to move the player on at the end of the season.

The 27-year-old has 18 months left on his contract at Old Trafford, but with the pandemic affecting the funds of all the major clubs across Europe, it’s unknown whether Juventus or Real Madrid could afford the transfer fee and wages it would take to move him.

Declan Rice, Frank Lampard, Emerson Palmieri, Angelo OgbonnaDeclan Rice, Frank Lampard, Emerson Palmieri, Angelo Ogbonna
Rice came through the Chelsea academy | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Rice is expected to favour a move to Chelsea over United, who looked to sign him in last summer’s window too. Frank Lampard’s position could potentially be linked to any move the club make for him though, and with his future in doubt, United have chosen to make their interest known now.

It’s expected that West Ham would demand a fee of around £70m for their vice-captain, who has a contract at the London Stadium that runs until 2024 with an option to extend it by a further year.

Let’