We may only have had one week of club football, but it was quite a week! Let’s look at the top performers for their respective teams.
Note: As may have become clear, Europe’s Finest does not take into account performances in international football.
10. Joshua Kimmich (New)
Joshua Kimmich has been imperious for Bayern Munich this season, defying all the odds of Thomas Tuchel’s piss-poor midfield setups by dominating the midfield every time he steps on the pitch. This week was no different as Bayern faced SC Freiburg in what would be perhaps Bayern’s most dominant game since Tuchel took the reins. This team dominance was built off of Kimmich’s top notch performance in which he completely shut down Freiburg defensively while providing himself to the defenders as a passing option almost all the time despite Freiburg’s compacting high press. A top notch performance from the most complete midfielder in world football.
9. Benjamin Pavard (Last week: 8)
Benjamin Pavard continues his individual hot streak, despite Internazionale faltering against Bologna.
Inter bottled a two goal lead against Bologna last weekend, but it was mostly down to some individual mistakes from Alessandro Bastoni and Yann Sommer. Pavard was fantastic for Inter, putting in all the dirty work for the defense and contributing to build-up too. It seems Inter have finally settled on a back three of Bastoni, Pavard and Francesco Acerbi, and it has become the best possible foundation for them to make another run at the Scudetto.
8. Antoine Griezmann (Last week: 3)
Antoine Griezmann had a good game against Real Sociedad last weekend, creating multiple chances for his teammates and orchestrating play very well in the final third. Griezmann’s work off the ball was impeccable as usual too, with his constant harassing and pressing of the defenders and midfielders resulting in multiple turn-overs deep in Sociedad’s half. Griezmann eventually got his reward for a fine game, converting a penalty to restore Atlético Madrid’s lead in the game and eventually win them the three points.
7. Romelu Lukaku (New)
It sounds completely insane to say but in the year of 2023, Romelu Lukaku is back to his very best for AS Roma.
The Belgian has ten goals and an assist in his last nine games for club and country, and the performance in question that brought him into the power rankings was a man of the match performance against Cagliari. Lukaku set up a chance for Paulo Dybala on a platter but the Argentine failed to convert, however the pair would be undeterred as they combined beautifully for Roma’s second goal of the game (with an assist from Rick Karsdorp out wide). Lukaku got a second with some great positioning between the Cagliari defenders and a good pass to find him from Leandro Paredes before the big Belgian turned mightily quick and finished mightily clean. A top drawer performance.
6. Min-jae Kim (New)
A mainstay of the power rankings last season during his tenure at Napoli, Min-jae Kim returns to Europe's Finest for the first time this season, this time in the colours of Bayern Munich. The captain of South Korea continued his stellar form with a performance against Freiburg that encapsulated just why Bayern paid the big bucks for him.
Kim was the source of Bayern’s build-up throughout the game against Freiburg, and even more than that, was completely dominant against Freiburg, with the opposition failing to register a single shot on target, with just a pair of off-target shots to their name. Despite Tuchel’s offensive and midfield floundering, Bayern’s defense looks insurmountable with Kim in the form he is in right now.
5. James Maddison (Last week: 6)
Tottenham Hotspur lead the Premier League, and there is no man more important to that surge than new signing James Maddison.
The English creator continued his hot streak with a fantastic game against Luton Town in which Maddison created numerous chances for his teammates but was hard-done by some subpar finishing. Maddison eventually got fruit for his work, cutting it back to Micky van de Ven in the middle after a litany of twists and turns to beat defenders down the byline. Maddison continues ascending beyond the levels thought of him when he was ‘just another Championship star’ at Norwich City.
4. Kieran Trippier (Last week: 5)
Kieran Trippier continues to impress me with his sheer reliability in defense and his creativity in attack for Newcastle United.
Off the back of that performance against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, Trippier put in a fantastic performance against West Ham. Alexander Isak was in the headlines but Trippier was the one who provided the platform for him. Trippier’s free kick was the perfect indirect set piece for Newcastle to equalise against the Hammers, and then Trippier assisted the second of the game with a frankly ridiculous cross for which Trippier didn’t even take a touch when receiving the ball, electing instead to cross it on the volley to Isak in the middle. Trippier may well be the most well-rounded wing back in world football.
3. Álejandro Grimaldo (Last week: 4)
Álejandro Grimaldo continues his fine run of form for Bayer Leverkusen. The Spaniard had an effective cameo against Molde in the UEFA Europa League, but followed it up with a fantastic performance against FC Köln. While Jonas Hofmann really ran the show against Köln, Grimaldo was no lesser in terms of his contributions to the game, bailing Leverkusen out of some very tight spaces in possession. Grimaldo was instrumental to the first goal with a cross from the left which Florian Wirtz flicked over to Hofmann, Grimaldo then created the second with a gorgeous touch to beat his man and a beautiful cross across goal to Jeremie Frimpong at the far post. Grimaldo nearly got on the scoresheet with a looping half-shot-half-cross that nearly snuck in at the top left corner after receiving the ball in return from a short corner on the right wing. A wonderful performance from the best left back in the world.
2. Jude Bellingham (Last week: 2)
Jude Bellingham continue his assault on Spanish football with another elite performance for Real Madrid.
The English superstar opened the scoring for Real Madrid early in the game against Osasuna with a deft set of touches followed by a strong finish that wrong-footed the goalkeeper, then doubled his tally for the day with a cheeky finish between the legs of the keeper after a smart exchange between him and Federico Valverde to beat the unorganised defense. Bellingham does all the simple things in football so well, it makes one question why professional football looks so difficult in the first place.
1. Leroy Sané (Reign: 28 days)
The architect of Bayern’s success, the antithesis of Bellingham’s footballing simplicity and the arbiter of every game he sets foot in. Leroy Sané is the best player in the world and only continues to show it every week.
Bayern’s domination of Freiburg may have come in defense and even in the middle somewhat, but the attack was disjointed and fractured. Picking up the pieces and bringing the goals home was Leroy Sané, who sliced through five, count’ em, FIVE (!!!) players in a ridiculous diagonal run before playing a one-two with Harry Kane to double Bayern’s lead on the day. Sané had a second goal (wrongly) adjudged offside, an unbelievable turn, nutmeg and strike which left Philipp Lienhart shopping for fruits at Sainsbury’s and goalkeeper Noah Atubolu reaching for flies in the air. For every simple thing a footballer does that makes the sport seem easy, Sané does all the unbelievable things that make football seem impossible to play at a high level. If I may borrow a nickname from a certain Canadian, Leroy Sané is the excellence of execution.
What do you think of the rankings this time around? Is there anyone you would’ve included? Can Bellingham dethrone Sané next time? Let us know your thoughts in the discussion below.