I don’t think anything ever disappoints me more than finding out an international break has hit football right in the middle of a very crucial part of the season. Do I really have to wait two weeks for Der Klassiker and the Champions League semi-finals after having to watch a lacklustre Bayern Munich performance?
Anyway, let’s look at the best performers in club football in the lead-up to this international break.
Note: There will be no power rankings for the international break. Does anyone really care that much about the international friendlies or Euro qualifiers?
10. Thibaut Courtois (New)
El Clasico was the premier game of the week, although it honestly did not feel like it in the build up. However the game itself was fantastic, and Courtois was the stand-out performer on the night.
Courtois was all over Barcelona’s attack, and while Real Madrid may have conceded twice, it could have been a lot more had it not been for the Belgian’s elite shot-stopping. Courtois has shown that no matter how inconsistent he may seem at times, he always shows up in the big games when Real need him to.
9. Vinícius Júnior (Last week: 2)
Vinícius Júnior didn’t have his most fantastic game in El Clasico but he showed up nonetheless.
Vini was powerful down the left flank, troubling Ronald Araújo throughout the 90 and eventually getting a goal out of it too when Vini’s cross rebounded off of Araújo and into the net. Apart from this one moment though, Vini just couldn’t seem to put all the pieces together on the night as he failed to find his teammates consistently or put himself through, often managing to get around Araújo but never truly beating him. It wasn’t a quiet night for the Brazilian but it certainly wasn’t his finest.
8. Alphonso Davies (Last week: 4)
Alphonso Davies, much like Vini, had a week that wasn’t quiet but wasn’t eventful either.
Bayern Munich slumped to a 2-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen and Davies was not at his finest throughout the 90’. He found himself slipping on the grass as has become tradition for Davies in recent months but never really managed to get his foot ahead of Jeremie Frimpong on his flank. Safe to say he is only still here in the ranking due to his previously high spot, similar to Vini. His performance defensively was still great however, and he had no part to play in the two penalties Bayern conceded.
7. Bukayo Saka (Last appearance: World Cup)
Bukayo Saka might just be the most best winger in the Premier League, at just 21.
Saka came on against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League with just twenty minutes to go and made an instant impact, although he couldn’t bag that all important equaliser. It’s clear Arsenal are a completely different team when Saka plays on the right, and they are all the better for it.
Saka truly shined at the weekend against Crystal Palace however. Saka assisted the opening goal, with a brilliant turn and cross into the box with his weaker foot which led up to the shot from Gabriel Martinelli. Saka then got a goal of his own, a fantastic bit of movement and anticipation in conjunction with Ben White before he took a deft shot that snaked between goalkeeper Joe Whitworth, Marc Guéhi and James Tomkins before reaching the net. The fourth Arsenal goal of the day was the perfect capstone to this performance, a perfectly-executed first time shot from just inside the box that curled into the corner of the net. Saka is a man possessed.
6. Adrien Rabiot (New)
Adrien Rabiot was quietly playing as the best midfielder in Serie A, and then the World Cup brought his quality to the foreground.
Now having to play in a Juventus penalised by 15 points, Rabiot has only kicked it up another gear. In a team blessed with defensive brilliance but plagued with inconsistencies in attack and a reliance on individual performances at times, Rabiot has bagged four goal contributions in his last three games.
Rabiot was dominant against Freiburg, running the game unopposed by Maximilian Eggestein or Nicolas Höfler for large parts of the 90 and bagged himself an assist to Federico Chiesa. Side note: How good is it to see Chiesa back on the pitch and back in the goals?
Rabiot bagged another assist against Inter Milan at the weekend, this time picking out Filip Kostić on the left after a pass from Dušan Vlahović. A great pair of performances from a world class player.
5. Kim Min-Jae (Last week: 6)
Serie A leaders slammed four home against Torino whilst conceding none. They are well and truly the best team in Europe right now.
Kim Min-Jae notched another great defensive performance. The performance this time was more of a collective masterclass than any one player, but as the leader of the backline Kim deserves major credit — as does Alex Meret for a couple of snapshot saves. Kim was virtually faultless as usual, winning the few duels he chose to take, getting to every ball first, progressing the ball effortlessly and showing the same qualities I seem to rave about every week. There really is nothing new I can say about him at this point, he does the defend thing every week and he does the defend thing better than anyone else.
4. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Last week: 8)
Napoli kept a clean sheet, yes. But let’s not forget they scored four.
No prizes for guessing two of the names on the scoresheet.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia expertly chested down a ball in the box in between three defenders before being fouled. The resulting penalty was taken by Kvara himself, and took it deftly with a soft shot down the middle. Later in the game, Kvara would receive a ball from teammate Victor Osimhen on the counter before laying it off across the box to a free Tanguy Ndombélé who slid the ball into a practically empty net.
Another powerhouse of a Kvaratskhelia performance, full of dangerous movements in all areas of the attacking half of the pitch, sprinkled with mazey runs and killer passes. What a player.
3. Joshua Kimmich (Last week: 7)
It feels strange that Kimmich has been bumped up places after Bayern Munich lost to Leverkusen, but his individual performance was faultless.
Kimmich was as usual Bayern’s primary outlet for all their play, offering a constant option to the back three. With Julian Nagelsmann opting for his 3-1-4-2 system, Kimmich was the only constant in midfield and he served his role perfectly. It’s another case of Kim Min-Jaeitis, there is nothing I can’t say about his performance this week that I haven’t already done with his performances in weeks before. The goal was a nice touch to his performance, although it wasn’t anything special.
He does the midfield thing and he does the midfield thing better than anyone else. The best in the world.
2. Erling Haaland (Last week: 5)
Erling Haaland is if the word ‘inevitable’ was a footballer.
The only reason he isn’t number one is because while Burnley may be doing well in the Championship, they are still a second division side and it was still a cup game.
Latching onto a wonderful through ball from Julian Álvarez, Haaland managed to get the smallest of touches on it to slip it in past Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Not even three minutes later, Foden played a gorgeous driven cross that curved perfectly around the defenders before making it to Haaland’s feet who pivoted while running pretty close to full speed and wrapped his foot around it, the ball landing itself in the net once again. Haaland finished his hat trick with half an hour to go, a beautiful move involving Haaland himself, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden which saw the ball ping off the woodwork before Haaland capitalised on the loose ball. In typical Pep Guardiola fashion, he immediately took Haaland off.
Haaland has eight goals in his last two hours of time on a football pitch. Do I need to say anything else?
1. Victor Osimhen (Last week: 1)
Victor Osimhen is a special player in a special team.
Osimhen scored the opener against Torino with a fantastic flying header from a corner taken by Piotr Zielinski. He would then double his tally for the day when a looping Mathías Olivera cross evaded the Torino defense, allowing Osimhen to head it in at the far post. Osimhen would not stop fighting, pressing doggedly before winning the ball against all odds and laying it off for Kvaratskhelia who would set up Ndombélé.
Osimhen is simply everywhere on the pitch for Napoli, and he never seems satisfied to get his goal and back off. He wants every ball, and he wants it for the team. He is a true asset to any footballing establishment, and with every week that passes he continues to justify Napoli breaking their transfer record to acquire him (though other questions still surround the deal).
What do you think of our rankings? Is there anyone you would have included? Let us know in the discussion below.