I prefer not to speak really, if I speak I am in big trouble. And I don’t want to be in big trouble.
10. Matthijs de Ligt (Last appearance: March 16th)
Matthijs de Ligt was brilliant this week but was consistently let down by his teammates’ slumps under Thomas Tuchel’s management of Bayern Munich.
A flawless defensive performance against Freiburg capped by a ridiculous long shot into the top corner was his crowning performance, but the team performance slipped from there on. Bayern conceded thrice against Manchester City through no fault of De Ligt, rather the mistakes of those around him (no names shall be mentioned). The second leg was no different, De Ligt locked down Haaland until individual mistakes from others let the team down and conceded another goal. De Ligt once again put on a clean sheet worthy performance but a non-foul free kick from Andrej Kramarić found its way in.
We don’t deserve De Ligt, and he certainly doesn’t deserve the pathetic performances his teammates have given him the last couple of weeks.
9. Mike Maignan (New)
Let’s clear something up. Despite what CFCFan2004 might tell you on Twitter after watching him for the first time, Mike Maignan is not the best goalkeeper in the world. He has not played football in six months, he has only just come back into the team. You can’t call him the best goalkeeper in the world for a pair of admittedly very good Champions League performances.
Now that’s out of the way, what a set of performances, right? Napoli just could not put anything past Maignan for a whole 180 minutes. The best attack in Europe reduced to a single desperate injury time goal from Victor Osimhen. Not even a penalty from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia could find its way past Maignan, he was simply too massive. AC Milan struggled in the league, but through no fault of Maignan’s. He can’t put the ball in the back of the net for his attackers, can he? Well he’s not De Ligt anyway.
8. Rodri (New)
Rodri put in a masterclass against Bayern Munich at the Etihad.
It may not have been most involved game due to Jamal Musiala’s marking, but every time he could get involved he punished Bayern, most notably that wonder goal from twenty five yards out on his weaker left foot. It still haunts me. Rodri was composed and imperious defensively across both legs, shutting down any progress through the middle and forcing Bayern to go wide, which didn’t bear fruit either. His game against Leicester City was similar, a quiet defensive performance alongside a new double pivot partner in John Stones.
7. Kevin De Bruyne (Last week: 10)
Kevin De Bruyne continues to prove why he is the most elite final ball specialist in the world, and one of the best ever at it.
Assists against Southampton, Leicester City and Bayern Munich cap his game, as well as an assist-less but always dangerous first leg against Bayern Munich. He continues to wreak havoc despite now playing in a changed role for the third time this season, now part of a dual No. 10 system rather than the traditional 10 in a 4-2-3-1 or the half-space merchant in the 4-3-3 that he also found success with. It seems like there is simply no role De Bruyne can do wrong with, as long as his task is to get the ball forward. The definition of the word ‘class’.
6. Jack Grealish (New)
Jack Grealish is another of football’s sadder stories. It seemed no matter how well he plays and performs his role he would always be subject to trolling from most casual football spectators due to his price tag. Well, now even those who trolled him when he was performing ‘well’ have been shut up as Grealish has put in some monstrous performances as of the last few weeks.
Grealish was outstanding against Bayern Munich across both legs but in the first leg specifically, where he made Benjamin Pavard look like an amateur defender on multiple occasions and in addition harassed Dayot Upamecano into multiple mistakes that led to goals. Grealish was similarly productive against Leicester. Against Southampton, he put in a crowning performance in which he set up the opener with a great incisive pass to De Bruyne, punished on the counter with a great run and second attempt off a rebound, and assisted a beautiful third with a direct run inside reminiscent of 2020’s Serge Gnabry before looping a gorgeous cross towards the far corner of the six yard box.
5. Bruno Fernandes (Last appearance: World Cup)
Bruno Fernandes showed why he is still nothing to be trifled with despite the attention of Manchester United’s fans pivoting more towards Casemiro and Marcus Rashford as of late.
The Portuguese midfielder adapted to a deeper role in a double pivot against Everton, becoming the centre of everything United put through almost like an advanced No. 6. It was alien watching a player so often regarded as a reckless risk-taker going forward play switches and pings from deep so effortlessly. This didn’t stop his chance creation either, as he tried and completed several key passes. He would return to a more advanced role in later games, even bagging himself an assist against Sevilla for Marcel Sabitzer in the Europa League, continuing his rich vein of form.
4. Karim Benzema (Last week: 1)
Karim Benzema scored against Chelsea in the first leg and was ever so unlucky not to score against Cádiz (he cracked the woodwork twice), but he failed to really do anything against Villarreal or Chelsea in the second leg in the last couple of weeks.
Unfortunately for a striker of his calibre it is these fine margins that make all the difference, which sees him slip down the rankings.
3. Joshua Kimmich (Last week: 2)
Joshua Kimmich, much like De Ligt, put in a stellar set of performances but was let down by his teammates.
Kimmich was imperious against Freiburg and Hoffenheim, dominating the midfield completely while being outnumbered. The story was much the same against Manchester City. Despite Leon Goretzka being almost completely absent in build up and when City progressed through the middle, Kimmich was always there to win scenarios where he was outnumbered 1v2 or 1v3. It is simply unfathomable how Kimmich has the legs to face an entire Manchester City midfield on his own and not come out having lost control of the game. He is the best midfielder in the world by some distance, and will go down as one of the best of all time.
2. Vinícius Júnior (Last week: 3)
Vinícius Júnior created numerous chances for his teammates against Villarreal and even got on the scoresheet with a ridiculous mazey run through five players to score, but his teammates failed to finish the chances he created, resulting in a loss.
However against Chelsea, he would bag an assist in each leg. In the first leg he provided Marco Asensio for his wonder goal (no Real Madrid fans, this is not the year Asensio returns to his best). He was even more involved in his team’s other goal — squaring a ball to Benzema after running in behind and catching a ball over the top, though Kepa’s interference denied him credit. His assist in the second leg was just simple and smart, a shape-to-shoot before squaring the ball to Rodrygo in the middle.
A trio of marvelous performances from the best winger in world football, and he’s only 22 years old.
1. Erling Haaland (Last week: 5)
Erling Haaland is inevitable. He is an unstoppable force.
A brace against Southampton.
A goal and an assist against Bayern Munich at home.
A brace against Leicester City, capped by a ridiculous acrobatic effort from Grealish’s cross.
A goal against Bayern Munich at the Allianz.
Is there anything left to say about him that hasn’t been said already? The only blot on his last fortnight is the missed penalty, but even that didn’t really matter minus the effect it had on my fantasy team (and yours too probably, who doesn’t have Haaland?).
What do you think of these rankings? Is there anyone you would have changed? Let us know in the discussion below.