The only thing in football more contentious than a dubious refereeing decision is a rankings system.
There are plenty of them out there – though many are deliberately divisive – but given the tribal nature of football they do drum up some interesting debates among supporters.
We’re going to add our twist to the list. Each week we pick out the 10 best teams from Europe’s top-five leagues (minus cup competitions).
It’s not cumulative, the rankings is based on a team’s performance in that particular game week.
So, who makes the top-10 this week? Check out below.
1. Lionel Messi (beat Real Betis 4-1)
The scoreline reads Barcelona beating Betis, the reality is much different. A hat-trick – take your pick for a favourite, his impudent chip for the third maybe sneaks past his arrowed free-kick – hallmarked a truly iconic performance from Lionel Messi. Betis to their credit could have gone in at the break 2-1 ahead. But Barca have Messi and so Barca won.
2. Bayern Munich (beat Mainz 6-0)
Battered and bruised after being knocked out of Europe by Liverpool, Bayern responded by bullying Mainz. A 6-0 victory means Niko Kovac’s side have now scored an absurd 17 goals in their last three Bundesliga outings. All six strikes on Sunday were splendid, from Robert Lewandowksi’s sumptuous volley at the near post to Kingsley Coman’s thunderous strike. James Rodriguez rebounded from an anonymous display in midweek by netting a hat-trick and 18-year-old Alphonso Davies smashed home his first goal for the club.
3. Inter Milan (beat AC Milan 3-2)
Inter’s wretched form combined with a reported schism in a dressing room already ripped apart by Mauro Icardi’s exile meant AC Milan were firm favourites for the Derby della Madonnina. Then Inter turned up and blasted their city rivals with a performance hallmarked by raw intensity and skill. Matias Vecino, Stefan de Vrij and Lautaro Martinez all scored to see Inter vault the Rossoneri back into third spot after a wildly entertaining derby display.
4. Genoa (beat Juventus 2-0)
It matters not a jot that Juventus suffered their first league defeat of the campaign on Sunday because they are so far ahead, yet this was a glorious Genoa victory. Curiously, Juve have actually been performing poorly recently, aside from their stunning win over Atletico Madrid of course, and so this result had been coming. Max Allegri regretted resting Cristiano Ronaldo as substitutes Stefano Sturaro, who was loaned by Juve to Genoa in January before the deal was made permanent, and a lovely Goran Pandev finish sealed the host’s triumph.
5. Everton (beat Chelsea 2-0)
It’s not a win with quite the same magnitude as beating previous Chlesea iterations, but considering Everton’s scarcely believable record against the Premier League’s top six, this was massive for Marco Silva. The Toffees’ have traditionally crumbled when faced with Premier League powerhouses and had failed to beat a top-six side in their last 25 outings. In a season of lows, this was an undoubted high as Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson, albeit after seeing his initial penalty saved, both scored to capture pride as much as points.
6. Monaco (beat Lille 1-0)
Monaco’s resurrection under Leonardo Jardim continued after they narrowly edged out Champions League-chasing Lille. The winner arrived in injury time but to be frank, it should have come much, much earlier after a flurry of opportunities were well saved by the home goalkeeper Mike Maignan. Carlos Vinicius showed calm when others were chaotic, deftly lifting the ball over a Lille defender before coolly slotting home his first goal for the club since joining on loan from Napoli in the winter.
7. Athletic Bilbao (beat Atletico Madrid 2-0)
If there was a title race in Spain, there most definitely isn’t one now. Atletico’s reputation is one built by a formidable defence, but all of a sudden it’s crumbled and with it so has their season. After crashing out of the Champions League, Bilbao scored two late goals to inflict more misery. Inaki Williams slotted in at the back post after Jose Gimenez gifted the ball to Inigo Cordoba who crossed for the forward. Gimenez was exposed for the second as Kenan Kodro’s shot deflected off his foot, for the Basque club’s first win over Atleti in six years.
8. SPAL (beat Roma 2-1)
It’s hard not to swept up in the romance of Claudio Ranieri’s Roma return. SPAL were in no mood for any tenderness, though, as they inflicted a deeply damaging defeat which sees the Romans slip back in the Champions League hunt. Without injured duo Kostas Manolas and Daniele De Rossi in the side, Roma have been horrid defensively. Federico Fazio continues to show his limitations and Juan Jesus is an awkward fit at left-back. It was the Brazilian’s foul which paved for the winner as Andrea Petagna scored from the penalty spot, after Mohamed Fares’ headed opener was cancelled out by Diego Perotti’s penalty.
9. Werder Bremen (beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-1)
One of the more eye catching results from this weekend was Bremen’s win at Leverkusen. Under Peter Bosz, Bayer have surged into top-four contention, winning six of their last seven with their only defeat on that run to Borussia Dortmund. However, Bremen forwards Max Kruse and Milot Rashica combined to complete a shock win which gives Florian Kohfeldt’s outfit hope of securing a spot in the Europa League.
10. Paris Saint-Germain (beat Marseille 3-1)
Still reeling from their exit to Manchester United, PSG ultras protested the result by staying away from the opening exchanges of Le Classique. When they did enter, banners reading “We don’t forget”, “respect the establishment” and “banknotes in place of a heart” were hung in a section behind the goal. A 16th win in 19 meetings with Marseille won’t be enough to mend the relationship, but it is to sneak a spot on this list. Angel Di Maria scored twice, Kylian Mbappe grabbed the other with the Parisian missing from the penalty spot after denying his Argentine team-mate a chance of a hat-trick.
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