Opinion

90min's definitive European power rankings - World Cup break edition

Sean Walsh
Napoli and Arsenal have been the teams to beat
Napoli and Arsenal have been the teams to beat / Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images, Visionhaus/Getty Images
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The busiest opening to a season of top-level European club football has finally come to a close.

The busiest mid-season period of international football will soon be upon us.

We haven't got much time, people. The World Cup is nearly here. Get detoxing, get in your last fill of club football takes while you can, point out the irony of Cristiano Ronaldo not realising that he's part of the reason why Manchester United have been going backwards.

Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders, Grizz Khan & Jack Gallagher to look back on France '98 as part of the 'Our World Cup' series. We take a trip down memory lane - join us!

Here are 90min's definitive European power rankings, refreshed and rejigged heading into the winter break.


10. Manchester City (down 2)

Erling Haaland
Man City have let standards slip / Charlotte Tattersall/GettyImages

Despite Erling Haaland scoring approximately 137 goals this season, Manchester City head into the break five points adrift of Premier League leaders Arsenal.

Pep Guardiola's men recently scraped past Fulham before being taught a footballing lesson by Brentford. They have work to do.

9. Paris Saint-Germain (re-entry)

Paris Saint-Germain v Maccabi Haifa FC: Group H - UEFA Champions League
PSG have found their groove again / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

While slipping to second place in their Champions League group is a blot on Christophe Galtier's PSG record, he goes into the World Cup still undefeated as their manager.

He'll be bitterly disappointed if none of his star trio return as a world champion.

8. Benfica (down 2)

Joao Mario, Goncalo Ramos, Alexander Bah, Alex Grimaldo, Rafa Silva, Florentino Luis, David Neres
The Eagles are flying / Gualter Fatia/GettyImages

'Down 2' is a rather harsh assessment of Benfica's season so far considering they've won seven on the spin, remain unbeaten and pipped PSG to top spot in their Champions League group.

Apologies for the misleading label, lads. You're doing great.

7. AC Milan (up 1)

Rafael Leao
The best Portuguese forward to do this celebration / Marco Luzzani/GettyImages

Despite a rocky start, Milan have recovered and will be in pretty good shape once Serie A resumes.

Stefano Pioli's charges are second in the standings (though are eight points off of top spot) and will play in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time since 2014 come February.

6. Real Madrid (down 3)

Eder Militao, Lucas Vazquez
Real have had a bit of a wobble / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Whoops.

Real Madrid were beaten 3-2 by Rayo Vallecano - by all accounts the antithesis of the Spanish capital's behemoths - last week to ensure that Los Blancos won't be top of La Liga come Christmas.

They're lucky that they're a real 'business end of the season' team.

5. Barcelona (re-entry)

Pedro Gonzalez 'Pedri'
Barcelona can still salvage their season / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Taking Real Madrid's spot at La Liga's summit are Barcelona, who have responded magnificently to their Champions League humblings.

They've been nearly flawless domestically and pulled off a stunning ten-man comeback at Osasuna to ensure spirits are high at Camp Nou for the next month.

4. Newcastle United (up 1)

Joe Willock
Newcastle have been in red-hot form / Stu Forster/GettyImages

Every week Newcastle face a new challenge that's seemingly tougher than the one that preceded it, and every week they pass it with flying colours.

The Magpies must be fuming about the timing of the World Cup.

3. Bayern Munich (down 2)

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Kingsley Coman
Eric-Maxim Chuopo Moting SZN is on standby / Lukas Schulze/GettyImages

Like Benfica, 'down 2' isn't a true barometer of Bayern's season. They're now comfortably top of the Bundesliga, but that is hardly as much of an achievement compared to that of the two teams to usurp them in the rankings.

No, I will not apologise this time.

2. Arsenal (up 2)

Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, William Saliba
Arsenal are on a roll / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Arsenal have found a way to just keep on winning when previous iterations would have shot themselves in the foot 17 times already.

The Gunners have a steeliness about them again which should at the very least secure a return to the Champions League. The next step is to maintain their title charge.

1. Napoli (up 1)

SSC Napoli's Polish midfielder Piotr Zielinski (hidden)...
Napoli have been formidable / KONTROLAB/GettyImages

Will Kvaradona fever ever end? We hope not.

Napoli are a staggering eight points clear atop Serie A and have a favourable draw with Eintracht Frankfurt in the Champions League. If they don't win a major honour this season, they simply never will.

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