Lewis Ambrose·2 February 2023
Lewis Ambrose·2 February 2023
Another week, another update to our power rankings of Europe’s most in-form teams …
Who knew about Reims and Will Still a few weeks ago? The club have to pay a £22k fine every game the 30-year-old Belgian-born Englishman oversees as he doesn’t yet have all of the required coaching badges to take charge of Ligue 1 matches.
But here they are, with seven wins and six draws from his 13 games in charge, up from 17th when he took over to 11th now. Only four teams have more Ligue 1 points than Reims since Still’s appointment and Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun is suddenly Ligue 1’s top goalscorer.
Not bad for a side being coached by someone whose love for the job was inspired by playing Football Manager just a few years ago.
After dropping points to start 2023, Porto have now won six in a row to stay in touch with Benfica at the top of the league, progress in the Portuguese Cup, and also win the Portuguese League Cup for the first time in their history.
A 2-0 win over Sporting last weekend saw them lift silverware and, now 18 unbeaten across all competitions, they’re a team to look out for when the Champions League returns and they face Inter.
A draw with Bayern, then wins against Schalke, Stuttgart and Hoffenheim. Leipzig’s return to action has seen them pick up where they left off in Germany.
Marco Rose’s side are scoring plenty and, while they may be waiting for a clean sheet, conceding just once per game. And doing it without the injured Christopher Nkunku.
Pep Guardiola will be hoping City take heart from a solid, if not dominant, win against Arsenal in the FA Cup last Friday.
They seem to be back on track now with three wins in a row but clearly are still not at their best and cannot afford to let up as they chase down the Gunners in the league. The pressure is on after João Cancelo’s exit left them looking a little light in defence.
Erik ten Hag is on his way to Wembley! But we already knew that after the first leg against Nottingham Forest, right?
Still, it’s a big step in his first season in charge and United remain in the hunt in the FA Cup too. Now attention must turn to the league and getting back to winning ways as they host Crystal Palace and Leeds in the next week.
A weekend draw with Monaco saw Marseille miss the chance to cut PSG’s lead at the top of Ligue 1 to just three points, a real disappointment. But there was an instant response shown to beat Nantes 2-0 on Wednesday.
Now nine without defeat in the league, they will be aiming to stay within striking distance before hosting PSG at the end of the month.
Also off to Wembley, Newcastle continue to impress in every regard. They’re scoring goals, they only seem to concede incredible goals as teams just cannot break them down, and they do not look like stopping.
That surprise FA Cup exit at Sheffield Wednesday is the only blemish on an otherwise spotless record of late.
They may be out of the FA Cup but Arsenal and Mikel Arteta will likely be heartened by how tight their 1-0 defeat was at Manchester City, given they rotated much more than the champions.
It is one trophy gone for the season now but Arsenal have their eyes on a bigger prize and some big names will return to the lineup when they resume their bid for the Premier League title this weekend.
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The Scudetto is closer than ever.
There is a long way to go, of course, but Napoli remain 13 points clear and have responded to their sole league defeat of the season with four wins in a row, most recently toppling Roma.
A league title seems inevitable at this point.
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It is not too late to start taking Barcelona very, very seriously again. Having handed losing Robert Lewandowski to suspension, Barça are now rolling on without the injured Ousmane Dembélé, one of the stars of their season so far.
They have played nine and won nine in 2023, a run that does not look likely to end anytime soon.