Ajax‘s Dusan Tadic has become just the ninth player in history to get a perfect score in L’Equipe’s infamously ruthless player ratings.
L’Equipe has a reputation for being critical, but the French magazine were mightily impressed by Tadic as Ajax upset the odds to come from behind and knock holders Real Madrid out of the Champions League, on their own patch.
Casemiro was given a 1/10, while Toni Kroos and Nacho were given just 2/10, but Tadic joins a select group to have received the rare honour of a perfect score from L’Equipe…
Some of the goalfests and ridiculous second-leg comebacks in the Champions League over the last couple of years have us believing there’s a glitch in the very fabric of football, but Tadic’s showing against Real Madrid was something else entirely.
Switch it off and back on again, football’s officially gone daft.
Tadic, undoubtedly a talent, looked to have lost his touch as he put in a series of flat performances as Southampton struggled against relegation in 2017-18. The next season he’s giving Toni Kroos and Luka Modric nightmares and eliminating Real Madrid as he leads the line for Ajax’s band of baby-faced cherubs.
His top-corner strike to make it 3-0 to Ajax, putting the tie beyond Madrid, was exquisite. But that wasn’t even the highlight of his performance. That was when he drove through midfield, pirouetted past Casemiro, and placed a perfectly-weighted through ball into the path of David Neres.
After Ajax’s 4-1 Bernabeu victory, Tadic became the first player since 1997, and only the fourth ever, to earn a 10/10 from L’Equipe by scoring fewer than four goals.
Injuries have denied Neymar from making much of an impact on the biggest stage for PSG since his record-breaking transfer in the summer of 2018, having played just one knockout Champions League game for the club so far.
It’s probably a fair assessment that PSG would have gone on to dominate French football with or without him, but nevertheless he superstar quality has often dazzled Ligue 1 spectators, with no examples better than his ludicrous performance against Dijon midway through his debut season.
Not only did he score four goals, but he assisted two in an 8-0 rout.
The Portuguese midfielder hasn’t exactly had the most glittering career, moving around Europe with short spells at various clubs before moving to Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal FC in 2015.
Still, if nothing else, he received a perfect player rating in 2014 for his five-goal showing against Guingamp while he was on loan at Nice, as they won the game 7-2.
If there’s one thing to learn from this, it’s that L’Equipe really really love players that score a hatful of goals in one game.
At Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho had done well to end the domestic dominance of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, winning the La Liga title in 2012, and he took them one step further in Europe – now they were reaching semi-finals every year rather than getting knocked out the earlier stages by Lyon.
But he couldn’t do what his successors Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane would at Real Madrid, and deliver them a Champions League trophy. In his third and final season with Los Blancos, an unstoppable performance from Borussia Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski denied them in the semi-finals.
The Polish striker had already won a couple of Bundesliga titles under Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund, but this was the night he announced himself to Europe as an elite No.9. A defence featuring Pepe, Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane simply couldn’t cope with him as he put away four goals.
L’Equipe had gone 13 years without giving the fabled 10/10 to any player, for any game – none during the best years of Ronaldinho, Zidane, Shevchenko – but then came Lionel Messi, who became the first and only player to get it twice.
The first came against Arsenal at the Camp Nou in 2010 after a 2-2 draw in the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final, as he scored all four goals in Barcelona’s 4-1 win.
The Argentine hit levels unseen that night, and you could only feel sorry for Manuel Almunia as he slotted the ball through his legs for the fourth.
“He made the impossible possible,” said Arsene Wenger that night. “He has six or seven years in front of him, touch wood that nothing happens to him, and he can reach unbelievable levels.”
Two years later against Bayer Leverkusen, he went one better and scored five, becoming the first player to do so in the Champions League era.
The performance had everything you’d want from Messi in one game: jinking runs, perfectly-placed shots from outside the box, a dink and a lob.
The second goalkeeper to be awarded a perfect score, Lars Windfeld had a relatively low-key career in the Danish domestic game, never getting an international cap due to Peter Schmeichel’s years of dominance.
Nantes versus Aarhus in the first knock-out round of the 1997-98 UEFA Cup is not exactly a match-up that was destined to be remembered, but it will go down in history as the game in which Windfeld pulled out an otherworldly performance to give the Danish side a narrow away win to take them through after a 2-2 draw in the first leg.
Salenko won the Golden Boot at USA ’94 largely down to one unforgettable game – five of the Russian’s six goals in the tournament were against Cameroon. He became the first and only player to score five goals in one World Cup match.
The 6-1 mauling of Cameroon wasn’t enough to see Russia qualify out of the group stage, having already lost their first two games, while Salenko never went on to make another appearance for the national team.
France won the 1988 U21 World Cup before the senior team did so a decade later, but the standout player in the 1988 final against Greece wasn’t one that would go on to feature in that famous Les Blues team, unlike team-mate Laurent Blanc.
France’s U21s had been held to a goalless goal draw by Greece in the first leg of the 1988 final, but in the second leg a 22-year-old Franck Sauzee was the outstanding youngster: he scored two absolute thunderbolts to put his team ahead and was generally a menace throughout.
He went on to receive 39 caps for the national team, the last of which came in 1993, as he spent the majority of his club career as a Ligue 1 journeyman, before ending it as a cult hero for Hibs at the turn of the century. Famous Hibbees fanatic Irvine Welsh penned a love letter to him.
He certainly left an impression at L’Equipe: in a list of the 100 best ever French players published in 2018, Sauzee was named ahead of Paul Pogba and Nicolas Anelka in the ranking.
No, not the Brazilian EDM DJ, but the legendary Auxerre goalkeeper and Fabian Barthez’s predecessor between the sticks for the national team.
Sauzee wasn’t the only one to get a perfect score in the French U21’s victory over Greece in the final, with Martini drawing plenty of praise for helping them keep a clean sheet. L’Equipe haven’t given two perfect scores in the same game since.
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