Liverpool got a rare victory over Man City this week, while Barcelona’s Luis Suarez got revenge on his old club. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo is still being investigated for tax fraud and Juventus are struggling to keep up with their rivals in the Italian Serie A.
Liverpool, Man City entertain, Luis Suarez gets revenge vs. Barcelona, more Ronaldo drama.
What an amazing weekend! This seems to be something we say every weekend, but it was particularly true this time. Liverpool and Manchester City put on a show against Barcelona, Atletico Madrid (particularly Luis Suarez) made a statement against Barcelona, and Cristiano Ronaldo caused a stir after Manchester United’s disappointing home stalemate against Everton. Bayern Munich lost (but don’t worry), Borussia Dortmund won (and they should be worried), Real Madrid lost again, and Rennes humiliated Paris Saint-billion-dollar Germain’s squad.
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Gab Marcotti responds to the major events in the world of football on Monday.
Liverpool-Man City | Suarez beats Barcelona | Bayern lose | Milan are back! | Real Madrid woes | Ronaldo’s sulking | PSG misfire | Dortmund need a Plan B | Arsenal need time | Lucky Inter | Leverkusen keep rolling | Napoli still perfect | Chelsea’s depth steps up | Locatelli lifts Juve | Son stars for Spurs
When Liverpool plays Man City, there is no shortage of talent.
The game ended 2-2, but unless you were a supporter of either team, the score wasn’t important. At the final whistle, the show put on by Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, and their players was all that mattered to most neutrals. There was enough to delight the eye, from Mohamed Salah’s goal and weak-foot finish to Bernardo Silva’s dash and shimmy that set up Phil Foden among a sea of red jerseys.
– Ogden: Liverpool vs. Manchester City has become a huge rivalry.
But make no mistake: this wasn’t simply about entertainment, technological prowess, or a buffet of visual delights. This was putting talent to work towards a strategy. Guardiola threw a curveball by starting Jack Grealish as centre-forward, almost as a dig at the “recognized striker” crowd. City controlled a scoreless first half and might easily have gone into the interval with a number of goals. It’s not that Liverpool were bad in the opening 45 minutes; it’s simply that City were much better.
After the interval, Liverpool fought back, led by an unstoppable Salah, who set up Sadio Mane’s goal before scoring his own “Goal of the Season” contender. City equalized both times, first through Foden and then via Kevin De Bruyne. Rodri’s last-ditch stop of Fabinho’s attempt sealed the 2-2 tie as the game entered injury time.
Milan’s youthful guns also defeat Atalanta.
Atalanta and their mile-a-minute intensity, which Pep Guardiola memorably likened to a “trip to the dentist,” are the last club you’d want to play after a devastating — and disputed — Champions League loss to Atletico Madrid. But, as coach Stefano Pioli put it, this Milan team manages to be youthful without “looking young,” and their 3-2 victory against Atalanta was more thorough than the result indicates.
Fikayo Tomori, Mike Maignan, Brahim Diaz, Theo Hernandez, and Rafael Leao all looked good, but it was Sandro Tonali who stole the show for me, demonstrating why many compared him to Andrea Pirlo when he was a youngster.
Gabriele Marcotti, a senior writer for ESPN FC, has compiled all of the latest news and reactions.
They’re also perplexing the critics, and it’s important remembering that they’re doing it without Gianluigi Donnarumma, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Olivier Giroud (by choice) (by injury). Their choice to put their faith in youth and quality over big names has paid off, as they have had their greatest start in 17 years.
You’re curious as to what will happen when Ibrahimovic returns. You’d think he’d find his way into the squad, but this isn’t Zlatan’s Milan in many respects. It’s a different side of the coin. If they are to succeed, he will most likely have to adapt to them rather than the other way around.
Real Madrid has been defeated in their quest for balance.
Man United’s 0-0 tie at home against Everton is overshadowed by Glum Ronaldo.
Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe must face reality.
Perhaps it doesn’t matter in the great scheme of things, because PSG had won all eight of their Ligue 1 games before to Sunday’s 2-0 loss at Rennes. Even though it’s early October, they still hold a six-point advantage. So why not give Rennes, who had only won once since August, the afternoon off?
Neymar seemed to have done just that. Lionel Messi struck the crossbar twice, but faded as the game progressed. After missing a chance, Kylian Mbappe showed some grit, but goals just before and shortly after the interval doomed PSG. Mauricio Pochettino will have to cope with this as the season progresses: with those three up front, some games will be boom (a stroke of brilliance) and others will be bust (when is the next Champions League match?).
More rotation and days off, particularly after Champions League matches and before international holidays, may be the only answer, with more space for Mauro Icardi. Otherwise, there’s a danger of more days like Sunday, which may or may not have an impact on who wins Ligue 1, but is certainly depressing.
Dortmund vs. Augsburg: three points, but no Plan B
Borussia Dortmund and coach Marco Rose are now without many players, including Erling Haaland. Because there isn’t an off-brand Haaland replacement on the bench, Dortmund must play differently when he isn’t available. That’s not simple, but hey, you’re in charge of a Bundesliga team, your club went to great lengths to get you, and you’re Marco Rose — get it done.
Only he hasn’t, and it didn’t work during Augsburg’s visit either. Dortmund had lots of attempts and Marco Reus hit the crossbar, but they lacked offensive flow and were aided by a goalkeeping mistake and the gift of an early penalty. This squad hasn’t even scratched the surface of its potential, and there’s still a lot of work to be done, both with and without Haaland.
Arsenal’s comeback continues, but the draw against Brighton reminds us that they still need time.
Inter Milan beats Sassuolo thanks to chance — and a quadruple change.
Inter’s Simone Inzaghi was thrashed by Sassuolo for almost one hour. (By the way, although coach Roberto De Zerbi is no longer with the club, Alessio Dionisi continues in the same spirit, making them one of the most appealing and entertaining teams in Serie A, if not Europe.) They were down a goal, Samir Handanovic had to make a fantastic save to deny Jeremie Boga, and then Handanovic was very fortunate not to get sent off after colliding with Gregoire Defrel outside the box.
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Edin Dzeko, Fede Dimarco, Matteo Darmian, and Arturo Vidal were all introduced by Inzaghi, and the effect was instant. With his first touch, Dzeko equalized and earned a penalties, which Lautaro Martinez converted for a 2-1 victory.
When things like these occur, a coach seems to be a genius. You can’t undo the first hour or so, and you can’t rely on Dzeko, who is 35, to rescue you every time.
Don’t look now, but Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich are tied for first place in the Bundesliga.
With the exception of a 0-0 tie on the opening day and a dramatic 4-3 loss to Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen has won every game this season, and their winning run was extended with a 4-0 thrashing of Arminia Bielefeld. It was enough to propel them to the top of the league with Bayern, demonstrating Gerardo Seoane’s influence since his summer arrival from Young Boys.
Seoane has cleaned up Peter Bosz’s mess, gotten the most out of Moussa Diaby, developed Patrik Schick into a striker, and assisted with the development of Florian Wirtz, a prodigy. All of this was accomplished in a matter of months.
Will they be able to remain at or near the top? It will be difficult to compete against a more well-funded and skilled opponent. However, Leverkusen continues to improve, and a top-four finish seems to be within reach.
In Europe’s top five leagues, Napoli is the only flawless team.
After a summer in which they made just one major acquisition (midfielder Andre Zambo Anguissa on loan from Fulham) and replaced a popular manager (Rino Gattuso) with one who is more of a misunderstood genius-type, you wouldn’t have anticipated it (Luciano Spalletti). Napoli, on the other hand, has seven victories from seven games and is atop Serie A after rallying from behind to defeat Fiorentina 2-1.
Spalletti deserves credit for not just immediately connecting with his players, but also for placing such a high level of confidence in them. Victor Osimhen, who has returned to full fitness after missing almost half of last season, is undoubtedly the star of the show, but players like Lorenzo Insigne (despite his contract issue), Fabian Ruiz, and even Kalidou Koulibaly seem to have been rejuvenated by Spalletti.
Yes, coaching is important, and the message is clear. When a new manager is hired, the emphasis is frequently on whether the club will “support him” and what new players he will bring in. First and foremost, the criterion should be whether he can perform a better job with the existing team than his predecessor.
Chelsea wins a hard-fought victory – and first position – thanks to late goals and squad players.
Locatelli leads Juventus to their fourth consecutive victory.
At the moment, Juventus is focused on two things: results and personal development. The latter is crucial because, in the absence of Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata, the youngsters in whom they have placed their trust (and money) must demonstrate that they can develop in the face of hardship. That is exactly what Federico Chiesa and Manuel Locatelli (the late winner versus Torino) are doing. The rest of the team will have to catch up.
Results have always been Allegri’s (and Juve’s) bread and butter, and the 1-0 victory against Torino extends Allegri’s (and Juve’s) winning streak to four games. It also put an end to a dreadful run of 20 games without a clean sheet.
It wasn’t a spectacular display — more of the old-style defend-and-counter against Ivan Juric’s aggressive Torino — but it relieved the strain and provided time and space for Allegri to develop, which is exactly what he needs in the post-Ronaldo era.
Son demonstrates that the Spurs’ doom has been greatly overstated.
Everything was in place for the wheels to come off. Protests against owner Joe Lewis and chairman Daniel Levy erupted a week after the team’s defeat in the North London Derby. Aston Villa were in town, coming off victories over Everton and Manchester United, as well as a strong showing against Chelsea on the road. Oh, and the international break was approaching, which is when clubs prefer to replace (or threaten to replace) their managers.
Spurs, on the other hand, showed plenty of bite and grit in their 2-1 win. Heung-Min Son was in great form, demonstrating that when he’s in full flight, he’s almost unplayable. However, several of the players who had allegedly lost confidence in Nuno Espirito Santo, like Tanguy Ndombele and Cristian Romero, showed up on the day. Nuno may or may not be the best candidate to lead this club, but based on Sunday’s performance, the players remain committed.
- sid lowe
- shaka hislop