Every Monday, I’ll wrap up what happened over the weekend in the top leagues across Europe, and I’ll share what I think are some of the most insightful soccer reads on the web from the past week.
BARCA AND REAL DROP POINTS
Real Madrid let one slip away as Giampaolo Pazzini scored the equalizer on his debut with two minutes remaining to allow Levante earn a 2-2 draw. Los Blancos finished the weekend a whooping 19 points back of La Liga leaders Barcelona, who needed a late goal from Gerard Pique to earn a 1-1 draw at Espanyol. With a Spanish title beyond their grasp, and having already been eliminated from the Copa del Rey, Real Madrid’s season rides on defending its Champions League title.
Worth a read: Luci Kelemen takes this look at David Moyes’ tenure at Real Sociedad, calling it an interesting but ultimately fruitless stint that could give us some insight about the current West Ham United manager’s next move. As Kelemen writes for These Football Times, there were plenty of eyebrows raised when Moyes moved to Spain in 2014:
“Enter David Moyes – the third British manager to lead Real Sociedad after John Toshack’s 1987 Copa del Rey win and Chris Coleman’s six-month spell in 2007. There were sceptics, of course – as Phil Ball put it, “if you look at what he’s done since 1993 when he signed as a player for Preston, he’s moved in the radius of about 60 kilometres.”
NAPOLI STAYS AHEAD OF JUVENTUS
Juventus put on a show on Sunday morning, rolling to a 7-0 win over Sassuolo in Turin, with Gonzalo Higuain netting a hat trick. That result allowed the Bianconeri to climb into first place, but their time atop the Serie A summer was short-lived. Napoli earned a 2-0 road win over last-place Benevento later in the day to reclaim their two-point lead over Juventus.
Worth a read: David Amoyal of Calciomercato.com examines what’s going on at AS Roma, and asks with a new stadium looming, is it time for the Giallorossi to fully rebuild?
“The news that Roma seriously considered selling their starting striker Edin Dzeko in January, at a time that the club is competing for a Champions League spot against cross town rivals Lazio no less, while also having qualified out of the group of death of this season’s edition of the cup with the Mickey Mouse ears, puzzled many fans and pundits. But beyond the short-term implications of this current season, should Roma be looking to aggressively rebuild?”
BATSHUAYI OFF TO A GREAT START AT DORTMUND
Bayern Munich opened up an 18-point lead over Bayer Leverkusen atop the Bundesliga table, but the highlight of the weekend in Germany was Borussia Dortmund’s thrilling 3-2 win over Cologne. Michy Batshuayi scored two goals and set up another, including Andre Schuerrle’s winner in the 84th minute, in his Bundesliga debut. Two days after being sent on loan by Chelsea, Batshuayi took just 35 minutes to score his first goal for Dortmund, before doubling his tally in the second half.
Worth a read: SB Nation broke down Bayern Munich’s 2-0 road win over Mainz, and noted that “Bayern’s quality was ultimately too much for Mainz, but it was far from a stellar effort.”
There were no complaints about the play of Mats Hummels, though:
“Despite missing time recently, Hummels was right back to his shutdown best. When healthy this season, Hummels has been the most reliable of the talented Bayern back-line rotation. His steady presence and confidence is evident, but it is his ability to thwart just about any rush or one-on-one situation that makes him so valuable.”
MONACO BEATS LYON IN A THRILLER
While Paris Saint-Germain sit comfortably atop the Ligue 1 standing, an enthralling battle for second and third place has ensued between Marseille (who remained in second with a 6-3 win over Metz), AS Monaco and Lyon. Down 2-0 at one point, Monaco rallied from a man down to secure 3-2 win over Lyon, with Rony Lopes scoring the late winner. With the victory, Monaco leapfrogged Lyon into third place in France.
Worth a read: The Get French Football News website writes about a worrying trend within Paris Saint-Germain’s youth system, noting that many of its prospects are deciding to leave the club and sign elsewhere.
“Paris Saint-Germain have a hole in the floor. And draining out of it are their best young talents. This week, it emerged that young defensive midfield talent Claudio Gomes is set to snub a professional deal with the club in order join Manchester City. To leave for City, a club whose spending power is on a par with that of the Parisians, is an extremely worrying development.”
KANE RESCUES SPURS AT ANFIELD
You can check out my Premier League weekend review, including on how Harry Kane’s late heroics saved Tottenham against Liverpool, Arsenal’s destruction job of Everton and more.
The Sportsnet panel of James Sharman, Craig Forrest and Danny Dichio also recapped Saturday’s action:
Also, Richard Buxton was at Anfield and filed this report for Sportsnet on the wild draw between Tottenham and Liverpool, and how both clubs are spinning their wheels.
ALSO WORTH READING
James Kelly of These Football Times penned this in-depth profile of Turkish legend Sergen Yalçın.
Tom Nicholson of The Guardian recalled a time when a non-league defender marked a 23-year-old Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
New York Times writer Rory Smith notes that Arsenal is still in crisis, but the signing of Aubameyang has changed the mood at the club.
Over at the When Saturday Comes website, Dermot Corrigan offers this review of Different Class, a new book on the life of Laurie Cunningham.
ESPN.com’s Paul Tenorio does a deep dive into Canadian Cyle Larin’s transfer to Besiktas, and examines the long-term implications of the controversial move for Major League Soccer.