European Football Round-Up // December 4

Diego Simeone’s Atletico draw level with Barca at the summit of La Liga. There was a cracker at Hoffenheim with there being just the eight goals scored. Not much better in boring Serie A with just seven goals in the Fioentina vs. Hellas Verona game.. In Germany it was business as usual for Pep’s Bayern while PSG continue to dominate Ligue 1 with consummate ease..

 

The big talking point in Spain this week came from Barcelona following proceedings at the San Memes in which Barca lost 1-0 in a turgid affair. It’s not necessarily the result which is the talking point but what it prompted – the debate around Barcelona’s identity and what Martino has made of it since his arrival in the summer. The fact that a debate regarding philosophy exists proves somewhat that Barca are different in some respects.

Only recently Barca completed a game with less than 50% in La Liga in over four years. The style is fading and with that cules are beginning to question whether Martino was the right choice for manager. All of this comes with the fact he was a game away from statistically having the best start – result wise of course, of any Barcelona manager ever. Odd indeed.

While Barca struggled it was business as usual for Atletico who travelled to Elche and won 0-2. Unsurprisingly Diego Costa scored again which makes it 15 for the season and notably of those 15 goals they’ve been spread out across 12 matches; ruthless efficiency from the Brazilin turned Spaniard.

In Madrid there was the crowning of the ‘Prince of Wales’ as Madrid based newspaper Marca put it following Gareth Bale’s ‘perfect hat trick’ (right foot, left foot and a header). Madrid won 4-0 and is now only three points behind Barca and Atletico.

Real Betis drew 2-2 with Rayo Vallecano in a bottom of the table class which was to be the end of Pepe Mel’s tenure at Betis. It would be unsurprising to see him picked up at a top club in the near future – perhaps Valencia who despite winning 3-0 at home to Osasuna (thanks to a Jonas hat trick) I feel manager Miroslav Djukic’s safety as Valencia coach is a ticking time bomb. Despite the slight upturn in form in recent weeks his popularity remains non existent. Oh and one more thing on La Liga – Sevilla won away, again!

In Germany it was frankly business as usual for the most part; Bayern swept aside Braunschweig 2-0. Once again Gotze played as a false nine in which he provided an assist. Dortmund travelled to Klopp’s old club Mainz and won 1-3. There was a cracker at Hoffenheim as they draw at home 4-4 to Bremen. Sami Hyypia’s Bayer Leverkusen beat Nurnberg at home easily with a 3-0 score line and Gladbach remain on place for European football next season as they won 1-0 at home to Freiburg.

In Italy the story of the weekend was a non-football one, as there was another u-turn in the Galliani soap opera at AC Milan. It seems he won’t be leaving – or resigning, after what seemed like an end to the 27 year marriage at the absolute height of football dominance both in Italy and in Europe. Looking happy to try and turn around his beloved AC Milan’s fortunes he saw them win 1-3 away at Catania. Though sadly, once again there was talk of racist abuse as Mario Balotelli accused Catania’s Nicolas Spolli of racially abusing him. Should he be found guilty a ten game ban will follow following Serie A’s new racism regulations which seem a case of better late than never.

In Serie A there were notable draws for table-topping Juventus who only managed a 1-1 draw at home to Udinese while second place Roma drew their third league game in a row. Napoli however travelled to the Stadio Olimpico and beat Lazio 2-4. The game of the weekend though, if only from an attacking viewpoint, occurred at Fiorentina as they beat newly promoted Hellas Verona 4-3. Boring Italy, as they say.

Finally in France PSG continue to look like champions elect as they beat the once-mighty Lyon 4-0 at home. Lille won 1-0 (again) which makes it 11 clean sheets in a row. Staggering. Monaco needed new-boy James Rodriguez to finally step up to the mark as they were without Falcao – and the Portuguese winger stepped up in fine fashion as he scored in a 0-3 win away at Nice.

Kevin Kelly

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