Liverpool and Arsenal answer City’s call to arms, Leverkusen steal march in the Bundesliga race and Real Madrid ride their luck.
Arsenal and Liverpool answer City’s call to arms
The media reaction to City’s comeback win at Newcastle last week was justifiably enthusiastic. But some people – dazzled by De Bruyne’s midfield cameo – were too quick to declare the season done and dusted. Yes, City have the pedigree and title-winning know-how.
But Arsenal and Liverpool are quality football teams with the ability to go on impressive winning streaks. And both teams won in emphatic style this weekend, setting up what is sure to be an engrossing end to the Premier League season.
Arsenal put a sequence of poor results behind them with a commanding 5-0 victory at home to Palace.
As for Liverpool: no Salah, no problem. The Reds produced a brilliantly fluid second-half display to blow Bournemouth out of the water, picking off the Cherries with a dynamic 4-0 showing.
Leverkusen steal match in Bundesliga race
Wow! This Leverkusen is the real deal. Last week’s last-gasp winner against Augsburg was one thing. But to do it in back-to-back weeks is reminiscent of Klopp’s Liverpool at their never-say-die best. Their 3-2 comeback win at RB Leipzig bore all the hallmarks of a league-winning side.
They were really outplayed in the first half, with the mesmeric Xavi Simmons capping off a dominant performance with a glorious individual goal. But Leverkusen – not at their fluent best – reverted to another massive weapon in their armoury: set pieces.
Honestly, this is supposed to be the part of the season where Bayern are putting pressure on the rest of the division. But they succumbed to Leverkusen’s statement win this weekend, going down
1-0 at home to a resilient Werder Bremen side.
Real Madrid ride their luck in dramatic comeback win
This has been quite the rollercoaster week for Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid. They dominated eternal rivals Barcelona in the final of the Spanish Super Cup last Friday. But they were then knocked out of the Copa Del Rey by bitter city rivals Atletico Madrid.
They needed a result this week to bring back some stability and keep the heat on an inspired Girona side.
And Almeria doubled their lead through an excellent Gonzalez half-volley at the stroke of half-time. Madrid couldn’t conjure a shot on target in the first half and Ancelotti rang the changes. Target-man Joselu made an immediate impact, winning Real a penalty that La Liga top scorer Jude Bellingham duly slotted home.
Barca obliged, taking down Real Betis 4-2 on their own patch. Ferran Torres and Joao Felix- two of the great misfit toys of European football- scored the goals in a performance that was desperately needed.
Juventus capitalize on Inter’s Suppercoppa Italia exploits
Inter Milan sauntered into Monday’s Suppercoppa Italia final courtesy of a comfortable 3-0 victory over Lazio on Friday night. Simone Inzaghi’s side put on a tactical exhibition against the Biancocelesti, peppering them with 23 shots while Lazio couldn’t muster a shot on target in the entire match.
The final 3-0 scoreline was actually kind to a rather dire Lazio outfit.
Juventus have now won their last five consecutive Serie A matches and they haven’t actually lost a league match since September 23rd.
This season is going to boil down to a clash between Inzaghi’s dynamism and Allegri’s pragmatism.
Player of the Week: Artem Dovbyk
This could have been easily given to Girona’s explosive left-winger Savio. He has been Girona’s best player this season and his pace and dribbling were integral in the 5-1 victory over Sevilla this weekend.
But you have to ultimately go for the guy who scores a hat-trick within the first 20 minutes of the match.
Ukrainian Artem Dovbyk has been a revelation this season, providing the ultimate focal point for this fluid Girona lineup. Girona will do well to hold off the advances of Real Madrid in this season’s title race, but you cannot underestimate their achievement thus far.
They are essentially doing a Leicester City this season but with a possession-based philosophy. Incredible.
Could Michel and his team pull off possibly the biggest upset in European football history?