Another enthralling weekend of European football threw up many talking points. Here are our picks for winners and losers from across Europe this past weekend.
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Since Lionel Messi was first crowned the world’s best player in 2009, the longest he had ever gone without reclaiming the title was two years. When Luka Modrić claimed the gong this year, it became the first time in a decade that the Barcelona talisman has gone three years without winning the Ballon D’Or (Cristiano Ronaldo claimed the last two). Since then, the Argentine magician has rediscovered his deadliest form as he seeks to return to the top of the pile. His three goals in Barça’s 5-0 win over Levante took his tally to five in two matches.
Borussia Dortmund’s excellent season is showing no signs of slowing down. They went into the weekend with a record of 11 wins and three draws from 14 matches. First half goals from man-of-the-moment Paco Alcácer and Marco Reus helped them to a 2-1 win. Meanwhile, second-placed Borussia Monchengladbach could only muster a 0-0 draw at Hoffenheim. Lucien Favre’s men now have a cushion of nine points at the top of the Bundesliga table and remain the only unbeaten side in the division this season.
Juventus beat Torino in the Turin derby on Saturday. That result took them 11 points clear of Napoli at the top of Serie A standings. Carlo Ancelotti’s men faced Cagliari the following day. It appeared as though they could only manage to claim a point at the Sardegna Arena and perhaps all but surrender the Scudetto to Juve even before the halfway point of the season. Then in stoppage time, Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik produced a sumptuous free kick to claim three critical points for Napoli. The title race is still alive…just.
Over 2.5 Goals in Serie A
Out of nine matches played in Serie A over the weekend, only two featured Over 2.5 Goals. Fiorentina beat Empoli 3-1, whilst AS Roma edged Genoa in a five-goal thriller. Other than that, there were four 1-0 results, two 2-0 score lines and a goalless draw between SPAL and Chievo.
Continued protests in France have thrown the state of football in the country into disarray. For the second consecutive week, multiple matches were postponed, including Paris Saint Germain’s match at Dijon and Nantes v Montpellier.
It has been an underwhelming season for De Graafschap in Eredivisie, and that is quite the understatement. That notwithstanding, they had not experienced as humiliating an experience yet as they did when they came up against Ajax on Sunday. Erik ten Hag’s men were ruthless as they dismantled the visitors 8-0. Even former Manchester United centre-back Daley Blind helped himself to a hat-trick.