What is wrong with Borussia Dortmund? When you watch them in the Champions League, they look like the team that captured the world’s heart two years ago and almost won the Champions League. This is the team that knocked Bayern Munich off their perch in the German Bundesliga. They won the league two years in a row (2010-11, 2011-12) and have been runners up the last two years. They won the DFB-Pokal Cup in 2012 and were runners up in 2014. They were primed to be Bayern’s top competition for the next couple of years. They had incredible talent and a great coach. And then the great exodus began. First was Nuri Sahin to Real Madrid for 10 million Euros. Then Shinji Kagawa, Lucas Barrios, and Ivan Perisic left in 2012/2013. So far the team was maintaining and continuing to win. Then the big two left and the team that they went to really started to hurt them. Over the next two summers, their top performers would leave Dortmund for Munich. They would join the biggest club in Germany and Dortmund’s top rival. Mario Götze at least earned Dortmund some funds, but Robert Lewandowski left for free. This leaves them in their current state. While the team has brought in new recruits, and the team is arguably deeper and more talented now, they seem to be missing their heart. They still have Marco Reus and Mats Hummels, but they are now rumored to be headed away from Dortmund. They have brought in very good players such as Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, Sokratis, Matthias Ginter, Ciro Immobile, and Adrian Ramos. They have even brought back Kagawa and Sahin. But they continue to struggle. On Sunday, they perhaps hit rock bottom. They lost 2-0 to Eintacht Frankfurt and now sit at the bottom of the table. It will be interesting to see how they respond, and what happens over the next couple months as their ticket is already booked for the round of 16 in the champions league. But can they avoid the drop this year?
Elsewhere in Germany, Wolfsburg staked their claim as the new challengers to Bayern Munich. They defeated Mönchengladbach 1-0 this weekend and now sit 7 points behind Munich after Munich won 1-0 over Hertha Berlin.
In Serie A, both of the top two teams won at home and now the pressure is on Napoli to win today to keep the pace and pressure on Juventus and Roma. Although, this looks to be a two horse race to the finish. Ligue 1 is also a two horse race between Marseille and PSG. They are currently separated by 1 point. Both of the teams won at home over the weekend.
In Spain, the headlines start with Real Madrid. They have now won 16 consecutive matches with their 2-1 victory in Malaga. They look to be the early favorite to win the league and maybe everything else as they are currently unbeatable. On Sunday, the real fireworks stared. Sevilla climbed back into the top 4 with a 5-1 victory over Granada. Atletico won 2-0 against Deportivo. The last game on Sunday was a fantastic match in La Mestalla. Valencia held a great shape and had plenty of chances to win the game. However, they were not able to find the back of Bravo’s net. Deep into stoppage time with almost the last kick of the game, an unlikely hero arrived for Barcelona. Messi played in a lovely cross to Neymar who headed the ball straight into Diego Alves’ head. The ball fell to Sergi Busquets, and he hammered it into the back of the net. Barcelona won 1-0 and has kept pace with Real Madrid as they currently sit 2 points behind Madrid.
The big match in England took place on the south coast as Manchester City won 3-0 over Southampton. Southampton enters a very tough part of their schedule, and they did not get off to a great start. They played well but were caught many times on the break. Also on Sunday, Tottenham won 2-1 over Everton to help get their season on track as they jumped up to 7th in the table. On Saturday, Arsenal, Manchester United, QPR, West Ham, and Liverpool all won. Sunderland have also become Chelsea bogey team. Gus Poyet seems to have found the secret to not losing to Chelsea. In the last 3 matches, Sunderland has won 2 games and drawn 1 as they drew 0-0 with Chelsea on Saturday. The unbeaten season continues, but as we approach the congested holiday some holes might be appearing. We will have to wait and see.
Previewing this week we can look forward to some Copa del Rey action and some awesome midweek EPL matches. In the Copa Del Rey, last year’s winners Real Madrid host Cornella in the second of their two legged tie. The runner’s up Barcelona will travel to Huesca on Wednesday for the first leg.
In the EPL, we have some big match-ups on Wednesday. Arsenal will host Southampton as the Gunners look to jump into the top 4, and Southampton looks to keep its spot close to Chelsea. Chelsea host Tottenham Hotspur as they look to extend their unbeaten run against a good road team. Everton hosts Hull City as they look to rebound from their loss on Sunday. Lastly, Manchester City travel to Sunderland as they look to keep pace with Chelsea and potentially close the 5 point gap even more. I would say that the title race is back on between those two. On Tuesday, Manchester United will look to make it 4 in a row as they host Stoke City. Liverpool travel to Leicester City as they hope to win a second game in a row.
EPL Pick ‘Em
This past weekend was a good one for Buzz as he nailed the Liverpool 1-0 victory which helped him win the week 7-2.
As for this week
Liverpool 1-0, Newcastle 2-1, United 2-1, Swans 2-1, Villa 1-0, West Ham 2-1, Saints 2-1, Chelsea 2-0, Everton 1-1, City 3-1
Liverpool 2-1, United 2-1, Newcastle 2-0, QPR 2-2, Villa 2-1, West Ham 3-2, Chelsea 3-1, Arsenal 2-1, City 2-0, Everton 2-1