What We Learned During Week 2

10 Things We Learned this Weekend

  1. Manchester City is the title favorite.

Back to back 3-0 wins means that you are definitely in the title race.  When one of those teams that you beat is the title holders, then you are the title favorites.  City has looked amazing this year, as well as strong and hungry. Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany look like the players of two years ago and are pushing the team.  Pellegrini said that his team was hungry and angry.  That is evident early on.  While the title race is not over, City is clearly the title favorites right now.

  1. Dortmund looks really good.

Dortmund took on a team that finished in the top four last season, and looked dominate doing it.  They came out strong and never looked back, beating Monchengladbach 4-0. They jumped out to an early lead and got great performances from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrik Mkhitaryan.  While Monchengladbach struggled at the back, look for them to push on after the tough game.  Dortmund did put down a marker and looked really good.

  1. Chelsea could be in trouble but will be in race.

Is this the last season for John Terry at Chelsea?   He had not been substituted in the league by Jose Mourinho in their time together.  Last season, Terry played every minute.  While the change makes sense from a tactical stand point, it was a shocking move.  Chelsea is off to their worst start under Mourinho and worst since 1998.  While there are still 36 games left to go, are these just the little cracks that will become big or can they be fixed quickly?  Terry and Ivanovic are looking their age.  Costa and Hazard have struggled.  Fabregas is getting lost in the middle.  The team doctor situation dominated the news cycle.  All of these are tough to deal with, and the fact that their rivals are getting stronger.  Jose will need to find a solution quickly as they need to string together some performances this year.

  1. The gap in France could be huge.

Will PSG win the title by Christmas?  Obviously that won’t happen numerically, but the gap between PSG and the rest of the league appears to be bigger than first thought. Lucas Moura is healthy and showing his quality.  They have depth at just about every position and Zlatan Ibrahimovic has not played a game yet.  While there is a lot of news coming out about the possibility of him leaving the club this summer even if he leaves, PSG should be fine as they have Edinson Cavani to lead the line.  On top of their strong side, their closest rivals all seem to be stumbling out of the gate. Lyon finally scored a goal this week but struggled against Guingamp.  Monaco drew 0-0 with Lille this week.  Marseille are freefalling right now.  If these clubs want to keep pace, then they will need to find some offense or they will be out of the race by Christmas.

  1. Bayern Munich is deep and really strong.

When you can bring on players like Thiago Alcantara, Mario Gotze, and Rafinha you know that your squad is deep and strong.  Then you factor in that Ribery is still injured and not in the picture and your brain hurts when you have to pick a top 11.  Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa have slide into the team easily and have looked really good.  Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandownski look dangerous.  Philipp Lahm and David Alaba are probably the best full back pair in the world.  They look really strong and could be in line for a treble this season.

  1. Barcelona has a lot of question marks in the defense.

Barcelona has not gotten off to the best start this season. Despite winning a trophy in the UEFA Super Cup, they lost the Spanish Super Cup.  During these three matches, Barcelona have conceded 9 goals.  They won the UEFA Super Cup thanks to a late goal in extra time from Pedro 5-4.  In the Spanish Super Cup, they lost the first leg in Bilbao 4-0.  In the second leg they drew 1-1.  The team has been rotated and lots of different players were given a chance.  The one thing that we have seen is that they are not that deep at the back.  While their top 4 defenders are all world class, after that question marks arrive.  Jeremy Mathieu is not a world class right back.  Marc Bartra and Thomas Vermaelen were embarrassed in Bilbao.  In the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup, Gerard Pique was sent off.  To make matters worse for Barcelona, they have to travel to Bilbao on Sunday to open the La Liga season.  With no Pique or Mathieu for the opening match, the depth will be challenged.

  1. Leicester City could be mid table.

Leicester has two wins out of two and now just 34 points from safety.  For those of you wondering, 40 points is regularly considered the mark for survival.  If you can get to the 40 point mark you will stay up.  Having 6 points already in means they are will on pace to get to that mark.  They are currently sitting second in the table and have looked very good this season.  Claudio Ranieri has the team playing very well.  They could well be on pace to have a nice season and end up in the middle of the table.

  1. Struggle, Sack, Improve, Survive, Repeat

It seems very predictable that Sunderland will struggle, sack their manager, improve, and then survive.  Can they keep this strategy for what seems to be the 3rd year in a row?  They have lost their first two games this season and given 3 points to two teams that could be in the relegation fight with them.  The big concern for Sunderland fans is that there might not be an improve phase this season.  The back four really struggled in both games.  Yann M’Vila is a quality player but they need about 5 or 6 quality players in order to survive.

  1. Manchester United and Liverpool have looked poor but have maximum points.

Both of these teams have gotten off to great starts in terms of results.  They have won both of their games 1-0.  However, neither of them looked great.  They both have brought in a lot of players and the teams are still gelling. Manchester United needs Rooney to get going.  As the fixtures start to pile up, Rooney will need to carry United.  Liverpool needs Coutinho to carry the team.  He is the playmaker now and while he scored a great goal in the first game, Brendan Rodgers will need more from the little Brazilian.  Both teams have maximum points and two clean sheets.  If they both hope to reach the top 4, then they will have to improve.

  1. This is the picture that describes how Chelsea fans feel right now.

IMG_4993

Goals of the week…

James’ Pick – Lukaku’s First goal against Southampton.  Lukaku finished off a great cross from Kone.

https://vine.co/v/epZuYlpXlbj/embed/simple

My Pick – The only goal scored by Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup was a special one as Rakitic put a great ball in and Suarez chested it down to Messi who calmly placed in the back of the net.

https://vine.co/v/epjULKV17rI/embed/simple

Match to Watch this Week

UEFA Champions League Qualification – Manchester United vs Club Brugge – Tuesday August 18th, 2015 on Fox Sports 1 2:45 pm EST

This is the biggest game for Louis Van Gaal in his time at Manchester United.  These two legs will be tough and tense.  Manchester United should qualify for the group stages and avoided some of the bigger names in this round.  The biggest concern for Van Gaal will be can he get Rooney firing again and playing at his best.  There are concerns that he could be burnt out, but the manager has backed his striker to succeed and get going this week.  Look for United to win this week as a big road win will make next week easier.

Other Games in Europe this Week…

UEFA Champions League Qualification…

August 18

            Astana vs. APOEL – 12:00 pm EST – Fox Soccer Plus

BATE vs. Partizan – 2:45 pm EST – Fox Sports 2Go

Lazio vs. Bayer Leverkusen – 2:45 pm EST – Fox Sports 2Go

Sporting CP vs. CSKA Moskva – 2:45 pm EST – Fox Soccer Plus

August 19

            Valencia vs. Monaco – 2:45 pm EST – Fox Sports 2

Skenderbeu Korce vs. Dinamo Zagreb – 2:45 pm EST – Fox Sports 2Go

Celtic vs. Malmo FF – 2:45 pm EST – Fox Soccer Plus

Rapid Wien vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 2:45 pm EST – Fox Sports Regional

Basel vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv – 2:45 pm EST – Fox Sports 2Go

Games Next Friday…

Bundesliga – Hertha Berlin vs. Werder Bremen – 2:45 pm EST – Fox Soccer Plus

Ligue 1 – Montpellier vs. Paris Saint-Germain – 2:30 pm EST – beIN Sports USA

La Liga – Malaga vs. Sevilla – 2:30 pm EST – beIN Sports Connect

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