10 Things We Learned This Weekend…
- Spanish Sides were lacking in the final third
This weekend there were only 12 goals scored. The record low is 11, so that was just barely beaten thanks to Eibar who scored three goals today. In fact, the top four sides from last year combined for only 2 goals. Valencia and Real Madrid failed to score this weekend. Barcelona struggled for most of the game but got the win following a great series of passes and a sweet volley from Suarez. That was in fact the first goal scored from open play in the weekend. The two goals scored on Saturday were scored on a free kick. Is this a trend for the future? Is La Liga getting more defensive? This would be hard to see, as there were 4 red cards given but we will be watching this as we go.
- Dortmund looks up for it this year.
Borussia Dortmund is top of the Bundesliga thanks to their goal difference. Dortmund is yet to allow a goal in the Bundesliga and have scored 4 goals in each of their two games. Aubameyang and Reus are having a wonderful season with goals in each game. Thomas Tuchel seems to have figured out the team that he wants to play and how he wants them to play. While they may have had a bit of a hiccup in the Europa League when they fell behind 3-0 to Odd BK, Dortmund was able to find their feet and responded with 4 goals to win the tie 4-3 on the road. The defense has been great in the league as they have kept two clean sheets. If they play like this the rest of the way, then Dortmund can push Munich all the way to the end.
- Barcelona look strong defensively
After giving up 9 goals in their last three games, Barcelona was able to keep a clean sheet this weekend as they beat Atheltic Bilbao 1-0. In a very defensive game, Barcelona was forced to call up some reserves and they played wonderfully. With two of their top 3 center back choices out due to suspension, Vermaelen was picked to start with Mascherano. Then very early in the game, Dani Alves went off injured and Sergi Roberto was brought on to replace him. Then in the second half, Sergio Busquets went off injured. Marc Bartra then came on and Mascherano was pushed up. The partnership that gave up 4 goals in the San Mames was back together and this time they got it right. The two shut the game down in the last 20 minutes and helped Barcelona get off to a winning start.
- United need a “Pedro.”
As we all saw on Sunday, Pedro is a world class player and it took him just 20 minutes to make a fantastic run and score a great goal for Chelsea. Then just 10 minutes later, he player a wonderful ball across the face of the goal and Costa finished it off. Meanwhile, Manchester United fans were wishing he was wearing red, not blue. United struggled to find the back of the net. Memphis scored two beautiful goals in the Champions League but has not found the net in the EPL. In fact only one player has scored for Manchester United this season. They have scored two goals in three games and one of those was a Kyle Walker own goal. United needs a player who can take control of the game and get a goal when you need it. Pedro is that player. While Memphis may develop into that player, Pedro is the finished product. United needs to find someone who can help Rooney before next Monday.
- Real Madrid just can’t find the back of the net.
While it is way too early and Las Palmas could be a solid mid table team, a draw to a newly promoted team is not something that Real Madrid can afford. In a league in which the top two or three teams will drop a minimal number of points, those two points could be huge at the end of the year. Real Madrid seems to be in the learning process under Rafa Benitez. They have not had the best summer and are still trying to figure out how they will all play together. There were lots of questions about how he would lineup the squad. Bale played in the central role with Ronaldo able to attack from wherever he wanted to. It was a very attacking formation. While they looked strong in attack, they just couldn’t find the back of the net.
- No one wants to challenge PSG.
At the start of the season, I picked out Marseille, Lyon, Monaco, and Saint Etienne as teams who could challenge PSG for the title. Based on the first three weeks, none of those teams are in the top four and all have struggled this season. Marseille finally got a win this weekend as they punished newly promoted Troyes 6-0, but those were their first 6 goals of the season and first 3 points of the season. Lyon have only scored 2 goals in three games and lost this weekend at home to Rennais. Saint Etienne have scored in all of their games but have faced 10 men twice this season and have only managed to get three points from those two games. Monaco has the most points out of all of those teams, but their only winning game came after Nice saw a red card and they were able to comeback to win. They have not lost this year, but PSG is not going to drop many points this season. Will any of them step up?
- Vidal, Tevez, and Pirlo are going to be missed.
Coming into this season, Juventus had gone 47 games without defeat in the Serie A at home. Well this season, they started the season at home against Udinese. However, this game had a different feel to it. In their last competitive game, the midfield featured Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, and Paul Pogba. This weekend, the midfield featured Roberto Pereyra, Simone Padoin, and Paul Pogba. While last year they won the by 17 points and only lost 3 games all season. They dropped a total of 6 points at home as they went unbeaten. Well, this is a new season, and Juventus has already dropped 3 points at home when they lost 1-0 at home to Udinese. Is this a sign of more trouble to come or just a blip?
- Chelsea gets a much-needed three points, but is still far from their best.
The title defenders needed three points in the Hawthorns. They also needed a spark and this week they signed Pedro. It didn’t take him long to provide that spark, as he was able to score and provided an assist on his way to being the man of the match. Chelsea got another spark when James Morrison’s 14th minute penalty was saved by Courtois. This would have given West Brom an early lead and could have placed doubts in the Chelsea minds. But the save was made and then just 6 minutes later Pedro gave them the lead. Morrison would end up scoring later to make it 2-1 before Azpilicueta made it 3-1 just before half time. Early in the second half, John Terry was caught on his heels and gave a tug to Rondon who was in line to score. Terry saw his first red card since 2010 in the EPL. From then on, West Brom looked to score and did get a second from James Morrison. They could not get the third goal and Chelsea got all three points. It is a step in the right direction for Chelsea. However, 7 goals against in three games is still has people wondering about Chelsea.
- PSG and Manchester City continue to roll on.
Both PSG and Manchester City have kept 3 clean sheets and got 9 total points each. The defending champions of France continue to pick up three points each week as they beat Montpellier 1-0. Zlatan is still yet to play and the French champions are really pushing on greatly this season without him. Blaise Matuidi scored the goal this weekend. Manchester City continued to roll as they beat Everton 2-0. This was a very good game and it took a lot from City to finally break through when Raheem Sterling played in Alex Kolorov and he slid the ball past Tim Howard. Samir Nasri scored a wondergoal in the 88th minute to seal the points.
- Picture of the week… This is so Spursy…
Goals of the Week…
James’ Pick – James went with James Morrison’s second goal. He headed the ball into the corner from a great cross by Callum McManaman.
My Pick – I went with another Barcelona goal, as a great move was finished off by Suarez. Rakitic played a great pass into Alba and he crossed the ball to find a wide open Suarez who volleyed the ball in for the win and all three points.
Match to Watch this Week…
UEFA Champions League Qualification – Monaco vs. Valencia – Tuesday August 25th, 2015 on Fox Sports 1 at 2:45 pm EST
Monaco has a lot of work to do if they want make it to the group stages of the Champions League. They lost the first leg 3-1 in Valencia. Valencia looked very good in this game and could punch their ticket with a goal in the second leg. Monaco made it to the quarter—finals of the Champions League last season and could be the only team from the quarters to not make it to the group stage.
Other Games in Europe this Week…
UEFA Champions League Qualification
Malmo FF vs. Celtic – 2:45 pm EST – Fox Sports 2
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Rapid Wien – 2:45 pm EST – Fox Sports Plus
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Skenderbeu Korce – 2:45 pm EST
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Basel – 2:45 pm EST
Capitol One Cup
Hartlepool United vs. Bournemouth – 2:45 pm EST beIN Sports
UEFA Champions League Qualification
Club Brugge vs. Manchester United – 2:45 pm EST – Fox Sports 1
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Lazio – 2:45 pm EST – Fox Sports 2
CSKA Moskva vs. Sporting CP – 2:45 pm EST – Fox Soccer Plus
Partizan vs. BATE – 2:45 pm EST
APOEL vs. Astana – 12:00 pm EST
Capitol One Cup
Barnsley vs. Everton – 2:45 pm EST beIN Sports
Games Next Friday…
Bundesliga – Wolfsburg vs. Schalke 04– 2:30 pm EST – Fox Sports 1
Ligue 1 – Guingamp vs. Olympique Marseille – 2:30 pm EST – beIN Sports USA
La Liga – Villarreal vs. Espanyol – 2:30 pm EST – beIN Sports Connect