10 Questions from the Weekend

  1. Can Fiorentina stay on top now?

After two weeks in a row not on top of the table, Fiorentina is back on top after beating Frosinone 4-1.  They overtook Roma following their 1-0 loss to Inter Milan.  Inter, Roma and Fiorentina have all shared the top of the table this year for multiple weeks.  With Juventus stumbling out of the gates, there has been an opening at the top of the table.  No team right now seems to want to grab that top spot and hold on to it.  It should be a very exciting race now with those three teams just separated by 1 point.  Napoli had the chance to go top this weekend as well, but they struggled at Genoa and could only manage a 0-0 draw.

  1. Can Dortmund get back in the title race?

Bayern Munich dropped points this weekend for the first time.  Dortmund responded with a 3-1 win over Werder Bremen.  Dortmund has only lost one game this season and has dropped a total of 7 points.  Munich has now dropped 2 points.  Dortmund is able to get back into the race, but they will need help.  They still have a game in Dortmund against Munich, so if Munich drops any more points, the door might be opened.  They have been scoring goals for fun, as they have the second best attack in the league with just one less goal scored than Bayern Munich.  Their defense is very much improved as well.  They will need some help but here is to hoping they get some help.

  1. Is this the start of something bigger for Jurgen Klopp?

Liverpool won their first league game under Jurgen Klopp this weekend 3-1 over Chelsea.  That is now two wins in a row following their League Cup win over Bournemouth.  Now I could have gone with the easy question of how many games does Jose have left, but let’s talk about Liverpool in this game.  With Chelsea continuing to slip up, there is a top four spot open.  Jurgen has a lot of work to do with this Liverpool side, but he seems to have changed their mentality quickly.  The team is fighting for him and fighting for each other.  They are really trying to implement his pressing system.  After falling behind 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, they battled their way back and got the win.  The road does not get easier for Jurgen, as they face a trip to Kazan, Palace at home, and then a trip to Manchester City.  This might be the start that Liverpool and Jurgen needed.

  1. Can Sevilla recover from their poor start?

Coming off winning the Europa League last season, Sevilla were expected to take the next step and maybe challenge Atletico Madrid for the third spot in Spain and definitely challenge for a top four spot.  They started off the season with only 2 points from their first five games.  Since then, they had won a couple of games and have been working their way up from the bottom of the league.  They were temporarily in the top half of the table before they lost this weekend to Villarreal.  They have a very talented team but are still working to figure out how they are going to play together.  Can they figure this out in time? They are eight points behind Atleti for fourth place.

  1. Who will lose first…PSG, Bayern Munich, or Real Madrid?

There are only three teams left in the big five European leagues without a loss.  They are Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid.  So who will lose first?  Bayern Munich dropped points for the first time this weekend when they drew 0-0 with Eintracht Frankfurt.  They are in the middle of a large run of games.  Since the 17th of October, Munich have played a game almost every three days, which continues with a game this week against Arsenal and then against Stuttgart on the weekend.  I am not sure when they will face a team that can beat them in the league.  I would look to the November 21st when they travel to Schalke. PSG have been dominant in France.  This weekend they beat Stade Rennais 1-0 thanks to a late goal from Angel Di Maria.  They have won 10 of their first 12.  They do face Lyon at home in December and they might remain unbeaten until then.  Lastly there is Real Madrid.  They are currently on top of the Spanish table.  Rafa Benitez has really settled their defense as they have only conceded 4 goals in 10 games.  They are one of the strongest teams in the world and will look to remain unbeaten heading into El Clasico in two weeks.

  1. Who is the front runner for the final two Champions League places in France?

The underdog story of Angers took a big step back as they lost this weekend to Monaco.  This means that they are no longer second after three straight weeks there.  They are still two points above Monaco but have been caught by Lyon.  Right now Lyon, Angers, and Saint Etienne are all level on 22 points.  Caen has 21, and Monaco has 20 points.  While the title race might be over since PSG are 10 points clear at the top, Lyon and Monaco were favored to push PSG.  You would imagine they should be the favorites for the other two spots.  Can Angers and Caen maintain the pace?  I do not think so and imagine that it will be a three horse race for the final two Champions League places.

  1. Is Wolfsburg the favorite for third?

While the top two in Germany have created some distance for themselves, the race for third is really heating up.  The past weekend featured a match between fourth and sixth place in the table.  Wolfsburg hosted Bayer Leverkusen and went on to win 2-1.  Wolfsburg has been shifting around between 3rd and 6th place all season.  They have been billed as the third best team in Germany and are really starting to show this.  They will need to continue on their three wins in a row.  Schalke seems to be their biggest rivals, as they are sitting in fourth place just one point behind them.  Schalke has had some struggles but have been in the top four for the last 7 weeks.  The dark horse in this is Borussia Monchengladbach.  They have battled their way from 18th place during week 5 to 5th place now.  They have won 6 league games in a row, including a win over Wolfsburg.  The top four all make it to Champions League.  Two of these three will make it there, who will it be?

  1. Is Manchester United boring?

Manchester United beat Everton 3-0 on October 17th.  Since then, they have scored just 1 goal in four games and have not won a game. United drew against Manchester City in one of the worst games to watch in a long time.  They scored their only goal in Moscow as they drew 1-1.  In the League Cup, they drew 0-0 at home against Middlesbrough and then lost on penalties.  This weekend, they drew 0-0 with Crystal Palace.  In their last games they have managed 7, 6, 15, and 5 shots with only 3, 1, 7, and 1 of those shots being on target.  The one outlier is the match against Middlesbrough.  They might be dominating possession in each of these games, but they are not the exciting team that played under Sir Alex.  Is this the same Louis Van Gaal that managed Ajax or Barcelona?  Does he have the ability to change the team or is this how they will play all season?

  1. Can Atletico mount a serious title challenge?

Atletico Madrid was poised to mount another serious run at the title again this season.  They had a great summer transfer window and were expected to be right with Barcelona and Real Madrid all season.  They have not had a bad start to the season and are currently sitting four points behind the big two.  Atleti lost to Barcelona and Villarreal.  They were able to draw with Real Madrid, but is that enough?  This weekend they drew against Deportivo La Coruna.  They have a run of about four games in which they should take 12 points.  During this run is El Clasico, so there is some hope that they can get even closer to the big two and make their run.

  1. Can Juventus get back into the race for the Scudetto?

They started off with two straight defeats but have now won 2 out of their last 3.  Juventus have been in the bottom 10 of the table all year until now.  They are currently in 10th place.  In fact, they are now only 9 points behind the leaders.  There are still 27 games so anything is possible with Juve.  They have had great success in the past and have many players who know what it takes.  That, coupled with the fact that the other teams have not run away from Juventus.  I think they might be back in the race if they can win three or four in a row and get a big win against Fiorentina in December.

Picture of the Week

Klopp is a happy man

IMG_5264

Goals of the Week

My Pick – I am going with Arouna Kone’s third goal of the game.  To be honest the main reason is the peach of a pass from Romelu Lukaku.  This was goal number 3 for Kone and 6 for Everton as they beat Sunderland 6-2.

https://vine.co/v/e32MUXpdIOq/embed/simple

Champions League Week

Game to Watch This Tuesday – Real Madrid vs. PSG – Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid – This game will go a long way in deciding who will win the group and who will be runner up.

Other Games on Tuesday

Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Malmo FF – Arean Lviv, Lviv

Manchester United vs. CSKA Moscow – Old Trafford, Manchester

PSV Eindhoven vs. Wolfsburg – Phillips Stadion, Eindhoven

Astana vs. Atletico Madrid – Astana Arena, Astana

Benfica vs. Galatasaray – Estadio da Luz, Lisbon

Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Juventus – Stadion Im Borussia-Park, Monchengladbach

Sevilla vs. Manchester City – Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, Sevilla

Game to Watch This Wednesday – Chelsea vs. Dynamo Kyiv – Stamford Bridge, London – This is a huge game for Jose and his Chelsea team.  Can they get three points and back to winning ways this weekend?

Other Games on Tuesday

Barcelona vs. BATE Borisov – Camp Nou, Barcelona

Roma vs. Bayer Leverkusen – Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Bayern Munich vs. Arsenal – Allianz Arena, Munich

Olympiacos vs. Dinamo Zagreb – Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus

Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Porto – Sammy Ofer Stadium, Haifa

Lyon vs. Zenit Saint Petersburg – Stade de Gerland, Lyon

Gent vs. Valencia – Ghelamco Arena, Ghent

I am going to be starting something new this week.  Each week, I will be doing a short editorial on some story from the world of soccer.  My first one will be on Jose Mourinho.

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