10 Thoughts from the Weekend

  1. Barcelona dominate in Madrid.

Barcelona entered the Santiago Bernabeau this weekend looking to come away with a positive result.  Little did they know they would make history.  It started 10 minutes in when Luis Suarez was played in for the opening goal.  Neymar doubled the lead with 6 minutes left in the first half. In the second half, Iniesta put the game out of reach as he connected with a great pass from Neymar.  Then Suarez completed his brace to make it 4-0.  They had a number of chances to make it 5 but could not create.  Barcelona made a statement.  They are 6 points clear of their most hated rivals.  This was also without Leo Messi, who made a cameo for just the last 30 minutes.  Real Madrid came out and said they are keeping Rafa Benitez and there is a lot of season left to play, but it was a big statement from Barcelona.

  1. No Kompany means big trouble for City.

City started the season with 5 straight victories and that has helped keep them near the top of the table.  While they went on this 5 game unbeaten run, they had the same back 4 during each game.  Sagna, Kompany, Mangala, and Kolorov.  The only one missing this past weekend was Kompany and man did it make a difference.  Liverpool was up 3-0 within the first 32 minutes.  They played right through Manchester City and looked more up for the game.  Aguero pulled one back before Martin Skrtel put it out of reach in the second half.  The Brazilian contingent of Firmino and Coutinho really controlled the game.  Firmino played the pass that Mangala put in his own goal.  Then they each set each other up for goals.  Without Kompany, the City defense looked in shambles.  If they want to be serious title contenders they will need to figure out how to play without him.

  1. Strong second half extends lead at the top for Bayern.

In a game that featured two of the better sides in Germany, Munich needed a strong second half performance to maintain their unbeaten run in Germany.  Munich went ahead thanks to a Leon Goreztzka own goal in the first 10 minutes.  However, within 10 minutes Leroy Sane connected with Max Meyer and he put the hosts level.  Then in the second half, Javi Martinez went on to score the winner on a nice ball in from Robben.   Javi headed in the winner with 21 minutes to go.  Thomas Muller added a late goal to take his total to 12 goals in 13 games.  The win give Bayern their 12th win of the season and places them now 8 points clear at the top.

  1. Inter and Napoli set each other up for top of the table clash.

Both teams were the only two of the top four to get all three points this weekend.  Fiorentina was on top of the table when they hosted Empoli this weekend.  The Florence side fell 2 goals behind before Nikola Kalinic earned them a point with his brace.  Roma traveled to Bologna and also drew 2-2. This was a game of penalties and 3 of the four were scored from the spot.  That meant that the door was open for Napoli and Inter to grab the top spot.  Napoli scored two second half goals from Insigne and Higuain to earn all three points.  Inter went on to score 4 goals against Frosinone.  The most all season for them.  This sets up a top of the table clash between the two hottest teams in Italy as Inter travels to Napoli.  It should be a big game next weekend.

  1. PSG remain unbeaten.

They are one of the two unbeaten teams in the big 5 leagues and they are still unbeaten after winning 2-1 at Lorient.  They jumped out to an early 2 goal lead thanks to Hervin Ongenda and Blaise Matuidi.  Ongenda scored his first goal in the league this season in his first start of the season.  Lorient pulled one back but it was not enough as PSG went on to win their 8th game in a row.  The Parisians are now 13 points ahead of Lyon.  They have averaged 2.4 goals per game while averagimg 0.5 goals against per game.  They are on pace to win their fourth Ligue 1 title in a row.

  1. Dortmund stumbles in Hamburg.

With their closest rivals steamrolling most of the Bundesliga, Dortmund could not afford to drop that many points.  Well this weekend did not start well for them as poor control by Sokratis lead to quick break for Ilicevic, and then he was taken down in the box by Burki. Lasogga finished off the penalty.  Just before half-time, Hamburg doubled their lead as Lewis Hotlby calmly placed his shot in the net.  Things got worse for Dortmund in the second half when Mats Hummels played the corner into his own goal.  Aubameyang got one back in the 86th minute but it was too little too late.  The points would go to Hamburg and the distance grows between Munich and Dortmund.

  1. Can Leicester really finish in the top 4?

One year ago, Leicester was on the bottom of the Premier League table.  Now they are on top of the Premier League.  They have won 4 games in a row in the league and are being led by Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.  Jamie Vardy is the talk of England as he has tied Ruud Van Nistelrooy record of scoring in 10 straight games.  I hope you have him in your fantasy league team.  Now the question is can they make it last.  Last year, West Ham was in the top 4 at Christmas and was nearly relegated.  I am not saying that is going to happen to Leicester, but let’s not crown them yet.  Vardy opened the scoring this weekend.  Then Ulloa and Okazaki both added second half goals to win 3-0 at Newcastle.  They are 1 point ahead of Manchester United and two points clear of Manchester City and Arsenal.  Here is to hoping that Cinderella can keep their spot at the top.

  1. Atletico Madrid go second in the league.

While the big two in Spain faced off in Madrid, Atletico traveled to Sevilla to face Real Betis.  They went on to win the 1-0 in typical Atleti fashion.  They got an early goal from Koke and then held on for a 1-0 win.  Torres started up front while Jackson Martinez is injured.  Luciano Vietto could only take a settle for a place on the bench.  Atletico are now 4 points behind Barcelona and sit in second place.  They are two points ahead of their crosstown rivals, Real Madrid.  Their defense has always been a staple of their team under Diego Simeone.   This year is no exception as they have the best defense in the league, averaging just 0.5 goals against per game.  If they can keep this defense up then they will be able to challenge for their second title in three years.

  1. Don’t look now but Juventus are 6th in the league.

Just like that, Juventus have climbed right back up the table as they have won 4 out of 5 games in a row.  They won their third in a row this past weekend when they defeated Milan 1-0 at home.  The game was not the best watch, but in the end it was 3 points for Juventus.  The points were won by Paulo Dybala who sweetly controlled a nice pass in from Alex Sandro and calmly beat the goalkeeper.  This means that Juventus have jumped AC Milan in the table and are now just 7 points behind the Champions League spots and 9 points behind the leaders, Inter Milan.  The goal was to be in the title race by the start of the New Year and that is looking like a bigger possibility every week.

  1. Lyon slip up in Nice.

The second place team in France traveled to Nice this weekend looking to keep pace with PSG.  They had been on a great run of form lately having won 3 in a row in the league before this weekend.  20 minutes into the game, Nice went ahead as Valere Germain scored the opener.  It went from bad to worse for Lyon in the second half as Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa scored an own goal.  Vincent Koziello sent the home fans into frenzy as he scored the third goal of the game.  Nice won the game 3-0.  They are now just one point behind Lyon and Caen.  This win puts them in the hunt for a Champions League place next season.  Lyon meanwhile is now 13 points behind PSG.  The title race may be over, but now Lyon needs to focus on their Champions League spot for next season.

Picture of the Week

#PrayforParis

IMG_5318

Goals of the Week

My Pick – I am going to pick from El Clasico this weekend and go for the third goal from Andres Iniesta.  A wonderful 1-2 led to him smashing the ball past Navas and really putting no doubt in the game.

Champions League Round 5

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Barcelona vs. Roma – Camp Nou, Barcelona

After a 1-1 draw on the opening day, these two teams face off with Barcelona looking to qualify for the knockout stage and Roma looking to gain some distance between them and Bayer Leverkusen.

Other Games on Tuesday

BATE Borisov vs. Bayer Leverkusen – Borisov Arena, Barysaw

Arsenall vs. Dinamo Zagreb – Emirates Stadium, London

Bayern Munich vs. Olympiacos – Allianz Arena, Munich

Porto vs. Dynamo Kyiv – Estadio d0 Dragao, Porto

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

Zenit Saint Petersburg vs. Valencia – Petrovsky  Stadium, Saint Petersburg

Lyon vs. Gent – Stade de Gerland, Lyon

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Astana vs. Benfica – Astana Arena, Astana

This game features the furthest west team and the furthest east located team in the competition.  The two teams are 3,790 miles apart.   How will the travel impact the top team in the group?  Astana have drawn both of their home games so far.  Can they send their fans off with a win?

Other Games on Wednesday

Malmo vs. Paris Saint-Germain – Swedbank Stadion, Malmo

Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Real Madrid – Arena Lviv, Lviv

CSKA Moscow vs. Wolfsburg – Arena Khimki, Khimki

Manchester United vs. PSV Eindhoven – Old Trafford, Manchester

Atletico Madrid vs. Galatasaray – Vicente Calderon, Madrid

Juventus vs. Manchester City – Juventus Stadium, Turin

Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Sevilla – Stadion in Borussia-Park, Monchengladbach

 

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