- How will Barcelona respond to Messi’s injury? – The answer is the same as they did last year as they rolled to an easy victory over Sporting Gijon. Luis Suarez opened the scoring a half hour in ,then Rafinha doubled the lead just two minutes later. With 10 minutes to play the score was still 2-0, but Neymar would score a 7 minute brace with a goal from Arda Turan in-between those goals. This is one game down and Barcelona was able to rest some players for their Champions League game this week which should help them out on Wednesday. If they are able to win the game in Germany, they will be in a great spot for when Messi does return.
- It has been two defeats in a row in the league for Jose, will he drop Rooney this weekend? – Jose dropped Rooney and his team looked fantastic as they bossed Leicester this weekend. Manchester United scored 3 goals from set pieces and took a 4-0 lead into halftime. The game would finish 4-1. Manchester United looked very strong this game and they really seemed to have the balance of the squad right. I think the biggest change was not the dropping of Rooney, but rather the inclusion of Ander Herrera instead of Fellaini. This made a big difference and United looked to control the game through him. It also allowed Pogba more freedom and he pushed well up field. Overall, it was a great performance from United and now it will be interesting to see when Rooney returns to the side.
- How will the top three in Italy end up after this weekend? – Well we have a new entrant into the top 3 in Italy as Inter Milan jumped above Roma thanks to their draw with Bologna and Roma losing 3-1 to Torino. Roma is now a point behind Inter and 5 behind the leaders Juventus. Juventus stayed on top of the table thanks to their 1-0 win over Palermo on Friday. Napoli stayed within a point as they defeated Chievo Verona 2-0. The top two are starting to distance themselves from the back. Napoli is 3 points above Inter. There is a pack starting to build for the third and final spot and that might become a revolving door as the season goes on with 10 teams within 3 points of 3rd place. We might be able to watch a title fight between Napoli and Juventus, plus a giant battle for 3rd. This could be a great competitive season in Italy.
- Is the Bundesliga over already? – Well it almost was game on this weekend as Bayern Munich need a late goal from Joshua Kimmich to earn all three points and stay unbeaten. They defeated Hamburger 1-0 this weekend to go to 15 points and 5 wins out of 5. Borussia Dortmund played a tough game on Friday. They did look really good in the end, but needed a late goal in the first half from Aubameyang to open the scoring. They then scored 2 goals in the second half but the game was very tight. Dortmund finished with a 3-1 win and stayed within 3 points of Munich. They are really the only team that can challenge them if they are able to get results in the Der Klassiker.
- Are Nice for real? – They really do appear to be as they were able to go to Nancy this weekend and get all three points. This is the goal each week for the club and they were able to thanks to a goal from Alassane Plea. Plea has been fantastic this season so far and is keeping a red hot Balotelli out of the side. They have the depth and the defense that could lead to a big shock in France. Each week, I think is this going to be the week they slip up and each week they seem to have answered the call. How long can they maintain this? All Season? Long enough to finish in a Champions League spot?
The Score after the Weekend Games
Me – 58 (14)
Brad – 37 (6)
Games to Watch This Week
The Champions League and Europa League have their 2nd Round this week. Here is a game to watch each day.
Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid – This has to be one of the marquee matchups of the group stage. This is going to be an amazing game of counter-attacking football. Real Madrid has been scintillating before their draw this weekend at Las Palmas. Now they face a tough trip to Dortmund who knocked Real Madrid out of the competition a couple seasons ago. This should be a fantastic game.
My Pick – Dortmund 2, Madrid 1: Aubameyang, Guerreiro, and Ronaldo
Brad’s Pick – Dortmund 3, Madrid 2: Dembele, Gotze, Papa, Ronaldo, and Ramos
Atletico Madrid vs. Bayern Munich – This is another rematch from last season that saw Atletico Madrid knock out the German Champions in the semifinals of the competition. Look for Atletico to put down a solid defensive game at home and really make Bayern work. Could this be their first defeat of the season?
My Pick – Atletico 1, Munich 1: Gameiro and Lewandowski
Brad’s Pick – Atletico 1, Bayern 3: Koke, Lewandowski, Muller, and Ribery
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Sporting Braga – Donetsk still are not in their home stadium due to the political situation in Ukraine. They will be disappointed to not be in the Champions League this season, but will look to win the Europa League for the second time. Braga is a quality Portuguese side and will hope to qualify for the Round of 16.