European Weekend: short summary
Just when Bayern Munich showed signs of an actual revival after their mediocre season under Niko Kovac so far, Die Rotten suffered a 1–3 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen. Borussia Monchengladbach has seized the opportunity and now, point tied with Bayern, both with 42, has grabbed the second place for now. However, leaders Borussia Dortmund, despite getting this huge opportunity of enlarging the gap between themselves and Bayern, only got a 1–1 draw with Frankfurt. In other words, said gap was only furthered by one point, so, frankly, at this point it can’t be called either an open fight for the league championship, nor a particular dominance of Die Schwarzgelben. Form wise, Dortmund might show significant drops from time to time, while Kovac’s Bayern is utterly unpredictable, from offering the impression they could always come back to losing points at random. I don’t know whether I can really think about this being a three way title race between Dortmund, Bayern and Gladbach, but certainly this season may seem a bit more competitive after 6 years of Bayern’s dominance in the Bundesliga. The big question is whether Borussia can win it’s first league title in 6 years, since no one would have ever given them a chance at doing anything big ever since Jurgen Klopp left the club for Liverpool in 2015. Yet I think Dortmund’s coach, Lucian Favre, may be up to the task, after all he is the manager who pulled out the best of someone like Mario Balotelli during his tenure at Nice.
As for the other teams, Leipzig seems to be consolidating it’s 4th place position, aiming for another UEFA Champions League entry. Frankfurt, Wolfsburg, Leverkusen and Hoffenheim are competing for the places in Europa League. Augsburg, Stuttgart, Nürnberg, Hannover 96 are fiercely battling relegation, while Fortuna Dusseldorf’s latest display seemed to have placed them in a safer spot, 6 points above the relegation play-off spot.
Juventus continues it’s dominance despite dropping points against Parma in a game which ended in a crazy 3–3. To be noted that, in the 62th minute, it was 3–0 for Juve after a brace by Cristiano Ronaldo and a strike by Daniele Rugani, but Parma made a comeback with Barilla reducing the difference to 3–1 two minutes after Rugani’s goal, while Gervinho’s own brace, completed with the goal scored in the third minute of extra-time, earned the Gialloblu a point in Turin. Napoli reduced the gap between themselves and Juventus to 9 points following a victory over Sampdoria, 3–0, but still far from actually making it count. Inter lost to Bologna, 0–1, while Milan drew with Roma, with new signing Piatek scoring his first Serie A goal for the Rossoneri.
Things look pretty much set right here: Juve going on for a straight 8th consecutive championship, Napoli for another runner-up finish; Inter finishing third, unless they bottle it up and either Rossoneri or Gialorossi start catching up; Milan and Roma battling for the last Champions League spot; Sampdoria, Atalanta, Lazio, Fiorentina, Torino and possibly Sassuolo and Parma competing for a place in Europa League; Chievo and Frosinone almost in Serie B, while Bologna, Empoli, Udinese, Cagliari and SPAL each are trying to avoid the 18th place.
Dominant Paris Saint-Germain suffers its first defeat in this season in the internal championship, a 1–2 against Lyon, ending a run of 20 matches without defeat, but the Parisians remain comfortably atop of the Ligue 1 table. With a 4–0 win over Nice, Lille reduces the gap between themselves and PSG to 10 points, but still to no real significance. As for Lyon, their triumph over PSG helped them stay on Lille’s tail for the 2nd place, which has a lot of importance since it’s a ticket directly to the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, unlike the third place which only gets you into the play-offs. Saint-Etienne and Strassbourg, two teams which are in for Europa League, with the former retaining some hopes for Champions League, were set to play but their game was postponed.
Not much to tell about this one, to be completely honest. Marseille were in for new misery, with another defeat, 1–2 against Reims. Meanwhile, Monaco has earned it’s first victory in two months (and 6 rounds) with a 2–1 over Toulouse, with both Aleksandr Golovin and Cesc Fabregas netting their first Ligue 1 goals for the club; now the ex-French champions are 18th place and have a long run to save themselves from relegation. With Amiens, Caen and Dijon in for some competition, and even Caen stepping up their game, though, it really won’t be easy.