In a quirky coincidence, the four Ms - Manchester, Munich, Madrid and Montpellier - provide the leaders of the biggest European leagues. United, Bayern, Real and MHSC top the standings going into the international break, although the men from Madrid could be toppled from their perch by Barcelona on Monday. Barça’s meeting with Villarreal completes the first weekend of the La Liga programme, but the opening round of fixtures in Italy was postponed due to strike action by the Serie A players. FIFA.com reviews the weekend action in the rest of Europe.
Premier League: Manchester duo flex their muscles
Manchester United and City both maintained their perfect starts to the campaign with ominously crushing victories over fancied rivals, moving on to 13 and 12 goals respectively in just three matches. Edin Dzeko scored four as City cruised to a 5-1 victory away to Spurs, before United moved into overdrive and handed sorry Arsenal a thumping 8-2 defeat, leaving the Gunners still winless this season.
Liverpool beat Bolton Wanderers 3-1 and Chelsea overcame Norwich City by the same score: the Reds and the Blues lead the chasing pack on seven points apiece.
Top three: Manchester United, Manchester City (both 9 points), Liverpool (7)
Bottom three: West Bromwich Albion, Blackburn Rovers, Tottenham Hotspurs (all 0)
Leading scorers: Edin Dzeko (6 goals), Wayne Rooney (5), Sergio Aguero, Ivan Klasnic, Ashley Young (all 3)
Weekend stat: 84 – Arsenal’s 8-2 hiding was their worst defeat in some 84 years.
Bundesliga: Bayern back at the top
Mario Gomez struck the ninth hat-trick of his German top flight career to seal Bayern’s 3-0 win away to Kaiserslautern and send the men from Munich top. Germany’s biggest club have now won their last five matches, scoring 12 goals and conceding none, although they share the lead on nine points with Schalke, who beat previous leaders Monchengladbach 1-0, and Werder Bremen, 2-1 winners away to Hoffenheim.
Saturday evening’s big match between champions Borussia Dortmund and last term’s runners-up Bayer Leverkusen ended in a scoreless draw. The goalfest of the weekend saw Bundesliga founder members Hamburg lose 4-3 at home to Cologne. These are worrying times for the northern giants, who have lost three of their first four matches, conceding 14 goals in the process, more than ever before at the same stage of the season.
Top three: Bayern, Schalke, Werder Bremen (all 9 points)
Bottom three: Augsburg, Kaiserslautern (both 2), Hamburg (1)
Leading scorers: Papiss Demba Cisse, Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Mario Gomez (all 4 goals)
Weekend stat: 476 – the number of days which have passed since Bayern finished a round of Bundesliga fixtures on top of the standings. They most recently topped the table on 8 May 2010.
La Liga: Real roar off the blocks
In the absence of champions Barcelona, who meet Villarreal on Monday, Real Madrid took top spot in the nascent Spanish standings with a 6-0 victory away to Real Zaragoza. Cristiano Ronaldo gave notice of intent for the coming season with a hat-trick.
Big-spending Malaga suffered a sobering 2-1 reverse on their travels to Sevilla, but Valencia fought back from 3-1 down against Racing Santander to win 4-3. In a clash of promoted clubs, Real Betis won 1-0 away to Granada.
Top three: Real Madrid, Valencia, Seville, Real Sociedad (all 3 points)
Bottom three: Espanyol, Granada, Real Zaragoza (all 0)
Leading scorers: Cristiano Ronaldo, Roberto Soldado (both 3 goals), Imanol Agirretxe (2)
Weekend stat: 1 – Sociedad striker Agirretxe struck the brace which earned his side a 2-1 success away to Sporting Gijon, and also took the honours as the first goalscorer in the 2011/12 La Liga campaign.
Ligue 1: Montpellier lose but stay top
Despite a 2-1 defeat away to Olympique Lyon, Montpellier remain top of the table after four matches thanks to their maximum nine points from the first three fixtures. Expensively-assembled Paris Saint-Germain beat Toulouse 3-1 and go third courtesy of a second win on the bounce.
In the clash between the champions of the last two years, double winners Lille beat Olympique Marseille 3-2. OM have yet to win, but Lille join a block of seven clubs on seven points.
Top three: Montpellier (9 points), Olympique Lyon (8), Paris Saint-Germain (7)
Bottom three: Ajaccio (2), Nancy, Valenciennes (both 1)
Leading scorers: Alain Traore (5 goals), Brice Jovial, Ryad Boudebouz, Kevin Gameiro (all 3)
Weekend stat: 0 – Four games into the programme, Stade Brest are unbeaten but also have yet to win: Les Ti’Zefs have drawn all their matches so far.
After 11 matches in Russia, Zenit St. Petersburg replaced CSKA Moscow at the top of the table. The 2008 UEFA Cup winners routed Krasnodar 5-0, while CSKA were held 2-2 by city rivals Spartak. Meanwhile, Anzhi Makhachkala mega-signing Samuel Eto’o scored on his debut to earn a 1-1 draw away to Rostov.
There was a change at the top in Switzerland too: Lucerne beat Grashoppers 1-0 and took over from previous leaders Thun, beaten 2-1 away to Basel.