European Leagues review
Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle United all amassed 6-0 wins to light up the Premier League, and there was relief for the faltering luminaries of French football as Bordeaux, Lyon and Marseille finally claimed their first victories of the new season. The opening weekend of the new Bundesliga campaign was not lacking in drama either, with surprises aplenty and Hoffenheim laying down the most impressive marker of all. FIFA.com casts a look back at the last few days of action in Europe’s leading championships.
Premier League: Six of the best
English football enthusiasts were treated to no fewer than 18 goals in three games during the second round of action, with Arsenal setting the tone by sweeping aside Blackpool 6-0. Chelsea then followed up with an identical scoreline at Wigan Athletic – their second 6-0 win in succession – and on Sunday it was Newcastle United who racked up half a dozen, putting Aston Villa to the sword in the north east.
Manchester United had looked destined to join the Blues at the Premier League summit during the closing stages of their trip to Fulham, only to be foiled by a late leveller in a 2-2 draw. Instead, the Red Devils lie third, with three of the so-called Big Four occupying the podium places ahead of Monday’s meeting between Manchester City and Liverpool.
Top three: Chelsea (6 points), Arsenal (4, +6), Manchester United (4, +3)
Bottom three: Stoke City (0, -2), West Ham (0, -5), Wigan (0, -10)
Top scorers: Theo Walcott, Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda and Andrew Carroll (3 goals), Johan Elmander, Nicolas Anelka, Gareth Bale (2 each)
Weekend stat: 35 – The total number of goals scored in England during a record second instalment of matches. An average of 3.89 strikes rustled the net per game.
Ligue 1: Big guns stir at last
Floundering at the wrong end of the table after two games, Ligue 1 heavyweights Lyon, Bordeaux and Marseille boasted just one point between them until they were able to find the keys to success at the weekend. Lyon downed Brest 1-0 at home in a performance that nonetheless suggested work remains to be done, and that was also the theme of OM’s 2-0 success against Lorient, although Bordeaux demonstrated plenty of poise as they prevailed 2-1 against a valiant Paris Saint-Germain side in the capital.
At the top of the standings the surprising early leaders are Toulouse, who seem to have digested the news that French international striker Andre-Pierre Gignac appears set to leave them for Marseille in the next few days. They saw off Arles-Avignon 2-1 to record their third triumph in three matches.
Top three: Toulouse (9 points), Caen (7), Rennes (5, +3)
Bottom three: Lorient and Brest (1, -3), Arles-Avignon (0)
Top scorers: Daniel Braaten (3 goals), Ismael Bangoura, Bafetimbi Gomis, Taye Taiwo (2 each)
Weekend stat: 3 – The number of red cards Nancy have picked up so far in as many games.
Bundesliga : Hoffenheim revisit past exploits
Two years on from surprising everyone by competing for the title and finishing seventh in their debut top-flight campaign, Hoffenheim kicked off their 2010/11 bid in explosive fashion. Pitted against title hopefuls Werder Bremen, Ralf Rangnick’s charges grabbed the headlines by clinching a 4-1 victory.
That was enough to put Hoffenheim top ahead of three teams buzzing in the wake of memorable away successes: Kaiserslautern, who triumphed 3-1 at Cologne; St Pauli, who downed Freiburg by the same scoreline; and Bayer Leverkusen, for whom Michael Ballack contested all 90 minutes of their 2-0 win at Dortmund. As for champions Bayern Munich, they were made to work for their last-gasp 2-1 defeat of Wolfsburg, with Franck Ribery providing much of the inspiration and Bastian Schweinsteiger burying their added-time winner.
Top three: Hoffenheim (3 points, +3), Kaiserslautern, St Pauli, Leverkusen, Mainz (3, +2)
Bottom three: Dortmund (0, -2), Stuttgart (0, -2), Werder Bremen (0, -3)
Top scorers: Srdan Lakic and Ruud van Nistelrooy (2 goals each)
Weekend stat: 14 – The number of goals fired in each half as Germany’s top-tier sides got the ball rolling at the weekend: 14 were put away in the first half and another 14 after the break.
The silverware in the former went to Inter Milan, who showed that the departure of Jose Mourinho has not arrested the influx of trophies. After securing the league, cup and UEFA Champions League last term, the Nerazzurri celebrated their first honour under new coach Rafael Benitez thanks to a 3-1 victory against Roma. Samuel Eto’o made the result possible with a pair of goals, enjoying better form than he was able to produce during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
Lionel Messi, meanwhile, was unstoppable as Barcelona recovered from losing the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup 3-1 away against Sevilla. Disputing his first full match in 2010/11, the Argentinian international helped himself to a hat-trick as the Catalan club ran out 4-0 winners to seal a 5-3 aggregate success.
In Turkey, champions Bursaspor are continuing where they left off last year, sending a fresh message to their rivals with a 2-0 victory at Galatasaray. Meanwhile, the alarm bells have started sounding for the beaten hosts, who lie second from bottom on zero points.
The upper echelons of the Swiss championship have an unfamiliar air, with Lucerne leading the way on 13 points and both Bellinzona and Thun riding high with ten. Of the traditional powers, only Basel – also on ten points – have managed to keep pace.
A surprise package has emerged in the Czech Republic too, in the shape of Viktoria Plzen. They sit top on 16 points, two ahead of Sigma Olomouc and six clear of third-placed Mlada Boleslav.