European Leagues review
It was a tough weekend for Europe’s big guns as Lyon, Chelsea, Arsenal, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich all succumbed to defeats, while Manchester United, Liverpool and Real Madrid had to settle for draws.
Only Marseille, Barcelona and AC Milan were able to impress, as FIFA.com recounts in this look back at two fascinating days of action across the leading European championships.
Premier League: Frustration for ‘Big Four’
England’s so-called ‘Big Four’ amassed just two points between them over the weekend. Frontrunners Chelsea suffered their first league reverse of the campaign as Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez consigned them to a 1-0 loss. Fellow Londoners Arsenal then fared just as badly. Three goals in the space of 23 minutes left them 3-0 down at home to West Bromwich Albion before Samir Nasri’s late double proved insufficient to stave off defeat.
Manchester United at least managed to salvage a point in their fixture at Bolton Wanderers as Michael Owen’s equaliser secured a 2-2 draw that lifted them above Arsenal into second, and that was identical to the scoreline in the match between Liverpool and Sunderland. Roy Hodgson’s men find themselves at the opposite end of the table to United, however, just one spot above the relegation zone in 16th.
Top three: Chelsea (15 pts), Manchester United (12), Arsenal (11)
Bottom three: Wigan Athletic (5), West Ham United (4), Everton (3)
Top scorers: Florent Malouda, Dimitar Berbatov (both 6 goals), Didier Drogba, Darren Bent (both 5), Theo Walcott, Carlos Tevez, Salomon Kalou, Andy Carroll (all 4)
Weekend stat: 2 – The number of consecutive home defeats suffered by Newcastle United. Those setbacks at St James’ Park have dented what has otherwise been a promising start for the Magpies.
Ligue 1: Saint-Etienne state their case
Derby meetings tend to be highly charged occasions and that was certainly the case at a noisy Stade de Gerland on Saturday, where Lyon’s less vaunted neighbours Saint-Etienne continued their impeccable start to the season with a seventh consecutive win. Dimitri Payet’s seventh effort this term was the only goal of the encounter and left the hosts in 19th spot, their worst position in 15 years, before Sunday’s results helped them climb a place.
For their part, champions Marseille are sixth after putting together a 2-1 victory over the team below them, Sochaux, while Bordeaux, in 13th, stuttered again in a goalless stalemate at fourth-placed Caen. Lastly, UEFA Champions League hopefuls Auxerre are still looking for their first success this season after drawing 2-2 with Nancy.
Top three: Saint-Etienne (16 pts), Rennes (15), Toulouse (14)
Bottom three: Lyon (5, -5), Lens (5, -7), Arles-Avignon (0)
Top scorers: Dimitri Payet (7 goals), Youssef El-Arabi (4), Taye Taiwo, Olivier Giroud, Guillaume Hoarau (all 3)
Weekend stat: 16 – The number of years since Saint-Etienne’s last derby triumph against Lyon.
La Liga: Real firing blanks
Five fixtures into the new Spanish season and Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid have plundered just six goals so far. Los Merengues have been struggling to find a way past their opponents and that was no more evident than in Saturday’s goalless affair away to promoted side Levante. Real’s failure to register knocked them off top spot and down to third, with Valencia assuming pole position thanks to their 2-0 success at Sporting Gijon. In second, Barcelona masterminded a comfortable 3-1 victory at Athletic Bilbao.
The weekend proved anything but comfortable for seventh-placed Sevilla, on the other hand, as they surrendered their unbeaten record. The Andalusian outfit slipped to a 2-0 loss at newly promoted Hercules – the team voted Europe’s biggest surprise package by FIFA.com users this week – and it was David Trezeguet who did the damage with both goals.
Top three: Valencia (13 pts), Barcelona (12), Real Madrid (11)
Bottom three: Levante (4), Deportivo La Coruna (3), Zaragoza (2)
Top scorers: Nilmar (4 goals), Fernando Llorente, Diego Forlan, Raul Tamudo (all 3), Lionel Messi, Fernando Cavenaghi, Kalu Uche (all 2)
Weekend stat: 70 – Real boasted 70 per cent ball possession against Levante, but Cristiano Ronaldo and Co still failed to find the back of the net.
Serie A: Inter top despite loss
They may occupy a place in the bottom three, but Roma pulled off the result of the weekend in Italy by handing leaders Inter their first reverse this term in dramatic circumstances. Having never found their rhythm in the capital, Rafael Benitez’s charges were undone by a Mirko Vucinic effort in added time, but remain in pole position due to results elsewhere. Third-placed Chievo went down 1-0 to Lazio – who are now level on points with Inter – and Brescia, in fourth, lost 2-1 at Bari, leaving the Nerazzurri on top via goal difference.
Elsewhere, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s fourth strike in five appearances for AC Milan was the only goal of the game between the fifth-placed Rossoneri and Genoa. As for Juventus, they lifted themselves out of the danger zone by sweeping aside Cagliari 4-2.
Top three: Inter (10 pts, +5), Lazio (10, +2), Chievo (9)
Bottom three: Roma (5, -4), Lecce (5, -4), Udinese (1)
Top scorers: Samuel Eto’o, Edinson Cavani (both 5 goals), Marco Di Vaio, Sergio Pellissier (both 4), Antonio Cassano, Milos Krasic (both 3)
Weekend stat: 1 – Fiorentina’s 2-0 victory against Parma was their first in 2010/11.
Bundesliga: Bayern woes worsen
Bayern Munich have been deprived of the services of Arjen Robben since the start of the season, and with Franck Ribery now sidelined too, the champions are clearly struggling. Currently ninth in the standings, Louis van Gaal’s side slipped to a 2-1 defeat at home against surprise leaders Mainz. “This time, we really played badly,” said the Dutch coach. “What worries me most is that we’re finding it difficult to score goals.”
His charges are at least faring better than another pair of illustrious names. Second-bottom Schalke were only able to draw 2-2 against visitors Borussia Monchengladbach and basement outfit Stuttgart went down 4-1 on home soil by Bayer Leverkusen. As a result, the podium places in Germany continue to have an unfamiliar look about them.
Top three: Mainz (18 pts), Dortmund (15), Hannover (13)
Bottom three: Monchengladbach (5), Schalke (4), Stuttgart (3)
Top scorers: Papiss Cisse (6 goals), Edin Dzeko (5), Shinji Kagawa, Theofanis Gekas, Srdan Lakic, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Pavel Pogrebnyak (all 4)
Weekend stat: 5 – The number of consecutive victories Dortmund have strung together following this weekend's 3-1 success against St. Pauli.
In Ukraine, pacesetters Shakhtar Donetsk claimed an excellent 2-1 win at fifth-placed Metalist Kharkiv. They nonetheless remain just two points ahead of Dynamo Kiev after their closest rivals beat city neighbours Arsenal 3-2.
In Slovakia, finally, champions Zilina had to settle for a goalless stalemate at home against Dunajska Streda, and that allowed Senica to take over at the summit courtesy of a 2-1 triumph at Ruzomberok, in fourth.