Football News

Real Madrid remain perfect but Bayern and Juventus are under pressure: Nine things you might have missed in European football this weekend

By Harry Edwards

Real Madrid remain perfect but Bayern and Juventus are under pressure: Nine things you might have missed in European football this weekend

Published: 8:51, 19 September 2022

We are now heading into an international break but club football treated us to a weekend packed with action as a send off.

In the Premier League, Arsenal bounced back from their defeat to Manchester United to remain top of the table, while Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur maintained their unbeaten starts to the campaign with comfortable victories.

The action wasn’t just restricted to the Premier League though, with big games across Europe’s top leagues. Here’s what you might have missed across the weekend.

Real Madrid remain perfect

There is one team still perfect in Europe’s top five leagues and it’s perhaps not a surprise that it’s Real Madrid. Los Blancos are quite comfortably the best team in Spain right now, not only defending champions but also able to pick up wins no matter how they play.

Carlo Ancelotti’s European champions have won all six of their La Liga matches so far, keeping the run going with a 2-1 victory over rivals Atletico Madrid on Sunday night. The damage was done in the first half thanks to goals from Rodrygo and Federico Valverde and Real Madrid didn’t actually manage a shot on target after half time (from just two efforts).

Real Madrid are also perfect across all competitions having won both of their Champions League matches so far and the UEFA Super Cup, the third time they have won their opening nine matches in a single campaign after 1961/62 and 1968/69.

Bayern Munich’s torrid run continues

Things aren’t going as well for defending German champions Bayern Munich. Julian Nagelsmann is in his second season as Bayern manager but has hit a period of struggle early on in the league, despite going perfect in the opening two Champions League matches including a win over Barcelona.

Bayern won their opening three Bundesliga games of the season and fans were already complaining about the league being one-sided, expecting Nagelsmann’s side to take yet another title. That may still be the case, but they need to get out of this rut. Bayern are now winless in their past four Bundesliga matches, their longest such streak in the competition since 2001/02 when they went seven games without victory (eventually finishing third).

After three successive draws, Saturday was the first defeat of the season for Bayern as Mergim Berisha’s second-half goal was enough for Augsburg, who didn’t have another shot after going ahead.

Massimiliano Allegri under pressure at Juventus

It was an equally tough weekend for Massimiliano Allegri, whose Juventus side have won just two of their opening seven Serie A matches this season and also lost for the first time this weekend – though he was not in the dugout due to suspension.

Juventus went into their match with recently-promoted Monza off the back to two draws against Fiorentina and Salernitana but the Old Lady will have expected a victory here. However, Angel Di Maria was sent off in the first half and Christian Gytkjaer scored the only goal in the second to secure Monza’s first ever Serie A win.

The defeat came just days after Juventus were also beaten by Benfica in the Champions League (after also losing to PSG) and assistant Marco Landucci speculated that loss could have been on his players’ minds.

“Perhaps the defeat to Benfica was more of a psychological blow than we realised, but again these are excuses and excuses are of no help. We just have to shut up and work hard,” he told reporters.

“Obviously, nobody is happy right now, but in order to emerge from this situation we can only work hard and do better. We seem to start well and then stop playing, so the only method is to work and everyone raise their game to work in the same direction.”

A historic day in Serie A

Juventus’ defeat to Monza was not the only big result on Sunday in Serie A. There were also defeats for Inter Milan, AC Milan and Roma, the first time since 1955 that all four sides have lost on the same day.

Inter opened the day in defeat to Udinese while AC Milan and Roma had equally tough fixtures against Napoli and Atalanta respectively. Defending champions AC Milan went down 2-1 to Napoli, who top the table, while Atalanta’s 1-0 win over Roma kept them level on points with Luciano Spalletti’s side.

Atalanta’s win over Roma also saw Jose Mourinho sent off are marching onto the pitch to protest a penalty decision not going his side’s way, when he thought Nicolo Zaniolo had been brought down in the box by Caleb Okoli.

Neymar x Messi send PSG top

Over in France the usual suspects are top of the league with PSG winning seven of their opening eight games to sit two points clear of second-placed Marseille. But something new for this season is a partnership finally coming together.

We all know what Lionel Messi and Neymar can do together from their time at Barcelona but we really didn’t see that last season as the former struggled in his new team. Perhaps it was Mauricio Pochettino though, as under Christophe Galtier Messi is loving life.

Neymar set up Messi for PSG’s only goal in their 1-0 win over Lyon at the weekend, the fifth time the duo have combined for a goal in Ligue 1 this season, more than any other two players.

Marco Rose’s unhappy return

RB Leipzig made a big call early in the season to sack Domenico Tedesco, recently replacing him with Marco Rose, and the decision looked to be paying off early. In Rose’s first Bundesliga game in charge of RB Leipzig, Die Roten Bullen beat his former club Borussia Dortmund 3-0 for their second league victory of the season.

However, in Rose’s second Bundesliga game in charge of RB Leipzig, they lost to his former club Borussia Monchengladbach also by a 3-0 scoreline, the second time he has lost to Gladbach since leaving them for Dortmund last season.

Williams brothers keep Athletic Bilbao going

Playing professional football at the highest level alongside your brother must be great, and while it hasn’t been rare over the years, it’s not often you get two siblings both in attacking positions.

That’s what Athletic Bilbao have with Inaki and Nico Williams, and at the weekend they both found the net in a 3-2 win over Rayo Vallecano. It was the first time the duo have both scored in the same La Liga game, in their 42nd appearance together. But more remarkably, stats legend MisterChip revealed that it was the first time two brothers had scored for the same team in the same La Liga match since Diego and Gabi Milito did so for Real Zaragoza against Barcelona in October 2005.

Ajax let it slip

Ajax tasted defeat in the Eredivisie for the first time this season as they continue to deal with life after Erik ten Hag and the fallout of Manchester United raiding the club. But the 2-1 lost to AZ Alkmaar was more than just a normal defeat.

Taking the lead, Ajax went on to lose an Eredivisie game after scoring the first goal for the first time since January 2019 when they were beaten 6-2 by rivals Feyenoord. Since that match, Ajax had scored the first goal in 87 matches, winning 82 and drawing five.

Cody Gakpo stars in Eredivisie thriller

Ajax’s defeat to AZ opened the door for PSV to leapfrog them and move top of the table thanks to their win over Feyenoord in a classic.

Ruud van Nistelrooy’s side went behind early but turned things around before being pegged back to 2-2 at half-time. It was a similar case in the second half as PSV were once again pegged back after taking the lead but Armando Obispo won the game for PSV late on.

Arsenal target Cody Gakpo had an excellent game in particular, scoring once and providing three assists for PSV – directly involved in every goal for Van Nistelrooy’s side.