Football Features

10 things you may have missed from around Europe this weekend

By Ben Green

Published: 10:53, 4 October 2021

As we enter the second international break of the season, fans were treated to one last weekend of entertainment across Europe.

There were giant killings, an obligatory managerial sacking at Vicarage Road, a questionable ‘Siu’ celebration from Andros Townsend, and much, much more to whet the appetite of fans before another international break rolls around and halt domestic club football.

Below we cover some of the things you may have missed across the continent from this weekend.

1. Suarez silences ‘Snowflake’

He wasn’t on the touchline — owing to the suspension he picked up against Cadiz — but Luis Suarez still sent a message to Ronald Koeman in Barcelona’s 2-0 defeat to reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid at the Metropolitano, assisting, scoring and taunting with a phone-call celebration.

The jibe was in reference to Suarez’s acrimonious exit at the Camp Nou, in which Koeman dumped him by phone during a 30-second conversation. The Uruguayan was deemed too old to carry the Blaugrana forward, and so, he carried Atleti forward instead, winning La Liga last season, and putting Koeman to the sword here.

It was another chastening defeat for Koeman, with frustrations augmented by that Suarez sucker punch, and his dismissal now seeming a foregone conclusion (if it wasn’t already before). Where Barça go from here under Koeman is uncertain, but Suarez rubbing salt in the wounds certainly won’t help his cause.

2. Inaki Williams, a.k.a. Mr. Consistent

Inaki Williams has now played 203 consecutive games in La Liga, setting a new competition record for most matches played in a row. The Spaniard has now eclipsed Andoni Larranaga’s previous record of 202 to become the competition’s all-time consecutive appearance-maker.

The one-capped Spain international has featured nonstop for Athletic since April 2016 in a match against Atletico Madrid (0-1). There have been approaches made for the now 27-year-old over the years, notably Manchester United in 2019, but following that interest from the Premier League, he signed a whopping nine-year contract with the club, keeping him at San Memes until 2028, and with a £125m release clause.

“This, as you can see, is my house, and all I want, I have it here,” Williams said at the time. “The club has always bet on me, it has given me everything, I feel it is my home.” 

3. PSG fail to test Alfred Gomis

Despite boasting a squad that looks like something straight out of a Football Manager save, Paris Saint-Germain looked more Grimsby than Galactico in their recent outing against Rennes; not only firing a blank as Les Rennais ran out 2-0 victors, but failing to register a single shot on target!

Mauricio Pochettino’s men had 13 attempts, bossed possession (68%) and had a goal chalked out for offside, but by and large, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe struggled to establish a fluid relationship in Brittany, and there will likely be some more head-scratching to come from the man in the dugout.

4. Ibra turned 40!

The big man himself, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, is now 40 years old and continues to ply his trade at the top echelon of the sport. For most footballers, this period would either be their dotage years, or their boots would already be hung up, but for Ibra, he continues to defy logic… and biology it would seem.

Now back at Milan, the Swedish legend has notched 29 goals in 48 games since returning to the San Siro, and has an unbelievable record of having scored in every year since 1999, and in every possible minute of a match. A few injuries here and there have pockmarked his recent CV, but he continues to fire in a sheer will.

5. Veteran Vardy

Talking of showing no signs of slowing down, Jamie Vardy is currently leading the Golden Boot charge in the Premier League this season at 34. He recently netted in the 2-2 stalemate with Crystal Palace to bring up goal No. 6 for the campaign, which currently has him level with Mohamed Salah.

By bagging against the Eagles in south London, Vardy has become one of only two players in Premier League history to have scored 90+ goals in the competition after turning 30, with the other being Ian Wright (93), who was still scoring for fun for Arsenal and West Ham in his later years.

6. Watford dust off the chopping block… again

Watford have decided to stick rather than twist in a rather predictable move from the Premier League script-writers. Xisco was given a grand total of seven Premier League matches to get to grips with his first venture in the top flight, but on recent showings, there was enough evidence there (apparently) to get rid.

In truth, the Hornets were absolutely diabolical in the recent 1-0 loss to Leeds United. How Watford managed to lose by just a single goal is a mystery in Agatha Christie territory. Marcelo Bielsa’s men could, and perhaps should have won by four or five. It was that one-sided at Elland Road.

7. The Special One

Following Roma’s 2-0 victory over Empoli on Sunday, Jose Mourinho set a new record in the three-points-per-win era of Serie A (since 1994/95) for most consecutive home wins by a manager, with that feat, of course, stretching back to his days with Inter Milan over a decade ago.

The Portuguese has been a resounding success in the Eternal City thus far, with the Giallorossi bouncing back from their defeat in last week’s Derby della Capitale to Lazio by securing a win against Empoli, which consolidates their position in the top four as they look to re-enter the Champions League.

8. Italy’s most entertaining fixture?

Sampdoria 3-3 Udinese. Where have I heard that before? Five times, apparently. The Sampdoria vs Udinese fixture has finished 3-3 a whopping five times in Serie A history, more than any other fixture. An added bonus that fans of both sides get to witness a six-goal thriller and not walk out on the losing side.

In the context of this season, it will be a point welcomed by both managers, who are looking dangerously over their shoulders at the early relegation scrapheap. Sampdoria sit just two places above the drop zone with one win to show for their efforts, and Udinese are only four points from danger.

9. Bayern buckle

A collector’s item Robert Lewandowski blank has coincided with Frankfurt’s first win of the season in the Bundesliga, which also happens to end a 21-year wait for the Eagles to clinch an away triumph at Bayern Munich. Life at Frankfurt has been tough post-Adi Hutter, but this win will certainly help remedy his summer exit.

The new man in the dugout, Oliver Glasner, would have been feeling the pressure before kick-off, and probably winced at the sight of looking for his first win of the season at the Allianz Arena, but that is exactly what happened. Their last win in Bavaria came when Felix Magath was on the touchline in November 2000.

10. Salzburg are still scoring for fun without Haaland

The new poster boy of Red Bull Salzburg’s scintillating frontline is Karim Adeyemi, who looks destined to follow in the footsteps of Erling Haaland and one day trade the Red Bull Arena in Austria for one of Europe’s more aristocratic grounds. But for now he is setting records for Die Roten Bullen.

The most recent came as the club beat LASK 3-1, which means they have now scored in each of their last 42 home games, setting a new record in the Austrian Bundesliga. A memorable feat of endeavour and scintillating scoring brilliance from a club who continues to churn out top, precocious talent.