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Across the Continent: European football weekend review- 12-14 January


It’s been another busy weekend of European football, so here’s a recap of all the results, stories and talking points from La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and beyond.

La Liga and Supercopa de España Final

Congratulations to Real Madrid who won the Supercopa de España this weekend.

It’s worth stating this from the start in case you missed it, because there’s a very good change that you did, especially if you’re reading this in the UK, given that no British broadcaster bothered to show the Supercopa.

In fairness, you can’t really blame them, given that it’s now a four-team tournament played in Saudi Arabia.

However, us viewers missed out on seeing Real Madrid score nine times in just two matches, first ousting Atlético Madrid 5-3 on Wednesday, before steamrollering Barcelona 4-1 on Sunday night in Riyāḍh.

It really was a tactical disasterclass from Xavi, deploying a kamikaze high-line, which merely enabled Vinícius Júnior to score a first half hat-trick.

While the big two were in the middle-east, boring old La Liga continued back in Spain, with Girona going top, although not in the way they would’ve hoped.

Blanquivermells took on winless, bottom of the table Almería on Sunday but were very lucky to leave Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos with even a point, seeing Aleix García sent off late on.

Míchel’s men have still only lost once all season, but that is a big blow to their unlikely title hopes.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, the big game of the weekend was the Basque derby, with the bragging rights going the way of Athletic Club, who prevail 2-1 at San Mamés, thanks to Álex Berenguer’s first half brace.

Ernesto Valverde’s team have now won four on the spin and are unbeaten in ten, thereby surging up to third.

Real Sociedad, in complete contrast, are without a win in four, only winning three of ten since mid-October, with Imanol Alguacil’s team therefore sliding down to sixth.

Elsewhere, the two crisis clubs continue to be.... well, in crisis.

On Friday night, Rubén Duarte’s 90th minute header saw Alavés dramatically beat Sevilla 3-2 at Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, a result that propelled Luis García Plaza’s team up to 13th.

On the flip side, Sevilla have had as many managers this season (3) as they’ve enjoyed wins in La Liga or UEFA competition, from 27 games, with Quique Sánchez Flores’ team hovering just above the drop zone.

Villarreal are only three points better off, and things haven’t improved much there since Marcelino’s arrival, given that they were hammered 3-0 by Las Palmas in the Yellow Submarine derby.

Before this weekend, the side from the Canary Islands had scored just 16 goals in 19 matches, before netting close to 16% of all their goals this season in one game.

This mid-week, the Copa del Rey continues, with the competition having swiftly reached the round of 16.

The tie of the round, without doubt, is Thursday’s Madrid derby, with Diego Simeone’s Atleti seeking to dethrone Real at Cívitas Metropolitano.

On the same night, the only third-tier team left in the competition Unionistas de Salamanca welcome Barcelona to the Reina Sofía; they couldn’t could they?

Serie A

Before the Supercoppa Italiana copies it’s Spanish equivalent by heading to Saudi Arabia, yes they’re doing that too, there was plenty to talk about from this weekend’s Serie A action.

In Sunday night’s big match, it was yet another defeat for Roma, with the suspended José Mourinho watching on helplessly from the sidelines, this time swatted aside 3-1 by AC Milan at San Siro.

Yacine Adli, Olivier Giroud and Théo Hernandez all scoring, thereby making it the first time three different Frenchman have scored for the same team in a Serie A match, as I Rossoneri made it three wins on the spin.

For I Giallorossi, they’re all the way down in ninth, having won only one of their last six.

While Mourinho’s current employers continue to struggle, his former team Inter are flying, smashing Monza 5-1 on Saturday night, with both Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Lautaro Martínez bagging braces.

I Nerazzurri have still only lost once, collecting 51 points from their first 20 Serie A matches for only the second time, also achieving this in 2006/07 when they ended up on 97 points, 22 points clear of second.

A tighter title race seems likely this time round, given that Juventus will move back to just two points behind the leaders, should they beat Sassuolo, a fixture held back until Tuesday for no apparent reason.

Reigning Scudetto holders Napoli claimed a much-needed victory on Saturday, beating Salernitana 2-1, courtesy of a 96th minute winner from Amir Rrahmani.

This was just a second win in seven for I Partenopei, who’ve moved up to seventh, hauling themsleves back into the race for Champions League qualification.

One of the teams currently above them are Bologna, although the wheels seem to have fallen off at I Rossoblù a bit, beaten 2-1 by Cagliari this weekend, meaning it’s no wins in three for Thiago Motta’s team.

Lastly, in a huge clash at the bottom, Hellas Verona beat Empoli 2-1, meaning it’s two wins in four for I Gialloblu, who’d only won two of their previous 20 Serie A fixtures beforehand, including June’s relegation play-off.

Bundesliga

Over in Germany, after three weeks away, the Bundesliga is back, returning in some style.

First up, on Friday night, Bayern Munich hammered Hoffenheim 3-0, a result that was no great shock to anyone, with Jamal Musiala bagging a brace before Harry Kane got his customary goal right at the death.

The follow day, it seemed as though leaders Bayer Leverkusen were going to slip-up in Bavaria, drawing 0-0 with Augsburg, only for Exequiel Palacios to pop up with a 94th minute winner at WWK Arena.

Die Schwarzroten remain four points clear of Bayern, albeit having played one game more, so how crucial could that goal prove to be?

A team not involved in the title race are Borussia Dortmund, although Edin Terzić's team did enjoy a crucial victory in the top four race on Saturday evening, swatting aside bottom of the table Darmstadt.

Julian Brandt, Marco Reus and Youssoufa Moukoko scoring, but it was Jadon Sancho who grabbed all the headlines, featuring for anyone for the first time since August, putting it on a plate for Reus soon after his introduction at Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor.

Die Schwarzgelben do remain fifth, but are now just three points adrift RB Leipzig, thanks to Eintracht Frankfurt’s shock 1-0 win at Red Bull Arena; Ansgar Knauff the match-winner in Saxony.

The only team in the top six we’re yet to mention are Stuttgart, who were so impressive in the hinrunde, but began the rückrunde with a 3-1 defeat at Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday.

Down at the bottom, Köln remain in an automatic relegation spot after they could only draw 1-1 with newly-promoted Heidenheim at RheinEnergieStadion in, what was, Timo Schultz’s first match in charge.

In fact, there’s been no change between 13th and 17th, with all five teams drawing this weekend, including Union Berlin, who earned a credible point away to Freiburg.

Ligue 1

In case we didn’t know it already, Paris Saint-Germain took a big step towards the Ligue 1 title on Sunday night, proving to be simply too strong for Lens at Stade Bollaert-Delelis.

The much-maligned Bradley Barcola opened the scoring, before les Sang et Or task was made nigh-on impossible by Jonathan Gradit’s red card in first half stoppage time, with Kylain Mbappé making the point secure right at the end.

Luis Enrique’s team are now unbeaten in 13 league games, so are eight points clear at the top.

Second-placed Nice, who were managing to keep pace with PSG not so long ago, have now lost three successive away games, this time beaten by Stade Rennais at Roazhon Park.

Just below them are Brest, who’ve climbed up to third by beating Montpellier on Sunday, with les Pirates now unbeaten in seven, winning six of those, including each of the last four.

Eric Roy’s team travel to Paris next, so can their remarkable winning run continue? Probably not.

Another team who were in great form are Olympique Lyonnais, winning three in a row just before Christmas, thereby climbing off the bottom of the table, only for les Gones to get smashed 3-1 at Le Havre.

Jake O’Brien and Duje Ćaleta-Car both sent off at Stade Océane.

Next weekend is a Coupe de France weekend, before Ligue 1 returns on 26 January with Lyon vs Rennes.

Ben Gray

Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".