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Across the Continent: European football weekend review- 3-5 November


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

After 12 rounds of matches in La Liga, the outright leaders are Girona, something we all saw coming at the start of the campaign.

Míchel’s men took their tally to 31 points after just 12 minutes on Saturday, beating Osasuna 4-2 at El Sadar, courtesy of late goals from both Viktor Tsyhankov and Aleix García.

Blanquivermells have therefore become just the fifth club in La Liga history to win ten of their first 12 matches.

Barcelona and Real Madrid have both done so on multiple occasions, while this has also only ever been achieved by Real Betis 89 years ago and Atlético Madrid in both 2012 and 2013.

Girona were then anointed as front-runners, for a week at least, on Sunday night, when Real Madrid were frustratingly held to a goalless draw by Rayo Vallecano at the Bernabéu.

That was los Franjirrojos’ sixth clean sheet of the campaign so far, the joint-most of any side, with Francisco’s side delighted to pick up a point in this capital clash.

This result means, despite victory in the Clásico a week earlier, Carlo Ancelotti’s team are now just two points above Barcelona.

Although, Xavi’s side certainly did not have it all their own way on Saturday night, requiring a 93rd minute header from Ronald Araújo, teed up by İlkay Gündoğan, to overcome Real Sociedad in San Sebastián.

Elsewhere in the title race, there was a huge upset on Friday night, with Atlético Madrid’s six-match winning streak coming to an end in Gran Canaria, beaten 2-1 by Las Palmas.

Just as Diego Simeone’s side had thrust themselves back into contention, they put in a dismal display, with Álvaro Morata’s late goal unable to spark a comeback.

For the side from the Canary Islands, 17 points at this stage represents their best start to a campaign since 2000.

So, what else happened this weekend?

Valencia’s surprisingly excellent start continued, Pepelu’s penalty downing Granada at Mestalla, making this los Che’s best beginning to a campaign for six seasons, despite the off-field austerity.

Almería remain winless, after they were beaten by fellow-strugglers Alavés 1-0 at Mendizorrotza.

Elsewhere in the bottom three, Celta Vigo were held to a 1-1 draw by Sevilla, only after O Celtiña were denied a last-gasp penalty by VAR, and it’s fair to say captain Iago Aspas didn’t agree with the decision.

That draw at Balaídos leaves Sevilla all the way down in 15th, ahead of their trip to Arsenal on Wednesday.

Lastly, Athletic Club’s excellent start to the season continued on Sunday as they beat Villarreal in a five-goal thriller.

Ernesto Valverde’s team moved up to fifth, Athletic haven’t finished that high since 2016, while Pacheta is under pressure just ten games into his Villarreal tenure, with the Yellow Submarine down in 13th.

Serie A

So much happened in Serie A this weekend, meaning it’s tough to know where to begin, but we start at San Siro, where title hopefuls A.C. Milan were beaten 1-0 by previously winless Udinese on Saturday.

Roberto Pereyra’s penalty at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza propelling I Bianconeri out of the relegation zone.

For I Rossoneri, they’ve now lost back-to-back Serie A home games without scoring for the first time in over 11 years, which isn’t ideal preparation ahead of Paris Saint-Germain’s visit on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Internazionale Milano maintained their position at the top of the table by beating Atalanta, with goals from Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Lautaro Martínez downing in-form la Dea in Bergamo.

Their closest-challengers right now are Juventus, following I Bianconeri’s victory over fierce rivals Fiorentina on Sunday night; Fabio Miretti the match-winner at Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Since Massimiliano Allegri’s return in the summer of 2021, 17 of la Vecchia Signora’s 50 Serie A victories have been by the same 1-0 scoreline (34%), at least three more than any other club.

Juve have now won four on the bounce, looking good ahead of the Derby d’Italia later this month.

The match of the weekend came slightly earlier on Sunday, where Roma left it late, very very late in fact, to beat Lecce at Stadio Olimpico.

Sardar Azmoun headed home an equaliser in the 91st minute before, in the 94th, Romelu Lukaku bundled home a winner, sparking wild celebrations.

This is the first time in Serie A history Roma have scored twice in stoppage time, while Lukaku has netted six in his first nine league appearances for I Giallorossi, a record only bettered by Gabriel Batistuta in modern times.

Across the city, Lazio’s struggles continue, beaten 1-0 by Bologna on Friday night, with Maurizio Sarri’s side down in tenth place, which isn’t great news ahead of Sunday’s Derby della Capitale.

The only scorer in that one was Lewis Ferguson, his tenth Serie A goal, the joint-most of any Scotsman, equalling Dennis Law’s record set in 1962.

Lastly, Udinese’s victory means Salernitana remain the only side in the division without a victory, after they were beaten 2-0 by Napoli on Saturday.

Every point is precious for under pressure Rudi Garcia, with I Partenopei hosting Empoli next, before this sequence of fixtures: Atalanta (A), Real Madrid (A), Inter (H) & Juventus (A). Tough to say the least!

Bundesliga

The Bundesliga weekend was all about Der Klassiker, with this one going the same way as almost all the others.

Der Klassiker: a fixture in which Borussia Dortmund face Bayern Munich, Bayern score lots of goals, win the match and pick up the Meisterschale come May.

This time though, it was the Harry Kane show, with the England captain bagging a hat-trick, completing his third treble in the Bundesliga already in stoppage time.

Kane has therefore scored 14 goals in his first ten Bundesliga appearances, breaking Klaus Matischak’s record that had stood since 1963.

Also, this 4-0 triumph was Bayern’s joint-biggest win at Westfalenstadion ever, alongside a 5-1 success in 2009.

Despite being unbeaten and having scored 38 goals already, Thomas Tuchel’s team are not top, still two points behind Bayer Leverkusen.

Xabi Alonso’s side have won nine out of ten so far, the sole exception being a 2-2 draw in Munich, following Saturday’s 3-2 away victory at Hoffenheim, in which Álex Grimaldo bagged a brace.

Die Werkself’s tally of 28 points after ten Bundesliga matches in the second-best start any club has ever made in the competition’s 60-year history, only bettered by Pep Guardiola’s Bayern, winning ten out of ten in 2015.

Also, die Schwarzroten have now won ten successive matches in-a-row in all competitions for the first time since Bayer were first promoted to the top-flight in 1979.

A bit of a gap has opened up between the top two and the rest following a pair of shock results, including RB Leipzig’s 2-0 defeat in Mainz, beaten by the side who kicked off winless and bottom of the table.

The following day, Bundesliga debutants Heidenheim claimed just their third top division victory, all of which have come at home, as Frank Schmidt’s side defeated high-flying Stuttgart at Voith-Arena.

Freiburg came from 3-1 down to earn a draw against Borussia Mönchengladbach, courtesy of Vincenzo Grifo’s 96th minute penalty.

Lastly, Union Berlin’s plight continues, with Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt their 12th successive loss in all competitions.

This leaves Urs Fischer’s team rooted in the relegationsspiele spot, ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Napoli.

Ligue 1

The serial champions are also being kept off the top of Ligue 1, for now, with Nice leading the way in France.

On Sunday night, les Aiglons beat Stade Rennais 2-0 at Allianz Riviera, making it four wins on the spin, and seven victories from their last eight, for Francesco Farioli’s team.

25 points after 11 outings is Nice’s second-best start ever to a top-flight season, only better by the 29 points they accumulated in 2016, going onto finish third back then.

Paris Saint-Germain did briefly go top on Friday night, swatting aside Montpellier 3-0 at Parc des Princes.

Lee Kang-in broke the deadlock, before Warren Zaïre-Emery and then Vitinha were both on target.

Monaco round-out the automatic Champions League spots, just one point below PSG, following their 2-0 win over Brest on Sunday.

A lot lower down the division, the two Olympiques are not enjoying this campaign so much.

Lyon remain rock bottom, still yet to win a game, having been held to a 1-1 draw by fellow bottom-three dwellers Metz, with youngster Skelly Alvero salvaging a share of the spoils for les Gones.

In comparison, things aren’t as bad at mid-table Marseille, although their supporters are not happy either.

Les Phocéens played out a goalless draw with Lille on Saturday night, leaving Gennaro Gattuso’s team ninth, while three wins after ten outings their joint-lowest tally this century.

If you’re wondering why this Ligue 1 round-up is a little shorter than usual, the fact three of the nine fixtures were goalless draws (OM vs LOSC, Lorient vs Lens & Strasbourg vs Clermont) is your answer!

Anything else?

Ajax are actually winning matches.

This any other business section has previously been reserved for mentioning Ajax defeats, but it might now require a new motif.

In the last seven days, John van ‘t Schip has been appointed as interim manager, before overseeing back-to-back home wins, ousting FC Volendam 2-0 on Thursday and hammering Heerenveen 4-1 on Sunday.

That may sound like a Craig David song, but there is no time for Ajax to chill, given that Brighton visit the Johan Cruijff Arena in the Europa League this week.

Ben Gray

Ben Gray

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