In the fifth edition of the Euro Football Rundown, I bring you news from Ligue 1, Serie A and the EPL. These are the five most important events of this past weekend in club soccer. Enjoy!
5) Verratti creates, Ibra scores, Sirigu saves: PSG on fire
For weeks now, PSG has made the top five events of the weekend and why wouldn’t they? They possess one of Europe’s top line-ups and are progressing quite quickly to stardom in Ligue 1. After three consecutive draws, Carlo Ancelotti’s men are slowly clawing their way to the top in fine fashion as the players are beginning to gel on the field consequently seen through the side’s great performances. One of the main reasons these great performances are happening is due to the playmaking of 19 year old Marco Verratti who continues to impress in the middle of the park. After three consecutive draws, PSG has managed to string three straight victories. In week 6 action, the Parisians absolutely crushed newly promoted Bastia 4-0 with a brace from Ibrahimovic and singles from Jeremy Menez and Blaise Matuidi. The Italian magician provided a slick through pass to assist Ibra’s first goal of the night who then unleashed a clinical finish to send the ball beaming to the back of the net. Another ex-Serie A star’s performance is certainly not going unnoticed: PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu. The ex-Palermo star parried away many stinging Bastia efforts on his way to keeping a clean sheet adding to his tally of four for the season in Ligue 1. Paris is now in third place with 12 points, four adrift of first-placed Marseille.
Juventus got their fourth straight victory of the season beating Chievo 2-0 at the impressive Juventus Stadium on Saturday. With this victory, Juve continues to set a record for European clubs as the Old Lady has gone unbeaten in 43 games, a streak that no other European side has accomplished in history.
It really doesn’t matter who the Bianconeri field nowadays in the Italian League seeing that they win regardless.Being involved in three competitions this year, the Bianconeri will need to effectively implement a turnover strategy in order to counteract fatigue. For this reason, suspended head coach Antonio Conte and temporary replacement Massimo Carrera opted to rest many of Juve’s key players namely Andrea Pirlo, Andrea Barzagli, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Arturo Vidal and Sebastian Giovinco. Rare starts were given to Brazilian defender Lucio, Mauricio Isla, Emanuele Giaccherini, Paul Pogba and the Stamford Bridge hero Fabio Quagliarella. Just days after securing a draw in London with a splendid nutmeg goal, Quagliarella continued his fine run of form scoring two spectacular goals one of which was an overhead kick that was too powerful for Chievo ‘keeper Sorrentino to bat away. The reserve striker is slowly cutting himself a spot in the starting 11 as he fits the bill perfectly, attacking the spaces and shoots on goal which is something the Old Lady’s attack was lacking.
In other news, this occasion marked the first time that Juventus played without Andrea Pirlo. French international 19-year-old Paul Pogba, who Juve acquired on a bosman deal from Manchester United, stepped in the major role for Pirlo and did not disappoint on his debut match. Although man- marked all game, he was able to somewhat dictate the tempo, effectively passing the ball and rarely turned it over. However, there is a clear difference between Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba and that is that the Italian seems to have much better vision and is able to provide over-the-top through balls that oftentimes fool defences. There is certainly room for improvement, but Pogba is very young and is still new to the Serie A. He has a great mentor in Pirlo and will one day take over the reins in midfield as one of the best players around. Exciting times for Juve! The Old lady continues to lead the Serie A with 12 points.
3) Chelsea win despite Stoke frustration
It took an 85th-minute Ashley Cole chip to seal the deal for the Blues against Stoke City at Stamford Bridge this week. Although a deserved result, the Potters frustrated Chelsea as Roberto Di Matteo’s men poured constant pressure but could not break Stoke’s resolute defense. The Italian coach opted to field three playmakers with 21 year-old Brazilian Oscar, Juan Mata and Belgian star Eden Hazard leading the frontline and providing some mesmerizing passes, flicks and tricks in an attempt to get past the defenders. However, even with the three wizards deployed at once, the attack lacked width which subsequently led to the inability to spread the defense out wide. Brazilian youngster Oscar continues to impress the most with high levels of poise, finesse, and elegance and looks set to quickly become an EPL star. Chelsea is surely not lacking quality in any department and should have been able to ease past Stoke. Nonetheless, the Blues lead the way in the Premier League with 13 points, one up on Man United.
2) Bianconeri day in the Serie A!
Might as well name week 4 of the new season as Bianconeri day seeing that Udinese, Siena and Juventus all collected three points. Udinese and Siena gained wins against AC Milan and Inter respectively. Still winless at home, the Rossoneri have lost three of four Serie A encounters and are placed15th with three points. It looks like it will be a very long season for Massimiliano Allegri and Co. The side looks short of answers in attack and in defence as their frustration grows. Christian Zapata and second half sub Kevin Prince Boateng were both expelled after committing silly fouls leaving the side to 9-men on the field. Berlusconi and the Milan faithful are growing more and more restless. Allegri must hurry to find the right balance or risk a gigantic axe up-side the head.
The San Siro hoax continues for Inter (and Milan, for that matter) as the Nerazzurri (and the Rossoneri) have failed to win any of their home games so far. Inter paid the price for inattentive defenders on counterattacks that Siena executed to perfection to grab a 2-0 rare victory. Inter also needs to quickly turn their season around if they want to qualify for European competition next term. Inter currently sits in sixth place with six points.
1) Another PK for Man United?
Manchester United barely got past lowly Liverpool Sunday but again needed a goal from the penalty spot just days after their PK game-winner in the Champions League. The Red Devils are improving their spot kick conversion rate quickly as they have been awarded four penalty kicks in six games in both the EPL and CL. Ironically enough, as PKs are seen as a given goal, Ferguson’s men were only able to convert two out of the four which is only a 50% PK conversion rate – pretty lousy if you ask me. The Red Devils’ awarded penalty against the Reds Sunday looked questionable as Ecuador international Antonio Valencia raced into the box with Glen Johnson behind him. Replays show that the Reds defender clattered into Valencia with a slight touch on his lower back which led to Valencia falling. It looks like that there was, again, the slightest of touches. Dive perhaps? Nevertheless, RvP stepped up, converted and now leads the EPL with 5 goals.