What a weekend! As if Liverpool putting five on Manchester United (read about it here) and Real Madrid beating Barcelona (read about it here) was not enough, there was also the Derby D’Italia between Internazionale and Juventus, plus Marseille vs. Paris Saint-Germain in Le Classique!
In an extra-packed review, here are Tom Hamilton, Rob Dawson, Julien Laurens and Andrew Richardson to discuss the big stuff you need to know from around Europe.
Four — no, five! — talking points
What is Pochettino on about?
The focus in France on Sunday was not so much on Paris Saint-Germain’s result in itself — a very average 0-0 draw in Marseille in a highly anticipated yet underwhelming Classique.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side played with 10 men for 40 minutes after the sending off of Achraf Hakimi. It is not so much the fact that once again Neymar (one goal so far this season) turned in a poor performance for PSG. Or that the “4 Fantastic” (Neymar, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Angel Di Maria) were more like the “4 Ineffective.”
No, the most disturbing aspect was to listen to Pochettino talk about the performance of his team after the game.
“There are a lot of positives,” he said. “We have to congratulate the players. We played well I think, with different phases, we just lacked a goal. We showed style and identity.
“I am very happy with Neymar’s performance. He sacrificed himself for the team.”
The only explanation for these quotes is that Pochettino must have been watching a completely different game! It is crazy! He cannot come out publicly and talk like that. PSG fans deserves and should demand better. No, Neymar was not good. No, you didn’t show identity and style. No, Paris didn’t play well.
It was actually the opposite. Against a disappointing and inoffensive Marseille team, PSG, once more, did not show much at all.
Pochettino has to start telling the truth. When it is not good, he has to say it. — Laurens
Frank Leboeuf explains why he isn’t worried about Lionel Messi’s goalless start to his Ligue 1 campaign.
Late drama sees Derby D’Italia end level
A late Paulo Dybala penalty rescued a point for Juventus at Inter, extending The Old Lady’s unbeaten Serie A run to six games. It is a far cry from a start to the season that saw Juve claim two points from four games and it has been true in the past that, when Massimiliano Allegri’s sides get going, they usually continue and win the title. But something seems different this time.
Reigning champions Inter took the lead through Edin Dzeko, who tapped in his seventh league goal in nine games for the club after Hakan Calhanoglu‘s shot hit the post. A goal down, Juve had the chance to change their approach when Federico Bernardeschi was forced off with injury but, rather than bring on Federico Chiesa, Allegri opted for the more defensive-minded Rodrigo Bentancur.
Still, the away side hung in as Inter missed chance after chance and were rewarded thanks to a controversial penalty awarded by VAR after Denzel Dumfries fouled Alex Sandro on the edge of the box. Inter manager Simone Inzaghi was sent off for his protests, before Dybala coolly slotted home.
The points were shared but the real winners were Napoli and AC Milan, who are joint-top, seven points clear of their nearest challengers, and will feel this is as good a chance as any to make a title run. –– Richardson
Foden shines as Man City thrash Brighton
Phil Foden announced himself as a key cog in the Manchester City machine last season, scoring 16 goals in 50 games, and is showing signs he has taken another step forward. His latest contribution was a two-goal display in the 4-1 win over Brighton, which doubled his season total in the league and suggests he can be even more productive.
Pep Guardiola says Foden, 21, still has to perfect the art of scoring goals and the England international admits he is still learning how to play as a No. 9 in City’s system, but it is quite a prospect that a player already standing out in one of Europe’s best teams has so much time to get even better.
Meanwhile, Guardiola knows it will only take a couple of 0-0 draws for questions to restart about why he did not sign a striker in the summer, but Foden is helping City keep pace with Chelsea and Liverpool as the league’s top scorers and could comfortably reach 20 goals in a season for the first time in his career. — Dawson
Dortmund find a way without Haaland
It has been a tough week at the Westfalenstadion. Borussia Dortmund were given one almighty lesson by Ajax in the Champions League, then came the news that Erling Haaland, who averages a goal every 60 minutes in the Bundesliga this season, could be out until mid-December with a hip injury. A trip to 17th-placed Arminia Bielefeld had the potential for further headaches.
Instead, Dortmund’s performance and formation would give us an indication of how Marco Rose hopes to fill the sizable void left by one of the world’s best players, as well as the also-injured Giovanni Reyna and Youssoufa Moukoko. Donyell Malen led the line, with Marco Reus and Julian Brandt either side, and the outstanding Jude Bellingham and Thorgan Hazard providing further attacking threats from midfield.
Dortmund ran out 3-1 winners; Emre Can converted a penalty won by Malen, Mats Hummels‘ incredible volley added a second just before the break and Bellingham’s delightful third (more on that below) sealed things. But though they eased through this first examination, sterner tests await.
There is the return match at home to Ajax, as well as trips to RB Leipzig and Wolfsburg before the season’s first Klassiker against Bayern Munich on Dec. 4. Dortmund won two of three games when Haaland was out earlier in the season; they must ensure this longer absence does not derail their title bid and damage their Champions League hopes. — Hamilton
Janusz Michallik praises the performance of Jude Bellingham after Borussia Dortmund’s 3-1 win over Bielefeld.
Benitez feels the heat at Everton
Everton supporters have every right to question what is happening at Goodison Park, having watched in horror as their team produced a spectacular late collapse to ensure a very winnable home game against Watford ended with a comprehensive thumping.
Rafael Benitez’s side led 2-1 with 12 minutes to play, yet somehow managed to lose 5-2. To rub salt into the wound, striker Joshua King, who barely got a look-in during six months at Everton last season, scored a hat trick. Some of Everton’s defending in the final 10 minutes was laughable, particularly for King’s second to make it 3-2 just two minutes after Juraj Kucka equalised.
Everton fans directed their anger at majority owner Farhad Moshiri and director of football Marcel Brands. The club seemed intent on challenging for European places when they appointed Carlo Ancelotti two years ago, but after hiring Benitez and spending a league-low £1.6 million in the summer transfer window, supporters want to know what the long-term plan is. — Dawson
Three must-see goals
Bellingham has had a brilliant season for Borussia Dortmund and underlined his huge potential with a wonderful goal that put the seal on BVB’s 3-1 win at Bielefeld.
The England midfielder received possession on the left of Bielefeld’s box, then took the ball past one defender and guided his way through the challenges of two more, before flicking a deft shot over goalkeeper Stefan Ortega. With Dortmund likely to be without Haaland for a while, they need goals from elsewhere to keep pace at the top of the Bundesliga; Bellingham is doing his part. — Hamilton
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) October 23, 2021
Imagine playing a Clasico, the biggest game in football, for the first time ever and away from home. Imagine playing it in a position that is not really your best position, even if you have played there for the biggest part of the last 18 months. Imagine scoring an exceptional goal to open the scoring, way out of your area of action.
Welcome to David Alaba‘s world!
What a premiere for the Real Madrid defender. At the Camp Nou, the Austrian left-back turned centre-back was superb from start to finish and his magnificent goal, a thunder-strike from 25 yards straight in the top corner, was the icing on the cake. It was his first goal in LaLiga and what a moment for him. –– Laurens
— ESPN (@espn) October 24, 2021
Wilson gives Newcastle fans something to cheer
Newcastle fans have been speculating over which superstar signings will be joining the club in January, but Wilson put down a marker with a phenomenal goal against Crystal Palace that earned his club a much-needed point.
It came in the 65th minute, with Newcastle trailing 1-0. From a corner, Emil Krafth‘s header found Wilson in the middle of the box and the 29-year-old performed a piece of contortionist genius to bicycle-kick the ball beyond goalkeeper Vicente Guaita. –– Hamilton
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) October 23, 2021
Two teams that should be worried
Norwich continue to flounder
There is no shame in losing to Chelsea, but Norwich City were feeble at Stamford Bridge as any suggestion they were slowly improving, having drawn their previous two games after losing the first six of the season, were dismissed. The pressure is growing on manager Daniel Farke, whose side looked disorganised, void of confidence and not a little bewildered.
Norwich’s wings were attacked with ruthless efficiency by Chelsea who, despite being without injured strikers Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku, could have scored more. Farke’s men also offered next to nothing up front, but it was their complete inability to adjust to Chelsea’s threat that was perhaps most troubling. They might not threaten Derby’s 11-point total from the 2007-08 season, but Norwich are already staring at relegation. — Hamilton
Burnley need to find a win from somewhere
Burnley need a victory and fast. They earned another valuable point at Southampton on Saturday, with new signing Maxwel Cornet scoring twice, but Sean Dyche will want to get a first win of the season under his belt as quickly as possible if his side is to have hope of escaping relegation.
Dyche has done a remarkable job of keeping Burnley up on one of the smallest budgets and will back himself to do it again. It looks like Norwich are already doomed, but Newcastle are the other team in the bottom three at present and are expected to splash the cash in January, a luxury Burnley do not have — Dawson
Weekend MVP: Vinicius Junior
Superb Vinicius inspires Madrid
Despite Barcelona’s best efforts, Vinicius Junior dominated El Clasico. Alaba was the other standout player for Real Madrid in their 2-1 win, but Vinicius’ dominance was such that the Camp Nou faithful gave him the ultimate respect: They booed him.
The Brazilian forward was involved in Real’s first goal, as his pass found Rodrygo who teed up Alaba for a fine finish, but that was just one standout moment. There was a wonderful move to Marc-Andre ter Stegen inside out, a (rejected) penalty appeal after being caught in an Eric Garcia–Oscar Mingueza sandwich.
Indeed, such was Vinicius’ impact that Ronald Koeman was forced to reinforce the right side of his defence with the half-time removal of Mingueza. Sergino Dest did a better job of containing him, but this was another sparkling performance that showed why the 21-year-old is up there with Karim Benzema as being LaLiga’s best player this season. — Hamilton