As usual, the football weekend was full of surprises, drama and action. AC Milan and Inter Milan both won their respective Serie A games and kept the pressure on Juventus (who didn’t win this weekend) for the open title race. In the Premier League, Man United and Chelsea played a subdued goalless draw, while Man City took their 20th straight win (all competitions) and Liverpool returned to the Victory Column thanks to their native kid. Curtis Jones.
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Barcelona’s big victory was undermined by police raids on their offices. Atletico went “old school” to get some momentum again at La Liga. Gareth Bale He’s finally put in a match-turning performance since his return to Tottenham on loan, and Bayern Munich’s grand win was notable for the return of Serge Gnabry and Thomas Müller for installation.
It’s Monday and Gab Marcotti is reacting to the greatest moments in the world of football of the past week.
Jump to: Milan still in the title race | Zlatan’s remarks | Chelsea, Man United stalemate | Barca can’t take a break Arsenal stun Leicester | Dortmund not finished | Jones lifts Liverpool | Juve not challenged Man City wins 20th in a row | Bayern get Müller, Gnabry Boost | “Old School” Atletico | Bale finally starred for Spurs | Leipzig closes the gap with Bavaria | Lukaku, Inter win again | PSG meet Ligue 1 fight
Milan and Pioli show personality and courage to keep the Serie A title race alive
Milan’s trip to the Roma has been portrayed by some observers as a last chance for their aspirations for the title. Lose and you would be seven points behind Inter. And while that assessment might have been a bit of an exaggeration – Inter is just as good at throwing leads away – if you throw in the injuries (especially, Ismael Bennacer) and the negative trend (no win in four, no victories over the top teams since December), that is out of the question Scudetto The pendulum would swing far away from them.
Instead, they overwhelmed the Roma – who, lest we forget, were at the table right behind them and unbeaten at home – with a vicious attack in the first half hour that should have scored two or three goals Zlatan Ibrahimovic have not been more wasteful Ante Rebic not been and had been more selfless Simon Kjaer was a bit more precise. They had to wait for a penalty at the end of the first half to break the ice and after the break add a second on the way to a 2-1 win that was far more one-sided than the goal line suggests.
The players, of course, but also Stefano Pioli. We in the media have this stupid obsession with looking into the past to gauge the present. And because Pioli started very well at his previous clubs and then ended badly in the past (usually just before firing, which goes without saying for the course: you tend to get fired after underperforming), there was an assumption that this was the place The wheels would come off.
Except they didn’t.
Pioli made some big calls. He dropped the captain Alessio Romagnoli (who has been poor for the past few months) for Chelsea borrowers Fikayo Tomori behind, and he ripped Hakan Calhanoglu at halftime for the far more energetic Brahim Diaz. Most of all, he sent his team out with fire in his stomach and precision in his head and overpowered Roma’s midfield (Franck Kessie showed again why he is a one-man wreck crew) and turned the screws on Paulo Fonseca.
Milan are living to fight another day and they have shown that they may not be as dependent on their veterans who were out of contract in June (Calhanoglu and Ibrahimovic) as some would lead us to believe.
As for the Roma, their many injuries (Chris SmallingRoger Ibanez rear, Nicolo Zaniolo and Edin Dzeko front) no doubt bite. It took Fonseca a while to adjust the system and dropped it Lorenzo Pellegrini help deeper in the middle of the park, and the fact that they were still in at the end is not insignificant. But it is a reminder of how far above their weight the Roma have beaten this season.
Shaka Hislop doesn’t understand Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s stance on the participation of athletes in social issues.
Zlatan’s toneless remarks attract attention
Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the person Zlatan Ibrahimovic from the character Zlatan. I would hope it is the latter who showed up last Thursday and said it was “a mistake” for athletes to get involved in social and political issues before LeBron James is given as an example.
“”[Speaking out about politics] is the first mistake people make when they get famous and they do [achieve] a certain status, “he said.” Stay out of there. Just do what you do because it doesn’t look good. “
James hit backand reminds Ibrahimovic that when he expresses himself on non-sporting issues, he speaks about things that he knows and that he has experienced first hand: poverty, lack of education, racism and empowerment.
The “stay on your trail” argument has been around for a long time. Personally, I have no problem with people talking about what they want, but I can see how some people feel differently. But the most important thing in James’ counter-speech is that he talk about what he knows and what he is deeply involved in.
Ibrahimovic’s words passed like a lead balloon. And there’s a certain irony here, as Zlatan has spoken in the past about what his hero Muhammad Ali was like, who certainly wasn’t shy about delving into political and social issues until he was denied a boxing license for three years High point of his career.
Maybe Zlatan spelled wrong. Maybe he spoke without thinking. Perhaps he was referring to the old Michael Jordan quote that “Republicans buy sneakers too”. Or maybe he wants to articulate his thoughts a little more eloquently. Because the way it looks, people are a little confused.
Shaka Hislop can’t believe the controversy over a possible Chelsea penalty against Manchester United.
Chelsea and Man United share the booty, but there isn’t much to cheer about
I didn’t think Sunday’s 0-0 draw between Chelsea and Manchester United was as bad a game (especially in the first half) as some, but it did capture more of where those teams are. If Bruno Fernandes has a day off and Paul Pogba doesn’t play, it’s hard for United to create opportunities. Chelsea are still in the works and Thomas Tuchel is trying different combinations in midfield and attack, which, ironically, is also what his predecessor did.
Stuart Attwell did not override VAR and give that penalty when the ball struck Callum Hudson-Odoi‘s hand, it could have opened the game. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted that it was a ‘clear penalty’. “What he seems to be missing, however, is that, contrary to the repetition by the punditocracy, the referee still has a certain amount of interpretation and discretion at his disposal. Natural position” and “arms away from the body” are just that: guidelines. Referees are told to look at the dynamics of a situation and why a player’s limbs move the way they do.
Was it “natural” for Hudson-Odoi (and by the way) Mason Greenwood) Raise his arm when trying to collide with an opponent? Attwell thought it was. You can feel different. But that’s exactly what referees have to judge. And I’m speculating here, the purpose of the VAR check on the field was to determine exactly what happened as it was by no means clear in real time (except for the ball that hit Greenwood after hitting Hudson-Odoi). . So if he takes one look, assesses the overall dynamics of the incident, and comes to that conclusion, I have no problem with it.
There is still room for common sense in the game.
Barcelona face a first leg deficit in the Copa del Rey and the election of a new president following the arrest of former president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Barcelona can’t take a break
The good news has been somewhat overshadowed by the bad. Less than 48 hours after a 2-0 win over Sevilla with a new setup – three behind, Ousmane Dembele im Center-Forward – Police raided Barcelona’s offices and arrested former President Jose Maria Bartomeu, right-wing husband Jaume Masferrer and CEO Oscar Grau in connection with the “Barcagate” scandal. Further details are not available at the moment, but nobody is lost that it will be another blow in elections in less than a week and the road on the long way back has become a little steeper for anyone who triumphs on Sunday.
It’s a shame too, as Ronald Koeman’s new formation worked well against Sevilla and Julen Lopetegui. Dembele (usually a winger) presented the kind of threat behind the defense that space was cleared Lionel Messiwhile the full-backs, Jordi Alba and specially, Sergino Destlooked sharp. The fact that Sergio Busquetswho struggled earlier this season and looked far more comfortable is another bonus.
Is it sustainable in the long term? Possibly, although you need three center-backs for it to work, and other than Ronald Araujo (currently injured) and Samuel Umtiti (likely hurt based on his record) there are no others. It also leaves no room for Antoine Griezmann (unless Messi is absent) but given the club’s current situation, it’s a solid Plan B that can work in certain games.
Arsenal still beat Leicester despite Arteta voting Europe over the league
Mikel Arteta may not like to admit it, but actions speak louder than words. And for Sunday’s visit to the soaring city of Leicester, he made six changes to the team that played in the Europa League on Thursday Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Thomas Partey, and Hector Bellerin – People who would be expected to start. Arteta’s job is to improve Arsenal, yes, but it’s also to get them into the Champions League. And with the club in 11th place 11 points behind on Sunday morning, winning the Europa League is a more realistic route.
What is encouraging, however, is how they managed to come from behind and dominate Leicester for big distances, despite the clutch of second stringers on the field of Cedric Soares to Mohamed Elneny to (these days) Willian. In a season marked by inconsistencies, they looked full and committed and rightly won 3-1.
As for Leicester, injuries are clearly catching up with them and the loss of Harvey Barnes A knee injury is another unnecessary, massive blow. Brendan Rodgers has done a phenomenal job under difficult circumstances and even – should it happen – a late season breakdown and no Champions League game will not change that.
Why is Reinier still in Dortmund?
Borussia Dortmund sent Arminia Bielefeld 3-0 without breaking a sweat. Yes, the goals came in the second half, but the chances were good. The gap to the first four is reduced to three points and that is important.
Furthermore, Erling Haaland did not score, but he got support and more than once frightened the Bejesus of the defenders. Mahmoud Dahoud broke the ice at the beginning of the second half and you are wondering if maybe it can be some kind of added value in the middle of the park by the end of the season. Reinier, the young Brazilian on loan from Real Madrid, scored the third goal after his move.
Speaking of Reinier, his loan in Dortmund remains a mystery. Given the strong competition in the attacking midfield – Gio Reyna, Jadon Sancho, Julian Brandt, Jude Bellingham, Marco Reus, Kylian Hazard – it seemed pretty obvious he wasn’t going to get many minutes (in fact he didn’t) so wonder why Real Madrid sent him there after spending about $ 35 million to get him off Acquire Flamengo. You also wonder why Dortmund hired him and why he didn’t go elsewhere in January.
Curtis Jones is a beacon in Liverpool’s campaign with the stars
If they don’t win the Champions League, Liverpool’s season will likely be remembered mainly for the diabolical rash of injuries that hampered their title defense. It should probably make it in the history books too, as the year Curtis Jones, who turned only 20 last month, showed he was one of them.
On Sunday night against Sheffield United, he was possibly the difference between another win without a win in the Premier League and the three points that keep the Reds on course for at least a Top-4 result. Not only did Jones score the opener, offering personality, work speed, and quality – we knew he had all of these – but he also displayed tactical intelligence, often showing up on the left, which made it possible Sadio mane slide in and Roberto Firmino fall deeper.
It’s the kind of optimization that Jürgen Klopp hasn’t done in the past troubled weeks, but it’s an extra element on the side. When you come next year, you can imagine Jones will be firmly anchored in the middle of the park where he does his best job.
Ale Moreno wanted to see more grit and determination from Juve to get a win against a limited Hellas Verona.
Juventus can’t have it both ways in terms of style and results
Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Verona means Juventus have won one of their last five games. The fact that they had previously beaten Inter and Roma by playing a more conservative, deeply defensive game – “Allegri style” as some put it – caused some pundits to worry about their newfound balance.
Sit deep and wait Cristiano Ronaldo doing something is not a “balance” – it’s just a brand of football that seldom produces sustainable results in the modern game. That is why Andrea Pirlo was appointed. Go bravely in a different direction … which is actually not that brave, it is football that the vast majority of successful clubs in Europe play.
The problem is, they won’t be very good until they get there. In part because they don’t have the players to do so in key areas of the park (midfield, although maybe the 20 minutes are played) Nicolo Fagioli announce a better future with a real playmaker), partly because it’s Pirlo’s first season (and yes, he’ll make mistakes), partly because maybe not everyone is in the locker room. (Note how when Giorgio Chiellini and Leo Bonucci play, they defend 20 meters lower.)
And so they play like a strange mix of past and present. You play with fear. People will focus on Alex Sandro playing in a three man defense (and being hit for level), but for me the first 45 minutes that were just sad should be more of a concern.
You can see what Pirlo is trying to do. Play Federico Bernardeschi, Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski behind Cristiano Ronaldo can work and it can be proactive, but if the rest of the team can’t keep the end of the deal it won’t work. Sure, there were a lot of players who weren’t available for this game, but that doesn’t excuse such an achievement.
It is not impossible to achieve growth and results at the same time. it’s just very, very difficult. And it’s especially difficult for Pirlo, especially with this group of players. It gets a lot tougher when the club’s surroundings freak out about the lack of results and pine trees for Allegri’s golden years. This ship sailed (and let’s not forget how – and why – it ended.)
You said you were building and trying to grow. Try it.
After 20 wins in a row, Shaka Hislop only sees Bayern-Munich rivals Man City as the strongest in Europe.
Man City makes it 20 wins – but is Guardiola happy?
Manchester City have 20 straight wins in all competitions, beating West Ham 2-1 that weekend. That’s an honestly ridiculous number, and considering they have Arsenal (twice), Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Spurs defeated during this run, this is proof of where they are at. They are 12 points ahead of the top of the table and, apart from one catastrophe, will win their third championship title in the last four seasons.
Why did he complain that his team could be more “clinical”? Because while they are winning they are not the overwhelming force they were three years ago.
If expected goals are your thing, they tend to fall (albeit slightly, although this is offset by the fact that they are far more stingy defensively) but it goes beyond that. You just score fewer points. In the Premier League there is an average of two games per game, which is significantly below the value of the previous year (2.68), 2018-19 (2.50) and 2017-18 (2.78). In fact, unless they accelerate the pace, this could be the lowest-scoring Guardiola team in history.
We saw against West Ham Sergio Aguero Make his first start to the season and with his contract expiring this summer and the fact that he showed a lot of rust, it will likely be one of his last. Is that enough to explain the drop in targets? Probably not. And that’s why Guardiola keeps addressing it.
Jan Aage Fjortoft is happy about the title race in the Bundesliga after RB Leipzig’s comeback victory.
Bayern win big, but the return of Gnabry and Müller is really making an impact
Forget the gaudy 4: 1 against a self-destructing Lazio in the Champions League. Bayern hadn’t played particularly well since before the Club World Cup, and during most of the 5-1 win over Cologne we still saw nothing that came close to real Bayern. This is what happens when your wingers are Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and so the monument of inconsistency Leroy Sane. They took the lead 2-0 (also thanks to the brilliance of Robert Lewandowski) and allowed Cologne to reopen the game at the beginning of the second half.
Almost half an hour before the end, Thomas Müller and Serge Gnabry enter and everything changes. They scored a 5-1 win which in many ways confirmed what we already know. Bayern have a core of outstanding players and when more than a few are missing the level drops exponentially and they are left to individual solutions or waiting for the opposition to screw it up. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
At the risk of saying the obvious, the real Bayern need Müller (and Gnabry, especially if Kingsley Coman is off).
Alejandro Moreno talks about the positive results for Atletico Madrid after beating Villarreal.
Atletico drives “old-school cholismo” to make a big profit
Unai Emerys Villarreal is exactly the kind of opponent you won’t want to face. He has two straight defeats and Barcelona are only three points behind. So Atletico Madrid and Diego Simeone went back to basics, switched to a back four, sat low and left Luis Suarez so isolated that he had to pay roaming charges to communicate with his midfielders.
Her two goals in the 2-0 win followed the script: an opposing own goal from a header from close range after a free kick and a moment of individual brilliance from Joao Felix (who then vented his anger into the night), who took advantage of an opponent’s mistake. The rest were determined to defend and the usual Jan Oblak Wonder.
Simeone has extenuating circumstances in the form of injuries so those of us who actually enjoyed Cholismo 2.0 earlier this season can’t get too astute. This was about keeping a clean sheet and making sure Real Madrid don’t catch them when they go up against each other in the derby next Sunday. Mission accomplished.
Bale makes it big for Spurs. What does that mean?
It was fun to watch Gareth Bale steal the show in Tottenham’s 4-0 win over Burnley on Sunday. He opened the scoring, rolled back the years with a huge goal and uncorked a wonderful sweeping assistant, reminiscent of the best Juan Sebastian Veron. It was also important for Spurs to take a win after only securing three of their last 18 available points in the league. The Champions League places are six points away and it’s important that they stay in the race.
That said, it’s not clear how much you can read into it. Spurs scored after just two minutes and hit Burnley repeatedly in transition. We already knew they could. Bale is still Bale, with everything that goes with it: the injuries, the golf, the luggage, the wages, the contract with Real Madrid, which runs until June 2022. If Jose Mourinho only started it twice before Sunday, there is probably a reason. Did someone just press a switch? I hope so because I enjoy seeing Bale play. But it all feels very short term.
Leipzig is anything but soft as the Bundesliga title race continues
Everything was designed so that Leipzig collapsed against Borussia Mönchengladbach. Two goals in 20 minutes, despite showing a lot of attacking intent and lavish finishing – pretty much the history of their season, right?
And then Julian Nagelsmann decided to unleash the Sorloth when he heard the muse that inspired his raw genius. As with Alexander Sorloth, the striker with a star cross who had only met once throughout the season. Sorloth’s large body instantly caused chaos. He set up Christopher Nkunku and scored the winning goal in stoppage time after Yussuf Poulsen equalized.
Nagelsmann’s decisions are sometimes headstrong, but his belief in Sorloth has been amply rewarded here. More than the result – Gladbach is in free fall with four defeats in the last five defeats – what impressed here was the personality and the way Leipzig progressed on the way to their 3-2 victory, even if it looked like that definitely not her day.
The win leaves them two points and at least means Bayern have to stay on their toes the rest of the way.
Inter roll behind Lukaku, past Genoa to stay at the top of Serie A.
Football becomes a lot easier when you score a goal within a minute Romelu Lukaku did for Inter on Sunday against Genoa, on the way to a 3-0 win. From that point on, it wasn’t too difficult for Antonio Conte to beat his opponents and he made sure that Inter’s intensity never let up.
This is not intended to affect their performance, on the contrary, this is praise. We have seen teams, especially in Serie A, take the lead and then manage the game, save energy and try to score during the break. Conte just doesn’t want that. He wants them to take advantage of the extra rest for the carotid artery. And against Genoa he had a total buy-in, also from people like Christian Eriksen. Yes Eriksen – the guy who was supposedly too weak, too dreamy, and too nice to do a shift actually covered more ground than anyone else on the pitch (including) Nicolo Barella, the human dynamo). Food for thought.
PSG have a real title race in France. When was the last time you heard this?
Paris Saint-Germain beat Dijon 4-0 on Saturday thanks to two goals from Kylian Mbappe and knocks out Danilo and Moise Kean (who is up to 15 years old in all competitions, by the way) but Mauricio Pochettino has a seemingly clear race domestically, with four teams within four points of each other.
PSG are second, two behind Lille, one in front of Lyon and two in front of Monaco, who have scored 28 points out of a possible 30 in their last ten games. On top of that, the other three competitors are all outside Europe and there are head-to-head battles against Lille and Lyon pending for PSG. The Champions League is obviously a priority for the club, but they just can’t take their eyes off the ball on the home front.