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European football: Heroes from the weekend across the major leagues

FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 11 Nov 2013

From England, Spain, Italy, France and Germany, we scouted the matches that took place across Europe’s big five leagues with a handy pair of binoculars to see who shone the brightest from the weekend’s action.

Here are the weekend’s heroes – the individuals/teams who provided the best highlights from all of the games.


Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba of Juventus celebrates victory at the end of the Serie A match between Juventus and SSC Napoli at Juventus Arena

Juventus welcomed Napoli to Turin in a clash that presented the winner an opportunity to go joint top in Serie A with early leaders Roma after their slip up earlier in the day. And the defending champions dished out a 3-0 thrashing to the side from Naples. Much of it had to do with the excellent work of Juve’s midfield trio of Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba.

The Frenchman was, in fact, the standout performer on the night with the highlight being the third Juve goal. The old master Pirlo had already stroked a beautiful free-kick past Pepe Reina to give Juve a 2-0 lead, but Pogba’s effort bettered that – he received the ball from Carlos Tevez in the centre of the park and looped it up with his right knee before unleashing a sizzling right-footed volley from 30 metres out that crashed into the net past the helpless Reina, clattering the inside of the post on the way.

Tim Krul

Tim Krul the Newcastle United goalkeeper makes a save under pressure from Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United at White Hart Lane

The praises poured in from all quarters for the Dutch keeper after his stupendous display in goal for Newcastle United against Tottenham Hotspur yesterday. Even from opposition manager Andre Villas-Boas.

“It was one of the best goalkeeping performances I’ve seen, he answered almost everything. It was an unbelievable performance.” said his manager Alan Pardew.

“I think Tim Krul was the key to the game. He made the difference.” said AVB.

In a game where Tottenham managed 31 shots, out of which 10 were wide of the mark, seven were blocked and 14 of them were on target. Tim Krul saved those 14 attempts, some of which were just outstanding.

Krul himself was pretty pleased with the effort and said that it was probably the best performance of his career.

“This was a highlight of my career,” Krul told Sky television after the game. “It doesn’t happen very often, this type of game.”

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Real Sociedad at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on November 9, 2013 in Madrid, Spain

Ronaldo’s performance on Saturday, when his Real Madrid team blitzed Real Sociedad 5-1 at the Bernabeu, was described as “out of this world” by his manager Carlo Ancelotti. It was Ronaldo’s 23rd hat-trick for Ronaldo in Madrid’s colours and took his tally to 16 goals from 13 games and into pole position in the top scorer’s race, and nine of those goals have come in just the last four matches.

If Ronaldo was already in thundering form, then Sepp Blatter’s uncalled for jab at Ronaldo during a press conference in Oxford, seems to have driven him on further and Madrid’s opponents have been forced to face the full brunt of it. The Santiago Bernabeu in appreciation of their star man’s efforts wasted no time in venting out who they thought should get the Ballon d’Or as they sang ‘Ronaldo Ballon d’Or’.

The man himself when asked about it chose to concentrate on his work: “I don’t want to talk about the Golden Ball, I just do what I do out on the pitch; the decision is not up to me.”

Cesc Fabregas

Barcelona’s midfielder Cesc Fabregas (R) celebrates with his teammates after scoring his second goal during the Spanish league football match Real Betis vs FC Barcelona at the Benito Villamarin stadium in Sevilla on November 10, 2013

Barcelona fell a goal short of matching rivals Real as they ran out 4-1 winners over Real Betis. Neymar once more got on the score-sheet scoring the opening goal, but it was Cesc Fabregas who ran the show for Barca with a top-class performance that whoscored.com rated 10/10.

He scored two goals and had one assist as Barcelona quietly went about dismantling a struggling Betis side even with Lionel Messi forced off after an injury scare. Fabregas has really been relishing the new start under Tata Martino and will no doubt press his case for a starting spot at next year’s World Cup for Spain.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Paris Saint-Germain’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after scoring his team’s third goal during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain and Nice at the Parc des Princes in Paris on November 9, 2013. PSG won 3-1.

The hat-tricks are flowing – Zlatan after the magnificent four-star performance against Anderlecht, netted a hat-trick against Nice to ensure that Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) emerged 3-1 winners and consolidated their position at the top of Ligue 1.

The goals may not have been as stunning as some of his other strikes of late, but Zlatan has been demonstrating why you cannot discount him from the conversation when it comes to listing out the best footballers in the world.

And of course, he’s got the Zlatan swagger to go along with it!

Sunderland

Sunderland’s English born Scottish striker Steven Fletcher (L) celebrates with English born Scottish teammate defender Phillip Bardsley during the English Premier League football match between Sunderland and Manchester City at Stadium of Light in Sunderland, northeast England on November 10, 2013. Sunderland won 1-0.

Perhaps more than a game against Crystal Palace or Hull City, a home test against Manchester City was exactly what Sunderland needed.

Having won this fixture the last two times with a 1-0 margin, Sunderland decide to make it a three-peat as City and Manuel Pellegrini’s troubles away from the Etihad Stadium this term continued.

The entire Sunderland team put in a very worthy performance and definitely exhibited more energy than the Citizens.

It was quite ironic too, that two former United boys, Wes Brown and Phil Bardsley, had a hand in the decisive goal that condemned City to their fourth loss of the season, all of which have been away.

Phil Bardsley rightly was named man of the match for his game winning goal as well as a top notch defensive effort.

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Published 11 Nov 2013
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