There were plenty of goals this weekend with most of the strikers, especially in the Premier League finding the back of the net. Atletico hit seven, City hit six, Madrid hit five and Barca hit four to register comprehensive victories. Bayern Munich registered their first win over Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park in over three years while Manchester United conceded a ‘Fergie time’ equalizer to drop points.
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.
The Chelsea man, ever since being sent out on loan for a second straight season, has been on a mission to prove what he is capable of. Last season, Lukaku scored 17 goals for West Brom, that included goals against Liverpool both home and away. He repeated that feat on Saturday,in the first Premier League fixture of the weekend that was the feisty, intense Merseyside derby at Goodison Park between Everton and Liverpool.
Everton put up a great performance after going behind twice and were on the brink of victory thanks to Lukaku’s superbly taken brace. That took his tally to 8 goals from just 7 appearances for the Toffees and the Belgian is demonstrating that he now stands firmly amongst the top strikers in the league and that he wasn’t just a one-season wonder.
In fact, he could have had more if not for some really good saves from Simon Mignolet.
Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo
It was well known before Sunday’s game against Spurs, that City have a taste for goals at the Etihad Stadium. But nobody could have predicted the scale of Tottenham’s capitulation in the second half that saw them leave Manchester at the wrong end of a 6-0 thrashing.
Aguero has sizzled again for City and has looked in irresistible form this season. Pellegrini also discovered a few games into the season that his partnership with Spaniard Negredo is the most prolific of all the options that City have at their disposal.
Despite being inferior in the possession department, Negredo’s physical strength and ability to boss the defence coupled with Aguero’s running off the ball and ability to beat defenders off the dribble were too much to handle for Andre Villas-Boas’ Spurs side.
Last year, Manchester United relied on a former Arsenal man to get off the blocks real quick. His replacement was viewed with some circumspection as he seemed to not wield the same sort of influence. He still scored 17 goals though, an achievement for which he didn’t get the credit due. This season, he has started briskly and has had a very big hand (or foot) in Arsenal’s table-topping form.
That man is Olivier Giroud and after claiming mid-week that he was ready to die to help France qualify (and performing ably thereafter), the Frenchman bagged a double to help the Gunners consolidate their position at the top. That’s now 10 goals for Giroud and he becomes the second Arsenal player to reach double figures after Aaron Ramsey.
Frank Lampard may have scored two goals against his boyhood club, but it was Brazilian Oscar who was the most impressive player on the pitch at Upton Park. He was instrumental in much of the good work that was done by Chelsea in the attacking third and unlocked the West Ham defence with some great play.
He also scored the other goal, a well-taken effort. The stats will show that Oscar has zero assists to his name, but that can’t take away the fact that he is the pivot who’s considerable influence helps Chelsea to wins.
A first win away from home for Crystal Palace came thanks to Bannan’s late goal, which incidentally was his first goal for his new club, after being let go by Aston Villa. He was also a constant source of probing passes and crosses from the right hand side of the pitch, where most of the danger came from for Hull City.
It also came in the face of having gone a man down a few minutes earlier and marked a very gritty display for the Eagles.
Newcastle United withstood a late charge from Norwich City to hold on for a 2-1 win at home and grab their third win in a row. Early first half goals from French duo Loic Remy and Yoan Gouffran got the points, but it was inspired by a superb performance from Shola Ameobi who set up one and was denied a goal himself thanks to a world-class save from Norwich keeper John Ruddy.
He was subbed off in the end to a thunderous standing ovation from the Geordies inside St. James’ Park. It also meant that it is now 18 games since Ameobi scored for Newcastle, but he was very close indeed to breaking that drought.
The naysayers in Spain, and across Europe for that matter, kept harping on how Atletico would not be able to provide a sustained challenge at the top of La Liga as against the big two of Barcelona and Real Madrid. They are doing a fine job of it so far though, adding an exclamatory mark this weekend with their 7-0 demolition of Getafe.
David Villa looks refreshed after his move from Barca, and has struck up a great understanding with Diego Costa. Leading the line with Costa on the bench, he scored two and set up one as he led the goal parade at the Vicente Calderon. But, it would be unfair to single out Villa, for though he was excellent, so was the entire Atletico team.
Raul Garcia also scored a double, Costa had his customary goal coming on as a sub, and even backup striker Adrian grabbed one.
It was one of the most commanding performances of the season so far and that Atletico midfield of Koke, Raul Garcia and Arda Turan, backed up by Tiago and Gabi sitting deep, was just on song.
Cristiano Ronaldo has clearly been the headline-maker the whole week, starting with his goals for Portugal, both at home and away, the second of which was a quite brilliant performance, which got everyone suddenly deciding that Ronaldo not getting the Ballon d’Or would be a gross injustice, conveniently forgetting that he has been putting in such performances with amazing regularity even before that.
He scored another before hobbling off injured, but Isco returning to the fold after an extended absence from the starting eleven, was the best player on the night. The superbly-talented midfielder is a player that is just delightful to watch play. He dictated the tempo and pace of the game in his role behind the front three. He had an assist and a goal, one that was scored with a casual nonchalance accompanying it.
He took much criticism early on in the season and soon rumours began emerging that he might even be shipped out with Antonio Conte unhappy with his performances in the white and black of Juventus.
But the striker dubbed the ‘Lion King’ has begun to show glimpses of his striking ability over the past month or so. He has started scoring and his confidence seems to be right. He found the net again over the weekend as Juventus registered a 2-0 win over Livorno.
Llorente now has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games for Juventus.
How do you recover from the disappointment of seeing your country miss the bus to the upcoming World Cup? By pulling on your club team’s jersey and scoring a goal or two is how Zlatan did it.
PSG extended their fantastic run to 34 games unbeaten in all competitions after their latest win – 3-0 at Stade de Reims. Ibrahimovic scored a late goal and had an assist to his name, setting up Lucas Moura for the opener after a lovely one-two exchange with the Brazilian.
Zlatan now has 9 goals and 4 assists in Ligue 1 and 16 goals overall in all competitons.
One would lose count of the number of Chelsea players that are out on loan at the moment across Europe. There are so many, that a proper, competitive football team could be made up out of them.
A good number of them are at Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem, considered a feeder club for the Blues. Lucas Piazon and Gael Kakuta were on the score-sheet for Vitesse in their 3-0 win over Go Ahead Eagles, that put Vitesse back on top of the Eredivisie.
19-year-old attacking midfielder Piazon has 7 goals and 4 assists to his name; 22-year-old Kakuta scored his first at the weekend.
Many will read the scoreline at the weekend in the ‘Der Klassiker’ and believe that it was a drubbing for Dortmund, but many will not know that it was goalless at half-time. And that was a relief not for Dortmund, but for Bayern, as they had come away from a patchy first-half performance without conceding a goal.
Even missing some defensive regulars, Dortmund mounted enough of a challenge to threaten Bayern and it was down to the efforts of Manuel Neuer that the teams went in at the break on parity. Bayern then built on the solid foundation given by their keeper and went on to systematically strike out Dortmund in the second half with three goals.