It has been an eventful fortnight of football across the top leagues of Europe.
While Old Trafford tasted some relentless, pressing football in Ralf Rangnick’s first game in charge as Manchester United’s interim manager, it was a controversy marred Der Klassiker in the Bundesliga as Bayern edged a win against rival Borussia Dortmund.
Ralf Rangnick began his managerial tenure at Manchester United with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Crystal Palace at home courtesy of Fred’s 77th-minute winner. After defeating Arsenal 3-2 midweek, the win against Palace not only got the Red Devils two Premier League home wins on the trot but its first home clean sheet of the season.
David Moyes’ West Ham United proved to be tough customers for Chelsea as the Hammers defeated the European champion 3-2 at the London Stadium. This was Thomas Tuchel’s second league defeat of the season.
Liverpool’s match against the Wolverhampton Wanderers ended in dramatic fashion as Divock Origi broke the hearts of Wolves fans by snatching a 94th-minute winner. Manchester City had a comfortable day at the office as Pep Guardiola’s team defeated Claudio Ranieri’s Watford 3-1 while Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur thrashed Norwich City 3-0.
After matchday 15, Manchester City tops the league table with 35 points, closely followed by Liverpool at 34. Chelsea slipped to third with 33 points after the defeat to fourth-placed West Ham. Tottenham, United, and Arsenal are in fifth, sixth, and seventh position with 25, 24, and 23 points respectively. Spurs and Gunners have played a game less.
A new phenom: Vinicius Jr of Real Madrid scored his 10th goal of the season to secure a comfortable win for his team. – Getty Images
Real Madrid dished out a stellar performance in a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad as Vinicius Jr scored his tenth goal of the season, which puts the Brazilian just two behind Karim Benzema at the top of the Spanish league’s scoring charts. Luka Jovic also notched a goal and an assist as Carlo Ancelotti’s men continued their impressive form this season.
It was a bad day at the office for Xavi Hernandez’s Barcelona as it slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Real Betis. In a match where the Blaugranas enjoyed the lion’s share of possession with 63%, it only managed three shots on target. Betis’ Juanmi scored the winner at the 77th-minute after a well-crafted move.
Defending champion, Atletico Madrid’s title defence is not going Diego Simeone’s way and its 2-1 loss to Mallorca further added to his woes. Atletico did open the scoring through Matheus Cunha but two late goals by Franco Russo and Takefusa Kubo snatched the three points from the champion.
After matchday 16, Real Madrid is on top with 39 points. Sevilla, Betis, and Atletico Madrid occupy the second, third and fourth position with 31, 30, and 29 points respectively. Barcelona is seventh in the table with 23 points, 16 points behind arch-rival Real Madrid, having played a game less.
King Robert: Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski converted a controversial penalty to hand his team yet another win in the Der Klassiker against rival Borussia Dortmund. – Reuters
In the Der Klassiker, Bayern Munich edged a controversial 3-2 win against Borussia Dortmund at its home with Robert Lewandowski scoring a brace. After Julian Brandt gave Dortmund a quick lead in the fifth minute, Lewandowski did not take much time to find the equaliser four minutes later.
Kingsley Coman and Erling Haaland’s strikes made it 2-2 but it was the penalty given by referee Felix Zwayer (who was embroiled in a match-fixing scandal in 2005) to Bayern in the 76th-minute, which invited the wrath of Dortmund players and manager Marco Rose, who was sent off for protesting. The referee, who went over to the VAR monitor to check a possible handball by Mats Hummels, punished the defender by awarding a penalty to Bayern, which Lewandowski converted.
Dortmund player Jude Bellingham said after the match: “You give a referee that has match fixed before, the biggest game in Germany, what do you expect?”
Last season’s runner-up RB Leipzig parted ways with American head coach Jesse Marsch after its 2-1 loss to Union Berlin, which was its sixth loss this season. Marsch replaced Julian Nagelsmann at the start of the season.
After matchday 14, Bayern Munich remained top with 34 points followed by Borussia Dortmund in second with 30. Bayer Leverkusen and SC Freiburg are third and fourth with 27 and 25 points respectively. RB Leipzig languishes at the 11th spot with 18 points.
Defending champion Inter Milan thrashed Jose Mourinho’s Roma 3-0 while Stefano Pioli’s AC Milan defeated Salernitana 2-0.
Atlanta won a 3-2 thriller against Napoli with Remo Freuler grabbing the all-important winner in the 71st-minute.
Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus enjoyed a rare comfortable 2-0 win against Genoa courtesy of goals by Juan Cuadrado and Paolo Dybala.
After matchday 16, Milan sits top with 38 points, followed by Inter, Napoli, and Atalanta on 37, 36, and 34 points. Juventus has had a tumultuous season by its standards, but its improved performances have pushed it to the fifth position at 27 points, seven points behind Atalanta, which occupies the final Champions League spot.
Paris Saint-Germain needed a 92nd-minute winner by Giorgino Wijnaldum to earn a point against Lens in a 1-1 draw as the spotlight turned to the newly crowned Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi. who failed to make any significant impact in the match.
Defending champion Lille defeated Troyes 2-1 while Lyon played a 2-2 draw with Bordeaux.
After matchday 17, PSG enjoys a comfortable lead at the top with 42 points. It is followed by Rennes, Marseille, and Nice on 31, 29, and 27 points respectively. French champion Lille has failed to put up a decent title defence and finds itself in the 11th position with 24 points followed by Lyon in 12th with 23.