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European Football Weekend Round-Up 

Aug-25_World's-major-leagues

Manchester City show Frailties Against Newcastle 

By fulltime, there was only mutual respect between Eddie Howe and Pep Guardiola. The two managers exchanged a quick handshake and a hug before the City boss trotted to the dugout. Newcastle and Manchester City had just delivered an absorbingly brilliant match that showcased the appeal of the English Premier League. Either team could have won, and yet, a 3-3 draw was a fair reflection of Sunday’s proceedings. 

 At a point, the Magpies dominated proceedings so thoroughly that the Cityzens had just 6% of possession. The hosts played with spirit and resilience and showed the kind of character that gets home fans going. Bruno Guimaraes in particular, hyped up the crowd after each successful tackle, and still maintained the composure to consistently break the City lines with incisive passes forward. He was not alone in whipping up the Magpies into full cry, however. Allan Saint-Maximin had everyone on the edge of their seats, with Kyle Walker struggling to contain the Frenchman’s trademark explosive bursts.  

 Miguel Almiron bundled the ball in with his belly in the 28th minute after Ilkay Gundogan had opened the scoring after just five minutes.  

Callum Willson made it 2-1 from close range just before halftime and in the 54th minute, Kieran Trippier scored the best goal of the afternoon, hitting it top bins with a stunning freekick to make it 3-1. 

 But the reigning Premier League champions are never truly out of a game, even down 3-1. Ten minutes after Tripper’s goal, the scores were level again. 

First, Erling Haaland pulled one back with a smashed finish into the roof of the net after a deft Rodri flick. Then Kevin de Bruyne produced the pass of the match, taking out five Newcastle players with a sublime through pass to Bernado Silva to equalize. 

 The Champions may look imperious at full flow, but Newcastle have shown the rest of the league how a talented and well-drilled team can throw a spanner in the City works going forward. 


Liverpool’s struggles continue 

Liverpool, the only club in the English top flight tipped by the bookies to push City all the way, have had a historically bad start to their EPL campaign. Only four times in their history have they failed to win any of their three opening matches. 

Even worse, there has been a pattern in their results. The Reds have now conceded first in their last seven matches, extending from last season. 

On Monday night, both they and biggest rivals, Manchester United, were under pressure to get their respective seasons going.  

Unfortunately for the Merseyside club, Jadon Sancho scored in the 16th minute to open the scoring for the home side. That emboldened the home side, and the two teams went into the break with United unlucky to lead by just one goal. 

Eight minutes after the restart, Rashford doubled United’s lead after holding his run long enough to beat the offside trap and receive Anthony Martial’s pass before beating Alisson at his near post. 

Liverpool eventually pulled one back through Mo Salah with 9 minutes of regulation time left. However, they were unable to put the United defense under any pressure to tie the game. 

Is it time to press the panic button? Maybe not just yet. However, there are worrying signs.  

This season, the team’s offensive build-up has been slow. The loss of Sadio Mane to Bayern has also been felt. The Senegalese forward’s diagonal runs and near-telepathic connection with Salah and other teammates has been missed with Luis Diaz yet to replicate their former No. 10’s industry and goal threat. 

The suspended Darwin Nunez was also missed. The Reds could have done with his energy, finishing and penalty box presence. 

Jurgen Klopp has some sleepless nights ahead as he looks to get his team’s campaign on track, beginning with the game against Bournemouth on Saturday. 

 

Real Madrid and Barcelona Secure Routine Wins  

For the La Liga champions, business has resumed as usual. Against Celta Vigo, they were at their imperious best as they ran out 4-0 winners away at Balaidos.   

After starting on the bench against Almeria, David Alaba and Luka Modrić were back into the starting lineup. Aurélien Tchouameni also retained his starting spot with Casemiro headed to Manchester United. 

Both sides traded early penalty goals as first, Karim Benzema, then Iago Aspas scored spot kicks.  

Luka Modric netted a 20-yard proper golazo  just before half-time, laid on an assist for Vinicius Jr before Fede Valverde added a fourth goal in the 66th minute to seal the win.  

 

Their rivals, Barcelona, also won away on Sunday with the same score line against Real Sociedad.   

After an opening day blank, Robert Lewandowski was in no mood to be denied again. The Pole opened the scoring with just 47 seconds on the clock before Sociedad’s Swedish striker, Alexander Isak equalized just 5 minutes later. The rest of the first half went by without incident. 

The game was eventually put to bed in the second half as Ousmane Dembele and Lewandowski scored twice in two minutes to stretch the lead to two goals. A 79th minute Ansu Fati goal put the icing on the cake  

It’s early days yet, but Barcelona are finally looking like the title challengers many tipped them to be before the season started. 

 

PSG Hit Lille for 7 as Lyon Secure Second Win 

Lyon were in action on Friday night against Troyes. Les Gones did not feature last weekend as their match against Lorient was postponed due to poor weather. Against Troyes, it was once again the Tete show. The Brazilian scored a brace to make it 3 Ligue 1 goals this season. 

Former Arsenal forward Alexander Lacazette opened the scoring inside three minutes after capitalizing on a defensive error. However, Peter Bosz’s men were pegged back six minutes from halftime from the spot. Nicolas Tagliafico, who had given away the penalty for Troyes’s equaliser, restored Lyon’s advantage from about six yards after a superb Tete assist.  

Tete headed home on the line for 3-1 before finally putting the game to bed with a left-footed curler with 15 minutes to go. 

So far, Lyon’s new signings have delivered the goods. Fans of Les Gones will hope it stays this way.

 

PSG 

Christophe Galtier has come to Paris and changed so much in a short time. The team is now more organized and somehow looks even scarier already. Against Lille, their new manager’s former team, PSG showed no mercy.  

Neymar is playing out of his skin- scoring, assisting and surprisingly putting in increased defensive work. Against Lille, he scored two and assisted three more.  

Right from the first whistle, PSG were up for it. Eight seconds in, Kylian Mbappe was already celebrating as Lionel Messi found the 23-year-old with a peach of a pass from kick-off, and he made no mistake, lifting the ball over the keeper. 

Lionel Messi scored his side’s second goal after combining well with Nuno Mendez. By the end of the first half, it was already four as Achraf Hakimi and Neymar both scored to push the lead further. Neymar added a second in the 52nd minute to make it five. After Jonathan Bamba scored a 54th minute consolation, Mbappe scored twice to reach his hattrick and claim the match ball at the end of the game. 


Serie A Champions Held as Napoli turn on the style 

AC Milan faced their biggest test in Serie A this season against Atalanta, and they struggled to create chances. 

The early opportunities had fallen to Stefano Pioli’s men, with Junior Messias missing from close range after being picked out by Sandro Tonali. 

With 30 minutes on the clock, the defending champions were finally opened up after some incisive passing and an outstanding finish from Ruslan Malinovski. 

The away side valiantly tried to get back into the game and even though Ismael Bennacer equalised with a stunning curler, Atalanta held on to claim a point.

Napoli 

Most football fans expected Napoli to endure some transition due to the exits of captain Lorenzo Insigne, all-time top scorer, Dries Mertens and vice-captain Kalidou Koulibaly.  

The Neapolitans, stubborn as ever, have flipped that expectation on its head to top the table, scoring nine goals and conceding twice.  

Their hero? Khvicha Kvaratskhelia; a player whose name is a veritable tongue twister. Since he swapped Rubin Kazan for the sunny cobblestones of Naples, the 21-year–old forward has been a revelation. So far this season, the Georgian striker has scored three goals already. If he maintains this form, Napoli fans can dare to dream of the Scudetto again. 

Nigerian striker, Victor Osimhen has continued from where he stopped last season, scoring in back-to-back matches and turning the eye of every top European side.  

Napoli had a brilliant start to the season last time out but eventually capitulated. Is this the season where they finally go all the way? Only time will tell. 

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