Surprise Pack lead the way
Normally by now, the big guns have staked their claims and some have gained a commanding lead over their domestic leagues. But after Bayer Leverkusen’s victory on Sunday against Hoffenheim it means all five of the top five league-leaders ply their trade in the Europa League rather than the Champions League.
AC Milan’s gap has been cut to three points after they could only draw with Parma at San Siro and all three of Inter, Napoli and Juventus won. Lille are the surprise leaders in France capitalising on another PSG slip up to claim top spot just ahead of Lyon who never really looked under threat Parc De Princes. Spurs lead in England and Real Sociedad lead Atletico on goal difference in Spain however they face both Atletico and Barcelona in the next couple of weeks.
In a year as strange as 2020, it’s almost poetic to see some of the lesser teams leading the way, and while there is still a long way to go in the season and with January’s transfer window edging closer by the day some of the big teams surely must go into the market and address their issues. Whether clubs will be willing to sell is still to be seen.
Favre says Auf Wiedersehen to Dortmund
It has been rumoured for a while that Lucien Favre wasn’t going to last past this season as Borussia Dortmund’s manager. His style of play doesn’t excite fans, he has brought little success to Dortmund being comfortably beat to the league twice by Bayern Munich despite them being deemed to be going through a transition phase under Nico Kovac.
But often he has been saved by genius whether that is a Jadon Sancho solo effort or more likely Erling Haaland’s goals taking the game away from the opposition. Even when he had them sometimes it just didn’t happen for Dortmund and too often, they never got started in games losing or dropping points in games Champions should win comfortably.
This season Sancho is well below his lofty standards and with Haaland on the treatment table they have been badly exposed. Saturday compounded that, falling to a good but not excellent youthful Stuttgart side 5-1 in their own stadium. The part that probably sealed Favre’s fate was the lack of fight from his side.
He walks and his assistant Edin Terzic has been handed the job till the end of the season, but his lack of experience has worried Dortmund fans who feel his lack of experience means Dortmund are throwing a season when they have key players who are likely to leave in the summer.
Speculation of who will take over in the summer are rife. Among those linked are former Red Bull Salzburg coaches Jessie Marsch and Marco Rose and BVB fans will be hoping that the hierarchy have already started planning for the future.
Neymar injury compiles PSG misery
PSG have been heavily hit and miss this term. Over the past fortnight, it looked as if the Parisians had turned their season around, two huge wins in the Champions League sent them through top of the group and an important win last week at Montpellier put them top of the league.
On Sunday however they shot themselves in the foot. Lyon rolled into town and turned over PSG with minimal fuss. The defeat will hurt, but a potentially serious injury to Neymar will sting more.
Last week at Old Trafford the Brazilian showed his undoubted quality single handily winning the game and now with him out it is going to pile further pressure on Moise Kean, Angel Di Maria, and Kylian Mbappe.
PSG still have enough quality to run away with the league and thankfully despite being stretchered off it doesn’t seem too bad and he shouldn’t be out too long. A midweek game against Lorient shouldn’t cause them too much trouble but Sunday’s game at surprise leaders Lille will be the huge test of their credentials and if they fail to get a win, they could have a repeat of the Monaco situation of 2016/17.
Real triumph in Madrid derby
It always seems when Real Madrid look down and out, they rise again. Two weeks ago, they fell to promoted Cadiz and Shakhtar in the space of a week. They then took the tricky trip to Sevilla and triumphed before outplaying Borussia Monchengladbach in midweek to finish top of a group at one point they looked in danger of finishing bottom in.
This weekend a buoyant Atletico arrived at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium fresh from securing their own qualification with a huge win in Salzburg in mid-week. They were unbeaten in 26 La Liga games and are among the favourites for the trophy come May.
Real dominated and ran out 2-0 victors thanks to goals from Casemiro and an Oblak’s own goal to move within three points of the summit. Barcelona also took a huge leap up the table, with Lionel Messi finally scoring from open play this season.
Written by Connor Moore (@ConnorMMedia)