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Serie A – No goal for Ronaldo. Excellent start for Napoli and Roma

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The Italian Serie A starts with a renewed interest around the world after Ronaldo’s transfer to Juventus. Many of those new followers will certainly be surprised on how good is the Italian league, as the highly defensive league is long gone.

In one of the most interesting games of the weekend, Edin Dzeko scored a late goal to give the 3 points to AS Roma in Torino. Kluivert also had a good start, getting an assist. The first half was a bit crazy, with Aleksandar Kolarov and Dzeko both hitting the post for Roma and Torino midfielder Tomas Rincon doing the same for the home side. Iago Falque had a goal disallowed for offside following a VAR review three minutes after the break.

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All eyes were on the Portuguese forward but it was need a team effort from the defending champions to secure three points against Chievo. Ronaldo still had a good game even without scoring but without knowing very well how, Juve found themselves behind 2-1 in the second half. Juventus eventually equalised with 15 minutes left when a corner from Bernardeschi was deflected into his own net by Chievo defender Bani. Mario Mandzukic thought he had won it with a late header, given by goal line technology, only for the effort to be ruled out following a referral by the Video Assistant Referee. But almost in the end of the game Bernardeschi scored the winning goal and the Champions start with 3 points.

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In the top match of this first round, Napoli got an excellent away win against Lazio. The game actually started well for the home side, as on the 24th minute Francesco Acerbi sent a through ball to Ciro Immobile and the Italian striker beat three defenders with a single back heel chop and then placed the ball past Karnezis with ease. Napoli reacted quickly and got a few chances to score and 2 minutes before the halftime Milik found the back of the net. In the second half Napoli looked really strong and on the 58th minute Insigne scored the winning goal.

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Who didn’t start well the season was Inter Milan, as they lost (again) to Sassuolo. Domenico Berardi was the hero for the home side as he scored a 27th minute from the penalty spot. This is a sort of early reality check for their supporters after an exciting transfer window (that is not closed). Inter still is behind of Juventus, Napoli and Roma in terms of quality of play and Spalletti will be now under pressure to take the most of his players.

 

Weekend review: Marseille starts the Ligue 1 in style. Zenit are sole leaders in Russia

Ligue 1 - Olympique de Marseille vs Toulouse

The French Ligue 1 started this weekend in great fashion as we saw 33 goals scored, the top 4 teams winning and a crazy 3-4 between Angers and Nimes.

On Friday Marseille received Toulouse, in a game that saw the first VAR decision in the league. A cross from the right side to Valere Germain was intercepted with the hand by a Toulouse defender and after the VAR review a penalty was given. Payet didn’t miss it and Marseille took the lead in the 45th minute. In the second half the home side kept the pressure, scored more 3 goals (Payet, Germain and Thauvin) to close the game with a 4-0 win.

Monaco had an expected though match in Nantes but after having a bad time during the first half, the vice-champions scored 3 goals in the second half to win 1-3. Rony Lopes, Jovetic and Falcao were the scorers for Monaco and Emiliano Sala for Nantes. With one more season selling some of their best players, Monaco hopes that Leonardo Jardim can make magic again.

cczEven with a lot of magic, will not be easy for someone to beat PSG in the race for the title. in the gameweek 1 they had no trouble to defeat Caen, even with some kind of alternative lineup. The youngsters Dagba, Nsoki, Bernede and Nkunku got a chance to start and see Neymar scoring his first of the season. Rabiot and Weah scored the other 2 goals of the game. This is the second goal for Weah, after also scoring in the Super Cup against Monaco. PSG has a very deep squad but the forward will look to have some more playing time when compared to last season.

In Angers we saw probably the craziest game of the weekend in Europe. The promoted side Nimes was down 1-3 on the 75th minute, saw their striker Clement Depres scoring the 2-3 only one minute after he came in and on the 79th minute they found themselves playing with 10. In a dramatic end of the game, Ripart scored the 3-3 on the 85th minute and Depres scored again on the 89th minute to give the 3 points to Nimes. Angers will certainly remember this game for a long time.

CSKA and Lokomotiv keep losing points in Russia

In Russia we go already with 3 rounds completed and Zenit is the only team only with wins. Yesterday they traveled to Kazan and beat Rubin 0-1. The only goal of the game came on the 78th minute by Erokhin, in a period when Zenit was one man down. Also yesterday and also with one man down, Krasnodar defeated Ufa 0-1 and they sit now 4th with 6 points.

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The teams from Moscow had a quite disappointing weekend, with Spartak having a narrow 1-0 win against Anzhi. Their mind looked to be already in the Champions League qualifier and the only goal came when the away team was playing with 9. Ze Luis scored the winner. CSKA was even less convincing, as they only managed to save a point in the game against the promoted side Yenisey. The striker Abel Hernandez scored the goal for them when when they were one man down. This was a round with several red cards.

The biggest surprise was the defeat of Lokomotiv Moscow against the other promoted side, Orenburg. In 3 games the champions have 0 goals scored and only 2 points. Orenburg is the early surprise of the season as they sit 3rd with 6 points.

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Weekend review Premier League

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If you were waiting for some surprises in Gameweek 1 of the Premier League you might be disappointed but the quality of the football was already very high and we were able to see already most of the players that were in the World Cup. It comes as no surprise that Liverpool and Manchester City are the real deal and the race for the title should be close between them both.

The reds started the season with a clear 4-0 win against West Ham, with Mohamed Salah scoring the first of the season and Sadio Mane becoming the first Liverpool player to score in three successive opening matches in the Premier League since John Barnes.  The Senegalese scored the 2nd and 3rd goal of the match. The substitute Daniel Sturridge also scored, needing only 1 minute on the pitch to put the ball in the back of the net. Jurgen Klopp and his team are already in quite good shape, Naby Keita impressed in the midfield. For Alisson we will need another game to evaluate him, but generally speaking Liverpool’s defense did great against a West Ham team that has a lot of quality players up front.

The sky blues were also quite impressive as they totally controlled Arsenal and beat them 0-2 at the Emirates. With Kevin de Bruyne still sitting on the bench, Bernardo Silva controlled the midfield of the Champions and the pace of Sterling and Mendy was just to much for an Arsenal that as expected cannot be fixed in one transfer window. The first game came after a nice individual effort from Sterling, and Bernardo scored in the second half, maybe in the period when Arsenal was actually starting to get better. It would be unfair to take a lot of conclusions from this new Arsenal when they played against the best team in the league. The game against Chelsea might give us a better idea on how Emery wants his team to be.

Comfortable win for Chelsea, Spurs had to suffer in Newcastle

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Despite the lack of transfer activity, the Spurs started the season with a good away win against Newcastle. It was a bit of a surprise to see Harry Kane starting, but certainly not a surprise that he did not score in this game in August. The Spurs started very strong the game and Jan Vertonghen’s header at the 9th minute put them ahead. That was a short moment of happiness as less than 3 minutes after Joselu headed in Matt Ritchie’s superb cross to equalize. But Tottenham continued pressing and on the 18th minute Dele Alli put the visitors back in front, after a good cross from Serge Aurier.  In the second half Newcastle was several times very close to score and they should feel a bit frustrated from not getting a point but they have a chance already next week, when they face the new promoted Cardiff.

More comfortable was the Chelsea’s trip to Huddersfield Town. With Hazard sitting on the bench and Willian on the starting 11, Chelsea started the game a bit slowly but got better and better as the game progressed. One thing we can be sure about this Chelsea: their season will mostly depend on how good Jorginho and Kanté will be together. I can’t see them having any rest or be rotated in the league this season. Sarri assigned Kanté to a slightly more advanced role, appointing Jorginho as the deep scavenger in Chelsea’s midfield trio and allowing Kanté to probe down the right, often combining with Pedro. Both, Kanté and Jorginho scored today and Pedro sealed the deal on the second half. For Huddersfield this should be another long season and David Wagner should have a statue if he manages to save them again.

Manchester United, Watford and Bournemouth get the job done at home

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Goals from Pogba and Luke Shaw guaranteed the first 3 points of the season for Manchester United. It is a bit ironic that two of the players who are so much criticized by Mourinho scored in the same game. Pogba had been handed the captain’s armband and maybe it was a ceasefire from Mourinho who later called him a “monster” with the impressive power of his performance after just a few days of training. United are not looking great at the moment but the same can be said about them last season and they still finished second.  Do not take for granted that they can’t at least do the same.

In Bournemouth the home team also got the job done with a goal from Ryan Fraser in the first half and another one of Callum Wilson close to the end of the game. Wilson also missed a penalty in between. It was not a great match but Bournemouth did show that they have a better options than Cardiff and with more or less troubles they should not get relegated. As for Cardiff, they took the decision of not going crazy in the transfer window and they know will be a hard task on not getting relegated. They did have possession but still were unable to mount a serious threat to Asmir Begovic’s goal. On the defensive side they also need to improve and be more solid if they want at least to fight for the survival until the end.

More impressive was the Watford home win against Brighton. They dominated the game from minute 1, did not allow Brighton to have any shot on goal and the opportunities to score just came one after the other. Roberto Pereyra and Holebas combined perfect with the first getting both goals from assists of Holebas. Argentinian midfielder finished last season in very good shape and he starts this new season the same way. As for Brighton, they had the worst away record in the Premier League last season, and looks like they will have to trust on a very strong home record to stay in the League.

Richarlison and Ruben Neves share the spotlights, Crystal Palace counterattack gets the job done

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Wolves – Everton was one of the games that people wanted to see of this gameweek 1 and it did not disappoint. Richarlison scored twice and he is set for another great start of the season, just as he did last year under Marco Silva. The Brazilian was substituted with a small injury but should be fine for the gameweek 2. On the other side Ruben Neves scored the 1-1 from a free kick and assisted Raul Jimenez for the final 2-2. The away side looked better despite Phil Jagielka being sent off close to the half time. Wolves players were a bit nervous in this comeback to the Premier League, something that might be considered normal as for most of those players was the first game in the best league in the World.

Less lucky was the return of Fulham to the Premier League as they lost to Crystal Palace at home. It was a very clinical away performance for Palace, who taught some lessons about the Premier League to the promoted side.

The Cottagers started as the better side on the pitch, dominated possession and got quite a lot of chances. We can even say that it was quite an impressive start to the home team. But as it is so well known, if you do not score, you always get the risk of losing the game, and this was what it happen. In the last minutes of the first half Palace started to set better their counters and Patrick van Aanholt found Jeffrey Schlupp, who smashed to the back of the net.  The second half was more of the same, huge pressure from Fulham, Palace defending as they could and with the time running, becoming more and more dangerous on the break. And it was on one of those breaks that Wilfried Zaha scored the second goal on the 79th minute. Despite the defeat the manager Slavisa Jokanovic told they will adapt but not change the offensive minded football they shown this week.

For last we have the only 0-0 of the gameweek 1 and maybe doesn’t come as a surprise that Burnley is involved on it. For most of the game they were the better side playing away against Southampton, with Gudmundsson creating a lot of problems with his crosses from open play and set-pieces. The home side might be on the way to another season fighting to avoid relegation and only in the last 15 minutes of this match we saw some quality from their side. In that period, Ings, Lemina and Stephens were close to score a late winner but Joe Hart saved the day. Burnley will have now their Europa League match against Istanbul Basaksehir.

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Image from https://www.premierleague.com/tables

Bayern wins the Super Cup in Germany, Barcelona does the same in Spain.

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Bayern Munich gets the first trophy of the season, with Robert Lewandowski scoring a hat-trick, the first ever in the German Super Cup. The German champions got their revenge after the surprising defeat in the German Cup final against this same Eintracht Frankfurt.

The game started very balanced but once again Lewandowski demonstrated how cynical he is in front of the goal. Joshua Kimmich had all the space in the world to place a perfect cross to the back post, where the Polish international had no troubles to finish. 5 minutes after Lewandowski scored the second from a corner and with 30 minutes the German Champions were already in a very comfortable position.

The second half was a walk in the park for Bayern and the goals came naturally. Lewandowski completed his hat-trick on the 54th minute, Coman scored 10 minutes after and Thiago Alcantara scored the last one in the 85th minute. Perfect start for Kovac as Bayern manager.

Late drama in the Spanish Super Cup

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Ousmane Dembele scored an amazing winner goal as Barcelona beat Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup. Barcelona was forced to come from behind after an early goal from Pablo Sarabia. At a first moment the goal was ruled out for offside then the video assistant referee changed the decision. Barcelona equalized still on the first half by Gerard Pique, who was in the right place to get a rebound and score.

Barcelona dominated all the second half but it was need a moment of magic from Dembele, with a 25 yards shot, so they would be finally up front. But there was still time for late drama, as Sevilla had a penalty in the 91st minutes. Ter Stegen brought down Aleix Vidal in the box but Ben Yedder hit a miserable penalty that was easily saved by the Barcelona goalkeeper.

This is the 6th Super Cup in 9 years for Barcelona and Messi hs now 33 trophies with the Spanish club. Impressive!

 

 

Saturday Football fever. Games to watch!

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What a great day of football today! The long Saturdays in front of the TV are back and the difficult is to select what to watch! Fortunately we got you cover with our selection of games that will make you travel to the Premier League, French Ligue 1 and Portuguese Primeira Liga.

13:30 (UTC+2) Newcastle – Tottenham

We start the day with a game between two teams who had a bit of a frustrating transfer window and for that reason both managers will have some extra work to do if they want to meet expectations.

The Spurs made history by becoming the first team not to sign a single player but they did sign a new contract with their star Harry Kane and they kept all their other stars. On the other side Newcastle fans are planning protests against the owner Mike Ashley.

Newcastle was one of the toughest teams to break at home last season and this should be a very close match. It can hardly be considered a surprise if the Spurs drop points today.

16:00 (UTC+2) Fulham – Crystal Palace

I’m really interested in watching this Fulham squad! They signed some very interesting names as Seri and Schurrle, Mitrovic moved on a permanent deal and they kept the hot prospect Sessegnon. Crystal Palace is always an exciting team to watch and I’m interested to see if Max Meyer is starting straight away. I feel this will be the game with most goals from the ones starting at 16:00 for the EPL.

18:30 (UTC+2) Wolves – Everton

Two high spending teams, two Portuguese managers, two teams who might need time to settle after so many transfers. The young Portuguese prospects Diogo Jota and Ruben Neves have now their opportunity to shine in the Premier League and Richarlison will be under pressure to deliver since day one, after the high fee that was paid.

20:00 (UTC+2) St Etienne – Guingamp

We will miss the first 15 minutes of this match but from the Ligue 1 this is the game I will follow. St Etienne ended last season really close to a Europa League spot (did not qualify due to the goal difference). They signed the Tunisian international Wahbi Khazri, player who had a really interesting World Cup. Guingamp come from a good pre-season and is a team who always finds some interesting players during the years. Drogba, Malouda and Candela for example appeared on a higher level on this Guingamp. This looks to be a team with a lot of experience but you know how it is in France. At any moment some kid from the Academy appears and takes the league by storm.

22:00 (UTC+2) Porto – Chaves

Just as the French Ligue 1, the Portuguese Primeira Liga is one of those who feeds the top Leagues for the last 20 years. This is also a league that several South American players use to start their adventure in Europe. FC Porto is the Champion and always a competitive team in the Champions League. They are a clear favorite against Chaves, but you can wait for a good and fast game and with some luck you will be also looking for some future signing of your team.

Premier League is back!

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Image from: https://sportsmancs.com

Great Friday for the football fans as we have the Premier League finally starting! And as if that was not enough, Ligue 1 (France) Eredivisie (Netherlands) and the Portuguese Primeira Liga are also having their start today.

In England Manchester United receives Leicester after a depressing transfer window. The Red Devils were desperately looking for a defender but in the end they did not manage to get a deal done.

The big game of this first round will be played in London next Sunday, when Arsenal receives the Champions Manchester City. The Citizens are again the favorites to win the League but they should have high competition from Liverpool this season.

Walk in the park for PSG, Benfica and Porto in a close race. PSV and Ajax doing the same in the Netherlands

In France PSG should win the title again despite the fact that Ligue 1 is getting better and better every year. With Monaco and Lyon selling some of their stars, I think this might be a good year for Olympique Marseille and I can see them finishing second this year.

In Portugal we should have a race between Benfica and Porto. Sporting is having a though summer, they lost William Carvalho, Rui Patrico and Gelson. Jorge Jesus also left his coaching position, so I don’t see them strong enough to fight for the title. In my opinion Benfica will be champion and Porto the runner-up.

Just like in Portugal, we traditionally have a race with 3 candidates where Feyenoord is the underdog. I look to the Ajax team this season and there is so much talent that is almost an obligation for them to become champions. PSV will need to make sure they don’t lose points with the smaller teams so they can follow Ajax and maybe surprise them. I don’t see that happening and i believe Ajax will be first and PSV second.

 

Champions League – Greek teams smile, Red Bull Salzburg almost qualified

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The qualifiers for the group stage of the Champions League continued today, and what a great evening it was! If in Austria, Red Bull Salzburg confirmed their superiority and demolished Shkendija (3-0), the other two games had drama from the start to the end.

In Greece, PAOK found themselves losing 0-2 before the minute 20 with a goal from Ivelin Popov and the other from the Dutch star Quincy Promes. The Russians were in a good position but they certainty did not wait for what was about to come. In the 29th minute Prijovic scored from the penalty spot and 8 minutes after Limnios scored the 2-2 after a great work on the right side of  Leo Matos. The Brazilian had an amazing first half and on the 44th minute he once again destroyed the Russian defense. His effort was saved by Maksimenko but Pelkas was in the right place to get the rebound and sent the ball into the back of the net. 5 goals in a crazy first half!

In the second half Spartak tried to react and on the 70th minute Promes had a golden opportunity to score from the penalty spot but the Greek goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis reacted superbly and denied the goal with an amazing save. 3-2 was the final score and the Greek will try to do in Moscow the same they did in Basel, score an early goal and put extra pressure on Spartak.

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Image from PAOK twitter: @PAOK_FC

In the other game with a Greek team fighting for a spot in the Champions League group stage, AEK Athens traveled to Scotland to play against Celtic. And just like it happened with PAOK, the first minutes were very tough, Celtic had a few chances and on the 17th minute Callum McGregor opened the score. The home team continued to pressure with tons of crosses and middle range shots. In the last 5 minutes of the first half AEK finally managed to get away from the pressure, with Helder Lopes as the main protagonist. First the Portuguese fullback saw his shot saved by Craig Gordon, but on the 44th minute he found Klonaridis with a perfect cross and the Belgian scored the 1-1.

The second half was more of the same, with Celtic attacking with all their heart. Things got even harder for AEK when on the 57th minute Galanopoulos was sent off after a 2nd yellow card in less than 10 minutes. The home team had several chances but a heroic performance allows the Greek side to go back home with the away goal advantage. Is also known that Celtic is a much better team at home, so this time they will need to be much better in Greece than what they usually are in the away matches if they want to go trough.

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Image from AEK twitter on: @AEK_FC_OFFICIAL