After the Bundesliga finally made its comeback on Friday night, we were treated to a range of matches yesterday with the pick of the bunch being a repeat of the season opener as Dortmund travelled to Mönchengladbach’s Borussia Park.
The Bundesliga is back! After an awfully long Christmas period, football in the German top flight returns. Before the main bulk of the fixtures tomorrow, we were treated to a match between Bayern and HSV in a clash which has panierved up some great Bavarian performances in past years.
Last night we saw a Coppa Italia match between two of the best-performing teams in the Serie A this season. Maurizio Sarri’s table-topping Napoli side played host to Roberto Mancini’s Inter Milan in a game which was characterised by two weak possession games. It took until late in the 2nd half for Inter to break the deadlock which itself was a long-distance shot following a failed attempt by Napoli to move the ball into the centre of midfield.
Not only was it the Catalan derby as Espanyol made the short trip to the Camp Nou, but we saw the long-awaited debuts of Arda and later Aleix Vidal as Barcelona won 4-1. The Turkish midfielder, signed from Atlético Madrid in the Summer, fit into the right side of the midfield trio as he took on a similar role to Ivan Rakitic with some slight changes.
After a weak start to the season, Juventus are back to performing at a high level and easily brushed past Hellas Verona yesterday. After the excellent Paulo Dybala opened the scoring with a free-kick, he then contributed to the 2nd with an assist for a Bonucci header. Substitute Simone Zaza rounded off the performance as he came off of the bench to add a third with a strong finish on a 1v1.
The 1998 World Cup final went down as one of the greatest days in French history as they won their first World Cup over a Brazil side containing legends such as Rivaldo, Cafu, Roberto Carlos and an (famously unwell) Ronaldo. The French team had their own players of similar stature too with the likes of Marcel Desailly, Lilian Thuram and eventual man-of-the-match Zinadine Zidane.
In Marti Perarnau’s excellent book ‘Pep Confidential’, the manager himself states he had two favourite performances from his time in the Catalonian city of Barcelona – A 2010 win against Arsenal and their victory over Neymar’s Santos in the Club World Cup match of 2011.
Borussia Mönchengladbach issued Guardiola’s first Bundesliga defeat of the season with a resounding 3-1 victory at home to the German champions. Schubert opted for a flexible 3-1-4-2 system over his more usual 4-4-2 which saw Granit Xhaxa act in a hybrid defensive role between the lines of defence and midfield.
After Bayern fell short to Gladbach, Tuchel’s men had a rare opportunity to close the gap at the top of the league on Saturday. Despite a tense final 5 minutes to the match, Dortmund were able to add to their win against Stuttgart through a late Kagawa winner.
Jurgen Klopp continued his excellent start at Liverpool with a 6-1 win over Southampton last night which saw the return of Daniel Sturridge in quite a rotated squad. Although their performance was perhaps not as good as the scoreline suggested, they still showed clear signs of improvement as they continue to impress following the German’s appointment.