As fall comes upon us, the greatest sports season is in full force. Yes, football, or as assholes call it soccer, has already started and we’re three weeks behind. Thank the Lord that someone has given me a place to put all my very important thoughts for others to read, and I have LMBF to thank for that. In an effort to catch you up on what’s going on, I’ll give you quick update on each one of the big 5 (BPL, Ligue Un, Spanish Primera Division, Seria A, and Bundeliga) and then the wrap up of what happened in the most recent week.
We start our journey in the most competitive football league in the world, the British Premier League. A lot has happened since Leicester won the league last year. Jose Mourinhio has returned Machester United to a competitive team again, with help from two A class players named Zlatan and Paul. Chelsea has decided to play for their coach again, and it seems as Antonio Conte has somehow wrangled the bucking bull that is Diego Costa and turned him back into a scoring machine, for now. Liverpool continues to claw back into importance in the league under the direction of authentic manager Jurgen Klopp. Leicester has yet to win its first game, even though it somehow managed to keep the bulk of the talent that won them the league last year. Arsenal has done as much this season as it has in the transfer market, so just about nothing. Everton has began its post Tim Howard life strong, and finally, Manchester City has been scoring at will and dominating opponents. The league itself made news, spending 1.15 billion pounds on the transfer market which ended today. This is all influenced by the new TV deal that left the league flush with cash
Game of the Week: Now onto the week three, and an exciting week it was. Manchester United experienced its first test of the season against a tough Hull City team. In the first half, there was no intensity in the team and it seemed like the easy wins in the first two games had caused a lack of interest in this one. That all changed when the Special One swapped out Martial with the 18 year old phenom, Marcus Rashford, and continued to exchange Juan Mata with another one of his summer purchases, Mkhitaryan. The second half was all Manchester as they pressed while Hull sat back, almost parking the bus. The breakthrough happened in the 92nd minute when Rooney put a nice move on the outside back and delivered a ball into the substitute Rashford who put away the game winner.
Other Notable Games: Liverpool and Tottenham faced off in a tough grudge match. Liverpool clearly won the first half, while Tottenham finished strong in the second leading to a 1-1 draw. Chelsea won handily against Burnley FC, pressing the entire first half where they scored 2 goals, finishing the game with a total of 3 and shutting their opponents out, earning Curtois his first clean sheet of the season. Manchester City continued its strong form on the season, scoring two goals to start the game. West Ham tried to climb back in, slotting home a goal and coming within one, but it was Raheem Sterling who had the last laugh, scoring a late goal to seal the 3-1 victory. Arsenal got its first win by beating a weak Watford team on the road. They dominated the whole game, scoring three goals in the first half and finishing out the game with a 3-1 victory, a bright spot in an otherwise dull season thus far.
Spanish Primera Division:
With a lot of talk linking Real Madrid with Paul Pogba, who ended up going back to his original club the Red Devils, it was Barcelona who made the most news in the transfer window. Barcelona selling and buying a variety of roll players, like Samuel Umtiti, Jasper Cillessen, Lucas Digne, and most recently, Paco Alcacer. Athletico Madrid dipped its feet in the transfer pool, bringing in some talented players like Kevin Gameiro and Nicolas Gaitan. Although not creating quite the stir that it had planned, Real Madrid brought back risisng star Alvaro Morata from Juventes. Perhaps the biggest news coming out of the Spanish League this summer? Messi’s hair and Ronaldo’s knee. The Argentinean striker made news bleaching his hair after another heart wrenching Copa America defeat to Chile. Ronaldo had a much more successful summer, leading his team to the Euro Cup finals, yet leaving early with a knee injury. His Portuguese side continued on to the victory with their captain watching painfully from the side.
Game of the Week: Barcelona faced off on the road against a tough Athletic Bilbao side. After starting the season with a 6-2 victory at home against Real Betis, they were faced with a much tougher challenge this week. It was a very competitive game through out. Barcelona opened up the scoring in the 20th minute after a brilliant display of passing between Messi and Turan, and finishing off with Rakatic heading the ball home to take the lead. The remainder of the first half had chances for both teams, with Turan and Suarez missing opportunities. The second half was slower as both teams exchanged blows, however the game finished with Barcelona taking the 1-0 win away from home.
Other Notable Games: Athletico Madrid continued its slow start out of the gate, tying a weak Leganes team 0-0. French star Antoine Griezman was invisible the entire game, perhaps still upset about losing out on the European Player of the Year award to Ronaldo. A short staffed Real Madrid squeaked out a 2-1 victory against Celta Vigo. A perfectly placed, low shot by Toni Kroos sealed the victory for los blancos as they wait for Kareem Benzema and their Super Star Ronaldo to return to form.
League champions Juve had quite the transfer season, selling stars Paul Pogba and Alvaro Morata to their respective original clubs for a whopping total 150 million euro. In return, they brought in the likes of Mirolam Pijanic from rivals Roma and Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli for the Italian record transfer of 90 million Euro. They also brought in Marko Pjace from Croatia for another 23 million. Napoli used some of the money they gained this transfer window on young Polish international striker Arkadiusz Milik from Ajax. Roma stayed relatively quiet this window, making a purchase of Staphan El Shaarawy.
Game of the Week: Napoli continued its post Higuain life facing a tough AC Milan team at home. New signing Milik is proving his worth as he slotted home 2 stellar goals in the first half. AC Milan did not roll over and clawed back to even the score. M’baye Niang sprinted past his defender on the outside and hammered home a goal, while Suso scored a left footed screamer from far out in order to bring the game level early in the second half. Napoli, however, recomposed themselves and Jose Callejon scored one in the 74th minute to take back the lead. Things then turned ugly for AC Milan as Juraj Kucka earned his second yellow of the game with an ill timed tackle on Dries Mertens and was sent off. Things only got worse as goal scorer M’baye Niang was sent off in the 87th minute for his second yellow after he pulled down the Napoli keeper. Jose Callejon scored one more goal before the final whistle to finish the game 4-2.
The biggest news coming out of the French league this year was the departure of their beloved superstar, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The now Manchester United forward has left a huge hole in many French fan’s hearts. The big winner out of this whole situation would be Edison Cavani, who will finally be able to play the sole striker role he has been dying to play since being purchased three years ago. PSG recently made news by selling David Luiz back to his former side, Chelsea, which confirms that they will be looking to Marqunhio to step up and fill the hole left by his Brazilian counterpart. Not only sellers this transfer market, PSG bought Polish center defensive mid Grzegorz Krychowiak from Sevilla. The rest of the league unsurprisingly made few moves, perhaps the biggest being the departure of Mandanda from Marseille while LOSC brought in Portuguese striker and Euro Cup hero Eder.
Game of the Week: With all eyes on PSG post Zlatan, obviously the game of the week would have them involved. PSG travelled to Monaco to play a tough game on the road. From the start, AS Monaco clearly came to show up the Parisian side, dominating the first half. With excellent displays of passing throughout the half, it wasn’t long before the Monaco side scored a goal. Joao Moutinho scored first in the 13th minute, and Monaco doubled down with a Fabinho penalty in the 2nd minute of stoppage time. Edinson Cavani gave his team hope in 63rd minute with a brilliant goal that seemed to give his side just a little bit of life. However, that energy was stomped out by a Serge Aurier own goal in the 80th. Monaco went on to finish the game, stunning the favorites for the league cup, 3-1.
Rest of the League: With a week filled with ties, few big news games happened in the French league. The week started off with Marseille taking care of business at home against a weak Lorient side, winning 2-0. A shocker of the week was Lyon losing to Dijon FCO. The Lacazette side put up 2 goals, however that was not enough to beat the Dijon side that scored 4 to top off a relatively unexciting week of French footie.
Plenty of turnover at the top of the table in the German league this past summer on more than just one team. Starting off with last year’s champions, Bayern Munich, we saw a lot of interesting moves. Perhaps the biggest news would be bringing in German center back Mats Hummels from rival side Borussia Dortmund. They also brought in Portuguese youngster and talk of the Euro, Renato Sanchez, even before he made a name for himself on the international stage. Although they brought in some serious talent, they said goodbye to center mid and German world cup hero Mario Gotze who just hasn’t been able to mesh with the Bavarian side. Moving to Borussia, in addition to Gotze, they also brought in former Chelsea winger Andre Schurrle. Mostly sellers this transfer season, they said goodbye to the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ilkay Gundogan, and Jakub Blaszczykowski.
Game of the Week: The season started this week for the Germans, and Bayern Munich came out strong under new Manager Carlo Ancelotti. The Bavarians started out extremely quick, with Xavi Alonso scoring only 9 minutes into the game. The Polish Hammer, aka Robert Lewandowski, picked up where he left off last year, scoring the next two in the 13th and 46th minute. Captain Philip Lahm got in the scoring mix as well, finishing a wonderful scamper into the box with a screamer across the face of the keeper, who really had no chance. Frank Ribery, someone we really haven’t heard of very much of recently, got into the scoring mix in the 73rd minute with a laser from the penalty spot off a cross from Thomas Muller. Lewandowski finished his hatrik in the 77th minute at the Penalty spot. This capped off a 6-goal start from the obvious favorites for the German league cup.
Rest of the League: Dortmund began its season against a Mainz 05 side, a game everyone was expecting them to win. Aubamayang scored 2 in the 2-1 victory over their opponents, which begins an interesting match up for the golden boot between himself and Robert Lewandowski. Wolfsburg started slow out of the gates, stumbling in its first game against an average FC Augsburg team. They started the game, and in turn the season, on the wrong foot giving up a goal in the first minute to Finnbogason. They gave up another goal in the 57th minute to Alintop, and they were unable to recover, losing 2-0.
Well, now that we are all caught up in the leagues, we have a lot to look forward in what looks like an exciting year in European football.