Bayern fume, Mbappe flies, Zlatan’s milestone: European talking points
Bayern Munich’s preparation for the Club World Cup was disrupted despite victory, Kylian Mbappe rediscovered his supersonic speed and Lionel Messi starred from the bench, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic notched his 500th club goal at the weekend.
AFP Sport rounds up some of the main talking points from across the continent:
Bayern fume at flight delay
Bayern Munich’s weekend started well, Kingsley Coman’s deflected strike securing a 1-0 win at Hertha Berlin on Friday as they maintained a seven-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga from RB Leipzig.
They then boarded a plane for Qatar in preparation for a night flight to the Club World Cup, but the necessary de-icing of the aircraft meant they were refused permission for take-off due to a ban on flights between midnight and 7:00 am.
That meant a departure seven hours later than planned, ruining plans to train on Saturday and hampering preparations for Monday’s semi-final against Al Ahly.
“Those in charge (at the airport) don’t have an inkling of what they’ve done to our team,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.
“Of course it was not optimal,” said Joshua Kimmich. “Nonetheless I think that we will be able to win the match.”
– Mbappe’s stunning sprint –
It was what made Kylian Mbappe so breathtaking when he first broke through but it was something that had not been seen so often this season. On Sunday the France star produced a stunning sprint to finish off a counter-attack and score Paris Saint-Germain’s opener in a 2-0 win at Marseille.
Mbappe’s run was clocked at an incredible 36 kilometres per hour, but he managed to slow down enough to control Angel di Maria’s pass and score his 16th Ligue 1 goal this season, as PSG stayed third, three points behind leaders Lille.
“The feeling is coming back because I am playing every game now,” said Mbappe, who was often on the bench in Thomas Tuchel’s final matches in charge but has hardly missed a minute under new coach Mauricio Pochettino.
“I am finishing games stronger. I am not so burnt out. It can only be a good thing.”
PSG’s Champions League last 16, first leg in Barcelona is just eight days away.
The return of super-sub Messi
The last time Lionel Messi came off the bench in La Liga, he was introduced at half-time and scored twice in a 5-2 win over Betis. On Sunday he again came on as a substitute against Betis, this time in the 57th minute. Moments later he scored Barcelona’s equaliser, and he then played a key part in their second before fellow substitute Francisco Trincao’s late strike secured a 3-2 win.
Messi was rested at the start along with Frenkie de Jong and Pedri, with coach Ronald Koeman appearing to prioritise Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semi-final, first leg at Sevilla, and with the PSG Champions League tie approaching too.
Barca, like Real Madrid, are seven points behind La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid, who have two games in hand and play on Monday against Celta Vigo.
Zlatan’s 500th club goal
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s brace was key in setting AC Milan on the way to a 4-0 win over Crotone that kept them two points clear of Inter atop Serie A, but it also saw the former Sweden striker reach a remarkable milestone. The goals were his 500th and 501st at club level since starting out with Malmo in 1999.
Now 39, he is in his second spell with Milan and his hoping to win a second Scudetto with the Rossoneri, after starring in their 2011 title triumph. Ibrahimovic scored 14 goals that season and already has 14 this season, in just 11 appearances.
Ozil unable to swing derby for Fenerbahce
Mesut Ozil made his second substitute appearance in five days for new club Fenerbahce but could not help turn Istanbul’s Intercontinental derby, as Galatasaray headed back to the European side of the Bosphorus with a 1-0 win.
Ozil had helped set up a goal in Fenerbahce’s 2-1 win at Hatayspor last Wednesday. Against Galatasaray, the ex-Arsenal man came on for the last 27 minutes with Fenerbahce already trailing.
It is shaping up to be quite a title run-in in Turkey, with Galatasaray, Besiktas and Fenerbahce all level on 48 points at the top.