Five talking points in European football this weekend
AFP Sport looks at five of the main talking points from around Europe over the weekend:
Pressure back on Zidane
Real Madrid’s first La Liga defeat of the season on Saturday at the hands of Real Mallorca put the pressure back on coach Zinedine Zidane ahead of their crunch Champions League trip to Galatasaray.
Madrid cannot afford another slip in Turkey given they sit bottom of Group A, with only two points from two games.
Zidane’s heavily rotated line-up failed to fire against Mallorca. He will hope to have at least one of Toni Kroos, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric back fit again.
Madrid’s surprise loss was made all the more painful as Barcelona marched to their fifth consecutive win, 3-0 at Eibar. Goals from Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez got the ‘MSG’ attack up and running and sent Barca back top of the table.
Profligacy costs Bayern
It was a bad weekend for Bayern Munich, as the Bundesliga champions conceded a last-minute equaliser to draw 2-2 away to Bavarian rivals Augsburg, paying the price for missing a hatful of chances to wrap up the points.
After a 2-1 defeat at home to Hoffenheim just before the international break, this latest setback put pressure back on coach Niko Kovac and left Bayern third in the table, a point behind leading duo Borussia Moenchengladbach and Wolfsburg.
To add to Kovac’s woes, Bayern were dealt a major blow with the news that German international centre-back Niklas Suele will miss the rest of the season after suffering a serious knee injury in that game.
Monaco for glitz, glamour…and goals
Monte Carlo resident Novak Djokovic was in the stands on Sunday to watch his local team Monaco in action against Rennes in Ligue 1 and there were goals aplenty for the tennis world number one.
The principality side beat Rennes 3-2 at the Stade Louis II thanks to a stoppage-time Wissam Ben Yedder goal, his second of the game. In between, Islam Slimani also netted for Monaco. The duo has now combined for 13 league goals in total this season.
Only leaders Paris Saint-Germain have scored more goals than Monaco’s 18 in 10 Ligue 1 games this season. Yet Monaco has conceded 21, more than any other team. That explains why they are only 14th in the table.
Ajax surge clear of PSV
Ajax warmed up for their Champions League clash with Chelsea by opening up a three-point lead at the top of the Dutch Eredivisie after Quincy Promes crashed in a late strike to seal a 2-1 win at RKC Waalwijk.
Dusan Tadic had opened the scoring for the reigning champions, who remain unbeaten after 10 league games and are clear at the top of the table after PSV Eindhoven suffered their first defeat of the season in comprehensive fashion, going down 3-0 away at Utrecht.
Pioli sees ‘positives’ for Milan
Stefano Pioli insisted he saw “positives” that AC Milan could haul themselves back up the Serie A table despite his first game as coach ending in a 2-2 draw against Lecce.
Hakan Calhanoglu and Krzysztof Piatek scored in either half but each time Lecce responded with Marco Calderoni sealing a point for the southerners at the death.
“There were positives, but we can only blame ourselves, we wanted the win and didn’t get it because of our mistakes,” said Pioli after succeeding Marco Giampaolo, who was sacked after just seven games in charge.
“After only a few days of training, I did see some of the ideas we had worked on and that bodes well for the future, even if there is a lot of work to be done.”
The seven-time European champions are a lowly 12th in the table after eight games.
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