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Five talking points in European football this weekend

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Granada is surprise leaders in Spain, it was honoured even in the Ruhr derby, and Paris Saint-Germain again showed no mercy to old rivals Marseille in France, while there is a more familiar face on top in Portugal.

AFP Sport looks at five of the main talking points from around Europe over the weekend:

Granada make hay as Clasico postponed
La Liga’s two surprise packages maintained their early charge as newly-promoted Granada surged to the top of the table and Real Sociedad climbed into third.

The postponed Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona gave the chasing pack a chance to make up ground and they took it, with Atletico Madrid and Sevilla both winning too.

It means only two points separate first and sixth, the question now being whether Granada and Real Sociedad can keep pace and launch a sustained challenge for the top four.

Alvaro Vadillo’s goal gave Granada their third consecutive 1-0 win at home, this time against Betis. Their only defeat in their last eight matches came at Real Madrid and they are top of the table for the first time since the 1973/74 season.

Dortmund fail to fire in derby
It was honoured even in Germany’s Ruhr derby as Schalke held Borussia Dortmund to a goalless draw, but the hosts’ captain Alexander Nuebel claimed the visitors’ star-studded attack did not even try to find a way past him.

“It was difficult for Dortmund to score a goal because no one wanted to get into our area,” said the Royal Blues goalkeeper.

“If you don’t get into the danger zone, you won’t score goals. Their lack of ideas gives me a few worries,” said Sky pundit, former Liverpool and Germany midfielder Didi Hamann.

The result left Dortmund fifth in the Bundesliga, three points behind leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach and two points behind Bayern Munich in second.

Having been tipped to make a serious title challenge, the pressure is building on Lucien Favre, and Jose Mourinho is reportedly waiting in the wings if the Swiss coach is fired.

Marseille no rivals for PSG again
It is the biggest fixture in French football but it is a long time since Marseille have been real rivals for Paris Saint-Germain. On Sunday Andre Villas-Boas’s team were blown away, losing 4-0 at the Parc des Princes as their winless run in the ‘Classique’ stretched to 20 games.

Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe both scored twice for PSG, with all the goals coming in the first half. Neymar was again absent, but Angel Di Maria was once again outstanding, setting up two of the goals.

PSG are already eight points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after just 11 matches, while Marseille is seventh.

Serie A elite look jaded
Juventus, Inter Milan and Napoli all settled for Serie A stalemates after showing signs of fatigue on the back of Champions League victories.

Instead, it was Atalanta who was the weekend’s big winners, thrashing Udinese 7-1 to put their 5-1 drubbing at Manchester City behind them and move to within three points of leaders Juve.

“Everyone is paying for something in the Champions League,” said Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti after a 1-1 draw against lowly SPAL.

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri was unhappy with his side’s “scrappy” 1-1 draw against Lecce, which was missed by Cristiano Ronaldo.

“We needed to be a bit more determined and clinical,” said Sarri.

Inter are a point off top spot in second after being held to a 2-2 draw by Parma.

Famalicao’s fairytale run ends
Unheralded Famalicao saw their unbeaten start to the Portuguese season ended as they lost 3-0 on their short trip to face giants Porto on Sunday.

The newly-promoted side, who owe their rise to the backing of super-agent Jorge Mendes and Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer, has slipped to third in the table, two points behind Porto and Benfica after eight matches.

“The usual suspects share the leadership,” said sports daily A Bola on Monday morning, with reigning champions Benfica winning 1-0 at Tondela.

“We were completely outplayed,” admitted Famalicao coach Joao Pedro Sousa, previously the assistant to Marco Silva at Everton.


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