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Talking points in European football this weekend

Barcelona won their first game under Quique Setien, Erling Braut Haaland enjoyed a dream debut with Borussia Dortmund and Juventus ominously extended their lead at the top of Serie A at the weekend.

Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo reacts at the end of the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Parma on January 19, 2020 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. (Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP)

Barcelona won their first game under Quique Setien, Erling Braut Haaland enjoyed a dream debut with Borussia Dortmund and Juventus ominously extended their lead at the top of Serie A at the weekend.

AFP Sport looks back at some of the main talking points from around Europe:

Setien’s Barca carry Guardiola hallmark
Quique Setien’s first game in charge of Barcelona ended in victory, but they needed a late Lionel Messi goal to beat 10-man Granada 1-0 at the Camp Nou and stay ahead of Real Madrid atop La Liga.

Barcelona dominated possession, with nearly 83 percent of the ball — more than in any game since Pep Guardiola’s days in charge.

But if that signalled a change in approach, chances were limited for a Barca side without the injured Luis Suarez.

It took the sending-off of German Sanchez midway through the second half and the introduction of the 20-year-old Riqui Puig to help turn the game the home side’s way before Messi struck.

“I would give us a B grade. We hope to improve, to above all become more fluid and do better with our finishing,” said Setien, who replaced the sacked Ernesto Valverde last week.

Haaland history-maker on Dortmund bow
Rising Norwegian star Erling Braut Haaland made history by becoming the first substitute to score a hat-trick on his Bundesliga debut as the 19-year-old inspired Borussia Dortmund to a 5-3 win at Augsburg.

Lucien Favre’s team were 3-1 down when Haaland came on in the 56th minute for his first appearance since a 20 million-euro ($22 million) move from Salzburg.

He promptly scored three times from his first three shots, becoming the first Bundesliga player to grab a debut hat-trick since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in 2013 — his treble also came for Dortmund against Augsburg.

“That was a dream debut. When I spoke to him, he just told me: ‘That’s what you bought me for’ — and it’s true,” said Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc.

It was a sixth hat-trick of the season for Haaland, who had already scored 28 goals in 22 games for Salzburg.

Inter’s ‘Lu-La’ have off-day
Inter Milan attacking duo Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez came up short in a 1-1 draw against Lecce which could prove costly for Antonio Conte’s title-chasers.

Lukaku has scored 18 goals in total in his first season in Italy, while he and Martinez together have accounted for 24 of Inter’s 41 league goals.

But the pair were frustrated by the relegation-threatened side from the heel of Italy, where Conte was born and where he began his footballing career.

“We needed to be more determined and ruthless,” admitted Conte. Just like Juventus were, perhaps, in beating Parma 2-1 thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo brace that moved the champions four points clear of Inter at the top of Serie A.

Has France seen the next big thing?
The country that produced the likes of Thierry Henry and Kylian Mbappe may have witnessed the emergence of its next big thing, as the 16-year-old Rayan Cherki dazzled in a 4-3 win for Lyon at Nantes in the French Cup.

Cherki scored twice and then set up two more goals, either side of winning a penalty that was missed by Moussa Dembele.

It was a stunning display from the youngster, who only turned 16 in August — neither Mbappe nor former Lyon star Karim Benzema had played a first-team match at his age.

“We know he’s a boy who has the ability to decide a match,” said Lyon coach Rudi Garcia.

Kompany shows his class
Vincent Kompany has endured a tough time this season since returning to Anderlecht, where he is captain and manager.

A 2-1 home defeat against runaway Belgian league leaders Club Brugge left Anderlecht ninth in the table, but the game was also marked by a touch of class from the ex-Manchester City man.

When a firecracker was thrown onto the pitch and exploded next to Brugge’s ex-Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, Kompany came across to remonstrate with his own team’s fans.

“Simon is a player for the Belgian national team. That comes before anything else. We are going through a difficult time, but we still have to show some class,” said Kompany.