European football is in full swing!
I’m excited as anyone for all leagues to be back not even a month after the end of the World Cup final and I will talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of all teams from this past weekend.
The Good: Liverpool. Their offense has clearly picked off where they ended up last season. What has been even more impressive is the defense. Virgil Van Dijk was a huge (no pun intended) acquisition in the January transfer window and has made a difference since. In the first two games, they have yet to allow a goal. Some of it may be due to Allison between the posts now, but Van Dijk has clearly become a top three center back in the EPL.
In Serie A, Atalanta was off to a hot start. Scoring the sixth most goals in the league last season, they are off to a great start with a 4-0 thrashing of newly promoted Forsinone. Midfielder Alejandro Gomez, who had a 6 goal, 10 assist output last season, is already one-third to his goal total with a brace and two assists in the victory. Atalanta has a tough season ahead balance domestic and attempting to qualify fr Europa league. Should they progress in the competition, they will have to figure out what’s more important moving forward.
In La Liga, the biggest question is how different would Real Madrid look without Cristiano Ronaldo, who went scoreless in his debut for Juventus. Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, and the young talent surrounding Julen Lopetuegi’s inaugural season at the helm is a tough ask. Bale was up for the challenge, scoring a goal in the second half, leading Madrid to a 2-0 win over Getafe. During the pre-season tour, new signing Vinicius Junior impressed enough for Lopetuegi to keep the 18 year old on the bench for the opener. When will the 45 million dollar Brazilian prodigy make an impact in the Spanish capital?
Moving to Ligue 1, Kylian Mbappe came off the bench for defending league champion Paris St. Germain. After a phenomenal performance and was clearly a game changer against Guingamp, has this become Mbappe’s team, especially after being France’s best player on the way to winning the World Cup this summer?
The Bad: Arsenal has had a tough opening games with back to back losses to Manchester City and Chelsea. Playing a West Ham, who is also off to a rocky start, may help them bounce back. But the worst performance of the weekend has to be Manchester United shocking 3-2 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion. United has had problems all summer, mostly with the rough relationship between manager Jose Mourinho and captain Paul Pogba. Even with legends criticizing Pogba for his lack of urgency, Mourinho may be the first manager to go if they are not more competitive in all competitions this season.
In Serie A, Inter Milan is the team that is supposed to go toe-to-toe with Juventus for the league crown this season. However, a shock 1-0 defeat to Sassuolo was not the start many were expecting to start the campaign. Sassuolo has had Inter Milan’s number in the last few seasons, so this should not be that big of a surprise, but the team has invested heavily to be more competitive.
The Ugly: La Liga has signed a 15 year deal with Relevent, a company that operates the summer International Champions Cup, which will have one game from the league to be played in the United States. It seems that the players are not happy with this decision. Captains and players met to discuss the change that will go into effect as early as this season, and they have not ruled out a strike. In the hopes to expose the league to various audiences around the world, this appears to have come at the expense of a divided league. No official announcement has been made as to which teams are coming over, but Real Madrid and Barcelona are two of the biggest clubs in world football. Don’t be surprised if one of the two giants comes to play a game in the years to come, if the players don’t go on strike.