Premier League pause, Real Madrid and Barcelona in form, VAR trips Juventus: Weekend review

The weekend in European football saw Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germaintake care of business in their respective league matches. Juventus, however, are looking off-kilter while Borussia Dortmund lost to RB Leipzig — led by a familiar face.

Meanwhile, the Premier League postponed its weekend matches as a mark of respect after the death of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96.

Here’s what you need to know about the weekend from Europe’s biggest leagues.

Vinicius, Rodrygo make up for Benzema’s absence

The one question mark looming over Real Madrid’s bid to retain their LaLiga title has been how the team would cope with an injury to captain and Ballon d’Or-elect Karim Benzema. Those doubts grew when the club chose not to sign a backup centre-forward this summer: could Madrid really go all season — in this atypical World Cup year — relying entirely on Benzema’s form and fitness?

With the 34-year-old now missing with a muscular injury that could keep him out for a month, Sunday’s 4-1 win over Mallorca was an answer of sorts. It didn’t exactly bolster Carlo Ancelotti’s argument that Eden Hazard can act as a suitable stand-in — he was anonymous in his hour on the pitch — but fortunately for Madrid, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes stepped up to provide the necessary firepower to take care of Mallorca in the second half.

Vinicius has now scored in five consecutive games for the first time in his career and already looks on target to better last season’s 17 goals in LaLiga. Rodrygo, meanwhile, is playing with a newfound confidence and maturity. Having set up Vinicius to make it 2-1, he wrapped up the game by scoring himself, a week after netting the winner against Real Betis.

If the two Brazilians continue their development into consistent, clinical finishers, Madrid won’t be banking on Benzema after all. — Alex Kirkland

Doubts on Bosz are back as Lyon flounders

What a horrible week for Lyon. Until Wednesday, their season had been really good with our wins and a draw in Ligue 1 to start the new campaign, new signing (but in his second stint) Alexandre Lacazette hitting the ground running straight away and manager Peter Bosz enjoying a few weeks with less pressure and less question marks over his future and his inability to take this team to the next level.

Boy, it didn’t last. The trip to Lorient on Wednesday evening looked like a trap but Lyon were still favorites and they crashed down badly with a 3-1 loss. They could not defend in Brittany and were blown away by the pace and power of the Lorient forwards. The problem under Bosz is that when the opposition is strong, Lyon can hardly defend well.

On Sunday, a reaction was expected away at AS Monaco, but we didn’t see it. It was another loss (2-1) and the defending was again the issue, as well as the lack of efficiency of the forwards. They conceded two goals on set pieces where they were all over the place in their marking and missed at least three big chances to score.

Bosz has been on the bench for just over a year and yet we can’t see much progress. Now the pressure is back on him, as it was back in January. — Julien Laurens

Leipzig show up when it matters against Dortmund

Remember just last week when we wondered if RB Leipzig were finished and Borussia Dortmund were looking every bit a contender after four one-goal wins in five Bundesliga games? Well, time to tear up the form book because Saturday’s 3-0 Leipzig win was an old-fashioned pasting, a 90-minute example of why the German top flight is arguably the most entertainingly chaotic league across Europe.

Everything that could have went right for the hosts, who casually changed managers in midweek — Domenico Tedesco out, former Dortmund boss Marco Rose in — and seemingly got a boost of insider knowledge from the incoming coach. A scripted set piece was coolly converted by Willi Orban after just six minutes and it was all Leipzig from there.


Janusz Michallik speaks after Gio Reyna was used as a substitute in Borussia Dortmund’s 3-0 loss to RB Leipzig.

The visitors couldn’t establish any control of the game, Timo Werner and Christopher Nkunku took turns creating space for the likes of Dominik Szoboszlai, and Dortmund just absorbed wave after wave of pressure, trying to escape with some dignity ahead of a midweek Champions League clash with Manchester City.

After Orban’s early goal, Szoboszlai made it 2-0 on the cusp of half-time when, having been given far too much space outside the area after Mohammed Simakan won possession around halfway, he simply thundered one from distance beyond a helpless Alex Maier. Substitute Amadou Haidara added a third in the closing minutes with Dortmund’s defense stretched and disinterested.

Unfortunately, the result only really benefits Bayern Munich, whose own sluggish start to the season has been masked by the flaws of the chasing pack. — James Tyler

Neymar, Messi combine for PSG magique

Paris Saint-Germain’s win over Brest was not a great game, and was the kind of match that is easily forgotten. PSG won 1-0 by doing the strict minimum, including seeing goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saving a penalty, four days after a Champions League win over Juventus and four days before a trip to Israel to face Maccabi Haifa in the same competition.

However, on Saturday Lionel Messi and Neymar connected for what could only be considered a magical moment that will stay in people’s minds for a long time. In the 30th minute, Messi received the ball 10 yards inside the Brest half. The Argentine looks up and sees the run of Neymar inside the left of the box. Then the first moment of magic happens: the long pass from Messi toward his teammate — exceptional, the accuracy, the spin on it.

The second moment of magic is maybe even more special: the Brazilian controls the ball magnificently with his right foot before half-volleying it with his left foot across goal.

A few seconds of pure genius from the two South Americans to give PSG another league win. — Laurens

Richter’s earth-shaking strike for Hertha

Saturday’s 2-2 draw between Hertha Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen won’t go down in history as a particularly memorable result — the two sides are 15th and 17th in the Bundesliga after six matchdays — but how about this goal by Marco Richter, eh?

This thumping, lumpen volley electrified the Hertha crowd and had the home side 15 minutes from glory, only for Patrik Schick‘s goal four minutes later to dampen the celebrations. That said, Richter rocked this. — Tyler


Watch the Game Highlights from Hertha Berlin vs. Bayer Leverkusen, 09/10/2022

Valverde’s solo effort pips Carrasco’s stunner

Cometh first-half stoppage time, cometh Federico Valverde. Yes, yes, Real Madrid have been acknowledged already, but Valverde deserves his own accolade for his equaliser against Real Mallorca.

With Mallorca a goal up and the half-time whistle imminent, the Uruguayan scored a brilliant solo effort to equalise. It had a little bit of everything: a driving run from deep inside his own half, the ability to soar between two defenders and then the technique to ping the ball into the top corner with his left foot from 20 yards.


Federico Valverdie equalizes for Real Madrid after scoring a brilliant goal with his left foot before halftime.

Sublime. That’s two goals and two assists in the past five games for a player who is becoming increasingly important to Madrid.

Oh, and an honourable mention for Yannick Carrasco, too, who scored a similar solo goal in Atletico Madrid‘s 4-1 win against Celta Vigo. — Sam Marsden


Yannick Carrasco goal 66th minute Atletico Madrid 3-0 Celta Vigo

Bochum seem bound for relegation

It was a horrible case of deja vu for Bundesliga strugglers Bochum on Saturday as they fell behind at Schalke 04 in the first half, clawed back to 1-1 early in the second half only to let it slide in the final 15 minutes, conceding twice to condemn them to a sixth defeat in six games to open the 2022-23 season.

Last year saw a similar run of form at the beginning, with five defeats in their first seven matches before a solid run of form in midseason (just five defeats between October and February) helped them establish a mid-table finish. This feels different: despite having more of the ball and as many big chances, the breaks all went Schalke’s way for their first win of the campaign.

The pressure’s well and truly on Thomas Reis to turn things around, with the visit of Cologne up next before the two-week international break. — Tyler

Despite VAR snub, Juve are struggling

Losing at PSG in the Champions League is one thing. Playing against Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Messi at the Parc des Princes is tough for everyone. However, Juventus drawing at home on Sunday to lowly Salernitana on Serie A play while being denied a late winner by VAR in a chaotic end is something else.

Juve will feel aggrieved by Arkadiusz Milik‘s disallowed goal from a corner kick in added time, with images showing that the review didn’t account for a Salernitana defender near the corner flag.

Nevertheless, Juventus were poor again, and they didn’t deserve to win considering their opponents were the better side for most of the game. Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri, who was sent off, has been unable so far to build anything since his return in Turin a year ago. They have no identity, no clear way of playing. Dusan Vlahovic is far too isolated unless Milik plays alongside him, which means more long balls hoofed at them or more crosses. Allegri also made some questionable choices again, such as taking off Filip Kostic when he was Juve’s best player.

Juve are eight in the table, after just two wins in their six league games so far. They may be only four points behind the leaders Napoli, but their form feels like they are in a bigger hole. — Laurens

Quick action saves a supporter’s life

This weekend’s LaLiga MVP wasn’t one player. It wasn’t even just one team. Instead it was the players, staff, fans and emergency services who came together to save the life of the supporter who suffered a heart attack during Barcelona’s win at Cadiz on Saturday.

Referee Carlos del Cerro Grande acted quickly to stop the match in the 82nd minute when he saw that something was amiss. Cadiz goalkeeper Conan Ledesma sprinted across the pitch to pass the Barca team defibrillator to the Red Cross crew treating the victim. Substitute Jose Mari carried a stretcher from pitchside, up through the crowd. Cristian Cornejo, a nurse and Cadiz season-ticket holder, was the first to help. Cardiologist Carlos Aranda — a Barcelona fan — was brought down from the stands to share his expertise. After 20 minutes of tension, the man was resuscitated.

His family say he’s now in a stable condition in hospital. The game resumed, and Barca won 4-0, but the altruistic actions by those who helped the victim were the biggest victory of the evening. — Kirkland


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