THE WEEKEND REVIEW
El Clasico delivers….and so much more…
This was obviously the game of the weekend in more ways than one. Real Madrid, and by extension, Julen Lopetegui, were under immense pressure to get back to winning ways. That obviously did not happen. Barcelona coasted to a very huge victory (Luis Suarez getting a hat-trick) and for most of the game (apart from 15 minutes in the second half), Real Madrid were devoid of any structure. For a team that seemed set up to soak up pressure and hit on the counter, the space afforded to Barcelona in the final third was a lot and there was no way that they would not be punished. Admittedly, the game could have turned out differently if Luca Modric had scored and not hit the upright to make it 2-2. At the end of the day, Real Madrid was in woeful form prior to the game, Real Madrid was woeful in the game and duly lost 5-1, and inevitably, heads had to roll. Or more specifically, a head had to roll: that of Lopetegui. What a very strange four months he has had; jumping ship from the Spanish National Team, a team that had the potential to actually win the World Cup, joining Real Madrid and then getting kicked out after only 14 games in charge. Then there is Real Madrid. Where next for them? Watch this space.
Ronaldo crucial in Juventus win.
On paper, this should have been a relatively easy win against a struggling Empoli side. But that is not what happened. Empoli took the lead with a fine goal from Caputo and led until the second half. Juventus equalized via a Ronaldo penalty and then added a second through a scorcher from (guess who): Ronaldo. Last week, Allegri complained about his team not scoring enough goals. He can however be thankful that Ronaldo has finally found his scoring touch at the right time.
Manchester City win against Tottenham..
The game was not as dull as the Manchester City- Liverpool one (it was close), but you just get the sense that this Manchester City team are more effective at the back this season, even when they are not scoring a lot of goals. Admittedly, Tottenham was without Jan Vertonghen, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen were on the bench due to fitness issues. Tottenham was in the game till the dying minutes and Eric Lamela was especially guilty of missing a golden opportunity. Manchester City managed to hang-on to a 1-0 win. Nobody is talking about City but they have not conceded a Premier League goal since the first of September. Now that is impressive.
Arsenal does not make it twelve in twelve…
Away at Selhurst Park, Arsenal could not make it twelve straight wins as they had to come from a goal down, lead in the second half, then concede a second penalty (a bit controversial) to settle for a draw. Ultimately, it is a step in the right direction for Arsenal even if some quarters may see it as two points dropped. The real test of their improvement comes against Liverpool next weekend, a team who is joint top of the Premier League.
Posted by: Abiodun Motunrayo
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