Another weekend of headlines, golazos and unpredictable finishes across Europe’s biggest leagues. From Real Madrid bossing Barcelona 3-1 in the Clasico, to Union Berlin continuing to be the surprise Bundesliga leaders, there was no shortage of drama.
ESPN correspondents Rob Dawson, Julien Laurens, Sam Marsden, James Tyler, Mark Ogden and Mike Wise break down the big stuff you need to know about the weekend.
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Jump to: Talking points | Best goals | Teams in trouble | MVP of the Weekend
Atleti move third in shadow of the Clasico
Most eyes were on El Clasico this weekend as Real Madrid beat Barcelona 3-1 to move top of LaLiga, which is just how Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone likes it. It has been a difficult start to the campaign for Atletico at times, especially in the Champions League, but things are coming together in LaLiga.
– Watch replay: Athletic Club 0-1 Atletico Madrid (ESPN+, U.S. only)
This weekend pitted them against third-placed Athletic Club at San Mames, a ground they had not won at in over five years. They produced a performance in the image of some of the best Simeone sides throughout the years, though, digging in to repel Athletic’s constant attacks and secure a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Antoine Griezmann. The victory lifted Atleti past their hosts and into third place on the ladder. All of a sudden they are just three points behind Barca, who hadn’t lost before this weekend in the league.
The goal was Griezmann’s 100th for Atletico and it came after his loan from Barca was made permanent this week, prompting an apology from the French forward after the game for the way he left the club in 2019 for Camp Nou.
“I know people want to hear it from me and I want to say I am sorry for any damage I caused,” he said. “But, more than anything, I want to apologise with effort on the pitch and nights like this.” — Marsden
Antoine Griezmann has apologised to Atleti fans for the “hurt” he caused them by leaving the club to join LaLiga rivals Barcelona. pic.twitter.com/2st0HQopuA
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 16, 2022
Paris stay unbeaten after classic Classique
It was not the most tense Classique in history, but this edition of the rivalry between Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille — the first of the 2022-2023 campaign — felt a bit like old times. It was a top of the table clash (or just about), with a red card, chances on both sides, some big tackles, some great moves and some outstanding performances individually (Neymar, Chancel Mbemba, Pau Lopez) — all staged in the resplendent Parc des Princes.
In the end, there was just one winner and it is always the same. Marseille had only won once in the last 25 encounters between the two teams and PSG extended that record to one in 26 on Sunday. The Parisians were worthy 1-0 winners; they were the better team even if l’OM caused them problems at times with their efficient press and aggression. Marseille defender Samuel Gigot took it too far and was sent off in the second half.
Neymar was once again the King of Paris and of France as the Classique is without a doubt the most important game in the country. The Brazilian was outstanding and scored the winning goal, setting the stage for a tantalizing reverse fixture at the Stade Velodrome at the end of February. — Laurens
Messi’s family’s reaction to his free kick hitting the underside of the crossbar 😮 pic.twitter.com/7fmGv2xrAq
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 16, 2022
BVB bring gifts to Union, who remain top of Bundesliga
It’s important to be a good guest when you’re in someone’s house; perhaps you bring a gift to dinner, or a nice bottle of wine to complement the spread. In Dortmund‘s case, they turned up at league-leading Union Berlin and saw fit to hand the hosts the game’s opening goal inside nine minutes, which helped “the Iron Ones” on their way to the comfiest of 2-0 wins that preserved their position atop the Bundesliga.
Was it necessary? Hardly: Dortmund rarely threatened despite having over 75% possession at the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei, which meant Janik Haberer‘s two goals in the opening 21 minutes were sufficient to take all three points. The first goal was the Dortmund gift, as Gregor Kobel‘s boot got stuck in the turf when trying to boot a backpass well down-field; his helpless slide left Haberer all alone to drift in and tap home from six yards out, even looking around for an assistant referee’s flag just to make sure he was in the clear to finish. Where his first finish required a gentle touch, Haberer’s second displayed his power as Dortmund failed to clear their lines and he thumped it through a crowd in the box from 25+ yards to leave Kobel clutching air.
Union Berlin are the Cinderella team this season across Europe’s five leagues and show no signs of slowing down — they’ve already taken seven points from three games against Dortmund, Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig, the presumptive three best teams in Germany — but there’s a long way left to run. Can they do over the next 24 games what they’ve done over the first 10? — Tyler
Shaka Hislop shares his disappointment with Borussia Dortmund in their 2-0 defeat to table-topping Union Berlin.
Sunday a sign of the times
No matter which team you support, a football fan will wear their club’s colours with pride. Being a “red” or a “blue” matters, in good times or bad.
But the creep of commercialism in the modern game now sees teams changing their historic colours for no reason other to justify the production of a change strip which has little or no connection to the club that happens to wear it.
– Liverpool 1-0 Man City | Premier League table | Upcoming fixtures
It is why Manchester City wore what appeared to be a pale imitation of a Borussia Dortmund strip at Liverpool, rather than their famous sky blue shirts which have never clashed with Liverpool’s red.
The same reason applies to Newcastle United choosing not to wear their traditional black-and-white stripes at Manchester United — again, no clash with the home team’s red — but instead opting to play in their controversial white and green outfit, which just happen to be the colours of Saudi Arabia, whose Public Investment Fund owns 80% of the club.
And then how about Arsenal wearing an all-black strip at Leeds when they have, for many years, worn their red and white shirts at Elland Road with no issue whatsoever.
All three of the games mentioned are classic fixtures that have long been woven into the fabric of English football, but the images of Sunday’s Premier League games will raise eyebrows in years to come with fans asking why on Earth their team played in such garish kits that only serve to devalue the brands they are trying to promote. — Ogden
Kyriakopoulos’ unbelievable volley
After scoring one of the goals of the season, if not the goal of the season already, Georgios Kyriakopoulos can send as many kisses and hearts to his wife, to Greece or to whoever and wherever he wants through the camera.
The Sassuolo left-back’s volley is one of the most beautiful, most pure, most powerful, most sensational strikes you will see all season. On a cross from Luca d’Andrea from the right, the 26-year-old hit the ball straight under the crossbar and Marco Sportiello in the Atalanta goal had hardly the time to see it, let alone react.
Sassuolo took the lead and, maybe because of the absolute beauty of the goal, they kind of switched off after that and conceded three minutes later and just after the break to lose 2-1. It is a shame to score a goal like that for nothing, but Kyriakopoulos and the ones who saw it will never forget it. — Laurens
A sensational finish from Giorgos Kyriakopoulos 💥 pic.twitter.com/em1kGcTk1I
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 15, 2022
Tillman sends a message to Berhalter
Malik Tillman has struggled to make an impact in the Scottish Premiership since sealing a season-long loan to Rangers from Bayern during the summer window, scoring just two goals in 14 appearances ahead of Sunday’s trip to Motherwell.
But with just over a month to go until the World Cup starts in Qatar, the United States forward boosted his chances of a place in Gregg Berhalter’s squad by scoring a wonder goal as Rangers bounced back from the midweek 7-1 Champions League humiliation against Liverpool with a much-needed 2-1 win at Fir Park.
Tillman, who played 66 minutes of the Liverpool defeat at Ibrox, opened the scoring against Motherwell early in the second-half by picking the ball up just outside the centre-circle in his own half and beating five defenders before netting one of the goals of the season.
Tillman had failed to score in any game for club or country since a goal against St Johnstone in mid-August, so he needed to end his goal drought quickly. And he did so in spectacular style to help Rangers on the way to a win that moved Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team to within two points of leaders Celtic. — Ogden
Malik Tilman with a supreme individual effort! 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/h5bGXICFaF
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 16, 2022
Lindstrom lifts one as Eintracht thrash Leverkusen
Eintracht Frankfurt did plenty to pump the brakes on the “Xabi Alonso Is An Amazing Manager Express” this weekend, chasing Bayer Leverkusen relentlessly en route to a 5-1 win. In the middle of that was the cheekiest of goals from Eintracht playmaker Jesper Lindstrom, a bit of decoration on top of a dominant display.
The Denmark international notched the third goal of a game that never seemed close, stealing in behind Piero Hincapie after a sloppy passage of play before calmly chipping it beyond a dazed and confused Lukas Hradecky from a narrow angle. It was eye-catching and emphatic despite being the gentlest of finishes. More, please! — Tyler
Salah is back, baby!
Fresh off of netting the fastest-ever Champions League hat trick midweek, Mohamed Salah confirmed his return to form by scoring Liverpool‘s winner against Manchester City on Sunday.
After pouncing on a mistake by Joao Cancelo, Salah kept his cool to finish past Ederson — not only securing a vital three points for Jurgen Klopp’s side but proving to the rest of the Premier League that reigning champions Man City are, in fact, beatable. — Wise
Alisson assist. Mo Salah goal. Reports of Liverpool’s demise, greatly exaggerated 🇪🇬👑 pic.twitter.com/tuZUEfaB4L
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) October 16, 2022
Teams in trouble
Hasenhuttl feeling the heat
Southampton got a draw against West Ham United on Sunday but, after 10 games, they’ve earned just eight points and occupy one of the Premier League’s three relegation places.
The Saints are without a win since August and, if they are going to pull clear of trouble, they really need to start taking advantage of their games at St Mary’s. They took the lead against West Ham but were pegged back by Declan Rice‘s second-half equaliser — the second time in three games that they’ve dropped points from a winning position.
Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is already under pressure and it will only increase if Southampton lose to in-form Bournemouth in their next game. — Dawson
A sorry week for the Blaugrana
Barcelona’s season has been turned upside down in the space of five days. After a draw with Internazionale left them on the verge of Champions League elimination on Wednesday, they were well beaten by Real Madrid in Sunday’s Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid won 3-1 in the end, although you got the impression they could have played at a higher tempo if they really needed to — but Barca never demanded it of them.
– Reaction: Ruthless Real show how far Barcelona have to go
Speaking to ESPN ahead of the Clasico, Barca midfielder Pedri conceded that the team are easily bruised when they concede. You could see that against Madrid as they went 1-0 and then 2-0 down in the first half. They will desperately need to pick themselves up mentally in the coming days — and huge improvements are needed in defence — because there are more difficult games on the horizon. Villarreal, Athletic Club, Bayern Munich and Valencia are all to come before the end of the month.
This is the first big challenge of coach Xavi Hernandez’s tenure. In his first season in charge, he could fall back on the excuse that it wasn’t his team; that the process would take time. After the club invested €150 million in the squad over the summer, the emphasis is now on him to deliver results. — Marsden
Steve McManaman and Ian Darke discuss Barcelona and Real Madrid’s performances in El Clasico.
Credit to O’Neil for Cherries resurgence
Since Gary O’Neil was appointed as caretaker manager of Bournemouth on August 30, his team are unbeaten after winning two and drawing four of his six games in charge.
Remember that this was a Bournemouth side who were smashed 9-0 by Liverpool in Scott Parker’s last game as manager but less than two months later, they are sitting ninth in the Premier League table after a 2-2 draw at Fulham on Saturday.
O’Neil couldn’t have done much more to prove he is the man to take the top job permanently and after such a positive run of results, there can be no doubt that the dressing room would be behind his appointment. — Dawson