The first of a new series on Back Page Football looking back on the week’s action from around Europe, eyeing a couple of select leagues, the heroes and villains, some of the best goals, most entertaining games and other similar nonsense.
That was the week
Premier League: It’s been an interesting week in football, beyond the realms of the English version where Chelsea continue to dominate, comfortably pushing away Blackpool in a 4-0 victory which was sealed at half time. Staying in the top tier for a moment, Manchester Utd overcame the previous week’s disappointment by defeating Liverpool 3-2, but it seems to be less than triumphant as it once was as Liverpool continue to slide down the challenger rankings United have to deal with. The scoreline flattered Liverpool to an extent, a Steven Gerrard double from set pieces kicked off a mini revival, but the magic of a rejuvenated Dimitar Berbatov sealed the three points for United. This week’s Premier League talking points are dealt in more detail by Eamonn, here.
Championship: step down now and Roy Keane’s Ipswich continued their impressive form at the weekend which sees them in second place of the Championship, beating a Craig Bellamy-less Cardiff City 2-0. The Tractor Boys ran home easy winners with a second half double, first an own goal from Adam Matthews before Jason Scotland hit second since joining from Wigan. Elsewhere in the league, the summer’s title favourites Middlesbrough got back into winning ways with a 3-1 victory over Reading, while Watford hammered Milwall 6-1 at The New Den. League table.
La Liga: In Spain, title holders Barcelona picked up six points from six as they defeated Atletico Madrid and Sporting. On Sunday night, Lionel Messi and Gerald Pique were on target to pick up the points at the Vicente Calderon, while David Villa’s goal last night against Sporting earned them three points in what was otherwise a lethargic display. League leaders Real Madrid also ensured maximum points in their two games this week, beating Real Sociedad on Saturday night in a thriller. Angel Di Maria struck first with a pearler on his left foot. Cristiano Ronaldo sealed the win after Raul Tamudo equalised for the home side. On Tuesday night, Madrid swept past Espanyol – with goals coming from Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain. Despite losing their two biggest names in the summer, Valencia sit second in La Liga having picked up four points this week.
Bundesliga: In Germany, all eyes were on Shteve McClaren’s Wolfsburg to see if they could pick up a much needed second league victory to take them out of the bottom five. New signing Diego and the much coveted Edin Dzeko were on target to ensure a 2-0 victory over Hannover 96. Bayern Munich were held to a scoreless draw at home to Cologne, while Mainz continued their unbelievable unbeaten start to the season, a 2-0 win over Werder Bremen making it five from five. Borrusia Dortmund sit second in the table, taking three points away to Schalke in a 3-1 game. So far, Bundesliga is definitely the most intruiging and unpredictable league Europe’s elite has to offer.
Goal of the Week
There was only going to be one winner; Dimitar Berbatov’s audaciously creative overhead kick against Liverpool on Sunday. A nod to Angel Di Maria’s strike, as well.
Player of the Week
It was hard not to look at Dimitar Berbatov, but we did. This week’s player of the week comes in the form of St. Etienne striker Dimitri Payet who scored a brace in a 3-0 victory over Montpellier. That brings his tally up to six now for the season, as the once great powerhouse of French football sits on the peak of the league table.
Villain of the Week
Tomas Ujfalusi (Atletico Madrid), for his reckless tackle on Lionel Messi in the dying minutes of Barcelona’s 2-1 win.
Match of the Week
There were plenty to choose from from around the leagues, but I’ll go with last night’s Carling Cup thriller at Stamford Bridge where Newcastle lost a 3-1 league to Chelsea before a last minute winner from Shola Ameobi meant Newcastle went through 3-2 victors. Chelsea lined out a relatively young side, while Newcastle also rotated quite a bit. Patrick van Aanholt struck first early on before Nile Ranger, Ryan Taylor and Shola Ameobi put the Magpies into a surprising 3-1 lead. A Nicolas Anelka brace, the second from the penalty spot, brought Chelsea back into the game but Ameobi’s second in the final minute won it for the visitors.
What to watch
Manchester City v Chelsea – 12:45 on Saturday
AS Roma v Inter – 7:45 on Saturday
Lyon v St. Etienne – 8:00 on Saturday