The last footballing weekend was LIT with excitement, pure drama and entertainment, as teams and players provided all sorts of talking points across the major leagues in Europe.
Right from the Premier League in England where Old Trafford outfit Manchester United won away to Leeds United at Elland Road but not without raising fears when they let a two-goal lead slip in just over a minute, to the title race being blown wide open – courtesy of Tottenham Hotspurs, to emphatic victories recorded in the German Bundesliga by Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich, to the Spanish La Liga where defending champions Atletico Madrid snapped their three-match losing run to win away at Osasuna.
Apex Football was not left out of the action and we shall explore our own Top Five major points from last weekend. Here they are!
A. LIVERPOOL ARE THE BIGGEST BENEFICIARIES OF MANCHESTER CITY’S DEFEAT TO TOTTENHAM HOTSPURS: When Liverpool went down first against relegation candidates Norwich City courtesy of a Milot Rashica effort in the 48th minute, it looked like the Canaries might have something up their sleeves but all their hopes were dashed as the Reds responded through Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and a maiden strike from winter signing Luiz Diaz to earn a 3-1 victory at Anfield.
But the real drama took place hours later at the Etihad Stadium, as visiting Tottenham Hotspurs claimed a surprising 3-2 win to snap their three-game losing streak in the league. January signing Dejan Kulusevski notched his first goal for the Lilywhites and a brace from the talismanic Harry Kane ensured that Ilkay Gundogan and substitute Riyad Mahrez’s efforts were all in vain for Pep Guardiola’s side.
The defeat meant that City only lead closest challengers Liverpool by just SIX points in the title race, which could further reduce to three points – if the Reds overcome Leeds United later this week in their rescheduled game.
B. CRISTIANO RONALDO AND HARRY MAGUIRE “SUPPOSED” POWER TUSSLE: In the build-up leading to the fixture between Leeds United and Manchester United last Sunday, the attention centred on Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo and club skipper Harry Maguire over a seeming shift of power in the dressing room.
Reports stated that Ronaldo wanted the captaincy for himself but those rumours were quickly squashed by interim manager Ralf Rangnick and Harry Maguire himself. On to the pitch at Elland Road, the Red Devils coasted to a 4-2 win with Maguire netting the first goal while Ronaldo featured for 85 minutes. Nothing showed that the pair were having issues of any kind.
C. JOSE MOURINHO’S RED CARD AGAINST HELLAS VERONA: AS Roma boss Jose Mourinho has had a storied career it must be said and it took another dimension last weekend when his Roman Army welcomed Hellas Verona to the Stadio Olimpico.
The hosts got off to a dreadful start as midfielder Antonín Barák took advantage of a loose ball, before slamming home into the roof of the net for his 10th goal of the season with just five minutes gone, and things quickly went from bad to worse as Adrien Tameze doubled Verona’s lead in the 20th minute. The second half was a different story entirely as teenage sensations Cristian Volpato and Edoardo Bove who were both subbed on, struck the first goals of their careers to help Roma come from two-goals down to draw 2-2 with Hellas Verona.
The drama reached boiling point when Jose Mourinho was given his marching orders before the final whistle, as Roma remain in seventh place on the log and are just four points apart from Hellas Verona who are in ninth place.
D. AUBAMEYANG UP AND RUNNING IN LA LIGA: When Gabonese hitman Pierre Emerick Aubameyang swapped North London side Arsenal for Catalonia-based outfit Barcelona, a couple of analysts still reckoned that the 32 year-old was more than capable of getting the goals for coach Xavi Hernandez’s team.
Sunday afternoon was one to remember for Aubameyang as he notched his first goals for the club in his first La Liga start for the Catalans. Auba struck a hat-trick as Barcelona thrashed Valencia 4-1 at the Mestalla Stadium to revive their chances of making the Champions League next season.
E. SERIE A – THE LEAGUE NO TEAM WANTS TO WIN: Over the weekend, we envisaged that the big teams would do the business needed in order to get a step closer to winning the Serie A title, but as the time of penning this piece, ALL the TOP TEAMS DROPPED POINTS on Matchday 26.
It all began on Friday night when Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw at the Allianz Stadium to vising Torino in the latest edition of the Turin Derby, while AC Milan were also held to a 2-2 draw away at newly-promoted Salernitana.
It didn’t end there as Lazio played out a 1-1 draw at Udinese, Fiorentina stunned high-scoring Atalanta 1-0 in Florence, AS Roma drew 2-2 with visiting Hellas Verona while defending champions Inter Milan endured an embarrassing 2-0 defeat at the San Siro Stadium to bogey team Sassuolo.
The latest round of FREAK results by every big team in Italy sees AC Milan top the standings in Serie A, though Napoli have a glorious chance to usurp the Rossoneri if they can overcome Cagliari on Monday night.