After three long months of offseason question marks, the start of European football may have left fans with more questions than answers.
With 39 matches left to play in the Premier League, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1, let’s review what we learned from soccer’s opening weekend.
No Lewandowski? No problem, says Bayern.
Bayern Munich opened up the Bundesliga by thrashing Eintracht Frankfurt 6-1, and it really wasn’t even that close. Munich’s attack is frightening as always, with Sadio Mane scoring his first Bundesliga goal in only half an hour. It should be yet another Bundesliga title for the Munich by season’s end.
Union Berlin, SC Freiburg, and Dortmund look ready to battle for second.
Union Berlin and Dortmund (both featuring USMNT players) won their opening matches, with Berlin even getting a goal from American Jordan Pefok. SC Freiburg, who finished sixth in Bundesliga last season, began their new campaign by thumping a Ricardo Pepi-less Augsburg, 4-0. It’s too early to tell, but expect to see these teams battling for Champions League spots.
Very specific rules about what constitutes a handball.
Watching football can be a learning experience. I’ve played and covered soccer for a long time – I did not know that what happened above would be considered a handball. It makes sense, now that I see it – it’s all about the 18-yard box marker. Still, it was an odd moment, one that educated ignorant soccer fans like myself the world over.
Darwin Nunez and Erling Haaland are for real for real.I I
Not much else to say here. These guys are insane.
Man U and Ronaldo might be coming to a messy (pun unintended but allowed) breakup.
Ronaldo has wanted out of Old Trafford all off-season long. After an embarrassing loss to Brighton, a game that Ronaldo started on the bench, Man U legend Wayne Rooney, historically not Ronnie’s biggest fan, says they have to let the Portuguese striker go. It looks like the Red Devils still got some work to do.
Raheem Sterling is equal parts quality and comedy.
Chelsea’s new striker, former City man Raheem Sterling, is often noted for his, uh, unique style of running and play. Let’s just say he’s a bit flamboyant with his body.
(Here’s former Chelsea man Eden Hazard having a laugh about it years ago.)
Even though Sterling can be very funny to watch, he’s still an incredibly productive, top-level striker. He was Chelsea’s bright spot in an otherwise underwhelming win. But that photo above is really all you need to know about that game.
Leeds United, America’s Team, Got That Dawg in They Heart.
Who knew? I mean, we did, but we didn’t know they would be this good. Newly promoted Leeds United began their Premier League campaign with a come-from-behind win against a solid Wolverhampton Wolves team. Two USMNT players, Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson, played a solid full 90 under American coach Jesse Marsch, with Aaronson playing a pivotal role in the go-ahead goal. If you’re a USMNT fan not watching Leeds United, it might be time to start.
Tottenham looks scary (as long as they aren’t wearing their away jerseys).
Tottenham Hotspur opened up by smashing Southampton, and it probably won’t be the last time they smash someone. Conte has the Hotspurs looking very intense, with Son and Kane almost looking better than ever, if that’s even possible. It’s a long road to challenge City and Liverpool for the title, but Tottenham looks like they just might be ready.
Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal don’t look ready to challenge yet.
Liverpool managed to tie a recently promoted Fulham (good for them) on a comeback, thanks to stellar play from Darwin Nunez and Mo Salah (see above). Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in a game that was closer than the scoreline suggests, and Chelsea enjoyed a similar victory over Everton. Still, no one looked as ready as Man City and Tottenham to start the new season, and these other contenders clearly have some catching up to do.
Messi and Neymar are still Messi and Neymar.
Messi and Neymar will always be Messi and Neymar, regardless of what “league” they’re in. The competition here is soft at its absolute hardest, but hey, these guys are still really good. That bicycle was beautiful, so beautiful, in fact, that the other team’s crowd cheered him on.
Nobody will touch PSG in Ligue 1 this season – are they ready for the UCL? Probably not. But they seem ready to make it to at least the semi-finals again.
Meanwhile, in Catalonia…
Barcelona may not be able to register their new signings before La Liga starts next week, but that didn’t stop them from spanking Pumas in the most disrespectful ways possible.
What did you learn from kick-off weekend? Sound off below!
Featured Image: Pexels/Olya Kobruseva/Ligue1/Bundesliga/PremierLeague/DM