Barca safe Xavi’s first trophy as supervisor: Weekend Review

One other weekend of European soccer is within the books and, as soon as once more, there may be drama in every single place you look. Barcelona have lifted the Spanish Supercopa, humiliating Actual Madrid within the course of, whereas Arsenal, Manchester United and Napoli all secured assertion wins.

ESPN correspondents Julien Laurens, James Tyler, Rob Dawson, Alex Kirkland and Sam Marsden break down the massive stuff it is advisable know in regards to the weekend.

Leap to: Speaking factors | Greatest targets | Groups in bother | MVP of the Weekend


Speaking factors

Xavi wins first Barca trophy

Clasicos usually draw drastic conclusions and Sunday’s Spanish Supercopa ultimate in Saudi Arabia was no totally different as Barcelona brushed Actual Madrid apart. Barca are again on observe after Gavi impressed them to the primary trophy of Xavi Hernandez’s administration period, whereas questions can be requested of Carlo Ancelotti’s Actual Madrid following their bumbling return from the World Cup break.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, extra (U.S.)

Barca had been good worth for his or her 3-1 win on the King Fahd stadium. Gavi — nonetheless 18, keep in mind — scored one and made targets for Robert Lewandowski and Pedri as Barca took aside Madrid, who replied by a late Karim Benzema comfort. The efficiency was good and, past the importance of a primary piece of silverware in virtually two years, will encourage perception that sustained success can return underneath Xavi with a younger squad hungry for extra trophies.

As for Madrid, they didn’t appear like the reigning LaLiga and European champions throughout an error-strewn show. Coach Ancelotti didn’t just like the suggestion his facet had been humiliated by Barca however did concede to having issues about kind. Madrid scraped previous Valencia on penalties within the semifinal and misplaced to Villarreal final weekend to drop three factors behind Barca on the high of the league. In simply over a month, they journey to Liverpool within the Champions League. — Marsden

Actual Sociedad declare Basque bragging rights

The noisiest recreation in Spanish soccer this weekend wasn’t the Supercopa ultimate in Riyadh. It was 1800 miles north-west, as Actual Sociedad beat Athletic Membership 3-1 in a raucous Basque Derby to consolidate their place because the third-best group within the nation proper now. La Actual have gained 19 of their 26 video games this season between LaLiga, Copa del Rey and Europa League. It is the most effective begin to a marketing campaign of their historical past. And that is regardless of dropping Alex Isak to Newcastle for a membership report €70 million charge earlier than the season began after which seeing his alternative, Umar Sadiq, dominated out with a cruciate ligament damage.

This La Actual group is filled with gifted gamers. Midfielders Mikel Merino and Brais Mendez are having excellent seasons and star ahead Mikel Oyarzabal will solely get higher now he is again from a cruciate damage of his personal. However Saturday’s derby win on the Reale Area was impressed by flying winger Take Kubo.

– Lowe: Athletic vs. La Actual is a particular derby

Kubo is but to stay as much as the hype he generated as a child at Barcelona after which Actual Madrid, however this efficiency urged he is getting there. The 21-year-old scored La Actual’s second aim — accumulating David Silva’s intelligent move, nutmegging defender Dani Vivian and ending coolly previous keeper Unai Simon — and gained the controversial second-half penalty which Oyarzabal transformed to cement the three factors.

Athletic Membership are having a fairly good season themselves underneath Ernesto Valverde, however there is no query La Actual are the most effective group within the Basque Nation. Third in LaLiga and comfortably forward of chasing pack Villarreal, Actual Betis and Atletico Madrid, it could now take fairly a late-season droop for them to overlook out on Champions League qualification. — Kirkland

Ten Hag cannot maintain Man Utd underneath the radar endlessly

Are Manchester United within the title race? The Premier League desk, which exhibits United only one level behind Manchester Metropolis, suggests they’re however coach Erik ten Hag insists he isn’t enthusiastic about a problem. Regardless of Arsenal’s lead on the high, Man Metropolis are nonetheless favourites to win their fifth title within the final 5 years in keeping with the bookmakers but when that is the case, then United must be thought-about real challengers.

Ten Hag has three of the most effective defensive gamers within the league in Casemiro, Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez however there’s a query mark about whether or not the Dutchman has sufficient targets in his squad.

Marcus Rashford is within the type of his life and new mortgage signing Wout Weghorst might make his debut in opposition to Crystal Palace on Wednesday however Cristiano Ronaldo has left, Jadon Sancho is coaching on his personal and Anthony Martial is injured once more.

United have gotten Palace at Selhurst Park subsequent after which Arsenal on the Emirates on Sunday and if Rashford can proceed his scoring run and United can lengthen their successful run, Ten Hag will not be capable to play down their title possibilities for much longer. — Dawson

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FC crew react to ‘ridiculous’ offside determination in Manchester derby

Craig Burley and Luis Miguel Echegaray talk about Man United’s controversial equaliser vs. Man Metropolis.

It is now or by no means for spectacular Napoli

Is that this lastly the season? After a 33-year wait, is that this lastly the 12 months when Napoli lastly turns into champions of Italy once more? Their demolition of Juventus on Friday proved as soon as once more how a lot they’re the actual deal this marketing campaign.

In opposition to a group on an eight-game, eight-clean sheet successful run, Victor Osimhen & Co confirmed why that is now or by no means for the Partenopei. They humiliated Juve: outplaying them, outsmarting them and, even when Max Allegri’s facet had gamers lacking, exhibiting that nobody can compete with the Napolitans.

Who can cease them? Internazionale inflicted them their solely defeat of the season a few weeks in the past however usually are not constant sufficient. Milan are robust however have dropped too many factors in opposition to small groups (Torino, Cremonese, Lecce), Juventus usually are not ok collectively, whereas Lazio or Roma usually are not ok full cease.

Luciano Spaletti must maintain all people match and with their ft on the bottom too. However he is aware of that on high of their lead and present stage, they may even host all the massive groups (Inter, Milan, Roma and Lazio) within the second half of the season. Since Diego Maradona took them to their solely two home titles (1987 and 1990), they’ve by no means been so near including a 3rd. — Laurens


Targets

PSG lose once more, so why not speak in regards to the aim that beat them?

Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Rennes is Paris Saint-Germain’s second in three video games for the reason that flip of the brand new 12 months, and it confirmed that for all of the Parisians’ star energy, their protection might proceed to doom them in huge video games, particularly after we hit the enterprise finish of the Champions League. It was a easy, devastating aim full of sophistication from the house facet and poor decision-making from PSG.

Defender Arthur Theate had the ball in a innocent place broad on the left however performed a intelligent angled move for full-back Adrien Truffert, who had snuck in behind Achraf Hakimi down the left flank. After skipping inside Hakimi’s half-hearted problem, Truffert had oceans of time and area to select a sq. move for Rennes captain Hamari Traore, who’d drifted unmarked into the field. With a number of PSG defenders enjoying statue, Traore had time to comb a low present past Gigi Donnarumma from 12 yards out. Simple as you want, actually, however the sort of aim you are not supposed to attain in opposition to a loaded facet like PSG. Possibly Ligue 1 could have a title race in spite of everything. — Tyler

An overture for Odegaard

Arsenal’s reasonably snug 2-0 win over Tottenham in Sunday’s North London Derby not solely why the Gunners are actually a agency favourite to win the Premier League this season, however Martin Odegaard’s aim confirmed why he is the most effective gamers within the English top-flight proper now. After benefiting from some typical calamity by Hugo Lloris that gave Arsenal an early 1-0 lead, there was nothing fortunate about Odegaard’s end to double the benefit.

After a William Saliba clearance was managed in midfield by Thomas Partey and shunted out broad to Bukayo Saka, inside seconds the Gunners had been bearing down on the softest a part of Spurs protection and Odegaard, having drifted into area on the high of the field, acquired Saka’s move and thumped a low end past Lloris from 20+ yards out to silence a disgruntled Tottenham crowd. Silken, forceful and inevitable: it actually may be Arsenal’s 12 months in spite of everything. — Tyler

Joselu and Enes Unal (Espanyol and Getafe)

Two of the most effective targets you see this weekend got here in the identical recreation, so why decide one when you may select them each?

Only one minute separated in Joselu’s strike for Espanyol and Enes Unal’s equaliser for Getafe in a superb opening seven minutes on the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez.

Joselu took his tally to 11 for the season with a chic effort from simply contained in the Getafe half. Recognizing goalkeeper David Soria off his line, he tried his luck from 50 yards, hanging the ball completely to offer his facet an early lead. The lead did not final lengthy, although. Turkish ahead Unal rifled in a superb leveller from broad on the left, virtually ripping the web with the facility of his shot.

As for the sport, it was by no means going to get higher than that for the impartial, though it did for Espanyol. Javi Puado’s successful aim earned them a giant three factors on the backside of the desk. — Marsden


Groups in bother

Lyon in full disarray

The numbers are scary. After yet one more defeat, on Saturday night at residence in opposition to second from backside Strasbourg, Lyon have now misplaced eight of their final 14 league matches for less than three wins and three attracts. It is a horrible run which leaves them in eighth place within the desk, 17 factors behind Marseille in third and within the final Champions League spot too.

In his 9 video games in cost since changing Peter Bosz again in October, Laurent Blanc has the worst report of any Lyon supervisor in over 30 years. And Lyon have their lowest factors at this stage of the season in 25 years.

So as to add to the poor consequence, the sport occurred in entrance of the brand new proprietor, US businessman John Textor, who will need to have been questioning why he spent €800m to purchase this membership. To be truthful, l’OL truly performed fairly effectively and their xG of three.23 for only one aim scored ultimately exhibits it. However nothing goes their manner and their unhealthy run is exhibiting their limits and points, particularly defensively.

On the finish, the Lyon ultras went mad and tried to invade the pitch to protest, they insulted the gamers they usually confirmed a giant banner with a goat on it. In French, a goat is a “chevre” and a chevre is what you name a nasty soccer participant in France. The environment could be very poisonous now across the group and rightly so. Lyon will want one thing particular on and off the pitch to show issues round. — Laurens

Liverpool are misplaced within the wilderness

“They were just struggling with key injuries,” followers instructed themselves. “They’ll get it sorted after the World Cup given that only a handful of players received national team call-ups and Jurgen Klopp can get them in shape again.” And but, after back-to-back wins to shut out 2022, they’ve appeared completely dreadful in January, conceding six occasions and scoring as soon as in defeats at Brentford and Brighton. The arrival of Cody Gakpo has been an answer and not using a drawback, the midfield by some means stays each stodgy and sieve-like, and a protection that at all times felt prefer it was flirting with catastrophe is now an precise catastrophe.

With Chelsea, Wolves (whom they’re going through in an FA Cup third-round replay after a 2-2 draw) and Everton up subsequent within the league and two weeks remaining within the January switch window, there’s completely no remaining margin for error in the event that they’re to creep into the highest 4 by season’s finish. Contemplating they’re 10 factors again from Man United, who look effervescent and arranged by comparability, there’s little to counsel the Reds have the capability to battle again. It is a sudden fall from grace for a group that had been the most effective on the continent in current seasons. FiveThirtyEight nonetheless provides the Reds a 34% likelihood of qualifying for the Champions League, but it surely’s solely a matter of time till the information catches up with what we’re seeing on the pitch. — Tyler


Weekend MVP

Ward-Prowse single-handedly maintaining Saints within the battle

James Ward-Prowse is closing in on 400 first-team appearances for Southampton, however he’ll at all times have motive to recollect his journey to Everton in January 2023.

The England midfielder scored twice at Goodison Park, together with a shocking trademark free kick, to assist Southampton to an important 2-1 win of their battle in opposition to relegation. Southampton are nonetheless backside of the desk however their first league win since October means they’re again in contact with the groups on the backside they usually’re now simply two factors off Leeds United in 14th.

New supervisor Nathan Jones has led Southampton to 3 straight wins, together with victory over Manchester Metropolis within the Carabao Cup, and with gamers like Ward-Prowse within the group, he is obtained an opportunity of maintaining them up. – Dawson