10 Bold Predictions for World Football This Weekend
With both La Liga and the Bundesliga shortly set to kick off their own respective new seasons, following hot on the heels of the likes of the Portuguese Primeira Liga, Premier League, Ligue 1 and Eredivisie, we make 10 bold predictions for this weekend’s upcoming action from across Europe’s top leagues.
3 Is Lewandowski’s Magic Number
Champions Bayern Munich kicked off the defence of their Bundesliga crown by easily disposing of the challenge of Wolfsburg, 3-0, at the Allianz Arena on Friday.
Worryingly for the rest of the top flight, the Bavarian behemoth—despite last week’s 2-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund in the German Supercup—appear to have taken their game to an even higher level since their runaway title triumph last season, if that were possible, following the free-transfer capture of striker Robert Lewandowski.
And it was the deadly Poland international who, as always, was in the right place at the right time to grab all three of the home team’s goals in what was the ex-Dortmund marksman’s league debut for his new team.
Are Big-Spending PSG Simply a Two-Man Team?
Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain struggled away to Evian on Friday in the injury-enforced absence of key duo Zlatan Ibrahimovic and captain Thiago Silva.
The visitors dropped points for the second time in the space of just three matches this season after a disappointing 1-1 draw.
In the end, the mega-rich Parisians—who were surprisingly held 2-2 at Reims on the opening day of the new campaign—were grateful for a point against the side sitting bottom of the table after in-form striker Edinson Cavani headed home a last-minute equaliser for Laurent Blanc’s men.
Sherwood’s an Instant Hit at the Palace
Recently appointed Crystal Palace manager Tim Sherwood started his Eagles reign with a bang after guiding his new charges to a morale-boosting first win of the campaign in a 2-1 victory over West Ham United on Saturday afternoon at Selhurst Park.
The Englishman was only named as successor to former boss Tony Pulis in the days leading up to the London derby. However, it was not long before the home fans could be heard vociferously chanting the ex-Tottenham Hotspur coach’s name.
In fact, football being the fickle game that it is, it appears as though the Palace faithful have already forgotten about last season’s Premier League LMA Manager of the Year, with Sherwood now the new darling of south London.
Wenger Boys Hit by Continental Drift on Merseyside
Arsenal suffered a UEFA Champions League hangover, with the north London club losing 2-0 to Everton in front of the Sky cameras at Goodison Park on Saturday evening.
The Gunners earned a goalless draw with Besiktas in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off in Istanbul on Tuesday night.
However, the effects of the club’s midweek trip to the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Turkey caught up with the visitors by the time they kicked off on Merseyside, with the Toffees taking an early lead thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s first goal of the new Premier League campaign.
A John Stones defensive masterclass helped Roberto Martinez’s men to a clean sheet, as well as a huge three points, in front of a raucous home crowd.
It’s All Smiles at Los Che
There was a debut win for Valencia’s new Portuguese coach Nuno to start the Peter Lim era at the Mestalla, with the visitors coming from behind to beat UEFA Europa League winners Sevilla 2-1 on the road on Saturday night.
Los Che were in dire financial straits before the intervention of the wealthy businessman earlier in the summer, leading to an influx of new players during the close season, including in-demand Benfica forward Rodrigo (pictured).
Valencia will be hoping to use this impressive display in Andalucia as a springboard for a much-needed return to the UEFA Champions League come the end of the campaign.
Pressure Continues to Mount on New Man on the Cote d'Azur
It’s a third straight loss to begin the 2014/15 Ligue 1 season for new AS Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim after the Portuguese saw his side go down 2-1 at high-flying Nantes on Saturday evening.
The wealthy principality outfit finished the previous campaign as runners-up to eventual champions PSG under experienced manager Claudio Ranieri, but billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev still opted to part company with the Italian during the summer.
And that decision is now looking more and more bizarre by the minute after the club’s latest league reverse left them propping up the table.
It’s Deja Vu for Barca as Former Star Makes Disappointing Managerial Bow
New FC Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique suffered the same fate as his former Camp Nou midfield team-mate Pep Guardiola, surprisingly losing his first league match in charge of the club to a minnow.
The Spanish giants went down 2-1 to Elche in front of the stunned Catalan faithful on Sunday night, much like when Guardiola's side suffered a shock 1-0 loss away to Numancia in the opening fixture of the 2008/09 campaign.
And with both four-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi and Brazilian superstar Neymar looking well off the pace after their exertions at this summer’s World Cup, the return from suspension of new £75m signing Luis Suarez can't come soon enough for Barca.
Galactico-Inspired Blancos Hit Cordoba for Six
Real Madrid began their 2014/15 league campaign by thrashing newly promoted Cordoba 6-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Monday evening, with all three of the club’s most recent galactico signings getting their name on the scoresheet.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side simply maintained their impressive pre-season form in the capital, with Los Blancos having already claimed a first piece of silverware of the new campaign after beating Sevilla 2-0 in the recent UEFA Super Cup final in Cardiff.
Not surprisingly, the visitors were simply blown away in front of an expectant crowd at the "White House," with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale each grabbing braces, before the Liga giants’ latest big-money arrival, James Rodriguez, caps off a brilliant night by scoring his first league goal for Madrid on his La Liga debut.
New Big-Money Trio Shine for Reds at Eastlands
Lazar Markovic, Emre Can and Alberto Moreno all made their competitive debuts for a new-look Liverpool as the Merseyside giants recorded an impressive 1-1 draw with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Monday Night Football.
The trio of new recruits arrived at Anfield during the summer for a combined outlay of £42 million, though none featured for the Reds in their opening-day win over Southampton at Anfield last weekend.
But with Liverpool head coach Brendan Rodgers making changes for the tricky-looking trip to the Premier League champions, all three players start—and impress—as the visitors came from behind to earn a well-deserved point thanks to Raheem Sterling’s second-half strike.
Atleti’s Capital Gains
Spanish champions Atletico Madrid kicked off the defence of their Liga title with a hard-earned 1-0 win at Rayo Vallecano on Monday night, with recent £24m signing Antoine Griezmann marking his league debut by netting the only goal of the game for the visitors.
The highly rated young forward was signed by coach Diego Simeone earlier this summer to try to help make up for the departure of prolific striker Diego Costa to Chelsea during the close season.
And the France international—who scored 16 Liga goals for former club Real Sociedad in the previous campaign—looks like being an instant hit with Atleti’s supporters, especially after grabbing the winner in what is his first top-flight Madrid derby.