Barca secure Xavi’s first trophy as manager: Weekend Review


Another weekend of European soccer is within the books and, as soon as once more, there’s drama in all places you look. Barcelona have lifted the Spanish Supercopa, humiliating Real 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’s good to know concerning the weekend.

Jump to: Talking points | Best goals | Teams in trouble | MVP of the Weekend

Talking factors

Xavi wins first Barca trophy

Clasicos usually draw drastic conclusions and Sunday’s Spanish Supercopa remaining in Saudi Arabia was no completely different as Barcelona brushed Real Madrid apart. Barca are again on monitor after Gavi impressed them to the first trophy of Xavi Hernandez’s administration period, whereas questions might be requested of Carlo Ancelotti’s Real 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 objectives for Robert Lewandowski and Pedri as Barca took aside Madrid, who replied by way of a late Karim Benzema comfort. The efficiency was good and, past the importance of a first 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 seem 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 considerations 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

Real Sociedad declare Basque bragging rights

The noisiest recreation in Spanish soccer this weekend wasn’t the Supercopa remaining in Riyadh. It was 1800 miles north-west, as Real Sociedad beat Athletic Club 3-1 in a raucous Basque Derby to consolidate their place as the third-best workforce within the nation proper now. La Real have received 19 of their 26 video games this season between LaLiga, Copa del Rey and Europa League. It’s 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 harm.

This La Real workforce is stuffed 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 harm of his personal. But Saturday’s derby win on the Reale Arena was impressed by flying winger Take Kubo.

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

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

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

Ten Hag cannot preserve Man Utd underneath the radar endlessly

Are Manchester United within the title race? The Premier League desk, which reveals United only one level behind Manchester City, suggests they’re however coach Erik ten Hag insists he is not fascinated with a problem. Despite Arsenal’s lead on the high, Man City are nonetheless favourites to win their fifth title within the final 5 years in response to the bookmakers but when that is the case, then United need to be thought of 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 objectives in his squad.

Marcus Rashford is within the type of his life and new mortgage signing Wout Weghorst may make his debut towards 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 prolong their profitable run, Ten Hag will not be capable to play down their title probabilities for much longer. — Dawson



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 City.

It’s now or by no means for spectacular Napoli

Is this lastly the season? After a 33-year wait, is that this lastly the yr 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.

Against a workforce on an eight-game, eight-clean sheet profitable 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 towards small groups (Torino, Cremonese, Lecce), Juventus usually are not ok collectively, whereas Lazio or Roma usually are not ok full cease.

Luciano Spaletti should preserve everyone match and with their ft on the bottom too. But 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


PSG lose once more, so why not speak concerning the objective that beat them?

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

Defender Arthur Theate had the ball in a innocent place large on the left however performed a intelligent angled cross 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. cross for Rennes captain Hamari Traore, who’d drifted unmarked into the field. With a number of PSG defenders taking part in statue, Traore had time to brush a low present past Gigi Donnarumma from 12 yards out. Easy as you want, actually, however the type of objective you are not supposed to attain towards a loaded facet like PSG. Maybe Ligue 1 may have a title race in spite of everything. — Tyler

An overture for Odegaard

Arsenal’s moderately comfy 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 objective 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 large 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, obtained Saka’s cross and thumped a low end past Lloris from 20+ yards out to silence a disgruntled Tottenham crowd. Silken, forceful and inevitable: it actually could be Arsenal’s yr in spite of everything. — Tyler

Joselu and Enes Unal (Espanyol and Getafe)

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

Just 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. Spotting 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 large on the left, virtually ripping the online with the ability 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 profitable objective earned them a giant three factors on the backside of the desk. — Marsden

Teams in bother

Lyon in full disarray

The numbers are scary. After yet one more defeat, on Saturday night at dwelling towards second from backside Strasbourg, Lyon have now misplaced eight of their final 14 league matches for less than three wins and three attracts. It’s 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.

To add to the poor consequence, the sport occurred in entrance of the brand new proprietor, US businessman John Textor, who should 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 objective scored in the long run reveals it. But nothing goes their method and their dangerous run is exhibiting their limits and points, particularly defensively.

At the tip, the Lyon ultras went mad and tried to invade the pitch to protest, they insulted the gamers and so they 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 ambiance may be very poisonous now across the workforce 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 advised 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 with no drawback, the midfield in some way 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 dealing with 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. Considering they’re 10 factors again from Man United, who look effervescent and arranged by comparability, there’s little to recommend the Reds have the capability to struggle again. It’s a sudden fall from grace for a workforce that had been the most effective on the continent in current seasons. FiveThirtyEight nonetheless offers the Reds a 34% likelihood of qualifying for the Champions League, however it’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 holding Saints within the struggle

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

The England midfielder scored twice at Goodison Park, together with a surprising trademark free kick, to assist Southampton to a vital 2-1 win of their battle towards 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 and so they’re now simply two factors off Leeds United in 14th.

New supervisor Nathan Jones has led Southampton to a few straight wins, together with victory over Manchester City within the Carabao Cup, and with gamers like Ward-Prowse within the workforce, he is received an opportunity of holding them up. – Dawson


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