FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED: Solid Manchester City, Brittle Bayern Munich and Missing Lionel Messi

LONDON: It was another eventful weekend across all the big European leagues, here is what we learned from all the results.


When you think of Manchester City, images of free-flowing, incisive,
entertaining football — the very thing that we love the beautiful game
for — doubtless pop into your head. That is what defined their
record-breaking march to the Premier League title last season and has
once again been in evidence this campaign. There is, however, another
element that has been added to that seductive style: Dogged defense.
Yes, Pep Guardiola’s side has now gone five league matches without
conceding a goal. Admittedly Saturday’s clean sheet was secured against
Burnley, but the one before was against title-chasing Liverpool. This is
something that pleased the City boss, who said: “We are not giving away
any goals, we are not even giving away chances … we have been solid.”
The sight of City adding defensive solidity to their attacking flair
will scare all of their rivals.


We all make bad decisions, ones that almost as soon as they are made we
regret. But some decisions prove to be worse than others, ones so bad
that you wonder how they were made in the first place. We are obviously
talking about Julen Lopetegui’s decision to quit as Spanish national
boss to sit in the Real Madrid hot seat. The Madrid giants lost their
fourth in five at the weekend and if he is still in the job by the time
you are reading this then it will be a shock. It was not his call to
leave the Spain side the day before the World Cup, but from the moment
Lopetegui was given his marching orders in Russia things have gone from
bad to worse for the 52-year-old. His exit paved the way for a
disastrous tournament for the national team when they had the players to
go far, if not possibly win the whole thing. Since that moment his
reputation has not recovered — from hero to zero in four short months.


One of the perennial questions of the past 10 years has been “how would
Barcelona fare without Lionel Messi?” Well, for a short time at least,
we can now find out after the Catalan club’s talisman suffered a
fractured bone in his right arm during the side’s 4-2 win over title
rivals Sevilla. Three weeks on the sidelines will see Messi miss six
matches. The first a Champions League tie against Inter Milan, the
second the all-important El Clasico against arch-rivals Real Madrid. The
time for Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Co. to step up is now.


The Bavarian giants may have won Saturday’s clash against Wolfsburg, but
there remain clouds hanging over FC Hollywood. The side lived up to its
moniker last week thanks to some bizarre comments from two men not
known for being shy about letting people know exactly what they think.
After a four-game winless streak, club president, Uli Hoeness, and CEO
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, both former players, accused the media of
“outrageous, disrespectful and polemical” reporting and warned them of
possible legal action. Nothing like a bit of measured talk after a few
bad results …

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