Ahead of the FIFA international break, some prominent clubs (looking at the ones from Bavaria and Turin) are already facing some questions so early in the season. And at other sides, it could mean see some managers being replaced before league action re-starts in less than a fortnight.
Meanwhile, we saw some derby action in LaLiga and the Bundesliga, while a couple Premier League players continue to rise to the occasion.
Here’s what you need to know about the weekend from Europe’s biggest leagues.
Time for Bayern to freak out?
Bayern Munich enter the international break in crisis. Or at least, a Bayern version of a crisis. The 10-time defending Bundesliga champions suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday — 1-0 to FC Augsburg — which doesn’t seem all that bad, especially considering their wins over Internazionale and Barcelona in the Champions League.
But it also followed a run of three straight Bundesliga draws, which means that (a) when they host Bayer Leverkusen on Sept. 30, it will have been over a month since their last league win, and (b) they head into the break in just fifth place in the league.
Bundesliga top six after seven matchdays:
1. Union Berlin (17 points, +11 goal differential)
2. Borussia Dortmund (15, +2)
3. Freiburg (14, +5)
4. Hoffenheim (13, +5)
5. Bayern Munich (12, +13)
6. Borussia Monchengladbach (12, +5)
This being Bayern, the slump has created a run of media caterwauling. Manager Julian Nagelsmann is mad at his players for not being sharp enough in the final third! The players are frustrated that he’s not taking enough responsibility for the problems! Et cetera!
It’s never easy to tell how seriously to take those rumors, but regardless, it’s not clicking right now for the Bundesliga’s biggest club. During their four-match league winless streak, they have suffered a rare and devastating finishing streak, producing shots worth 8.2 xG but scoring only four times. The typically all-world quartet of Leroy Sane, Sadio Mane, Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller have combined to score just once from shots worth 4.8. (Opponents, meanwhile, have scored five goals from shots worth 3.8.)
Will this last? Of course not. All of these players have proven to be too strong in the finishing department for a slump to last an overt amount of time. But it’s done some damage, and Bayern have a bit of a mess to clean up, both on and off the pitch, after the break. — Bill Connelly
Max, we need to talk…
A letter to Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri:
Dear Max, the life of a football manager is always about highs and lows, successes and failures and how you navigate between one and the other. You have won a fair bit in your career and right now you are going through a terrible time. You drew miraculously at home with Salernitana (2-2) last weekend, you lost comprehensively against Benfica (2-1) at home in midweek and on Sunday, you were beaten away by promoted side Monza (1-0).
Things are going from bad to worse. Despite having a talented squad, your team is playing badly. There is no identity, no patterns of play, no direction. It is just not working. It is even embarrassing right now that a manager like you and a club like Juve are giving this poor spectacle of yourself.
It is not going to get better I am afraid. You are in denial as well by not addressing the issue, acknowledging the truth. You should do the right thing and resign now. For your own sake, for the fans who deserve better and for the club. — Julien Laurens
Betis, Athletic keep pace behind Real, Barca
After respective wins against Elche and Atletico Madrid this weekend, Barcelona and Real Madrid remain unbeaten in LaLiga this season, have dropped just two points between them and are threatening to run away from the rest of the league. Real Betis and Athletic Club are the only clubs threatening to at least keep within a reasonable difference of the big two in Spain going into the first international break, with usual challengers Atletico Madrid and Sevilla down in seventh and 15th position respectively.
Both Betis and Athletic benefit from having a steady hand in charge. Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis made it five wins from six games with a 2-1 win over Girona. Borja Iglesias, called up by Spain on Friday, celebrated with a brace to take his tally for the season to six. Defeat to Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu is the only thing staining Betis’ record this season.
Athletic, meanwhile, have been rejuvenated by the return of former coach Ernesto Valverde. The Bilbao side have scored three or more in three of their last four games after beating Rayo Vallecano 3-2, with both Williams brothers on target in the same game for the first time ever. Nico Williams, like Iglesias, was called up by Spain for the first time this week, while big brother Inaki Williams has switched his allegiance to Ghana ahead of the World Cup. Their goals have Athletic in fourth, five points back from leaders Madrid. — Sam Marsden
Leicester at a crossroads
Is Brendan Rodgers on borrowed time at Leicester City? His team was in the game at Tottenham Hotspur for long periods but still left north London on the end of a heavy 6-2 defeat. Things can be like that when you’re struggling at the bottom.
Leicester have one point from their first seven games and have already shipped 22 goals — more than anyone else in the league. Rodgers has credit in the bank at the King Power Stadium and has vowed to fight on but a two-week international break is a very tempting time for any owner to change an under-fire manager.
Janusz Michallik debates whether Brendan Rodgers has lost the Leicester dressing room after their 6-2 loss to Tottenham.
Rodgers stressed after the defeat to Spurs that Leicester’s next two games against Nottingham Forest and AFC Bournemouth represent a chance to get their season up and running but he faces a nervous wait to see whether he retains the faith of the board — Rob Dawson
Any of Son’s trifecta worth a nod
The questions were growing louder. Last season’s Golden Boot winner (tied with Mohamed Salah) was yet to get off the mark heading into this weekend, a player whose limitless energy and endeavour had seemingly hit a wall. So much so, in fact, that Son Heung-Min had been dropped from Tottenham’s starting line-up against bottom-of-the-table Leicester on Saturday and instead given a 31-minute cameo to prove the doubters wrong.
But what a response the South Korean produced. Son became only the seventh player in Premier League history to score a hat-trick off the bench, the first goal a perfect example of what has made him one of the most fearsome forwards in England.
13 MINUTE HAT TRICK FOR HEUNG-MIN SON HE IS ALL THE WAY BACK!!
— Premier League USA (@PLinUSA) September 17, 2022
Collecting Rodrigo Bentancur‘s forward pass, Son burst forward before making room for a right-foot shot which he curled superbly past Leicester goalkeeper Joel Ward from the edge of the box. His second, a left-foot effort from almost the same spot, was arguably just as good. And as if the drama wasn’t enough, his third was ruled out for offside before a VAR review gave him the denouement he deserved. — James Olley
Ounas, Andre combine for Lille beauty
It is a really good goal when it is hard to tell what is better: the assist or the finish itself. It is the case with Lille‘s winning goal against Toulouse on Friday night at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy. In the 53rd minute, with the score level 1-1 after Toulouse’s equaliser but Lille are on the attack. The ball is in Benjamin Andre‘s feet, 40 yards away from the opposition’s goal. The Lille midfielder spots the diagonal run from Adam Ounas from the right on the edge of the box. Andre’s pass over the top of the Toulouse defense is inch perfect.
LILLE ARE UP ONCE AGAIN 🙌⚽ Impressive goal
🍿 Lille (2-1) Toulouse🇫🇷
— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) September 17, 2022
Now, it is Ounas’ job to transform the gift into a goal. The former Napoli winger still has a lot of work to do but his first time left-footed volley is just a thing of perfection and there is nothing that Maxime Dupe in goal can do. — Laurens
Moukoko’s derby winner lifts Dortmund
I’d imagine there are few feelings in soccer better than scoring a big goal in a derby. But scoring the match-winner, which briefly puts your team in first place in the league, in the 79th minute of maybe the most celebrated derby in your country — the Revierderby, Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke 04 — indeed tops it. Doing it at age 17? Even more incredible.
Youssoufa Moukoko had himself one memorable Saturday afternoon. — Connelly
Teams in trouble
Nice, not so nice again
The boos coming out of the Allianz Riviera were so loud on Sunday afternoon that Nice coach Lucien Favrec could probably hear all the way from his native Switzerland. The Nice fans weren’t happy and probably won’t be for at least another two weeks until their team’s next game following the international break (which by the way at PSG).
Nice are 13th in the Ligue 1 table after just two wins in eight domestic matches, and not doing much better in the Europa Conference League either. The players look lost on the pitch, Favre looks like he has no solution and the transfer window was impossible to understand despite known names (Kasper Schmeichel, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Bryan, Ross Barkley, Nicolas Pepe, among others).
Nice are in trouble because there has been any improvement since their draw against Cercle Brugge in pre-season back in July. — Laurens
Thing’s aren’t peachy at Elche
Facing Barcelona at Camp Nou is difficult enough. When your captain and centre-back is sent off after 14 minutes — and your coach is red carded for complaining before half time — you’re really up against it. Elche’s fate on Saturday was sealed the moment Gonzalo Verdu hauled down Robert Lewandowski with LaLiga’s top scorer through on goal. Down to ten men so early, the result was only going one way, with Lewandowski scoring twice in a 3-0 Barca win.
Yes, the home side’s first two goals were marginal offside calls, and Franck Kessie escaped a second yellow for catching defender John Donald in the face, but Elche’s post-match protests were inspired as much by their desperate situation as the decisions themselves.
Stewart Robson and Rob Palmer discuss Barcelona’s development after their 3-0 win over Elche.
“The reality is [we’ve won] one point out of 18… We aren’t at the level this competition demands,” manager Francisco said. Bottom of the table, he could be the first coach to be fired in LaLiga this season. — Alex Kirkland
Janusz Michallik believes Erling Haaland is “making a mockery” of the Premier League.
… goes to KDB as Man City roll on
The Belgian recorded assists for both Grealish and Phil Foden in a dominant performance during which Wolves’ midfield never got close to him. He has already got six assists in the Premier League this season — more than any other player — and with teammates like Haaland, Grealish and Foden on the end of the chances he creates, it’s likely that he’ll have plenty more before the end of the season.
In a team of stars, De Bruyne is still one of the brightest — Dawson