The SportsGrape European Football Review: Axe looms large over Lopetegui


Julen Lopetegui finds his future hanging by a microscopically-thin thread, after Real Madrid suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Levante at the weekend.

Lopetegui, was controversially dismissed as Spain boss prior to the World Cup this summer. He now looks on borrowed time with Real Madrid. Their winless streak has now extended to five matches in all competitions.

The win against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League on Tuesday night may provide a stay of execution for Lopetegui. The guillotine could drop, however, for Lopetegui if the Spainard’s team does not put in a positive performance against Barcelona in the Camp Nou on Sunday.


The defeat to Levante not only cranked up the pressure on Lopetegui, but he now also has the ignominy of overseeing Real Madrid’s longest period without scoring a goal since the 1980s. It’s a remarkable, yet depressing unravelling of a career which looked so promising before the summer.

At some clubs Lopetegui may have been allowed a few more games to try to rescue the situation, but if one side has a ruthless precedent for sacking managers at the first glimpse of blood, then it’s Real Madrid.

Barcleona win, Messi injured

Ahead of El Clásico, Barcelona have had a mixed weekend. Positively, they defeated Sevilla 4-2 to drag them back to the top of the table and put an end to a four-match winless run in La Liga. Negatively, though, their talisman – Lionel Messi, has suffered a fractured arm. He will miss the Madrid game, as well as the double header vs Inter in the Champions League.

Prior to the injury, the little Argentinian notched up a goal and an assist as he set the Catalan’s on their way to victory. Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic wrapped up the points as Barca got back to winning ways.

Elsewhere in Spain, Deportivo Alaves continued their impressive start to the season, with a 1-0 win away to Celta Vigo, taking them up to second. Whilst Ronaldo O Fenomeno’s Real Valladolid secured their fourth win in a row, with a 1-0 win at Betis.

Misery for Henry as Strasbourg spoil the part

Thierry Henry’s managerial debut got off to an anti-climactic start. The former Juventus and Arsenal forward saw his side fall to a 2-1 defeat to newly promoted Strasbourg. A goalkeeping error and a red card ensured a frustrating start to the top job for Henry and highlighted the size of the task ahead.

He now switches his attention to the Champions League, where they take on Belgian side Club Brugge on Tuesday night, before they entertain Dijon in his first home game in charge, next weekend.


PSG maintained their untouchable domestic form with a comprehensive 5-0 demolition of Amiens. The victory means it’s ten wins from ten from the capital side, in which they have scored an astonishing 37 goals. They currently sit 8 points clear of second placed Lille who have scored 18 fewer goals.

Lille managed a 2-1 win over Dijon on Saturday to remain the best of the rest, whilst Patrick Viera’s Nice lost 1-0 to Marseille and third placed Montpellier won 2-0 over Bordeaux.

Icardi steals derby at the death as Inter deservedly triumph

Mauro Icardi’s stoppage time winner meant the derby swung to the blue side of Milan. Some wonderful movement in the box saw him nod the ball into the net, with Gianluigi Donnarumma caught flapping at the cross. The result therefore means Inter remain in third place, whilst Milan reside in a lowly twelfth.

Juventus finally lost their 100 percent record following a 1-1 draw at home to Genoa. A Cristiano Ronaldo header was not enough to secure victory for the Bianconeri as Genoa fought back and grabbed an equaliser in the second half. There’s no time to dwell on the dropped points however, as all eyes look towards Old Trafford for their huge Champions League clash with Manchester United on Tuesday.

There was a shock result in the capital as Roma lost 2-0 at home to SPAL. The Giallorossi had seemingly got their season back on track after an indifferent start, but this defeat will raise a few more questions beginning to emanate about coach Eusebio Di Francesco.

In other results, second placed Napoli won 3-0 at Udinese, Fiorentina drew 1-1 with Cagliari, and it was a miserable return to management for Gian Piero Ventura as his Chievo side got stuffed 5-1 at home to Atalanta.

Goals galore in the Bundesliga, as Dortmund and Munich win

32 goals were scored across nine matches this weekend as Germany had a goal glut. Dortmund maintained their excellent start to the campaign with a 4-0 victory at Stuttgart, whilst Nico Kovac got Bayern back to winning ways with a 3-1 over Wolfsburg.

In the most impressive result of the weekend, Eintracht Frankfurt beat Fortuna Dusseldorf 7-1, with 20-year-old Luka Jovic bagging five. In the modern era of football, the Serbian probably trebled his transfer tag in one solitary evening.


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